Australia offered the most new families available in a single trip, but work commitments limited us to two weeks, so we chose Western Australia for our first visit to the continent, covering the southwest corner and getting a taste of the outback. After a very dry austral summer, some nomadic birds were harder to find and many migrants had already left, but we saw all or nearly all of the available WA endemics (depending on taxonomy), and the tough specialities of the coastal heaths, being winter breeders, were more active.
I thoroughly recommend Frank O’Connor (FOC)’s Birding Western Australia website (members.iinet.net.au/~foconnor/), which was used heavily in planning the trip. My only criticisms would be that sometimes the directions to sites are not detailed enough (though GPS co-ordinates help immensely), and it is out of date in places (for the outback this is inevitable given the vastness of the terrain and the nomadic nature of some of the birds). I hope this report is a useful update.
Many thanks to FOC for kindly meeting us in Perth and giving us invaluable recent information. Thanks also to various birding friends for information, but especially Duncan Walbridge and Dave Nevitt for advice and the loan of maps, tapes, fieldguides etc. Various trip reports also helped in planning, but Jan Vermeulen’s November 2000 report (which also covers the Esperance and Shark Bay areas that we couldn’t fit in) was particularly useful and informative. Finally thanks to all who assisted us and looked after us in Oz and helped make it a great trip.
6 March UK: drive up from Somerset to London; overnight near Heathrow
7 March Late morning Qantas flight to Singapore
8 March Fly Singapore to Perth. Lake Monger and Herdsman Lake
9 March Wungong Gorge, Bungendore Park, Gleneagle Rest Area, Dryandra SF
10 March Dryandra SF, drive via Kojonup and Jerramungup, Fitzgerald River NP B&B
11 March Fitzgerald River NP fee pay station and B&B, Albany area (Lower King and Kalgan Rivers), Two Peoples Bay NR
12 March Two Peoples Bay NR, Albany area (Lower Kalgan River, Coraki Holiday Cottages), Cheynes Beach
13 March Two Peoples Bay NR, Albany area (Lower King, Lower Kalgan, Coraki Holiday Cottages, Oyster Harbour, Princess Royal Harbour, The Gap), Stirling Ranges NP
14 March Stirling Ranges NP, long drive via Rocky Gully, Hamelin Bay
15 March Cape Leeuwin, Hamelin Bay, Boranup SF, Sugarloaf Rock, Mandurah Harbour
16 March Pinjarra (Mills Road, Lake McLarty), Mandurah Harbour, Penguin Island, Perth (Thomsons Lake, Lake Monger), New Norcia
17 March Outback via Wubin and Mt Magnet. The Granites, Nallan Station, Lake Nallan
18 March Sandstone Road east of Cue (morning and evening), Nallan Station
19 March Walga Rock, Big Bell Mine turnoff, Lake Nallan, Nallan Station
20 March Nallan Station, site west of Cue, site 32km SE of Payne’s Find
21 March New Norcia, Herdsman Lake, Perth airport for flight back to London via Singapore
22 March Arrive Heathrow early morning
Part I – Day-to-day Account
Part II – Travel and Accommodation
Part I – Day-to-day Account
After two long flights we arrived in Perth on schedule, immigration and other formalities were pleasingly swift, and we were in our hire car by 1500 local time, an hour after touchdown.
Lake Monger was an ideal first stop, with a wide range of waterbirds, among them Pink-eared Duck, Blue-billed Duck, Musk Dusk, White-headed Stilt, Red-necked Avocet, Hoary-headed Grebe, and Australian Pelican; landbirds included Magpie-lark and Rainbow Lorikeet. Nearby Herdsman Lake is another excellent site. The long-staying Freckled Ducks had recently moved on, but there were still plenty of new birds, including Straw-necked Ibis, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Black-fronted Dotterel, Swamp Harrier, Little Corella, Australian Reed Warbler, Singing Honeyeater and Red Wattlebird. A Rufous Night Heron leaving roost finished the day off nicely.
Leaving Perth at dawn, a missed turn in Armadale gave us our only Red-tailed Black Cockatoos, then 3 hours at Wungong Gorge provided our first Western Australian endemics – Western Rosella, Western Spinebill and White-breasted Robin – and plenty of commoner species, including Blue-breasted Fairywren, Scarlet Robin, Western Gerygone, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, White-naped Honeyeater and Wedge-tailed Eagle.
Around midday and in unseasonal heat, bird activity in nearby Bungendore Park was low, but included Western Thornbill and Golden Whistler. Gleneagle Rest Area produced nothing new, but several Short-billed Black Cockatoos showed well by the road south of there. Several more roadside stops delayed us, so we did not arrive at Lions Dryandra Woodland Village, in Dryandra State Forest, until 5pm. There we were met by caretaker John and a rescued juvenile Dusky Woodswallow which perched on our heads!
Highlights of a good session till dusk in the wandoo woodland behind Old Mill Dam were more Dusky Woodswallows, Rainbow Bee-eater, Striated Pardalote, Restless Flycatcher and Rufous Treecreeper. As several Brush Wallabies moved through one stopped suddenly, the next one landed on it, and both ended up in a tangled heap - we tried not to laugh, honest! After dinner, spotlighting along the Gura Road north of the village produced an obliging Tawny Frogmouth, several Tammar Wallabies and a rare Woylie.
Excellent views of 7 Bush Thick-knees in the village early morning were followed by a good selection along the Marri Road, including Tawny-crowned and Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters, Rufous Treecreeper, and Western Yellow Robin. Weirah Road provided a similar range of species, and the Casuarina Tree site was quiet - we saw Brown-headed Honeyeater and Blue-breasted Fairywren, but no Painted Buttonquail. At the Patonga Road / Mangart Road junction 2 Jacky Winters and a stunning male Red-capped Robin showed well, but our short time at Dryandra was up; at noon we left on a long run south and east to Fitzgerald River NP.
The best of several roadside stops were about 30km north of Kojonup (Red-capped Parrot and Yellow-throated Miner) and a few km west of Broomehill (Black-faced Woodswallow, Australian Pipit, Elegant Parrot and Zebra Finch).
