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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Perth and South-Western, West Australia, 10-23/9/04,
August/September is a bit of a slow time birding wise in Thailand. It is also a period of unpredictable weather and so makes as an ideal time for a vacation elsewhere. Last year's trip to Southern Queensland was a huge success and gave us the aptitude for another visit to the land 'down under'.
We flew to Singapore in the evening and spent the night on some reclining massage contraptions (chairs) at this number one rated Airport of the world.
The flight from Singapore to Perth only took a little less then 5 hours but transported us into an entirely different zoological region.
Right at the airport I had my first lifers: Australian Raven and Laughing Turtle Dove (introduced) But best of all, we were met with delightful temperatures of a fast approaching Australian spring.
First 4 nights were spent with missionary friends who just had returned from Indonesia. They had both gone through major cancer operations and were adhering to strict vegetarian diets which they testified had improved their health markedly and there were no traces of the decease any more. They had lots of tales to tell and we enjoyed their company very much.
We did a short visit to the Tomato Lake in the Kewdale area upon arrival and right away I got one of my most wanted bird, the Blue-billed Duck. What a bird! Immaculate design. The next day we went for a visit to Kings Park. Had some great views of the city and enjoyed the nicely landscaped front of the park with views of the harbor. The Ringnecked Parrots seemed to be everywhere and so did New Holland Honeyeater and Red Wattlebird (this later almost became a nuisance, as it was very abundant in WA). What great birds to have in your garden! The Honeyeater proved to be our most common passerine showing up in virtually all habitats visited. Other very common Honeyeaters were Singing and Brown Honeyeater.
Through www.birdingpal.com I had been in contact with Peter Jacoby and he had arranged for a trip to many birding sites around Perth. He and his wife, Dianne, picked me up and off we went for a day filled with birds (18 lifers). The well known site of Wungong Gorge some half an hours drive outside Perth produced some very attractive and sought after endemic Red-eared Firetails. Also the Red-winged Fairy Wrens were there as were some White-tailed Black Cockatoos flying overhead. We saw many flocks of these Black Cockatoos during our 2 weeks stay but I won't try to differentiate whether they are Short-billed or Long-billed as these differences seem to be very, very marginal (why not simply call them different geographical races?). At the Bungendore Park nearby the gorge we had a delightful walk that produced some great birds: Rufous Treecreeper, White-cheeked Honeyeater, Western Spinebill, Western Thornbill and a flock of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos. Peter knows his birds well and helped to make my day around Perth successful in every way. Thank you Peter!
Well, one does not get very far without a car in this vast land. I had arranged with www.backpackerrentals.com to pick up a Holden Apollo for 40A$/day. The car held up beautifully and its big size and strong engine made for a smooth ride and comfort. The company does not have airport delivery and is a bit far away at Freemantle but if one wants a good deal it is worth it. The car was 10 years old but came with a 200 km/day mileage, something no one else could offer for that price. It also included full insurance.
It took us a few days to get used to the cold weather. Believe me, it is unheard of to sleep in sleeping bag, long johns and a heater on, back home in Bangkok but this was our plight in the cold night hours of Perth
We stuffed the car with our own sleeping gear and headed southbound towards Albany. Our first stop was to be the Dryandra Forest Park a couple of hours drive along the way. The park was easy to find thanks to the excellent instructions found on Frank O'connors very detailed website. Not too far from the park we passed a couple of streams crossing the road. Things looked so scenic in these areas that we stopped and were rewarded with views of a family of Australian Shelducks, Scarlet Robin and an absolutely stunning male Red-capped Robin. This must be the bird of the trip as far as I am concerned. We settled in a park cabin for 40 Aus$/night. The kids were excited being out in undisturbed surroundings and soon had a bonfire going. It didn't take long for the marshmallows to cook. The night was cold but we had brought our own heater, bought in a second hand store for almost nothing. Stars were bright and the burning wood in the fireplace gave a nice scent to the cabin. A simple meal of bread, cheese, salami and fresh vegetables tasted wonderful.
The forest here is quite alive with smaller birds and it didn't take that much work to find what I wanted. Had excellent views of Western Rosellas, many Rufous Treecreepers, Western Yellow Robin, Grey Currawong, Varied Sittella, Red-capped Parakeets, Dusky Wood Swallows and more. I had to search a bit for the Bush Thickknee but eventually found one.
