In Australia in the north of the country where the land is dry and there is very little water for much of the year one of the best places to find birds is at the town “Poo Ponds”, which is officially called the Waste Water Treatment Plant. It is rarely sign posted as a tourist attraction, so we generally refer to Google Earth to look for large fresh water ponds close to the edge of town. Whilst travelling in the Northern Territory earlier this year we paid a visit to the Tennant Creek Poo Ponds, which are situated on the south side of town via Fazeldeen Road. Arriving in town we were greeted by Galahs, Whistling Kites, Black Kites and Crested Pigeons and the first birds we observed at the Poo Ponds were Willie Wagtails and Magpie-larks. We soon noticed Black-winged Stilts and a lone Black Swan and a Sacred Kingfisher landed on the fence. There were plenty of ducks to observe including Pacific Black Ducks, Grey Teal, Pink-eared Ducks, Australian Wood Duck and Hardheads. Eurasian Coot, Hoary-headed Grebes and Australasian Grebes bobbed around in the water and Plumed Whistling Ducks, Black-fronted Dotterels, Red-kneed Dotterels and Red-necked Avocet stood on the banks.

Lone Black Swan, Pink-eared Ducks and so much more!

Red-necked Avocet and other waterbirds

Hardhead, Eurasian Coot and other birds

The huge numbers of both Tree Martins and Fairy Martins flying over the water at the Poo Ponds was problematic from a photographers point of view, because they were apparent in so many of the photos that I took! Occasionally the Martins would rest on the fence and so that did offer an opportunity to photograph them intentionally rather than a blur across all other photos!

Fairy Martins and Tree Martin

The highlight of our visit to the Poo Ponds was the addition of Orange Chats to our year list and a beautiful male specimen stood on the bank just inside the fence momentarily. Yellow Chats are a common species around the Broome area and you do have to travel a long way to encounter both Crimson Chats and Orange Chats, but it is worth it! Admittedly Orange Chats are not as orange as you may think!

Male Orange Chat

An interesting feature of the Poo Ponds is the very old sign telling you not to shoot the ducks, which has obviously seen better days and of course it has been shot at!

Sign at the Poo Ponds

The termites are actively using the perimeter fence to their advantage and we were rather disappointed they had not put more effort into making a more substantial platform for us to stand on for better views!

Termites building against the fence

The surrounding bush was excellent for other bird species including Weebills, Red-backed Kingfisher, Zebra Finch, Mistletoebird and Rufous Songlark and a Black-breasted Buzzard was observed flying south of the ponds. If you are travelling the Stuart Highway between Alice Springs and Darwin you will have to pass through Tennant Creek and we would highly recommend a visit to the Poo Ponds. They do not smell and the birding is excellent!

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!