East of Jerramungup we found our turn at the second attempt, and drove the 10km down Quiss Road to the Fitzgerald River B&B. We chatted with Janine Barrett until her husband Trevor returned to drive us around their fields in a 4WD, showing us 4 Malleefowl, 2 Stubble Quail and a fine adult Spotted Harrier in an hour or so till dusk, followed by a delicious meal. Absolutely brilliant!
FOC had recommended an early morning visit to the mallee around the fee pay station a short drive further down Quiss Road, as being better now than the area by Fitzgerald River bridge on the main road (and a lot handier for the B&B). It was excellent. A patient wait resulted in brief views of the prime target, a singing Mallee Whipbird, plus great looks at Shy Hylacola, White-browed Scrubwren, Grey Butcherbird and Southern Scrub-robin. In the B&B “garden” after breakfast a bronze-cuckoo gave us the slip, but among the other birds showing well were 7 Stubble Quail and plenty of Galahs and New Holland Honeyeaters. Heading west, another brief bronze-cuckoo got away west of Jerramungup but a Purple-gaped Honeyeater made the stop very worthwhile!
Arriving in the Albany area mid-afternoon, we checked in at Coraki Holiday Cottages for 2 nights. The Lower Kalgan River bridge provided Banded Stilt, Pied Oystercatcher and Whistling Kite, and nearby we tracked down a group of WA endemic Long-billed Black Cockatoos. Next stop was the famed Two Peoples Bay NR. Soon after arriving at the fabulously scenic Little Beach, we heard all 3 major target endemics – Western Whipbird, Western Bristlebird and Noisy Scrub-bird – but predictably saw none of them. Offshore Great-winged Petrels, Australasian Gannets, Pacific Gulls and Crested Terns were much in evidence. Two endemic Red-eared Firetails and a Southern Emuwren showed briefly, and on the way out another Tawny Frogmouth was a bonus.
We arrived at a cool and misty Little Beach at 0600, and again heard all three big targets; one Western Bristlebird in particular was very close and frustratingly invisible. Good views of Splendid Fairywren, White-bellied Sea Eagle, and Red-eared Firetail kept us happy, but at 0830 we started along the track to the information centre.
Then came a huge slice of luck. As the sun came out, about 200m past the rock pools we heard a loud, sharp alarm call. Near the crest of the small rise a bird flushed from the side of the track – male Noisy Scrub-bird!! We all had brief but good flight views, and a few glimpses in a sparse bush, then it was gone. We had hardly finished celebrating this outrageous good fortune when a Square-tailed Kite appeared over the ridge and was mobbed by a Brown Falcon! Looping back to Little Beach via the road, we retreated to the shade of the picnic area at Two Peoples Bay beach, and were treated to great views of endemic Red-winged Fairywrens. A try for Western/Rufous Fieldwren (a potential endemic split) near the Sinker Reef car park was unsuccessful, but we weren’t complaining!
Adding Grey-tailed Tattler and Caspian Tern at the Lower Kalgan bridge, we headed back to Coraki, noting Spotted Pardalote, Western Rosella, Red-capped Parrot, and Splendid Fairywren there. Late afternoon we tried out the heathland at Cheynes Beach, 40km to the east. It was hard going at times, but the hakea thickets were full of New Holland and White-cheeked Honeyeaters. I saw a Western Bristlebird briefly, Bill had good views of Southern Emuwren, and at the caravan park Red-eared Firetail, Fairy Martin and White-breasted Robin all showed well.
Back at a dull and overcast Little Beach, the Western Bristlebird near the car park gave itself up soon after dawn, singing on top of low bushes then crossing the road a few metres from us! A couple of Sooty Oystercatchers were on the rocks past the toilets, but the rain started so Alastair and I retreated to the car park, to find a Western Whipbird calling from the traffic island. While we stared in vain Bill, returning from a longer walk, flushed one near the toilets! So near and yet so far! Too soon we had to leave, but overall we had done very well at the wonderful “2PB”.
After checking out at 10am, a relaxing walk around Coraki’s grounds produced Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Western Spinebill, and Scarlet Robin, and we got Chestnut Teal at the Lower King River bridge. With the weather still distinctly changeable we tried sites in the Albany area for waterbirds. A large group of Pied and Great Cormorants, Australian Pelicans and Silver Gulls by Princess Royal Harbour was flushed by 2 White-bellied Sea Eagles, then several Flesh-footed Shearwaters and Bridled Terns passed in a short seawatch off The Gap. Back at Princess Royal Harbour some pools produced a showy Little Eagle and a good selection of wildfowl, but several potential wader spots round Oyster Harbour failed to add to the trip list, though 500+ Banded Stilts on the Lower King River was a spectacular sight. Finally we headed north to Stirling Ranges NP.
Late afternoon we booked in at the Stirling Range Retreat, though the continuing indifferent weather ensured the day ended tamely. At Paper Collar Creek we found few birds, though Alastair scored with a single White-eared Honeyeater. We failed to find the Rangers Dam site noted by FOC, and the cold wind scuppered a very good chance of Australian Owlet-nightjar (they bred again at the Retreat this year and were calling regularly round the office area, but not that night).
The weather was even poorer early am at Mt Trio; a Mallee Whipbird called invisibly near the car park, but we had no joy with Rufous Fieldwren along the access road. The subdued mood was lifted a little by our first Emus opposite the Retreat entrance, and a walk round the Retreat grounds produced a good selection including Restless Flycatcher and Elegant Parrot.
We returned to Paper Collar Creek and split up to search the area. Bill’s unerring radar located a feeding flock, mainly honeyeaters and thornbills, including another White-eared Honeyeater. On the other side of the road I saw 4 Tawny-crowned Honeyeaters in the mallee, while Alastair found Western Thornbill and Red-winged Fairywren. Reunited, we all enjoyed excellent views of a juvenile Fan-tailed Cuckoo.
