Another Southwest WA trip report

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Subject: Another Southwest WA trip report
From: "Murray Lord" <>
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 2004 20:55:23 +1000
I have recently returned from a fortnight of birding and sightseeing in southwest WA.  As there are plenty of trip reports available, and all the information you could ever want on Frank O'Connor's web site, there seems little point in writing too much, but I thought a summary of where I saw the special birds may be useful to anyone heading there shortly (as recent reports were useful for me in deciding which sites to go to).
Malleefowl - three at Fitzgerald River B&B (see comments at end)
Square-tailed Kite - one seen in flight over Stirling Range Drive
Painted Button-quail - saw more of these in a few days than the rest of my life put together - they were at Ochre Trail, Dryandra; Stirling Range Retreat and 10km west of Jerramungup.
Short-billed Black Cockatoo - lots at Stirling Range Retreat (~100).  Also seen NW of Narrogin.  Many other black cockatoos weren't identified to species level.
Long-billed Black Cockatoo - groups feeding in trees beside the road about 20km NE of Albany (on the road to Waychinicup) and near Dunsborough were this species.  Plenty of white-tailed cockatoos were seen on Caves Road from Augusta to Dunsborough - I suspect most were this species.
Western Corella - seen at Rocky Gully.  I found out why reports never say more than that when I drove to the road junction that is Rocky Gully, got out of the car and saw a flock about 50m away.
Purple crowned Lorikeet - Stirling Range Retreat was full of them, maybe 50-100.  Also lots at the Tree in the Rock car park at Porongorup NP.
Red capped Parrot - ones and twos in many locations
Elegant Parrot - three seen very well at the start of the Ochre Trail at Dryandra.
Noisy Scrubbird - one glimpsed poorly, crossing the trail at Frank's recommended site near Little Beach at Two People's Bay.  Other birders I met there seemed to get marginally better views than I did.  Also heard calling at Waychinicup (at the creek crossing and at the carpark), but the birds didn't want to co-operate and kept to impenetrable thickets.
Rufous Treecreeper - seen at several sites.  Lots at Dryandra.
Blue-breasted Fairy-wrens - seen at Dryandra (Ochre Trail and Kawana Road dam).  Damn hard to tell from other fairy-wrens if you ask me.
Red-winged Fairy-wrens - seen at various places including Porongorup NP, Waychinicup and the Gloucester Tree.
Southern Emu-wren - three near the Noisy Scrubbird at Two Peoples Bay.
Western Bristlebird - one seen extremely well at the carpark at Little Beach.  I have now ticked all three bristlebirds in carparks.
Western Thornbill - seen at Bungendore and near the village at Dryandra.  [Watch out for the aggro Magpie at Bungendore, it gave me a fairly heavy whack on the side of the head as I walked past].
"Western" Wattlebird - two on the Ochre Trail at Dryandra; one at the carpark at Waychinicup.
Purple gaped Honeyeater - two along the Kanga Walk firetrail not far from the ranger's house at Stirling Range.
Western Spinebill - many sites including Bungendore, Dryandra, Two Peoples Bay, Waychinicup.
Western Yellow Robin - surprisingly elusive, especially at Dryandra.  Saw two at the White Gum Flats rest area on Stirling Range Drive and one about a kilometre before the Tree in the Rock car park at Porongorup NP.
White breasted Robin - common, especially at Porongorup NP, the Gloucester Tree and many of the tourist stops along Caves Road.
Western Whipbird - great views of one bird at Fitzgerald River B&B (see comments at end).  Also one heard on the road to Cheyne's Beach, around poles 104/105.
Red-eared Firetail - just one bird seen - near the toilet block at Tree in the Rock car park at Porongorup NP.
All in all it was an excellent trip.  The only birds I had hoped to see that I didn't were the local races of Crested Shrike-tit and Rufous Fieldwren (plus Little Shearwater which was always a long shot).  No luck on Numbat either unfortunately.  Also I didn't see any Rock Parrots, but only had a couple of half hearted searches.  Other birders I ran into seemed to be having trouble finding them.
Frank's web site and several trip reports mention the Fitzgerald River B&B.  I would strongly recommend it, both for the birds and for good food and accommodation.  To see Malleefowl you will need Trevor to take you out in his 4WD about half an hour before dusk, though we did see our first one feeding on spilt grain in the farm sheds.  Let them know at the time of booking that you're a birder and would like to do this.  They now charge a reasonable $20 - payable only if you see the birds, but he implied he hasn't missed showing them to any birders yet.  I found the Western Whipbird on their property by tracking down a calling bird right at the fork in the road about half a kilometre before the homestead.
Murray Lord
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