WA South West Corner Trip Report

To: "" <>
Subject: WA South West Corner Trip Report
From: Tim Dolby <>
Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2011 03:00:56 +0000
Hi birders,

See below a trip report from Western Australia's south west corner. For the 
full report with photographs and a couple of maps see Thanks to Greg Oakley, Tim Bawden and Frank 
O'Connor and the birders who drew mud maps at Cheynes Beach. Also thanks to the 
people at Dryandra Village. Great stuff.


Tim Dolby

Western Australia's Wonderful South-West Corner (Autumn 2011)

The following report covers a birding trip to the fantastic south west corner 
of Western Australia. Joining me on the trip was fellow birding cohort Greg 

Our basic itinerary was to fly 4000 km from Melbourne (Victoria) to sunny Perth 
in Western Australia. From Perth we'd travel 500 km south to coastal heathland 
just east of Albany. On the way we'd stop at Dryandra Woodland. Dryandra is not 
only an excellent mid-point between the southern coast and Perth but also a 
significant birding site. We visited a number of sites in south west Western 
Australia including Serpentine National Park, Dryandra Woodlands, Cheynes Beach 
(the location of both Arpenteur Nature Reserve and Waychinicup National Park, 
Mt Trio and Salt River Rd in Stirling National Park, 'The Gap' near Albany in 
Torndirrup National Park near Albany, and on the way back to Perth we stopped 
briefly at Northam, and in Perth Lake Monger and the impressive Herdsman Lake.

The Birds
The south west is an area effectively cut off from other rainfall areas in 
Australia - eastern and northern Australian, being surround by a large areas of 
semi-arid deserts such as the Great Sandy Desert in the north, Gibson in the 
centre and Great Southern in the south. Such isolation has led to good numbers 
of endemics on a species and subspecies level.  A number of these are regarded 
as relict species such as the skulkers, Noisy Scrub-bird, Western Bristlebird 
and Western Whipbird (considered three of Australia's most difficult birds to 
see). Others are similar but different to those on the east coast of Australia 
- the similarities formed when there was a continuity of temperate habitat 
across southern Australia. Aside from the three skulkers the endemics to the 
south west corners include: Red-capped Parrot, Western Rosella, Baudin's and 
Carnaby's Black-Cockatoo (also known as Long-billed and Short-billed 
Black-Cockatoo), and Western (or Muir's) Corella (with two distinct
  races, the uncommon southern race pastinator and common northern race 
derbyi), Western Yellow Robin and White-breasted Robin, Red-winged Fairy-wren 
(a large fairy-wren that prefers moist temperate forests) and Blue-breasted 
Fairy-wren (prefers drier woodland), Western Wattlebird and the Western race 
chloropsis of the White-naped Honeyeater (considered by many to be a distinct 
species, to called either Western Honeyeater or Swan River Honeyeater), Rufous 
Treecreeper, Western Thornbill and Red-eared Firetail.

There is a collection of other interesting species found in the area including 
(in no particular order): Mute Swan (an introduced species found only in 
Northam), Laughing Dove (another introduced special with its range limited to 
WA), and local species such as Malleefowl, Rock and Elegant Parrot, Regent 
Parrot, Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo, Western Gerygone, Tawny-crowed, 
White-cheeked and Brown Honeyeater, Brush Bronzewing, Splendid Fairy-wren, Bush 
Stone-curlew, Masked Owl, Flesh-footed and Great-winged Petrel, just to name a 

Due to the south-west isolation there's a high degree of local endemics on a 
subspecies level including the nominate race anthropeplus of Regent Parrot, 
yellow-bellied race semitorquantus of the Australian Ringneck, known locally as 
"Twenty Eights" (a reference to the parrots call), the Western Shrike-tit, 
'Spotted Scrubwren' race maculatus of the White-browed Scrubwren, and Western 
Shrike-thrush' ( brownish backed race rufiventris), and 'Western Magpie' (race 
dorsalis - with the female having a scalloped back), to name a few. Although I 
didn't visit Gabo Island (18 km of the coast of Perth) on this trip, there are 
interesting subspecies located there: Singing Honeyeater (a race that is 25% 
heavier than mainland birds), Red-capped Robin and Western Gerygone, the last 
two with vocalisations that differ significantly from mainland birds. Rottnest 
Island also has wild populations of Common Pheasant and Indian Peafowl.