The long drive to Augusta took up a damp and overcast afternoon. We failed at FOC’s stakeout for Western Corella on the west side of Rocky Gully – how can 1000+ large, noisy, white birds hide? West of Lake Muir, a large dam at Karri Hills farm produced another good selection of waterbirds and 2 Little Eagles, and a Peregrine showed near Nyamup. Thankfully it was sunny by the time we arrived at Hamelin Bay and we finished a trying day well with excellent views of 2 Rock Parrots.
Seawatching at Cape Leeuwin from 0630, we noted only light passage given the stiff easterly wind, but Yellow-nosed, Black-browed and Shy Albatrosses ensured we weren’t disappointed. About 10 Rock Parrots and 40 Purple-crowned Lorikeets added some variety. After 2 hours we headed back towards Augusta checking beaches for Hooded Plover, unsuccessfully. At Flinders Bay we relaxed outside the Colourpatch Café (“last eating house before the Antarctic”!), noting Banded Stilt, Little Pied Cormorant and Wedge-tailed Eagle, but the real stars were the small pod of Bottlenose Dolphins close inshore.
A male Splendid Fairywren was the best on a drop-in back at Hamelin Bay, then we stopped late morning at Boranup State Forest to take in the spectacle of the impressively tall karri trees (another southwest WA endemic). A large flock of Silvereyes also included a few Red-winged Fairywrens and Varied Sittellas.
The afternoon went downhill, though; arriving expectantly at Sugarloaf Rock at 1345, we left dejected at 1530 having failed to see the (supposedly easy) Red-tailed Tropicbirds. Next we found that Mandurah boat harbour has recently been redeveloped - its birding interest is distinctly reduced, and we failed to find the few Fairy Terns apparently still present (according to a chance-met local birder). The harbour mouth still produced some good birds though, a few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters offshore and a stunningly close Rufous Night Heron being the highlights. To cap it all, we ended up in a small overnight cabin in a dodgy-looking caravan park near Pinjarra; by then we were beyond feeling choosy.
What a contrast after yesterday afternoon’s disappointments! Slowly driving down Mills Road south of Pinjarra produced a great morning’s birding, including excellent views of Australian Bustard, Whistling Kite, Regent Parrot, Elegant Parrot, White-fronted Chat, Rufous Songlark, and Rufous Whistler. We found Lake McLarty about 300m off the road to the right from the nature reserve signs, but it was bone-dry and the only waders were 30+ Red-capped Plovers. White-fronted Chats, Australian Pipits and Stubble Quail were round the edges, though, and more Regent Parrots (“smokers” in local slang) flew around.
After a quick look again at Mandurah Harbour (seeing several Australian Darters but still no Fairy Terns), we arrived at Mersey Point jetty in Rockingham (off Safety Bay Road, south of Point Peron naval base) just in time to catch the 1300 ferry to Penguin Island. The boat journey costs only $15.50 return and is well worth it – this was one of the best experiences of the trip. At very close range off the island’s jetty were Bridled, Crested, Caspian and (best of all) Fairy Terns! Not to mention a Buff-banded Rail on the shore (and 3 more striding fearlessly around the picnic area), a roosting Southern Boobook by the Discovery Centre, and close up views of a New Zealand Fur Seal. The only bad news was that, unusually, all the Little Penguins were out at sea. Pam, a volunteer working for the Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM), and originally from Somerset (small world!), tried hard for us, but not a single straggler could be found. In the end we had to settle for watching some rescued penguins being fed in the Discovery Centre (this is included in the boat trip price) – great birds, just no tick.
We got the 1500 ferry back and headed into Perth. Thomsons Lake was long-dry and fenced off, but at Lake Monger a Little Grassbird and the usual good selection of waterbirds showed well. Instead of staying till dusk in the hope of crakes, we decided to head north and shorten the next day’s journey into the outback; we were rewarded by the sight of 200+ Western Corellas 3 km short of our overnight stop at New Norcia.
On the Great Northern Highway by 0630, we found 2 more flocks of Western Corellas and a Brown Falcon among other birds as we headed out of the wheatbelt and into the mulga. With few stops, by 1300 we reached The Granites just north of Mount Magnet. After a brief stop, where a Mulga Parrot was one of few birds seen in the fierce heat, we pressed on to Cue, a friendly oddball little town that looks like the set of a Western movie and hosts a drag queen festival!
We arrived at Nallan Station, 14km north of Cue, at about 1500. In the homestead yard several Spiny-cheeked and White-plumed Honeyeaters, Western Bowerbirds, Little Crows and Zebra Finches showed well. Unlike virtually all lakes in the area Lake Nallan still held some water, and another decent selection of waterbirds there included White-necked Heron, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Pink-eared Duck, Marsh and Wood Sandpipers, White-headed Stilt, Red-capped Plover, and Red-necked Stint. In fading light the area across the airstrip from the homestead was quiet except for lots of flies and a brief Crested Bellbird.
We aimed to get to the Sandstone Road quail-thrush stakeout at dawn, but lost a valuable 45 minutes finding it, even using GPS. Additional directions: at 5.1 km heading east from Cue take a track off left between two left-hand bends, and choose left, right, then right at three forks to find the grid. Once there, Alastair found a Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush almost immediately, but briefly. It showed again briefly later to Bill but not to me; as it was a bird I really wanted to see, I stayed by the clump (to no avail) while the other two birded the area. Alastair got Spotted Nightjar and White-winged Triller, and Bill hit the jackpot with 2 Grey Honeyeaters, associating loosely with a flock of Yellow-throated Miners and Black-faced Woodswallows. We left when it started getting too hot, scoring with 5 Ground Cuckoo-shrikes and a Collared Sparrowhawk as we headed back.
After brunch we checked out some of the wells east of the homestead. Alston Well produced the most birds, with Western Bowerbirds, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters and Galahs in attendance, and Grey-crowned Babblers and Varied Sittellas along the track. After a much-needed siesta, we headed back to the Sandstone Road site. No joy with the quail-thrush, but I did see Southern Whiteface and Crested Bellbird, and heard Chiming Wedgebill. Bill also got Chestnut-rumped Thornbill and White-winged Triller and Alastair scored well with a female Crimson Chat.