Next day we drove to Stirling Range National Park. Along the way we did many stops to enjoy the landscape and also a large flock of Tawny crowned Honeycreepers along with a single Purple-gaped Honeyeater coming to the roadside for a drink. We saw Elegant Parrots by a field.
At the Caravan Park we were greeted by a Rufous Treecreeper, calling from the side mirrors of a parked vehicle. Purple-crowned Lorikeets were flying fast overhead and Regent Parrots were joining in at times. The campground adjoins the park and held several good birds. A pair of Restless Flycatchers were tending to a nest next to our caravan. I went looking for Blue-breasted Fairy Wrens but in vain.
The early morning gave me a long walk and I came upon a big flock of White-tailed Black Cockatoos feeding in the grass. I got real close to them as they almost appeared a bit 'sleepy'. Brown Honeyeater was a new bird for me and there were Yellow-plumed, White-cheeked and White-naped Honeyeaters around. A light phase of Little Eagle was in the air as well as lots of Dusky Woodswallows. The park was filled with blooming flowers in an endless array.
Then we went onwards towards Albany and stopped at Porongorup Park for a pick nick. This was our first taste of the tall Karri forests. Majestic, needle strait, trees reached tall to the skies giving a rather cathedral like appearance. My son, Jaime, 9, pointed out my first White-breasted Robin, a couple of Western Rosellas came close and Purple-crowned Lorikeets kept busy overhead. The whole area around the park was inviting for an overnight stay but time wouldn't allow.
We drove strait to Two Peoples Bay looking for lodging along the way. All resorts in that area was too pricey for us but we later found a very nice Caravan Park inside Albany. This park had Western Rosellas on the lawn and Red-capped Parrots in the trees, overlooking a wonderfully landscaped hilly farm and woodland.
Two Peoples Bay was our first taste of WA coastline. The Bay itself must be one of the most beautiful in the world. Absolutely gorgeous. I made no attempt to look for the skulky endemic Western Bristlebird and Noisy Scrub Bird but had my first Pacific Gulls and Sooty Oystercatchers. Due to time constraints etc we didn't go back to the Bay in the morning but I would gladly have given a couple of mornings in search for those birds. The place itself was simply fantastically beautiful.
Instead, we drove to the Gap and the Bridge and generally browsed around in the area. At the end of Frenchmans Bay we saw a large group of Australian Sea-lions bobbing their heads up and down like floating buoys. At Seppings Lake, we had some great looks of Red-winged Fairy Wrens and our first Musk Ducks. The later is a great diver with a Cormorant like tail, protruding, as it would head-dive for aquatic animals. By this time even my wife who is not a birder couldn't refuse to video some of the charming Blue-billed Ducks in the lake.
We decided to drive towards Augusta and Cape Leeuwin along the southern coastal route. Denmark was our first town. We stopped for our first and only meal out which had to be fish and chips and though not a very healthy meal, admittedly very tasty.
The drive kept going through stately wooded Karri forests and eventually ended at our destination, the little town of Pemberton. Here we found a great cabin at Pemberton Forest Stay a few kilometers away.
We did have a peak at the famous 'Treetop walk' near Walpole. Quite frankly, I would not consider paying a small fortune to walk along this man-made 'sidewalk looking' contraption, along with tons of other tourists. A better place to visit would be the Gloucester tree which offers a climb up all the 60 meters to the top. Also here, there is another outrageous charge but we found out that by backtracking a kilometer and entering the park via the Bibbulman track we were allowed to enter without paying. Well, we didn't try to scale the tree but several birds were very tame around the tree; Western Rosella, Red-winged Fairy Wrens, Common Bronzewing and Ringnecks.
We shared the large cabin with another two couples. An American man shared stories of his 4 months of crossing Australia's entire desserts single handedly.
The cabin was located right next to the Karri forest besides a creek and nearby farms. I had a wonderful morning walk along a graveled road lined with farmland and stands of trees, enjoying 50 some Straw-necked Ibises feeding in a field.
A group of Splendid Fairy Wrens were next to our window and the male in full breeding color sure lives up to his name. Grey Shrike-thrushes were hopping along the ground. Red-winged Fairy Wrens in the low bushes, Grey Fantail with its Flycatcher like song lingered around. Also my only White-browed Babbler of the trip passed through the garden, thrilling my heart.
