Black Necked Stork (Jabiru) Roebuck Bay WA

We all know plenty of waterbirds, don’t we?  Ducks, swans, seagulls………and those other ones.  In fact, the term waterbird is incredibly broad and somewhat misleading; after all, every bird needs water to survive. 

The term really applies to those birds which live most of their lives on or near the water.  It therefore encompasses birds which live on inland, fresh water courses or near waterholes, as well as those found on or near the oceans.  Within this broad category we find the waders, often long-legged birds seen patrolling the tidal shallows in search of food.  We couldn’t tell one wader from another until we stayed at the Broome Bird Observatory on the shores of Roebuck Bay, and to be completely honest, I’m still not too certain of my wader-species!  We discovered that Roebuck Bay near Broome is one of the most important sites for waders in the world.  These birds are incredible, migrating enormous distances across the globe each year to feed and reproduce.  The Broome Bird Observatory is world famous, and is staffed by a United Nations of ornithologists, yet is little known in our own country.    

Other waterbirds, like the many and varied species of duck, swim along and then dive to the muddy bottom of rivers in search of food.  Some, such as the darter and the cormorant, dive from the surface and use their feet underwater to propel themselves is search of fish, the darter spearing its prey on its pointed beak, while the cormorant uses its hooked beak to secure its meal.  Others fish in a more spectacular fashion, plunging into the water from a great height to catch their unsuspecting meal.  And of course we cannot forget the majestic raptors such as the Sea Eagle.

A Darter, or Snake Bird surfaces at Marglu Billabong, the Kimberley WA

White Bellied Sea Eagle, Carawine Gorge, the Pilbara, WA

The Kingfishers usually live near inland watercourses, but they will be the subject of a separate post on this site.

We hope the following photographs capture some of the variety, colour and spirit of all these wonderful creatures.  Remember that the Brolga has already been featured in one of our posts.

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