An 0430 start saw us at dawn at Walga Rock - a good selection of birds included Little Woodswallow, Variegated Fairywren, White-browed Babbler, and Southern Whiteface. On the way back we tried FOC’s open woodland site, but only found Slaty-backed Thornbills. Then we tried to find the potential Banded Whiteface site that FOC had given us from my scribbled notes. Not sure we found it, but we ended up in the sparse mulga on the Walga Rock side of the Big Bell goldmine turnoff. This was excellent, with highlights being White-winged Fairywrens (the stunning male was bird of the trip for me), Chiming Wedgebills, Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush (at last), and Pied Butcherbirds. We returned to the cottage for lunch very happy.
Inevitably the afternoon wasn’t nearly as good. Being from Somerset we’re used to rain following us around, and a thunderstorm which provided the station with its first rain for over three months confined us to the cottage for a while. Lake Nallan produced nothing new, Milly Well provided only a few Crested Pigeons and Common Bronzewings, and an attempt to find Judas Well proved fruitless and fly-infested.
Our last day in the outback, and we finally found Judas Well on our early morning walk (the track down to it is strictly 4WD), seeing Mulga Parrot, Western Bowerbird, Diamond Dove and Emu. A last-gasp try at Jacksons Well paid off handsomely, as 2 Bourke’s Parrots appeared briefly. Another last hopeful look, this time for Banded Whiteface, in a likely-looking area near the Walga Rock turnoff west of Cue produced little except Zebra Finches – the 3 White-backed Swallows just out of town were a bonus though!
Heading south, we tried FOC’s Grey Honeyeater site 32km SE of Payne’s Find, where a good selection of commoner birds included Chestnut-rumped, Yellow-rumped and Slaty-backed Thornbills, Southern Whiteface, Crested Bellbird, Pied Butcherbird and a couple ofBrown Falcons. Our last full day finished atmospherically at Pithara, with a flock of Western Corellas flying noisily to roost against a gorgeous sunset.
After a leisurely breakfast in New Norcia, we drifted back down to Perth where we enjoyed the sun and a good selection of birds at Herdsman Lake. Alastair had a brief Pallid Cuckoo on the Gould League boardwalk by the visitor centre. Finally at 1400 we headed to the airport for the long journey home, arriving at a cold, wet Heathrow at 0730 GMT next day.
All in all it went rather smoothly, though there were the inevitable scrapes that first-time visitors to a new continent are likely to get into – I have drawn a veil over these incidents to protect the guilty, especially me! We had no problems with money or security, everything worked where we stayed, and we never got far enough away from main routes to need to take the full set of outback precautions (though the tales we heard convinced us that the travel advice exists for very good reasons). The birding was sometimes hard work, but ultimately rewarding, with some fantastic experiences in the memory banks.
The trip total was 200 species, and I had 164 lifers, in line with expectations (and Bill and Alastair had a few more). We also did well on new families, recording at least one member of 19 of 21 possible (Clements list). Several new family splits in Australasia have recently been proposed by Barker et al, and we also saw representatives of 5 of the 6 of these available.
Part II – Travel and Accommodation
This section is to help anyone planning a trip to WA with places to stay, prices etc. The exchange rate was approximately $2.34 (AUD) = £1 (GBP). The total cost of the trip worked out at c.£1350 each. All prices were correct in March 2005 but may of course change.
Flights were British Airways/Qantas via Singapore. Car hire was from Hertz via Auto Europe UK on the web - some extra costs (eg extra insurance to cover driving on dirt roads etc, and local taxes) are payable locally and additional to the prices quoted (you are warned of this when booking). Total cost for 13 days was $968 (£415), including extra insurance, for a full-size, 4-door, automatic, air-conditioned Ford Falcon which was roomy and performed well. It also had a very handy range meter. We drove roughly 4,000km, petrol was mostly about $1.10 a litre, and a good fill-up cost about $60.
I pre-booked accommodation for 8 of the 13 nights in WA by email. I would recommend doing this well in advance, especially if visiting at a popular time of year, as room is very limited at some of the more out of the way places, where other options are either not available or well away from the birding areas.
Heathrow Lodge Guest House, nr Heathrow airport, UK
Standard near-airport guest house – adequate but rooms were too hot. £75 for a single and a twin (room only).
7 Mar – in flight
Bentley Motor Inn, Perth (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Standard room-only motel; comfortable enough and handily placed for getting out of Perth to the southeast next day. $142 for 2 rooms. Decent food options a short drive away towards the city.
Lions Dryandra Woodland Village (caretakers: John Lawson/Lisa Richards; email@example.com)
Wooden cabins are basic but comfortable and in an excellent birding location in the middle of Dryandra State Forest. Take your own food, drink etc as nearest restaurant/bar/shop are in Narrogin, 26km away. Cost per person: only $20 per night plus $10 linen hire. Highly recommended.
Fitzgerald River B&B (Trevor and Janine Barrett; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Excellent, well-appointed farmstay B&B very close to the entrance to Fitzgerald River NP, 10km down Quiss Road, which is a right turn about 10km east of Jerramungup. One night cost us $115 each, but this included bed and breakfast (comfortable and substantial, respectively), a delicious evening meal (including wine and beer), and a late afternoon tour of the farm with Trevor for virtually guaranteed Malleefowl and other birds. Excellent birding, good company, and Janine’s a great cook. Very limited room, so book early. They’re part of the Country Cousins farmstay network, and if the others are up to this standard then they’re well worth investigating. I cannot recommend staying with the Barretts highly enough.
Coraki Holiday Cottages (Graham and Rebecca Freeman; email@example.com ; www.corakicottages.com.au)
Comfortable and spacious cabins, in birdy grounds, and well-placed for Albany area sites (right by Lower King River mouth/Oyster Harbour, and Two Peoples Bay is about 25 minutes away). Store nearby and diner in Lower Kalgan are both good enough, and other food options are available in Albany. $232 in total for cabin for 2 nights including linen hire. Recommended.