Following day we arrived at Augusta and Cape Leeuwin. What a windy place! Besides Australian Gannets, Crested Terns, Pacific Terns and the ever present Silver Gulls a pair of Yellow-nosed Albatrosses was at the Cape but that was all there was to be as far as seabirds go. Nevertheless, it was a great feeling being at the cross point of such great oceans as the South and Indian Ocean.
A search behind the asbestos fences by the Cape gave light to 4 Rock Parrots feeding on the lawn.
Again, we stayed at a Caravan park and I must say I think these are great places to stay at. We paid on an average 50A$/night for a roomy van. All vans are fully equipped and restrooms and showers are always of high standard.
The road from Cape Leeuwin to Cape Naturaliste is dotted with scenic beaches and caves (a visit to a cave is charged 16$/person) and we tried to find the Hooded Plover at a couple of places but failed to see one.
The Sugar Loaf at Cape Naturaliste had nothing but Silver Gulls so we went onward to Myalup a bit North of Brunbury. Here we met a small supermarket owner who invited us for supper. He had lived a very adventurous life and we all intently listened as he told his story while consuming a sumptuous meal of mixed stir fried vegetables, spring rolls and fried rice. We saw White-tailed Black Cockatoos several times during our drive from Augusta.
I had heard a lot about Rottnest Island and on our last day we took the ferry across. It was a gloomy, rainy and cold day but the kids were brave and fought the elements during their long bicycle ride around the Island. I quickly had 3 of my target birds: White-fronted Chats, Red-necked Avocet and Banded Plovers. The later were numbering several hundred. Later at the golf course, I found 3 Banded Lapwings and a Sacred Kingfisher showed up in some trees. The Island is a must for any visitor, very scenic and worthy of a visit in spite of the pricey ferry (45$/adult and 19$/child). We met a kind hearted man who donated the use of bicycles which I'd say are a must to enjoy all there is to see on Rottnest Island.
Before I returned the car I drove to Herdsmans Lake for an hour and there was a good number of ducks in the lake. New ones for the trip were Australian Shoveler and Great Crested Grebe.
This was our second trip to Australia and I heartily recommend a visit. Roads are good, traffic disciplined (some exceptions in the inner city), supplies abundant, lodging easy, nature spectacular, birds bountiful and weather simply perfect. I ended up with a trip list of 124 birds whereof 51 were new.
1. Common Pheasant - easy at Rottnest Island
2. Indian Peafowl - around settlements at Rottnest Island
3. Blue-billed Duck - common in lakes around Perth, Albany
4. Musk Duck - Herdsmans lake and Seppings lake, Albany
5. Black Swan - common
6. Australian Shelduck - common and abundant at Rottnest Island
7. Australian Wood Duck - common in parks etc
8. Grey Teal - fairly common in small numbers
9. Australian Shoveler - Herdsmans lake
10. Hardhead - Tomato lake and a few more places
11. Australian Grebe - Tomato lake
12. Hoary-headed Grebe - Herdsmans lake
13. Great-crested Grebe - Herdsmans lake
14.Yellow-nosed Albatross - Gap, Albany and Cape Leeuwin
15. Australian Gannet - Gap and Cape Leeuwin
16. Darter - single birds seen several places including Perth harbour
17. Little Pied Cormorant - common
18. Little Black Cormorant common
20. Pied Cormorant - Cape Leeuwin
21. Australian Pelican - common in Perth
22. White-faced Heron - Albany, caravan park and elsewhere
23. Great Egret - Albany coastline
24. Australian White Ibis - common in Perth
25. Straw-necked Ibis - Pemberton
26. Yellow-billed Spoonbill - Herdsmans lake
27. Black-shouldered Kite- seen along the road
28. Whistling Kite - Thomsons Lake
29. Spotted Harrier
30. Swamp Harrier - Herdsmans lake
31. Brown Goshawk - seen on a few occasions
32. Wedge-tailed Eagle - Dryandra
33. Little Eagle - Stirling Range Park
34. Australian Hobby - Tomato lake
35. Nankeen Kestrel - seen a few times along the road
36. Purple Swamphen - easy along lakes at Perth
37. Dusky Moorhen - easy along lakes at Perth
38. Eurasian Coot - plenty