It is worth noting that Western Whipbird, Western Yellow Robin, Rufous 
Treecreeper and Blue-breasted Fairy-wren are also found across the Nullarbor in 
South Australia. Another thing worth noting is that most of Western Australia's 
endemics are found in south-west, aside from Dusky Gerygone (found between 
Carnarvon and Derby), the recently split Kimberly Honeyeater (formerly lumped 
with White-lined Honeyeater) and Black Grasswren (Kimberly), while the rare and 
endangered Western Ground Parrot (which seems likely to be raised to full 
species status) is found near Esperance 500 km east of Albany.

Accommodation and car hire
For this trip (Perth to Dryandra to Albany and back again) there were two 
excellent accommodation options. Firstly we stayed in the Dryandra village one 
night on the way down, and then one night on the way back. The cost were $25 
per person per night - and for this you get to stay in a fantastic bush cottage 
with 2 bedrooms, lounge, outdoor eating areas, BBQ, fully equipped Fridge, 
front balcony etc. On the first night it was a warm evening, so I chucked a 
mattress on the front balcony and slept outside. Their contact details are 
08_9884_5231, web

Secondly we stayed was at the Cheynes Beach Caravan Park, with one of the 
modern (but plain) 2 bedroom cabins costing about $120 a night (I specifically 
recommend either cabin 13, or 11). The real benefit of the cabins was that they 
immediately bordered (literally) one of Australia most significant birding 
locations. To give you indication of the quality of birding near the cabins, 
from the balcony I heard Noisy Scrub-bird singing about 50 m away, and saw 
(from the balcony) Red-eared Firetail (with a pair regularly roosting on the 
wires next to our cabin), White-breasted Robin (a family of 4 feed nest to the 
cabin), Carnaby's Black-Cockatoo (large flock roosted in the trees in the 
Caravan Park), and a Quokka and several Western Grey Kangaroo feed in the 
grassy areas behind the cabin. Not bad! Their contact details are phone 

In terms of car hire for the trip we hired a new model Nissan X-Trail, the 
perfect AWD option, not only because it easily handled any off-road conditions 
we encountered, but it also had a very large rear cabin space, easily fitting 
in all our gear.

Heathland area near Perth Airport
Upon arriving in Perth I spent 3 hours (while waiting for Greg O's flight to 
arrive from Melbourne) wandering around a small heathland just outside the 
eastern border of the airport (on the east side of a small channel between Boud 
Ave and the Tonkin Hwy). Aside from a nice selection of honeyeaters such 
Tawny-crowned, Singing, Brown, White-cheeked and New Holland Honeyeater I 
flushed a Southern Brown Bandicoot, which ran across the walking track. A nice 
start to the trip, and an interesting native mammal so close (5 km) to the 
centre of a major city. ) [Interested to hear local WA comment about Southern 
brown Bandicoot's population in Perth.]

Serpentine National Park
Stopped briefly at Serpentine Dam on the way down to Dryandra. 4,500 ha in 
size, it's only 60 km from Perth Airport. Around the Serpentine Dam Picnic Area 
and lookout the south side of the dam are an excellent place to see the WA's 
temperate Jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) forest endemics such as Red-winged 
Fairy-wren (unfortunately eclipsed plumage males when I we there, and I was 
also surprised how large this bird looks for a fairy-wren, alomost Grasswren 
like), Red-capped Parrot, Western Spinebill, Western (White-naped) Honeyeater 
and Baudin's Black-Cockatoo. Other birds seen here include Red-tailed 
Black-Cockatoo, Twenty Eights, Splendid Fairy-wren, Golden Whistler and Scarlet 

After Serpentine NP we headed to Dryandra Woodlands, not just a tremendous 
birding location - but it's also a good place to see mammals such as Numbat, 
Woylie and Tammar Wallaby.