Stirling Range Retreat (Tony and Ayleen Sands; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Self-contained rammed earth cabins are small and basic but do the job, the grounds are birdy, and it’s well-placed for other good birding spots. Bluff Knoll Café across the road is OK. $105 per night for 3-bed cabin including linen hire. Recommended, but don’t expect luxury.
Georgiana Molloy Motel, Augusta
$60 each a night (room only) was a little pricey, but it was more comfortable than most, with a kitchenette in each room if you prefer cooking to eating out.
Pinjarra caravan park
Very downmarket. Overnight “cabins” are 3-bed and self-contained but very small and basic. Cheap though: $77 all-in for one night including linen hire. We later found there is a motel in Pinjarra itself, which would probably be a more comfortable option.
16 and 20 Mar
New Norcia Hotel
Comfortable and spacious rooms in grand old hotel owned by Benedictine monastery. $250 per night covered 2 rooms (including breakfast), our evening meals and a few drinks at the bar. For those with more time the town is worth a look for its Spanish colonial architecture. Recommended.
Nallan Station (Michael and Sandy Clinch, Kindillan Pastoral Co Pty Ltd; email@example.com)
Station stay at a classic outback birding location, with various accommodation available and friendly hosts. We stayed in the cottage, which is ageing but comfortable (though the only air conditioning is electric fans). Cost: $215 each for 3 nights plus 3 (delicious) evening meals and 2 breakfast packs, all delivered. Highly recommended.
All dates are March 2005.
Key: WA endemics are marked (E). Introduced species are marked (I). “Perth lakes” means Lake Monger and Herdsman Lake. NP = national park, SF = state forest
1. Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) 5 by Bluff Knoll Café, Stirling Ranges NP, 14th; 32+, Nallan Station
2. Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) Odd singles at the Perth lakes
3. Hoary-headed Grebe (Poliocephalus poliocephalus) Common on freshwater
4. Australasian Grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) Less common but still widespread
- [Little Blue Penguin (Eudyptula minor)] Unfortunately, we saw no wild ones on Penguin Island on 16th, so had to make do with watching 10 rescued birds being fed
5. Yellow-nosed Albatross (Thalassarche chlororhynchos bassi) 1, Cape Leeuwin, 15th
6. Shy Albatross (Thalassarche cauta cauta) 3, Cape Leeuwin, 15th
7. Black-browed Albatross (Thalassarche melanophris melanophris) 2+, Cape Leeuwin, 15th
8. Great-winged Petrel (Pterodroma macroptera) Common at Two Peoples Bay – they breed nearby
9. Flesh-footed Shearwater (Puffinus carneipes) Good numbers off The Gap, 13th, and Cape Leeuwin, 15th
10. Wedge-tailed Shearwater (Puffinus pacificus) 5+ off Mandurah harbour in the evening, 15th
11. Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus) Widespread in small nos; 80+, Princess Royal Hbr, Albany, 13th
12. Australasian Gannet (Morus serrator) Common offshore
13. Australian Darter (Anhinga (anhinga) melanogaster) 5, Mandurah harbour, 16th; 1, Penguin Island, also 16th
14. Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) Small numbers on Perth lakes and elsewhere
15. Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax varius) Small numbers along SW coast
16. Little Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos) Small numbers on Perth lakes and elsewhere
17. Little Black Cormorant (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris) Widespread in small numbers
18. White-necked Heron (Ardea pacifica) 1, Lake Nallan, 17th
19. White-faced Heron (Ardea novaehollandiae) Common
20. Great Egret (Egretta alba) Several scattered sightings, usually singly
21. Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) 1, Lake Nallan, 17th
22. Rufous Night Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus) 1 in flight, north end of Herdsman Lake, 8th ; stunning views at Mandurah on evening of 15th at harbour mouth (a regular spot)
23. Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) Maximum 4, only at the Perth lakes
24. Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca) Common and widespread in SW, often singly or in small groups
25. Straw-necked Ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis) Widespread in SW, often in groups of 20+
26. Yellow-billed Spoonbill (Platalea flavipes) Widespread, often singly, including in outback
27. Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) Common and widespread on freshwater
28. Australian Shelduck (Tadorna tadornoides) Seen on 6 dates, including 31, Lake Nallan, 19th
- Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) A few dodgy-looking ones at Lake Monger
29. Pacific Black Duck (Ansa superciliosa) Very common
30. Grey Teal (Anas gibberifrons) Common
31. Chestnut Teal (Anas castanea) 1 drake, Lower King River, 13th; 5 drakes, Albany, 13th ; 2 females, Lake Nallan, 19th. Other females probably overlooked as they are difficult to separate from the previous species.
32. Australasian Shoveler (Anas rhynchotis) Regular small groups on Perth lakes and farm dams
33. Pink-eared Duck (Malacorhynchus membranaceus) Large numbers at Lake Monger; up to 10 at Lake Nallan
34. Hardhead (Aythya australis) Odd singles seen at Perth lakes and larger farm dams
35. Maned Duck (Chenonetta jubata) Seen on 7 dates, maximum 36 at Lake Nallan, 17th.
36. Blue-billed Duck (Oxyura australis) Small numbers on the Perth lakes, and a few elsewhere
37. Musk Duck (Biziura lobata) Good numbers on the Perth lakes, a few elsewhere
38. White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) 1, Two Peoples Bay, 12th; 2, Princess Royal Harbour, Albany, 13th. Magnificent as ever.