39. Ruddy Turnstone - a pair at Rottnest Island
40. Great Knot - single bird at Hamelin Bay
41. Red-necked Stints - about 100 at Rottnest Island
42. Bush Stone-curlew - single at Dryandra Forest
43. Pied Oystercacher - Rottnest Island
44. Sooty Oystercatcher - several along southern coastline, Rottnest Island
45. Black-winged Stilt - single bird at Rottnest Island
46. Banded Stilt- many hundreds at Rottnest Island
47. Red-necked Avocet - single bird at Rottnest Island
48. Red-capped Plover - Lake Yangebup
49. Banded Lapwing - 3 at Rottnest Island
50. Pacific Gull - several sites along southern coast
51. Silver Gull - abundant
52. Caspian Tern - Perth harbour, Albany
53. Crested Tern - common along coast
54. Rock Dove
55. Laughing Turtle Dove - common Perth
56. Spotted Turtle Dove - easy at Perth
57. Common Bronzewing - Albany, Pemberton, almost tame at times
58. Crested Pigeon - outside Perth
59. Red-tailed Black Cockatoo - flock at Bungendore
60. Long-billed Black Cockatoo - Wungong gorge
61. Short-billed Black Cockatoo - seen many times in the South
62. Galah - common
63. Rainbow Lorikeet - common Perth
64. Purple-crowned Lorikeet - easy at Striling Range, Porongorup, Pemberton
65. Regent Parrot - Stirling Range only
66. Western Rosella - common in the South
67. Australian Ringneck - very common
68. Red-capped Parrot - Dryandra, Stirling, Pemberton
69. Elegant Parrot - Stirling Range
70. Rock Parrot - Cape Leeuwin
71. Shining Bronze Cuckoo - Thomsons Lake
72. Sacred Kingfisher - single bird Rottnest Island
73. Laughing Kookaburra- common
74. Rufous Treecreeper - not hard, most common at Dryandra
75. Splendid Fairy Wren - Pemberton
76. Red-winged Fairy Wren - common in the South
77. Spotted Pardalote - seen a few times in wooded areas
78. Striated Pardalote - as above
79. White-browed Scrubwren - common but easily overlooked
80. Weebill - very easily overlooked, seen a couple of times
81. Western Gerygone - easy on song
82. Inland Thornbill - wooded areas
83. Western Thornbill - Bungendore and wooded areas
84. Yellow-rumped Thornbill - commonest of the Thornbills, often feeding on the ground
85. Red Wattlebird - abundant
86. Yellow-throated Miner - a pair along the road from Stirling Range in cultivated area
87. Singing Honeyeater - common Perth and elsewhere
88. Purple-gaped Honeyeater - single bird before Stirling Range in malee forest
89. Yellow-plumed Honeyeater - common Stirling Range
90. Brown-headed Honeyeater - single bird at Stirling Range
91. White-naped Honeyeater - here and there
92. Brown Honeyeater - common Perth and elsewhere
93. New Holland Honeyeater - very obtrusive and common in all habitats
94. White-cheeked Honeyeater - Tomato lake, Bungendore
95. Tawny-cheeked Honeyeater - Stirling Range
96. Western Spinebill - Bungendore, Dryandra, Stirling etc
97. White-fronted Chat - small flock at Rottnest Island
98. Scarlet Robin - wooded areas
99. Red-capped Robin - Dryandra Forest
100. Western Yellow Robin - single at Dryandra
101. White-breasted Robin - seen at Porongorup and once more in heath
102. White-browed Babbler - single at Pemberton Forest Stay
103. Varied Sittella - common Dryandra
104. Golden Whistler - seen on a few occasions
105. Rufous Whistler - Wongong gorge and a few more sites
106. Grey Shrikethrush - Dryandra, Pemborton Forest Stay
107. Restless Flycatcher - Stirling Range Retreat
108. Magpie Lark - common in parks
109. Grey Fantail - common in wooded areas
110. Willie Wagtail - common
111. Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike - common
112. Dusky Woodswallow - Dryandra, Stirling Range
113. Grey Butcherbird - caravan park Augusta
114. Australian Magpie - abundant
115. Grey Currawong - only Dryandra
116. Australian Raven - common
117. Richard's Pipit - seen several times along coast
118. Red-eared Firetail - Wungong Gorge
119. Welcome Swallow - common
120. Tree Martin - common
121. Silvereye - common
'Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the
Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of
things which do appear.' Hebrews 11:3
'For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are
clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.'