The flora of Dryandra consists of extensive stands of Wandoo (Eucalyptus 
wandoo), Powderbark Wandoo (E. accedens) and Salmon White Gum (E. lane-poolei). 
Stands of Jarrah (E. marginata) and Marri (Corymbia calophylla) provide 
additional top cover, and the understorey contains Rock Sheoak (Allocasuarina 
huegeliana) and extensive areas of Banksia ser Dryandra. Until early 2007 this 
latter shrub was classified as a separate genus Dryandra after which the 
Woodland is named. Species here include Golden Dryandra (Banksia nobilis) and 
Prickly Dryandra (B. armata).

Dryandra (environmental) Village
Somewhat similar to Kingfisher Park in FNQ but with a WA dry woodland feel, 
Dryandra Village is the perfect birders accommodation. Dawn dusk and the nights 
provided an extremely pleasant birding experience. Dryandra is an excellent 
stopping / mid point between Perth and the south-coast, we stayed there two 
nights, once on the way down and once on the way back.

On the first night we arrived late in the evening - both nights were warm, so I 
slept on the balcony. During the night I was serenaded by Bush Stone-curlew, 
Southern Boobook and Owlet Nightjar. We also heard a Tyto-type Owl, possibly a 
Masked Owl (rather than Barn Owl) because the call was more drawn out, stronger 
and deeper. Supportive of this was that a Masked had recently photographed at 
the Dryandra Village, and looking at the context of the Village (a small 
cleared area in the middle of woodland), it sort of makes sense.

In the morning I was awoken to a dawn chorus which including a plethora of 
honeyeaters such Western Spinebill, Red Wattlebird, New Holland, Singing, 
White-cheeked, White-eared, Tawny-crowned, Western (White-naped), 
Yellow-plumed, Brown and Brown-headed Honeyeater. Many of these drank at the 
water bath near the office, the 'Western Magpie' (race dorsalis - with the 
female having a scalloped back), Red-capped Parrot, 28s, Weebill and Silvereye 
(race chloronotus [gouldi], sharply demarcated yellow throat and olive back).

Dryandra Village Dam
A kilometre west of the village on Kawana Rd you'll find a water supply dam for 
the Dryandra Village. This was a fantastic dam for drinking birds, just after 
dawn, particularly Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, Red-capped Parrot and Twenty 
Eights. The first time I visited the dam no less that 15 Re-capped Parrot were 
drinking at the dam - and in the north-west corner; dozens of honeyeater lined 
up to drink - a situation that reminded me of the drinking of the mixed flocks 
of drinking honeyeaters, finches and parrots at the waterholes in northern 
Australia. Interestingly finches - other than the uncommon Red-eared Firetail - 
are totally absent from this part of Australia. The dam is also an excellent 
place to find the (secretive) Blue-breasted Fairy-wren. They were quite 
secretive, we found then in the south-east corner, foraging under low scrub. 
Unfortunately the males were in their eclipse phase.

Also here were Western Thornbill (a very plainly plumaged Thornbill, even 
'duller' than the Mountain Thornbill of FNQ, it contrasts with Inland Thornbill 
through lacking brownness on the rump), a juvenile Brown Goshawk, Brush 
Bronzewing, Western Gerygone, 'Spotted Scrubwren' (race maculatus of 
White-browed), 'Western Shrike-thrush' (brownish backed race rufiventris of 
Grey Shrike-thrush).

Ochre Walk and Arboretum (Dryandra)
Rufous Treecreeper was conspicuous at the Dryandra Arboretum (a collection of 
native trees) and the start of the Ochre Walk on Tomingley Rd - it ringing call 
being almost continuous. Along the start of the walk we got onto Western Yellow 
Robin - about 150 metres south of Tomingly Rd (you can see a small ridge line 
on the south-west side of the track) - the race (griseogularis) of the robin in 
the south-west has a bright rump. The Ochre Trail is also a reliable walk to 
see Numbat.