39. Australian Kite (Elanus notatus) Widespread; seen on 8 dates
40. Black Kite (Milvus migrans) 1, Armadale, 9th
41. Whistling Kite (Milvus sphenurus) 1, Lower Kalgan bridge, 11th; 2, Mills Road, 16th; 2, Lake Nallan, 17th
42. Square-tailed Kite (Lophoictinia isura) 1, Two Peoples Bay, 12th ; a probable, Busselton, 15th
43. Collared Sparrowhawk (Accipiter cirrocephalus) 1, Sandstone Road east of Cue, 18th
44. Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax) Regular, widespread and excellent; 5+ on 16th and 17th
45. Little Eagle (Hieraaetus morphnoides) 1, Albany, 13th; 2, Karri Hills farm dam west of Lake Muir, 14th
46. Spotted Harrier (Circus assimilis) A fine adult, Fitzgerald River B&B, 10th
47. Swamp Harrier (Circus approximans) Singles at Herdsman Lake, 8th, and Lower King River, 13th
48. Peregrine (Falco peregrinus) 1 near Nyamup east of Manjimup, 14th
49. Australian Hobby (Falco longipennis) 2, Herdsman Lake, 8th; 1, Coraki Holiday Cottages, 12th; 5 other singles
50. Brown Falcon (Falco berigora) 1, Two Peoples Bay, 12th; 1 north of Wubin, 17th; 2 SE of Payne’s Find, 20th
51. Australian Kestrel (Falco cenchroides) Widespread
52. Malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata) Excellent views of 4 near dusk, Fitzgerald River B&B, 10th
53. Stubble Quail (Coturnix pectoralis) 9 at Fitzgerald River B&B and 6 at Lake McLarty
54. Australian Bustard (Ardeotis australis) 1, Mills Road, Pinjarra, 16th . Magnificent.
55. Buff-banded Rail (Gallirallus philippensis) Superb views of 4, jetty and picnic area, Penguin Island, 16th
56. Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) Common at Herdsman Lake; a few elsewhere
57. Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa) Easily seen at the Perth lakes
58. Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) Common
59. Sooty Oystercatcher (Haematopus fuliginosus) 2 or 3 each at Two Peoples Bay, Emu Point (Albany), and Cape Leeuwin
60. Pied Oystercatcher (Haematopus longirostris) Seen on 4 dates, chiefly around Oyster Harbour, Albany
61. Bush Thick-knee (Burhinus grallarius) 2 groups (7 birds), Lions Woodland Village, Dryandra SF, early am, 10th
62. White-headed Stilt (Himantopus leucocephalus) On 5 dates, chiefly Perth lakes and Lake Nallan
63. Banded Stilt (Cladorhynchus leucocephalus) Exquisite. Seen on 5 dates, including 500+ around Lower King River/Oyster Harbour, 13th
64. Red-necked Avocet (Recurvirostra novaehollandiae) On 6 dates, chiefly Perth lakes and Lake Nallan
65. Red-capped Plover (Charadrius ruficapillus) Lake McLarty (30+); Lake Nallan (6+)
66. Black-fronted Plover (Elseyornis melanops) Small numbers at the Perth Lakes, around Albany and at Lake Nallan
67. Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) A few scattered around Oyster Harbour
68. Far Eastern Curlew * (Numenius madagascariensis) I heard a curlew, presumably this species, at Coraki Holiday Cottages, Albany, early morning on 12th
69. Whimbrel * (Numenius phaeopus) Alastair heard one, Oyster Harbour, 11th
70. Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) 1, Herdsman Lake, 21st
71. Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) 1, Lake Monger, 8th; a few round Oyster Harbour
72. Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis) 1, Lake Nallan, 17th
73. Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola) 2, Lake Nallan, 17th
74. Grey-tailed Tattler (Heteroscelus brevipes) 3, Lower Kalgan bridge, 12th
75. Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) Scattered singles
76. Red-necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis) 3, Lake Nallan, 17th and 19th
77. Silver Gull (Larus novaehollandiae) Very common at the coast and Perth lakes. A pretty gull.
78. Pacific Gull (Larus pacificus) Much less common, but present at all SW coastal sites. A brute – that bill!
79. Caspian Tern (Sterna caspia) 1, Lower Kalgan bridge, 12th; 2, Sugarloaf Rock, 15th; 1, Penguin Island, 16th
80. Bridled Tern (Sterna anaethetus) Stunning views at Penguin Island,16th; also seen at The Gap and Hamelin Bay
81. Crested Tern (Sterna bergii) Common at coastal sites – very close views at Penguin Island
82. Fairy Tern (Sterna nereis) Very close views of 4 (2ads, 2 juvs) by the jetty on Penguin Island, 16th; a local birder reported a few still present at Mandurah.
83. Feral Pigeon (Columba livia) (I) Towns. Yawn!
84. Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) (I) Only seen in Perth
85. Laughing Dove (Streptopelia senagalensis) (I) A few in Perth and elsewhere in SW
86. Diamond Dove (Geopelia cuneata) 1, Judas Well, Nallan Station, 20th
87. Common Bronzewing (Phaps chalcoptera) Seen almost every day. Plenty of fly-by bronzewing sp. sightings too; some of these in the SW might have been Brush Bronzewings (Phaps elegans), but we saw no definites.
88. Crested Pigeon (Geophaps lophotes) Uncommon in mallee; common in the outback mulga
89. Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii) 5, near Armadale, 9th
90. Short-billed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus latirostris) (E) 17+, by highway 30km N of Kojonup, 9th; groups seen several times in the Albany area, though plenty of black-cockatoos went unidentified too
91. Long-billed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhnychus baudinii) (E) Only 2 groups definitely of this species: 13+, Lower Kalgan, 11th; 19+, Rocky Gully, 14th
92. Western Corella (Cacatua pastinator) (E) No joy with the southern race at FOC’s stakeout just east of Rocky Gully, but 3 groups (all of 200-350+ birds) of the wheatbelt race along the Great Northern Highway on 17th: 3km south of New Norcia, where the Moore River adjoins the road (also on 20th); 5km south of the railway crossing at Bindi Bindi, opposite the sign for Indarrie homestead; and at a grain storage facility in Pithara (also on 20th).
