Tropical cyclones are part of life here in the north of Australia and this week we saw Tropical Cyclone Carlos reform just north of Broome and travel down the coast. The Bureau of Meteorology has a list of 104 names which are used throughout the north during the cyclone season. This replaced the previous three lists used by Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia prior to the 2008/2009 season. If a cyclone forms in another region they will continue to use the name from that region, as was the case with Cyclone Yasi that recently devastated Queensland.  Tropical cyclones are alternately male and female and if they do cause significant damage to Australia they are removed from the list. We are currently watching a low to the north of Broome and if it forms into a cyclone it will be named “Errol”, as we have also had “Dianne” in recent weeks. An interesting female name “Fina” follows and then “Grant”, my husband’s name. I have, by chance, had a cyclone named after me! The name “Clare” was retired after the 2006 season after it had been used.

We have some rather special lilies that grow well in our garden and they flower dependant on the air pressure. They are a zephyranthes bulb and most of the year it is just a patch of long green leaves, but as soon as the air pressure drops they will flower. They are actually almost more reliable than any weather forecast! Locally they are known as “Storm Lilies”. On Thursday we had a great show of flowers and that night we had 73mm of rain, so they knew!

Storm Lilies

There has been a lot of flooding in Western Australia in the last few weeks and there are only two roads to Perth. Both of these roads have been closed recently due to flooding and even roads locally have prevented us from accessing the shorebirds of Roebuck Bay. We did however go to visit an ephemeral lake near Broome. The lake had well and truly filled to capacity and beyond. We had quite a long walk/wade in, but it was worth it.

Grant wading to the gate

We saw 55 species of birds and the dozen Varied Sittella were frustrating. They were keen on bouncing around the trees collecting food and I had no chance of a decent photograph! There were not the huge numbers of ducks that you might expect in such a huge expanse of water, but there is just so much water all over now that they are dispersed across the whole country. The Rufous-throated Honeyeaters were happily splashing around in the water and an Australian Grebe was feeding alongside the flooded road. Both Sacred and Red-backed Kingfishers acknowledged our presence and they are no doubt breeding in the area.

Little Black Cormorant

Sacred Kingfisher

We thought we should also investigate Cable Beach and see how that had faired in the recent stormy weather. Our flat beach now has amazing cliffs due to erosion and looks like somewhere else entirely. There is also seaweed, which only occurs on the beaches here in extreme weather.

New cliffs on Cable Beach

There were several thousand shorebirds present and they were feeding up to prepare for their northward migration. There was a rather fast retreat from the beach when it started to rain, but thankfully it was still 30c!

Shorebirds feeding up for migration

We may have travel restrictions during this time of the year, but the changing landscape and the chance of a rarity getting blown in keeps all nature lovers enthralled.

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!