Saturday, August 7, 2010

Learning New Skills and Seeing Old Friends at the Broome Bird Observatory

We arrived at the Broome Bird Observatory just in time to grab a really big hug from our friends who we haven't seen since Blackwood River National Park (down in the South West of WA) in April and then run on down to the beach for some "Cannon Netting" fun. 

Now for others (like me) who have never done this before, it may seem really cruel.  People lurk in the shadows for about 2 hours waiting for the shorebirds numbers to increase then suddenly, with a cannon, release a net over the birds.  The birds are then covered with a huge shade cloth, then carefully, carried one by one to a portable cage to be classified, counted and tagged.  All in the interests of understanding birds and their patterns.

waiting for the message to move

front line has the message to move

birds under the net and shadecloth, being handed to "runners" (people like me) to take to cages

bird being taken to cage

The kids were terribly excited, especially because they were picked to be on the "front line" which meant that they had to run down first.

After about 1&1/2 hours of this Matt & I realised that we needed to go as it was beginning to rain, and we had not had lunch (it was now 3pm) and we hadn't set up.  As it turned out, they did not finish until 5.30 that  night.  379 birds were netted and tagged that day.  Apparently that is a mammoth effort (especially when there were only about 20 people there).  Roebuck Bay,  a place of world significant in shorebirds.  I learnt something.

Great to catch up with Fiona and Darren, Amber and Jaxen.  The kids had a blast, and we ate, drank, talked and smiled. 

Tuesday saw us going back into Broome (did I say that we were leaving Broome) to get Frank's stitches out.  The nurse said we would have to come back in again the next day...would we ever leave Broome?

The boys really got into the bird watching and the "Bird Log" which happens at 6pm every evening there and you name the number of each species of birds that you have seen that day.  I was glad that the boys were not making up species that didn't belong there.

Darren is a great coach for them with birds, his knowledge is incredible and they really listen to him.

Tuesday we got a call about a job in Derby for Matt helping as a roady for a gig for the Rodeo for this weekend (6-8 August).  Great opportunity.  We decided to go for it.  Not long after, we got another call from Trac (see previous entry) about a job back in Broome working for AEC for the election.  Given the state of the funds, and the price of fuel, and food, we decided to spend another 2 weeks there.

So what if we have been in Broome for .... 2 MONTHS????  ok, a little moment in Derby, One Arm, etc, but really, this is a long time.  Never mind.  We are going with the flow of it.  It is warm and lovely.  At least we can swim here (not Frank yet) and we can always change our plans (I am not sure we really had any anyway!).

Another peaceful day in the observatory with our lovely friends, then goodbye to them, then off to Derby.


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