Away from the hustle and bustle of Australia’s urban centres lies the remote and exotic Kimberley Coast. Stretching across the northern part of Western Australia, the Kimberley Coast borders both the Indian Ocean and Northern Territory. As an explorer on one of AE Expeditions’ Kimberley Coast voyages, you’ll get a firsthand view of Australia’s wildest frontier, witnessing some of the country’s most hidden gems and birdlife rarely seen elsewhere in the world.
Our Kimberley Coast adventures have a focus on learning with onboard experts who can help identify the difference between a booby and an egret – perfect for the keen photographer. Read on to learn more about each of the different species of birdlife that might catch your eye along the Kimberley Coast with AE Expeditions.
Along the Kimberley Coast, there are several species of boobies which could be spotted. This includes the Brown Booby, Red-footed Booby and Masked Booby. Boobies are commonly mistaken for gannets and are actually part of the same family. However, booby feathers stop at the eye line, while gannet feathers continue onto the face.
The three booby species listed above have very similar features, but ultimately have telltale differences to separate them. The Brown Booby has a brown tint to its underparts and breast, the Red-Footed Booby has reddish-pink legs, while the Masked Booby has a black trim mask around its eyes.
Of course, each Booby species is unique and your onboard birdlife expert can explain why these creatures are an important part of the Kimberley Coast’s ecosystem.
Eastern Reef Egrets
With their striking long necks, egrets certainly stand out from the crowd along the Kimberley shoreline. The water bird is mostly white, while its bill and other facial skin is yellow in colour. It is important to note that these colours are subject to change during the breeding season.
Egrets can be found around shallow water, but they also frequent other waterways such as lagoons, estuaries and coastal inlets. Due to their unique body shape, egrets hunt by either standing and prodding their beaks at the prey or by wading carefully through the shallow water.
Brolgas are found across much of tropical northern Australia, including the Kimberley Coast. The species inhabits coastal regions close to the shore including open wetlands, mudflats, croplands and creeks. However, Brolgas are also known to venture out to estuaries and other open waterways.
Brolgas stands out against the brown and green environment with their featherless red head and grey crown. However, the rest of the Brolga is mostly grey in colour helping it to camouflage from predators.
If you are lucky, you might see the Brolga undertaking its spectacular dance. The performances are conducted around the year and by birds of any age so make sure you have your camera ready!
Found across the entirety of Australia, excluding the interior, Sacred Kingfishers are a common sight in and amongst the mangroves of the Kimberley Coast. Distinguishable with their turquoise back, turquoise blue rump and tail and white/cream colour, these birds are well-suited for the coastal environment.
Sacred Kingfishers feature a long black bill that is used to hunt from low exposed branches. As they mostly hunt from the land or a perch, the birds feed on everything from insects and reptiles to crustaceans. Fish are certainly down the pecking order for the Sacred Kingfisher.
During your Aurora Expedition, keep your ears ready for the distinctive sounds of the Sacred Kingfisher. Described as a “kee kee kee”, this is both an excitement and warning voice to other Kingfishers. It is also heard repeatedly during the breeding season.
As a bird of prey, the Eastern Osprey is a commanding figure in the Kimberley Coast sky. While the Eastern Osprey is not as big as other raptors around the world, it is still a special bird to spot on your Aurora Expedition.
Mostly dark brown on its upperparts, the Osprey features lighter underparts and a pale crown. If you look closely, this species also have a black band through its eyes – making identification easier.
The Eastern Osprey rips its food rather than swallows whole, making it the ultimate air predator along the Kimberley Coast. It is important to note that Ospreys are sedentary and will remain at one nest site for many years.
To learn more about the birdlife on our Kimberley Cruises, please contact us for more information.