93. Little Corella (Cacatus sanguinea) Locally common, eg Perth lakes, Mandurah
94. Galah (Cacatua roseicapilla) Common
95. Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) (I) Seen only in Perth
96. Purple-crowned Lorikeet (Glossopsitta porphyrocephala) Seen on 5 dates, only in SW, and mostly as groups of 15-40 hurtling noisily overhead
97. Regent Parrot (Polytelis anthopeplus) 27 “smokers” along Mills Road, and 10 at Lake McLarty, 16th
98. Red-capped Parrot (Purpureicephalus spurius) (E) On 6 dates in SW, chiefly in small groups. Very smart bird
99. Western Rosella (Platycercus icterotis) (E) Small groups in SW (eg Wungong Gorge, Stirling Ranges, Albany)
100. Port Lincoln Ringneck (Barnardius zonarius) Common
101. Mulga Parrot (Psephotus varius) The Granites, Walga Rock and Nallan Station (20+, Judas Well, 20th )
102. Bourke’s Parrot (Neophema bourkii) 2, Jacksons Well, Nallan Station, 20th
103. Elegant Parrot (Neophema elegans) 17, nr Broomehill, 10th; 3, Stirling Range Retreat, 14th; 5, Mills Road, 16th
104. Rock Parrot (Neophema petrophila) Only at the SW tip: 2, Hamelin Bay, 14th; 10, Cape Leeuwin, 15th
105. Pallid Cuckoo (Cuculus pallidus) Alastair saw one briefly, Gould League boardwalk, Herdsman Lake, 21st
106. Fan-tailed Cuckoo (Cacomantis flabelliformis) A juvenile at Paper Collar Creek, Stirling Ranges NP, 14th
107. Barn Owl (Tyto alba) 1, on road north of New Norcia, 20th
108. Southern Boobook (Ninox novaeseelandiae) I heard one distantly at Coraki Holiday Cottages, Albany, 12th; a day-roosting bird showed very well on Penguin Island, 16th
109. Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) Singles at Dryandra SF, Two Peoples Bay and Cheynes Beach
110. Spotted Nightjar (Eurostopodus argus) Alastair flushed one at the Sandstone Road quail-thrush site, 18th
111. Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo gigas) (I) Common
112. Sacred Kingfisher (Todirhamphus sancta) Only 2 very brief roadside sightings
113. Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus) 2, Old Mill Dam, Dryandra SF, 9th
114. Noisy Scrub-bird (Atrichornis clamosus) (E) A chance-flushed male at Two Peoples Bay on 12th was a huge fluke and a massive trip highlight; also heard singing fairly distantly a few times from the Little Beach car park
115. White-backed Swallow (Cheramoeca leucosternum) 3 just west of Cue, 20th
116. Welcome Swallow (Hirundo neoxena) Common
117. Tree Martin (Hirundo nigricans) Common
118. Fairy Martin (Hirundo ariel) 1 perched at Cheynes Beach, 12th
119. Australasian Pipit (Anthus novaeseelandiae) 1, nr Broomehill, 10th; common at Lake McLarty and in outback
120. Black-faced Cuckooshrike (Coracina novaehollandiae) Common, usually singly or in pairs
121. Ground Cuckooshrike (Coracina maxima) A party of 5 of these cracking birds between Sandstone Road and the quail-thrush site, 18th
122. White-winged Triller (Lalage tricolor) Bill and Alastair each saw one at the Sandstone Road site near Cue, 18th
123. Australian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus australis) 1+, Herdsman Lake, 8th and 21st
124. Little Grassbird (Megalurus gramineus) 1, Lake Monger, by island in southwest corner, 16th
125. Rufous Songlark (Cinclorhamphus mathewsi) 4, Mills Road, Pinjarra, 16th
126. Grey Fantail (Rhipidura fuliginosa) Common in SW
127. Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys) Very common
128. Restless Flycatcher (Myiagra inquieta) 1, Dryandra SF, 9th; 2 singles in Stirling Ranges NP, 14th (at the Retreat and Paper Collar Creek). Very smart bird with an instantly recognisable call.
129. Southern Scrub-robin (Drymodes brunneopygia) 1, c. 200m past fee pay station, Fitzgerald River NP, 11th
130. Scarlet Robin (Petroica multicolor) Fairly common in SW. Males are stunning.
131. Red-capped Robin (Petroica goodenovii) 3, Dryandra SF, 9th; common in the outback. Males are even better.
132. Hooded Robin (Melanodryas cucullata) Scattered singles totalling 9 birds on 4 dates
133. White-breasted Robin (Eopsaltria georgiana) (E) 2, Wungong Gorge, 9th; 2, Cheynes Beach caravan park, 12th
134. Western Yellow Robin (Eopsaltria griseogularis) (E) 5, Dryandra SF, 10th; 6, Stirling Ranges NP, 14th
135. Jacky Winter (Microeca leucophaea) 3 at Dryandra SF, 10th
136. Golden Whistler (Pachycephala pectoralis) Single males at Bungendore Park and Gleneagle Rest Area, 9th
137. Rufous Whistler (Pachycephala rufiventris) Fairly common
138. Grey Shrike-thrush (Colluricincla harmonia) Fairly common
139. Crested Bellbird (Oreoica gutturalis) Fairly common in outback
140. Grey-crowned Babbler (Pomatostomus temporalis) 6+, Nallan Station, 18th
141. White-browed Babbler (Pomatostomus superciliosus) 7, Walga Rock, 19th ; 2, Judas Well, 20th
142. Western Whipbird (Psophodes nigrogularis) (E) Very, very skulking: several heard, including at close range, at Two Peoples Bay; Bill saw a chance-flushed bird briefly on 13th
143. Mallee Whipbird (Psophodes leucogaster) 1 singing and seen briefly c.100m past Fitzgerald River NP fee pay station, 11th; another heard, Mt Trio car park, Stirling Ranges NP, 14th
144. Chiming Wedgebill (Psophodes occidentalis) 4+ at Big Bell Mine turnoff, 19th; also heard either side of Cue
145. Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush (Cinclosoma castaneothorax) Elusive: two brief sightings each at the Sandstone Road site, 18th, and by Big Bell Mine turnoff, 19th
146. Splendid Fairy-wren (Malurus splendens) Seen at Two Peoples Bay, Coraki Holiday Cottages, Hamelin Bay and Nallan Station. The males are astonishing.