Tomingley Rd (Dryandra)
While in Dryandra we travelled up and down Tomingley Rd a few times, mainly 
because of the openness and good quality of the Wandoo eucalyptus woodland. 
Along Tomingly Rd saw 'Western Shrike-tit' (white bellied race leucogaster 
Crested Shrike-tit), Restless Flycatcher, Fantail Cuckoo, Rufous Treecreeper, 
Yellow-plumed Honeyeater, Dusky Woodswallow (smaller darker race Perthi - with 
less whiteness on outer-primaries and tail-tips - looking somewhat like Little 
Woodswallow), Rainbow Bee-eater, Western, Inland and Yellow-rumped Thornbill, 
Scarlet Robin (which seemed to be present at every location we visited), Grey 
Butcherbird, Tree Martin, and there is a possibility of seeing the diurnal 
Numbat, especially in along the open woodland gullies on the south side of the 

Surrounding Roads (Dryandra)
On the road in and out of Dryandra for Western Rosella, Red-capped Parrot and 
Carnaby's Black-Cockatoo, we saw a large flock feeding on fresh pine cones 
along the Wandering - Narrogin Rd. We also found a unusual mixed flock of 
Black-faced Woodswallow and Varied Sitella (black-capped race pileata) along a 
dry roadside - this seemed a very strange coupling, for example in eastern 
Victoria Black-faced Woodswallow are an open country and Samphire species while 
Varied Sitella are a woodland species, so the chance of seeing them together is 
very slim. The southern area of Guru Rd, around the two fenced areas, is a good 
site to see Woylie (Brush-tailed Bettong), we also had a few around our cottage 
in the village), Numbat and Bilby (part of a release program).

Cheynes Beach, located within Waychinicup National Park is quite simply a 
brilliant birding location! Here I was targeting the critically endangered 
Noisy Scrub-bird - one of Australia's rarest species and an iconic skulking 
species thought extinct until its rediscovery in the early 1960s. I was also 
after two other skulking species, Western Bristlebird and Western Whipbird.

The main sites for Noisy Scrub-bird are actually located in a small reserve 
known Arpenteur Nature Reserve, a sub-reserve of the larger Waychinicup 
National Park. The dominant flora in the reserve is the reserve is the 
wonderful Baxter's Banksia (Banksia baxteri), Dryandra-leaved Banksia (B. 
dryandroides), Candlestick Banksia (B. attenuata) or Scarlet Banksia (B. 
coccinea), paperbarks (such as Melaleuca baxteri, M. striata and M. thymoides), 
hakeas such as Hood Leaved Hakea (Hakea cucullata), or Two-leaf Hakea (H. 
trifurcata). There are also thickets of thickets of Sword-sedges (Anarthria 
spp.), and stunted eucalypts (especially Mallee eucalypts such as Ridge-fruited 
Mallee (Eucalyptus angulosa), Bald Island Marlock E. conferruminata and 
Jerdacuttup Mallee E. goniantha, and Grass Tree (Xanthorrhoea spp.) is common.

Noisy Scrub-bird, Western Bristlebird and Western Whipbird
Looking to Noisy Scrub-bird was a significant milestone in my birding career 
(along with Eyrean Grasswren, also rediscovered in 1961); it was one of a 
number of species of bird that I'd talk about with my Father when we discussed 
the rare and unusual birds of Australia. Indeed my Father had made his own trek 
to this area (visiting Two Peoples Bay in the 1970s) to see Noisy Scrub-bird. 
Unfortunately he didn't see the bird; however it didn't seem to matter to him. 
I remember him saying "I could hear them very close to me in the scrub, but 
despite crawling on hand and knees I could track him down". I managed to go one 
crawling step further, and managed to get crippling views of the Noisy 
Scrub-bird on several occasion.

