After a week in Perth, Leanne and I slipped down to Albany [a much more
attractive place for a bushwalker] and I was able to resume my quest to spot two
of the local evasives [western bristlebirds and whipbirds]. I knew the task
wasn't going to be easy seeing that December is well outside their extroversion
The approach I employed was to visit their haunts [Little Beach, Cheynes Beach
Rd, Waychinicup] armed with a book, and to sit in a likely patch of bush and
wait to see what turned up. There was nary a peep on Cheynes Beach Rd, some
suspicious warbling round Little Beach and definitely some WWBs calling on the
far side of the Waychinicup inlet [the WWB call bears a family resemblance to
the chiming wedgebill].
I spent a fair bit of time skulking in suitable patches of vegetation round
Waychinicup which provided reasonable sight-lines into the vegetation where the
WWBs might be lurking. Sometimes the WWBS came very close [within metres] to
where I was, but I was unable to get a sight of them. Next time I am in that
part of the world, I guess I will stake out the carpark at Two Peoples Bay to
watch the BBs and check out a rock bivi at Waychinicup to lurk for the WBs.
The honey possums, on the other hand were highly visible as they crawled about
on the small banksias [with small downward pointing red callistemon-like
flowers]. I doubt there would be too many mammals smaller than honey possums
[the first one I saw - clambering about within arms reach of where I sat - was
small enough to fit on a 50c piece].
There was a large flock [~ 100] of carnaby's cockies feeding about the inlet.
The way they moved about reminded me of a sketch in Monty Python's 'Life of
Brian' where a long line of soldiers go into an then out of a small room. Half
a dozen CCs would move from one patch of vegetation, then another dozen, then a
half dozen, and so on ...
I also flushed spotted nightjars at both Waychinicup and Little Beach [I gather
they are pretty common round there].
One day I followed the track out along the Flinders Peninsula from Frenchman
Bay. It was a hot day by Albany standards, and there wasn't too much moving
about, though I did turn up a couple of southern emu wrens round the back of
Ithmus Hill. I followed the track all the way to the base of Bald Head to watch
the shearwaters/petrels wheeling & dealing in the distance. Things were livened
up when a pair of nesting pacific gulls got sight of me [well away from their
nest] and took immediate exception to my presence - so I had to put up with
their restrained swooping for half an hour while I watched the moving sea.
I also had the pleasure of watching a horsfield's bronze cuckoo hopping about on
a bare patch of ground near Whaleworld. I remembered there was a thread on that
topic earlier this year, and found it interesting to follow its hunting at close
quarters [less than 5 metres]. Its manner of locomotion seemed to be a cross
between a pipit and a singing honeyeater.
Another day, I fulfilled a long term ambition to climb Ellen Peak at the eastern
end of the Stirling Range. Most of the vegetation on the eastern section of the
range had been crisped by a major fire a couple of years ago, and so the ascent
was somewhat easier than [and took half the time] suggested by the guidebook. I
got the definite impression that in this burnt out state, it should be possible
for a competent party to do the Ellen Pk - Bluff Knoll traverse as a daytrip
[assuming an early start and a lack of stuffing about crossing the Arrows].
The northern terrace was an enjoyable non-technical scramble to the summit,
which afforded extensive views of the surrounding salinised land [fortunately
outside and below the park boundaries]. The small unburnt patches of
vegetation around the summit were flowering nicely and a kestrel was quietly
gliding around [which probably made it one of the highest kestrels in WA].
As I was a couple of hours ahead of schedule, I decided to wander over the
Pyungoorup Pk for lunch. This had a large unburnt patch on one side of the
summit ridge and nice views of the rest of the range. There were also a large
group of shy heathwrens bouncing about in the unburnt foliage.
On the way back to the car, I flushed a large hunched, weak- legged wallaby type
below the Ellen Pk cliffs. The ranger thought it was probably a quokka but it
looked a fair bit larger than any of the quokkas I've seen over at Rotto. A
couple of wedgetails came gliding over as I descended the ridge, and there were
a large flock [~16] of regent parrots wheeling about when I got back to the car.
[To be continued].
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