147. Variegated Fairy-wren (Malurus lamberti) Small groups at Walga Rock and the Big Bell mine turnoff, 19th.
148. Blue-breasted Fairy-wren (Malurus pulcherrimus) Small parties at Wungong Gorge and Dryandra SF
149. Red-winged Fairy-wren (Malurus elegans) (E) Small groups at Two Peoples Bay, Boranup and Stirling Ranges
150. White-winged Fairy-wren (Malurus leucopterus) An astonishingly gorgeous male and 2 females by Big Bell Mine turnoff, 19th
151. Southern Emu-wren (Stipiturus malachurus) More difficult than expected, but responded to pishing: singles and small groups seen at Two Peoples Bay and Cheynes Beach; heard at Hamelin Bay
152. Western Bristlebird (Dasyornis longirostris) (E) Singles seen at Cheynes Beach (briefly by me), 12th, and Two Peoples Bay (fantastically well by all), 13th ; several more heard at both sites
153. White-browed Scrubwren (Sericornis frontalis) ssp maculatus (“Spotted Scrubwren”) Common in coastal heath
154. Shy Hylacola (Sericornis cauta) 1, Fitzgerald River NP fee pay station, 11th ; heard at Cheynes Beach, 12th
155. Western Gerygone (Gerygone fusca) Common in SW; seen on 7 dates
156. Weebill (Smicrornis brevirostris) 2, Fitzgerald River bridge, 10th; 1, Stirling Ranges NP, 11th.
157. Inland Thornbill (Acanthiza apicalis) Fairly common
158. Chestnut-rumped Thornbill (Acanthiza uropygialis) Small numbers at several sites in the outback
159. Slaty-backed Thornbill (Acanthiza robustirostris) Small numbers at several sites in the outback
160. Western Thornbill (Acanthiza inornata) (E) 2, Bungendore Park, 9th; Dryandra SF, 10th; Stirling Ranges NP, 12th.
161. Yellow-rumped Thornbill (Acanthiza chrysorrhoa) Common, and the prettiest of the thornbills
162. Southern Whiteface (Aphelocephala leucopsis) Widespread in small numbers in outback; 15+ at Walga Rock
163. Crimson Chat (Ephthianura tricolor) Alastair saw a female type briefly at the Sandstone Rd site nr Cue, 18th
164. White-fronted Chat (Ephthianura albifrons) About 20 in two flocks, Mills Road/Lake McLarty, 16th
165. Varied Sittella (Neositta chrysoptera) Small groups at Boranup SF, Nallan Station (Alston Well track), and the Payne’s Find site
166. Rufous Treecreeper (Climacteris rufa) Common in Dryandra SF, not seen elsewhere
167. Mistletoebird (Dicaeum hirundinaceum) 1 or 2 at Wungong Gorge, Walga Rock, and Herdsman Lake
168. Spotted Pardalote (Pardalotus punctatus) 2, red-rumped race, Coraki Holiday Cottages, Albany, 12th
169. Striated Pardalote (Pardalotus striatus) Fairly common in SW woodlands
170. Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis) Very common in SW
171. Red Wattlebird (Anthochaera carunculata) Common in SW
172. Little Wattlebird (Anthochaera lunulata) (E) Fairly common in SW
173. Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater (Acanthagenys rufogularis) Common in outback, easy at Nallan Station homestead
174. Yellow-throated Miner (Manorina flavigula) Common in mulga and outback towns
175. Singing Honeyeater (Lichenostomus virescens) Common everywhere
176. White-eared Honeyeater (Lichenostomus leucotis) 2 brief singles at Stirling Ranges (Paper Collar Creek).
177. Purple-gaped Honeyeater (Lichenostomus cratitius) 1 by the road near Jerramungup, 11th
178. Yellow-plumed Honeyeater (Lichenostomus ornatus) Very common in SW woodlands
179. White-plumed Honeyeater (Lichenostomus penicillatus) Easy at Nallan Station homestead
180. Brown-headed Honeyeater (Melithreptes brevirostris) Small parties at Dryandra SF and Paper Collar Creek
181. White-naped Honeyeater (Melithreptes lunatus) Fairly common in SW
182. Brown Honeyeater (Lichmera indistincta) Common in SW, less so in outback
183. Tawny-crowned Honeyeater (Phylidonyris melanops) Uncommon. Small numbers at Dryandra and Stirling Ranges (Paper Collar Creek)
184. New Holland Honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae) Very common everywhere in the SW – “like weeds”.
185. White-cheeked Honeyeater (Phylidonyris nigra) Widespread in SW, abundant at Cheynes Beach
186. Grey Honeyeater (Conopophila whitei) Bill saw 2 at the Sandstone Rd site, 18th
187. Western Spinebill (Acanthorhynchus superciliosus) (E) Fairly common in SW in most habitats
188. Australian Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca) Very common
189. Black-faced Woodswallow (Artamus cinereus) The common woodswallow of open areas and mulga
190. Dusky Woodswallow (Artamus cyanopterus) Chiefly in Dryandra, where easy to see
191. Little Woodswallow (Artamus minor) 6-8, Walga Rock, 19th
192. Grey Butcherbird (Cracticus torquatus) Fairly common in mallee and mulga
193. Pied Butcherbird (Cracticus nigrogularis) A few in the outback
194. Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen) Abundant in the SW, scarce in the outback
195. Grey Currawong (Strepera versicolor) Regular in the SW; common along Quiss Road, Fitzgerald River NP
196. Western Bowerbird (Chlamydera guttata) Common in outback, including at Nallan Station homestead
197. Australian Raven (Corvus coronoides) Common corvid in SW and wheatbelt
198. Little Crow (Corvus bennetti) Fairly common in outback
199. Red-eared Firetail (Emblema oculata) (E) Small numbers of this little stunner at Two Peoples Bay, Cheynes Beach, and Hamelin Bay
200. Zebra Finch (Taenopygia guttata) Common in outback