Thursday, March 24, 2016

Birds, Sweat and Twitch

Americans for the most part don’t know how different the sun is down here. The difference between being in the sun and in the shade is unbelievable until you experience it yourself. The other afternoon it was 34C here, but the heat index was above 40C. I just know it is miserably hot, in or out of the sun, and I spend most of the day dripping in sweat. We are in the tropics and I am grateful.

Yesterday morning, we stopped by the Broome Bird Observatory and found out that the Semipalmated Plover had been seen the day before at the sewage ponds (not on the beach behind the ponds as I had thought, and where we had spent some overly hot time searching). Of course, we drove straight down to the ponds. The trick to seeing anything at the Broome sewage ponds is to elevate yourself, and as my levitation skills are woefully lacking, it meant standing on Troopi’s hood and that is what I (and eventually we) did.

We looked in the spot where it had been observed the day before, but it was not showing. We tried different angles, driving around the ponds and stopping and climbing up on the hood (or her bow as we often call it) to scope the ponds. We ended up back at the spot where we started. We’d been doing this for about an hour and a half, and were getting close to throwing in the towel (which would have been soaked with sweat) and then I saw the Snipe.
Pin-tailed/Swinhoe's Snipe (I want to know!)

I did not know exactly what snipe it was and I still don’t. Here it would either be Pin-tailed or Swinhoe’s. Nigel was 99% sure the snipe that he saw there that morning was Pin-tailed. However what we saw was probably a Swinhoe's (according to Nigel). Yes, there are two snipe hanging out at the poo ponds. Anyway, I stayed longer with my scope, bins and camera on Troopi’s hood, looking and taking poor, too-far-away snipe photos. It got hotter and hotter.

And then… I saw the plover, our plover. I knew it the moment I saw it, even from the back and many meters away. I told Lynn that I had it and she was up on the hood in a flash and looking at it through the scope. We had twitched the Semipalmated Plover! I am so grateful! Sure, we’ve seen hundreds in the US, but this is an Aussie Lifer and that’s what counts! And speaking of birds that we have often seen in the US but never here, Lynn spotted and correctly identified Barn Swallows at the ponds yesterday! When we spoke with Nigel in the afternoon, he mentioned that he had seen them there that morning as well. She spotted them. I would have missed them.

The first "Oh my God! Oh my God! I've got it!" view. That's its little back way over there above the coot.

Semipalmated Plover!

Here are some more photos from the last few days. There are some other Lifers and more. It’s been hot, but worth every drop of sweat and there is so much more to come... birds and sweat. We’re in Broome, Western Australia and I am grateful.
Lifer Eastern Yellow Wagtail (with dark head and seemingly no eyebrow).
Eastern Yellow Wagtail with eyebrow.
Lifer Paperbark Flycatcher at the roadhouse.

Rufous-throated Honeyeater coming atcha!
Lifer Rufous-throated Honeyeater looking wistful.
I like this photo. An Australian Bustard just strolling along by a river on the way up here. 
And a couple of Knot bad flight shots of a Great Knot.

 Lifer Selfie instead of Lifer Pie (sometimes). This was in the Roebuck Plains Roadhouse the other night, just before I had a wonderful grilled Barramundi dinner.
Birds. Peace. Love.


  1. So how are you sleeping in that heat? Does Troopi have ac? Hope you are both taking tons of pix. Need one of the two of you birding from the hood of Troopi. Xoxox

  2. We're at the BBO and we do have a/c... (thank heavens!).


Comments Here: