I said “Don’t tell me, there’s good light in Broome”

Good light in Broome, well I’ll be there soon

I know exactly what I’m a gonna do

Sit on the beach, stare at the moon

Haven’t you heard? there’s good light in Broome

Good Light in Broome, Neil Murray.

As my old boss Neil Murray says, there is some bloody good light in Broome, as there is in Derby, a couple of hundred k’s to the north-west.

11.30 am in the main street of Broome
11.30 am - Broome

After spending a long time in the desert’s too-harsh-between-10am-and-3pm light it is a relief on the eyes to get into some comparatively soft northern lights, though of course the heat and humidity of a September build-up does take some getting used to.

My armpits get a bit sweaty & crusty after a couple of days up here and my phone went on the fritz about two days after I got back to the humidity that hugs the coastal fringe up here like a warm blanket.

Just a little desperate, I went to the local phone store where a more than disinterested shop assistant told me that “Oh, those Nokia E51’s always go weird in the humidity.”

And so do I – and that is one of the reasons I moved away from Darwin and the NT’s north coast after living there for almost twenty years.

An hour and three shops later I sat down with a new phone and my old SIM card and worked my way through a few days of messages and missed calls.

Anyway, back to the light up here.

Last Saturday morning I was up before dawn to go to the wonderful Derby Wetlands – aka the Derby Waste Management facility aka the local shit-pits.

The local pits in Derby are great – they even have a 5 metre tower with a view over the pits and the adjacent wetland.

Not only do you get a good view from the tower but for flight photography that extra height makes life a lot easier – you see the birds a lot more easily than when you are at ground level, but it also gives a better background – sky, rather than trees and power lines.

Here are a couple of shots from the Derby shit-pits…

Torresian Crow, Derby
Torresian Crow, Derby

Crows are notoriously hard to photograph with any detail in the plumage – usually they just render as a black blob.

This one obligingly turned away from the sun at the right moment…and the sun being low in the sky helped as well.

Royal Spoonbill, Derby
Royal Spoonbill, Derby

And I do love a good spoonbill in the morning…they just look so…improbable.

Australian White Ibis, Derby
Australian White Ibis, Derby

And this White Ibis, which in many southern cities has a bit of a reputation as a pest bird, gave me a good look at the bare patches of skin under it’s wings as it glided past.

1st year Brown Goshawk, Broome Bird Observatory
1st year Brown Goshawk, Broome Bird Observatory

After Derby I drove down to the Broome Bird Observatory, on the shores of Roebuck Bay just south of Broome town.

This 1st year Brown Goshawk flew into the birdbath area near one of the bird hides not far from the camp and obligingly sat still for a few minutes so I could get a few portrait shots.

Not only is the Broome Bird Observatory a good place to stay if you want to avoid the tourist traps of Broome, but it is also a great place to catch some fantastic birds all up close and very personal.

And every evening just before the evening meal you can sit in on the “call of the birds” where twitchers and anyone else present gets to call out what birds they saw that day.

Peaceful Dove
Peaceful Dove

Peaceful Doves are cute but extremely nervous little birds.

And, with their larger cousins the Bar-shouldered Doves, there were lots hanging around at the watering point at the Observatory.

Little Friarbird
Little Friarbird

This slightly bedraggled and soggy Little Friarbird was also there. Friarbirds are just about my favourite Honeyeaters – aggressive, noisy and with a face that could scare horses – at least the Little Friarbird doesn’t have the bald leathery head and nose-bump of some of its cousins

As I said – there WAS good light in Broome. Hopefully there will be more that I can catch tomorrow.

There is a lot more to the Broome Bird Observatory than the few landbirds that I’ve shown here – especially at this time of year when, as I’ve noted here before, several hundred thousand migratory shorebirds wend their way down from Siberia and beyond to spend a while on the beaches of Roebuck Bay.

But while I was at the Broome Bird Observatory the neap tides were on, so, with only a small variation in the rise and fall of the tide, most of the birds were well offshore on the vast expase of mudflats that line the bay.

But – if you can get there on one of the king or high tides you will see things that will make your time and efforts well worthwhile – not only the great variety of land birds but a bewildering array of migratory waders.