Waterhole birds and desert bees

So I left off camping next to a dry creek bed with a bunch of cows; my first day in WA. From there I did quite a bit of driving towards Broome, and found very few bees in this arid place! I did pass Wolfe Creek, but didn’t stay for the night (despite some temptation).

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The road to Wolfe Creek

The landscape has been pleasant enough, fifty shades of arid is how I’d describe it! Many different ways and places of getting thirsty and sunburnt 😉

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Some of the more prominent features in this part of WA

Anyway, after a lot of driving, and not a great deal of bee finding, I did find an awesome free campsite next to a lagoon, which was teeming with bird life! Naturally, I had to whip out the old zoom lens and see what I could see.

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Rainbow bee eater taking a break on a barbed wire fence in the afternoon
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Not sure what this little bird is

After the bird activity died down, I was greeted with an awesome sunset and amazing early evening storm. …I think that I may need to dial back the lagoon talk here, but it’s safe to say that I would love to come back one day, if nothing else but for the birds.

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Sunset over the lagoon
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An explosion in the clouds!

Next day (after an extended morning around the lagoon…), I set off for Broome. Along the way I saw some more awesome bottle trees, which made the ones growing in gardens and parks along the east coast look like sickly little things. I also stopped to have a look at some unattended back burning in the bush next to the road and watched the birds of prey circling the fire waiting for some misguided little mammal to make a runner.

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Some of the huge bottle trees
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The back burning front
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A cow’s skull just ahead of the fire… It tells a story, or at least an ending to one

I got to Broome, where I had a couple of packages waiting for me (or so I thought). I stayed a couple of nights and made a new friend and saw some sights to pass the time! I eventually received one package and moved on south towards Perth.

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The Broome coast from the caravan park
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Crab balls!
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Sunset over a western beach! Now that’s something I don’t see too often!
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And to the east a storm gathers in the light of the setting sun

Once I was off I could not help but try to find a campsite close to water in order to find some more birds to photograph. So, next to De Grey River (the dry end of the river at least) I found some shallows with bird activity! Not only did I find birds though… The constant ‘popping’ on the water surface come evening (and the next morning) made me cast in a line! Well I got to land my first ever mangrove jack (8 or 9 of them in fact!). I also saw a ~1 metre bull shark(?) swirling through the shallow reeds looking for a feed!

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Red-kneed dotterel in the shallows
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Another rainbow bee eater!
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Zebra finches
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Brown honeyeater about to take off
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Black-fronted dotterel

And then… Budgies!!!

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And all here because of the water

After another afternoon and morning taking photos of birds (not bees), I turned south again, driving to a mining town called Newman, which I camped near in another empty ‘campground’. Along the way though there was some pretty awesome scenery, some of which I could not help but climb (perhaps much to the confusion of passing motorists!). There’s not much else to say about that day, but that I stayed at a cool campsite a little off the road in some bush 😉

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One of the ledges that I climbed that day
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Atop a hill
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Slightly out of focus, with butterfly net holstered in my belt
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Not 2km down the road the landscape became flat and dry

The next morning I started out, again looking for bees along the side of the road. I wasn’t having too much luck until I stopped to look at some big orange and purple flowers. Well neither of those had bees on them either come to think of it… But they did lead me to see some much smaller flowers, getting serviced by at least two species of bees, one of which was another species of blue-banded!

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A blue banded bee species coming in to land

A few more blue-bandeds coming in for a feed!

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Of course, it’s never just bees that visit flowers, there were plenty of wasps as well, preferring often to come in sideways… probably not doing a great job of pollinating, but still…

After some excitement and sunburn from laying prone on the ground for a bit too long, I got back on the road and enjoyed the dry scenery. I particularly liked coming over a rise or just driving along and seeing a red pillar in the sky from dust devils on the ground, as well as the twisted trees in the cracked red soil.

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The bottom of a dust devil.. not the best picture but they go up quite high
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An inland ‘lake’

My next campsite was quite good as well actually. I was greeted by an apparently very judgmental brown falcon… Yet I was again impressed by the twisted dead-looking trees in the area!

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Through my back window as I knew it would bolt when I opened my door… It did.
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A twisted ‘tree’ (it’s only about 20cm tall)
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Okay, this tree is a little bigger… at least a shrub!
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They also look good in front of the milky way (unlike those damn clouds!)

Anyway, next morning involved a bit more bird watching, as they came for the little puddle of water that I had parked next to, followed by a drive to Geraltdon! The road was actually quite good, and featured goats, sheep, kangaroos, emus, goanas and god knows what else! So I had to be careful, while enjoying the ride 🙂

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I don’t know, some little grey job…
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That grey job didn’t like my lack of ability (or will) to ID it, so it left… Apparently an inland thornbill
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Western bowerbird
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Emus on the run!

Anyways, I finally made it to Geraltdon, and I also finally found some wildflowers! This was of course after passing through about 100km or more of “wildflower country”, but great! I was only able to catch one species though, although it was late in the afternoon. BUT that species was a species of cuckoo bee! 😀 Tonight, I camp by the beach, and the ocean is my shower!

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Wildflowers next to the Geraltdon airport
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Good morning, coastal frontage!

From WA with love,

James

 

Bee count: 79

Kilometers traveled: ~11,000

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6 thoughts on “Waterhole birds and desert bees

  1. Yay! A cuckoo bee! That must be satisfying. Did you make it to Geraldton in time to see Dawson’s burrowing bee or have they all disappeared by now?
    Loving the photos – they are amazing! The starry night tree one is incredible!
    Keep the bee photos coming. The blue banded bee is my favourite and your photos put mine to shame.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It certainly was satisfying! I think that they may be fairly common here, as a found several more along the way 🙂 I haven’t seen any of the burrowing bees yet! I have been keeping an eye out, but I might have to intensify my search if I am to find some before a am too far south! And I’m glad that you like the photos, but I can’t pass judgement on your photos vs mine 🙂

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      • It feels weird having a conversation via comments, but anyway. I used to work at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, and one of the researchers there helped make a film about how the burrowing bees were looked after by local Aboriginal people and how the grubs were sustainable harvested. A really good watch but unfortunately not in the public domain yet. I hope you get to see some!

        Liked by 1 person

      • It certainly does, and I’d love to see that film! Unfortunately, I have been informed that I am too far south and far too late to see them :/ But there is always next time!

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