Roebuck Plains Wet Season

annabelleIn the field, Photography

Black-winged stilt

The 2013-2014 wet season got off to a flying start in December 2013, with falls of 205mm, followed by 390mm in January 2014.  To the south of Broome, Roebuck Plains is a vast, flat catchment, subject to tidal saltwater inundation from Roebuck Bay, with millions of litres of freshwater flowing back into the bay after sustained rainfall.  

In the wet season, the plains attract hundreds of thousands of birds foraging for insects, amphibians and crustaceans as the plains turn into a massive wetland foodbowl.  At the first sign of rains, graceful Black-winged stilts (Himantopus himantopus) move inland in search of aquatic crustaceans and insects, building nesting sites on grassy hummocks near water.  Also known as the Dog Bird, the stilt makes a yapping sound and flies around frantically to detract predators from its nest.  

Managed by the Indigenous Land Corporation since 1998, Roebuck Plains Station straddles the main highway from Broome to Port Hedland.  Comprising 750,000 ha, the station now operates a programme to train Aboriginal stockmen, exporting live cattle through Broome port.  The station was previously owned by English peer, Alistair McAlpine.

Aerial view of Roebuck Plains

Aerial view of Roebuck Plains

 

A pair of cattle look at each other across a fenceline on Roebuck Plains station in the Kimberley wet season.

A pair of cattle look at each other across a fenceline on Roebuck Plains station in the Kimberley wet season.

 

A truck crosses a floodway on Roebuck Plains

A truck crosses a floodway on Roebuck Plains

A truck crosses a floodway on Roebuck Plains

A truck crosses a floodway on Roebuck Plains

 

Water floods Roebuck Plains after sustained rains

Water floods Roebuck Plains after sustained rains

 

Flock of Black-winged stilts

Flock of Black-winged stilts

 

Floodwater on Roebuck Plains, near Broome

Floodwater on Roebuck Plains, near Broome

 

A mixed flock of birds forage at the edge of the flooday on Roebuck Plains

A mixed flock of birds forage at the edge of the floodway on Roebuck Plains

 

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Black-winged stilts feeding on Roebuck Plains

 

A Plains goanna feeds on frogs at the edge of the highway on Roebuck Plains

A Plains goanna feeds on frogs at the edge of the highway on Roebuck Plains

 

A flock of Masked Lapwings  fly over Roebuck Plains

Flock of Masked Lapwings over Roebuck Plains

Masked Lapwing

Masked Lapwing

 

A juvenile frog in the intermediate stage between tadpole and frog

A juvenile frog in the intermediate stage between tadpole and frog

 

Swamp harrier

Swamp harrier

 

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Red dragonfly on Roebuck Plains