Whilst we were busy birding in Southern and Western Queensland earlier this year avoiding rain it was blowing a gale in Broome. At the end of February Cyclone Rusty travelled down the coast dumping rain and blowing in birds from far out at sea and there were some good observations. Amongst the birds blown off course was a Pomarine Jaeger and we had not expected to see it on our return. In actual fact we did not get a chance to go looking for it due to work commitments until May 10th. We ventured out onto the northern shores of Roebuck Bay, which is only a short drive from the township and our primary reason for the trip was to see the last of the migratory shorebirds before they headed north. The latest the Red Knot appear to leave on migration is May 15th and there were several Red Knot in full breeding plumage and with very round abdominal profiles amongst the shorebirds present. We recorded a few birds with individual markings and all of a sudden we had an intruder and the shorebirds took off. This was our first Pomarine Jaeger for 2013 and our first in Australia, so a significant find for us!

Pomarine Jaeger & shorebirds

Pomarine Jaeger, Great Knot and Red Knot

We were extremely cautious about getting close for some photographs, but it was not overly concerned and was more interested in preening and chasing terns for food.

Pomarine Jaeger

Pomarine Jaeger (2)

Pomarine Jaeger

Pomarine Jaeger (3)

Pomarine Jaeger preening

Eventually it decided to go back to sea and do some chasing and I was fortunate enough to get a photograph as it took off.

Pomarine Jaeger (4)

Pomarine Jaeger taking off

Only four days later and we were on our way as well and we were in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales birding when two of the individually marked Red Knot were observed in the Yellow Sea. They had left Broome possibly on May 10th or later and were observed feeding on a mudflat before they continued their journey north.

The Pomarine Jaeger has remained in Broome and it appears it is surviving well along the coast of Broome as it harasses terns for food. No doubt one day it will venture back out to sea, but for now it is still present in Roebuck Bay.


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!