With our continued travel restrictions due to the floodwater damage done to our highways and the destruction of the Fitzroy Crossing bridge we are still enjoying our local bird-life. However, birds that would not normally be local have arrived from the north following all of the wet weather. In 2017 we found a lone Pied Heron that had wandered south and then in 2018 more Pied Herons arrived after a decent amount of rain and included a rufous morph bird amongst the flock. It was no surprise to find Pied Herons on the edge of the flooded highway again recently after all of the rain that we have had.

Pied Herons are a very small heron and very smart looking. We could quite happily sit and watch them feed along the edge of the highway and when we have been able to do so we have done just that. The Pied Herons are literally feeding on the highway and along the edge where the water flows across the highway. We quite happily park in the water on the highway and sit and watch! The damage that the flooding has done to the highway is actually advantageous to the Pied Herons. When the small fish that are trying to cross the highway find the potholes in the bitumen they move into them. Then the Pied Herons stand on the bitumen close to the potholes in the water current and pick off the fish! Considering this is dry land for much of the year and does not flood every year you have to wonder how there can be so many fish. However, fish have been falling out of the sky in Australia recently, so anything can happen!

So far we have observed nine Pied Herons at any one time, but don’t doubt there could easily be more. There is so much flooded land and so much food they are no doubt spread about. However, considering how easy it is for the Pied Herons to feed along the highway it is highly likely that as more arrive they will choose that area to feed.

Here’s a few of the many photos that I took recently of the Pied Herons along the edge of the highway and feeding on the highway and roosting on the fence alongside the highway across Roebuck Plains south of Broome.

Pied Herons, Little Egret and Black-winged Stilt

Pied Herons beside the highway

Pied Herons near the fence beside the highway

Pied Heron close to the highway

Pied Herons using the fence to roost

Pied Herons waiting for fish

Pied Herons with a juvenile Black-winged Stilt

Pied Herons on the highway

Pied Heron fishing on the highway

Pied Heron with a fish caught on the highway out of a pothole!

It is of no surprise that the grey morph Reef Egret has remained in the area enjoying all of the easy pickings. Someone clearly did not follow the signage that told you to slow down to go through the deep water and lost part of the front of their vehicle. It has become a handy piece of unnatural debris for the birds to stand on, though.

Reef Egret and other Egrets near the car part

Despite this piece of highway being the only way out of town it is never too busy that you can’t just stop and observe the bird-life. Our guilty pleasure …… sitting in our vehicle bird-watching-the perfect bird-hide!

Written by Clare M
Clare and her husband, Grant, have lived permanently in Broome, Western Australia since 1999 after living in various outback locations around Western Australia and Darwin. She has lived in the Middle East and the United States and traveled extensively in Europe. She monitors Pied Oystercatchers breeding along a 23km stretch of Broome's coastline by bicycle and on foot. She chooses not to participate in social media, but rather wander off into the bush for peace and tranquility. Thankfully she can write posts in advance and get away from technology!