I recently drove from Geraldton to Exmouth in Western Australia with my wife
and a couple of friends. This was primarily a general touristic trip looking at
flowers, fish and scenery. I did however manage to do a bit of birding along
the way. My three target species were Lesser Noddy, Chiming Wedgebill and my
bogey bird the Notted Spitejar (known to those who actually believes that it
exists as the Spotted Nightjar).
I knew that it was too early to expect Lesser Noddies to be nesting in the
Abrolhos Islands but had hoped there would be a few around. We flew out to the
islands with Batavia Coast Air Charters who do day trips to East Wallabi Island
and will also land at Rat Island if asked. As Rat Island is closer to the
breeding islands of the Lesser Noddy aw got the pilot to put down there for
around 20 minutes before flying on to East Wallabi for a picnic and snorkel.
There were no noddies of either type visible at Rat Island so things did not
look at all good. On East Wallabi I scouted around and found a mixed flock of
terns at one end of the island. On scoping this flock up there was one noddy
present but I was too far away to be sure if it was a Common Noddy or the
desired Lesser Noddy. I approached carefully to and eventually got close enough
to make a definite identification ...... It was a common!
Chiming Wedgebill was relatively straightforward. While staying at Monkey Mia I
went out each morning along the Walk Track and one hopped up onto a bush and
called it's monotonous call for 5 minutes. I did see a couple more but they
were not as common as I had been lead to believe.
The Notted Spitejar lived up to its name. While it is not common in the area
there are regular sightings at various sites that we passed through. I spent
quite a bit of time in the early evenings driving along dirt roads beside stony
ridges in mallee and mulga areas with no sight or sight of the bird. Looks like
I will have to make the much delayed trip to Round Hill Nature Reserve where I
am assured that they are "everywhere"!!
Aside from these three targets the birding was very good. 118 species were
seen. Roseate terns showed well on the Abrolhos Islands. A pair of
White-breasted Sea-eagles were present on East Wallabi despite the absence of
any substantial trees. Ospreys were actively nesting at a host of sites along
the coast which is very heartening. Riverside Sanctuary provided not only a
profusion of flowers but also a host of birds including Red-tailed
Black-cockatoo, cockatiel, Ring-Necked Parrot, White-winged Triller, Splendid
Fairy-wren, Red-capped Robin and a Barn Owl. Banded Lapwing were seen in
Kalbarri and at Eurardy Station. The Thick-billed Grasswren at Monkey Mia lived
up to their reputation for making themselves available for inspection. My
morning walks at Monkey Mia also produced Variegated and White-winged Fairy
Wren, Southern Scrub-robin, Crested Bellbird, White-browed Babbler.
White-breasted, Little, Masked and Black-faced Wood-swallows were seen during
the trip.In northern areas the mangrove specialists Dusky Gerygone,
White-breasted Whistler and Yellow White-eye were all seen. Thousands of
shearwaters were streaming south past Ningaloo Reef during our stay in the Cape
Range National Park - I presume they were Wedge-tails but could be wrong.
Non-avian species seen included Euro, Western Grey Kangaroo, Red Kangaroo and
Black-flanked Rock-wallaby. Swimming with Manta Rays was a thrill and the
astounding profusion of fish on Ningaloo Reef was a joy. Numerous Humpback
Whales and Bottlenose Dolphins were seen off Coral Bay and a large pod of
Dugongs were (unseasonably) present at Monkey Mia.
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