August to October (2018)

The past few months have been busy at the BBO with many nights filled to capacity in the campground and other accommodations. We have welcomed day visitors from all states and territories of Australia, and as far flung as the U.S., Europe, Ireland, Asia, the U.K., East Timor and South America. One of the many values of the Observatory is in spreading the very inspirational story of the Shorebird migration and the importance of their stop over feeding grounds of the Yellow Sea. There are countless people who visit without any prior knowledge of the epic journey these birds undertake and who leave with a newfound respect that, hopefully, they will take home and share.

Also keeping the Observatory busy has been the special events celebrating the BBO’s 30-year anniversary. The combined Shorebird / 30-year Birthday Party was held at the Observatory with special guest’s Dr Clive Minton (from the original AWSG expedition) and Gail Wells (nee Hooper) and Brice Wells (first wardens) offering tales from the early years.  Clive’s slideshow shared entertaining photos of the BBO evolution from the ’80s and ‘90s. Around 100 guests enjoyed live music, various stalls from local groups, a BBQ and a stunning 30th Birthday Cake (thank you Helen Macarthur!).

Anniversary celebrations continued with BirdLife Australia’s Congress and Campout. The two-day Congress was held at the Mangrove Hotel, Broome and filled with a wide variety of talks that held the common themes of birds and Roebuck Bay. This was followed by two days at the Observatory where 58 participant’s car pooled into conveys and were guided by staff to birding hotspots and natural highlights of the Bay and Roebuck Plains. Feedback received on this event was very positive with attendees and staff enjoying both aspects of the event.

The last two courses of our busy birder season were held in September and October. Over six days the ‘Birds of the Broome Region’ was delivered to novices and experienced birders alike. With a common interest in birds and the abundant delicious food provided, these courses facilitate a great sense of camaraderie and knowledge sharing. Highlights included taking meals at the shadehouse while watching Torresian Crows nip the tails of drinking Agile Wallabies in order to dominate the bird baths; witnessing a Saltwater Crocodile swim along the shoreline of Roebuck Bay whilst shorebirding, finding Asian Dowitchers, Common Redshanks and Little Curlews among the roosting shorebirds and getting good views of Yellow Chats, Australian Bustards and a Black-breasted Buzzard on the neighbouring Roebuck Plains.

For the first time in many years the BBO hosted a photography course, which was led by three brilliant photographers from Flock Wildlife. This added an extra challenge for the BBO guides who needed to not only locate the birds but in the right light, with the right backdrop and from the right angle. The photographs featured in this article were taken during the course and may give some indication of its success.

As we near the end of the busy people season and the Bay continues to fill with shorebirds returning from migration, the BBO would like to thank all the volunteers that have contributed to another successful season. Many locals offer their time and special skills at the Observatory, the series of Camp Hosts ensure the Observatory is neat and tidy while the Wardens and seasonal Assistant Wardens strive to facilitate exceptional guest experiences. THANK YOU.

Stacey Mole - Assistant Warden