From Broome to Derby we visited Taylor’s Lagoon, the Logue River and Willare Bridge on the Fitzroy River. We did well for raptors including good views of Black Falcon, Little Eagle, Black-breasted Buzzard and Square-tailed Kite. 27 Red-necked Avocets at the Logue River pool were an unexpected surprise. We finished the day off with a pair of Great-billed Herons at the Derby Wharf.
The Derby mangroves in the vicinity of the wharf were quiet, perhaps the cool conditions had something to do with it, however Mangrove Golden Whistler, Broad-billed Flycatcher, Yellow White-eyes and Mangrove Grey Fantail showed well. Small flocks of Terek Sandpipers and Whimbrel were seen on the mudflats and the odd Eastern Curlew.
The famous Derby Sewerage Works has undergone some drastic changes, however it was still worth a visit with well over thirty species recorded. Lovely views of White-throated Gerygone in nearby scrub made a good start. In the King Leopold Ranges on our way to Mt. Hart several small flocks of Pictorella Mannikins were recorded.
After a comfortable night at Mt. Hart an early morning walk revealed several Australian Bustards promenading down the airstrip, and a Yellow Oriole feeding on Mulberries in the homestead gardens.
A lunch stop on the Hann River, Gibb River Road, had a rather gory flavour as we witnessed a Brown Falcon capturing a Varied Lorikeet, which the Falcon proceeded to tear to pieces.
Mt. Elizabeth Station is a wonderful birding location and our stay here enabled us to bird a few good spots. We were lucky enough to find 2 juvenile Gouldians but no adults! Seconds later in the same spot an adult male Northern Shrike Tit and Crested Bellbird were found. Masked Woodswallows were seen regularly in many different areas during our 10 day journey. Unfortunately we did not see any White-browed Woodswallows amongst them.
Our visit to the Mitchell Plateau was a little disappointing as we failed to see the main target bird the Black Grasswren and it wasn’t for the want of trying! We did however find both White-lined Honeyeaters and Green-backed Gerygones in good numbers. White-quilled Rock-Pigeons were common and our efforts were rewarded as we also enjoyed excellent views of Partridge Pigeon. Interesting raptors seen on the plateau included four Pacific Bazas performing undulating displays between prolonged thermalling, a single Peregrine Falcon was seen well, over Little Mertens Falls and 5 minutes later was followed by an adult Square-tailed Kite. While searching for the Grasswrens we made up for their absence by enjoying on several occasions fantastic views of Variegated Wrens (race rogersi), we hoped in vain the Fairy Wrens were accompanied by their black mates but to no avail. An interesting observation of Common Bronzewings coming down to drink at Camp Creek Crossing in the late afternoon, with failing light there may have been more than the dozen counted. Other interesting species seen around the Mitchell Plateau area included Little-Shrike Thrush, Varied Triller and Figbird.
On the Drysdale River (another gory bit) we disturbed a Barking Owl still clutching its half eaten breakfast of Tawny Frogmouth. On a lighter note super views of Purple-crowned Wrens, Black-chinned Honeyeaters and Crimson Finch. On the Gibb River Road Masked Finch and rather frustrating views of Red Goshawk, very high up and thermalling until it descended in a gentle and continuous stoop out of sight, I believe the bird was a young male with worn plumage due to the indistinct barring on the underside of the flight feathers but darker belly. Back at Mt. Elizabeth we had some splendid luck having almost given up for the mornings birding because of the strong cool easterly wind, we found a group of Gouldians, a stunning black faced male and twenty six juveniles. We were eventually surrounded by these Gouldians having crept up to where they were feeding, a great experience indeed. We also enjoyed close views of Black-tailed Treecreeper and Pallid Cuckoo. The rest of the day on our return to Broome was pretty good also with great views of Sandstone Shrike-thrush at the “Bench” King Leopold Ranges plus a couple of Short-eared Rock Wallabys. A pair of Ground Cuckoo-shrikes and Pictorella Mannikins at Donkey Creek and a Red-browed Pardalote on Wombarella Creek.
A great birding trip in June with cool nights and beautiful days. Comfortable friendly homestead accommodation with home cooked meals and best of all – lots of birds. Our final tally for the trip – 156 species.