Western Australia: Perth to Albany. 10th – 13th September 2017   Leave a comment

This is the second post about my trip to Western Australia. The first post detailed the pre-tour extension to Christmas Island, this post covers our journey from Perth to Albany.

I have made two previous private trips to Australia, concentrating on the east, north and centre of the country.  On this occasion I decided to travel with Birdquest due to their comprehensive coverage of the state of Western Australia.

 

After the tranquility of Christmas Island, Perth’s freeways, traffic, high-rise buildings ….

 

…. and multi-lane underpasses came as a bit of a shock. Two more clients, Alison and Brian (who had accompanied me on two previous trips) joined us for the main tour.

 

Our first stop was Herdman’s Lake, a lovely wetland reserve within the city limits. we arrived just as the sun was rising ….

 

….. silhouetting the Great Cormorants hanging their wings out to dry.

 

There were plenty of waterfowl on the lake, the common Pacific Black Duck ….

 

…. the bizarre Musk Duck, the male of which has a huge black dewlap under the bill ….

 

…. the aptly named Blue-billed Duck ….

 

…. the rather shy Pink-eared Duck …..

 

….. and the inevitable Black Swans and cygnets.

 

Other waterbirds included Australian Darter ….

 

…. Yellow-billed Spoonbill ….

 

…. White Ibis ….

 

…. and a juvenile Nankeen Night Heron nicely showing off its spots.

 

Australian Purple Swamphens fed on the verges completely oblivious to the joggers and cyclists passing by.

 

Buff-banded Rails are far more retiring but high water levels had forced them out of the reeds allowing good views.

 

Great Crested Grebes looked quite like the ones back home, if a little darker, however they do not go into winter plumage leading some to consider that they may represent a separate species.

 

The lakeside reeds held Australian Reed-warbler, formerly considered a race of Clamorous Reed-warbler, now split as a separate species.

 

In the eucalyptus we found a Magpie-lark on the nest

 

As well as a nesting Tawny Frogmouth. Frogmouths are a nocturnal essentially SE Asian family that have spread to Australia where three species occur. Tawny Frogmouth is by far the commonest and most widespread of the three.

 

With plenty more places to visit we left the lakeside and returned to where we had left the minibus ….

 

…. but we found to our dismay that the window of the sliding door had been smashed (see the broken glass in the doorway). Fortunately no suitcases had been taken but some of the other clients lost hand luggage containing cameras, clothes, credit cards etc. Reporting this to the police, getting a replacement minibus and all the associated paperwork took us the rest of the morning. This is only the second time that such a break in has occurred in Birdquest’s history so we were pretty unlucky to have it happen to us.

 

We set off for the Dryandra Forest on route we saw a few Laughing Kookaburras. This is such a well know Aussie bird that it came as a bit of a shock to find out that they are an introduced species in Western Australia.

 

Other additions to the list included this Grey Currawong ….

 

…. and Ringnecked Parrot of the so-called ’28’ race.

 

We had a bit of time in Dryandra Forest before dusk ….

 

…. and after dinner we returned for a bit of spotlighting. It was quite windy and surprisingly cold, not the best conditions for night birds. and the only species seen was Tawny Frogmouth (which we had seen so well in daylight that morning). Of the mammals, we had hoped to see the rare Numbat but drew a blank, I had a brief view of a Southern Brown Bandicoot but the only mammal that stuck around was this Common Brushtail Possum with a baby clinging to its back.

 

We were back in a chilly Dryandra Forest early the next morning.

 

Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters were abundant ….

 

….cute Dusky Woodswallows were seen in the trees or in flight ….

 

…. and we had great views of Rufous Treecreepers. This species is perhaps the least arboreal of all the Australian treecreepers and is often seen foraging in the leaf litter.

 

We also saw Western Whistler, a recent split from the widespread Golden Whistler.

 

Mammal interest was provided by a few Western Grey Kangaroos.

 

We moved on to the Sterling Ranges ….

 

…. stopping on route at a lagoon where we had great views of the range restricted Hooded Plover, a bird I have only previously seen in Tasmania.

 

And here we saw our first Wedge-tailed Eagles of the trip.

 

We arrived at our accommodation in the Sterling Ranges in the afternoon and soon tracked down some goodies like ….

 

…. the aptly named Splendid Fairy-wren ….

 

…. and another bird which lived up to its name, Little Eagle ….

 

…. being little bigger than a Buzzard. There was a pair nesting nearby and we were to see them regularly whilst in the area. Whilst I have never had problems in seeing Little Eagle the same cannot be said for its New Guinea counterpart Pygmy Eagle (with which it was formerly lumped), even after three visit to New Guinea I drew a blank on that one.

 

The following morning was bitterly cold, just above freezing and with a strong wind. I realised that I hadn’t brought enough warm clothing when the others started donning down jackets and ski gloves. Our target on the road to Mount Trio ….

 

…. was the mega-skulking Western Whipbird. Although easy to hear they can be a devil to see and I was delighted when one popped into view and I was even more delighted once I had thawed out.

 

Around the swimming pool at our accommodation we found a Southern Scrub-robin, a species that was completely off my radar as it had never been seen on this tour before. Only in Australia would you expect to see a sign like this ….

 

…. or a product with this name in the local shop!

 

The following morning was even colder and we had to scrape ice off the minibus before we could leave, however there was no wind and it soon warmed up. Not far from the Sterling Ranges we came across a large flock of hundreds of ‘white-tailed cockatoos’ (this is just part of a much larger gathering).

 

Closer examination showed that the flock consisted of two species, Baudin’s and Carnaby’s Cockatoos ….

 

Although very similar, differing only in the length of the bill, they are undoubtedly good species, feeding on different fruits and invariably pairing with their own kind. This pair (the dusky-billed bird on the left is a male) are the longer-billed Baudin’s)

 

Whilst this is most likely the short-billed Carnaby’s but unless the bill is open it is hard to be sure.

 

Later on as we drove ever further south towards Albany we found the localized Western Rosella.

 

On arrival at our motel in Albany we saw another south-western speciality, Western Rosella feeding in the grounds, this is a female ….

 

…. and here is the brighter male.

 

The next post will cover the rest of our birding in the Albany area and then our journey inland to the Outback before returning to Perth.

 

 

 

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