The best spots for the Noisy Scrub-bird at Cheynes Beach are within cooee of 
the caravan park. A small population of 14 were translocated here from Two 
Peoples Bay Nature Reserve in 1983, followed by another 16 in 1985, and 
recently over 200 hundred 223 male birds had been heard singing in the area.

There were two good sites for them along Cheyne Rd (see map below). The first 
is on the south side of Cheyne Rd, 100 m west of the intersection of Cheyne Rd 
and Bald Island Rd, in the areas between a culvert (an enclosed drain under the 
road) and a dirt track that that leads down to the beach), with the bird first 
heard calling in a large bush beside the road. The birds here are well known, 
colloquially known as the "Culvert Scrub-bird". Upon hearing Noisy Scrub-bird 
it's hard to believe that a bird so small can make such as a powerful call - 
occasionally it was almost deafening.

The second site for Noisy Scrub-bird was on the north side of Cheyne Rd, about 
300 m east of the intersection with Bald Island Rd. This is the areas between 
the road and the Cheyne Beach Car Park. There an old toilet block here, where 
it would be easy to listen to the Scrub-bird while ... well you know ... and as 
a result colloquially the bird here is known as the "Toilet Scrub-bird". I just 
made that up.

We saw Western Bristlebird at Cheynes Beach immediately east of the Bald Island 
Rd, about 100 metres south-east of the turn-off to the Caravan Park (60 metres 
after the road becomes a dirt track). From the Caravan Park entrance travel 
south for 50 metres past the Caravan Park entrance and then take the easterly 
track for about 20 metres (see map below). Western Bristlebird can be found in 
the heath on the north-east side of this track. Another site for them is along 
a small walking track immediately south of the Cheynes Beach Caravan Park; on 
your right as you head to the first site.

Greg and I didn't see Western Whipbird at Cheynes Beach - although we didn't 
actually look for them (we'd planned to target them at Betty's Beach - see site 
details below). However if you do want to search for Western Whipbird here look 
for them 200+ m past the Western Bristlebird site on the Bald Island Rd 
(track), south-east of here, around the intersection near Back Beach, and 800 m 
directly south of the Caravan Park, near an intersection that branches west 
(where Noisy Scrub-bird and Western Bristlebird have also been recorded). See 
map below.

Other birds at Cheynes Beach
White-breasted Robin are common in the Caravan Park near as the entrance area 
and around the cabins, and also along the tracks leading to the beach from 
Cheyne Rd. As a complete side note: I reckon the White-breasted Robin should be 
renamed the "White Robin" (in the same way we have a Yellow, Scarlet, Pink, 
Rose and Flame Robin). It's a far stronger, more straightforward, iconic name. 
A good place to see Southern Emu-wren (race westernensis) is  at the 
intersection of Cheynes Rd and Bald Island Rd. Red-eared Firetail are found in 
the area between Bald Island Rd and the cabins in the Caravan Park. Carnaby's 
Black-Cockatoo feed and roost in the pines in the centre of the Caravan Park; 
Purple-crowned Lorikeet seem to prefer the gum (especially when flowering) at 
the east side of the Caravan Park Other bird we saw here included Brush 
Bronzewing, Western Rosella, White-checked, New Holland and Tawny-crowned 
Honeyeater, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Splendid Fairy-wren, Tawny-crowned Honeyeat
 er, White-browed (Spotted) Scrub-wren, Inland Thornbill, Dusky Woodswallow, 
Black-shouldered Kite and Wedge-tailed Eagle. We also saw Regent Parrot on the 
way into Cheynes Beach, surprisingly in the Blue Gum plantations about

The area is also an excellent place to see heathland mammals. I had spectacular 
views of a Honey Possum feeding in a large Baxter Banksia (Banksia baxteri) 
just east of the intersection of Cheyne Rd and Bald Island Rd, and a Quokka, 
along with Western Grey Kangaroo, feed in the grassy areas behind the Cabin 11 
in the Caravan Park. Other mammals in the reserve include Western Pygmy Possum, 
Bush Rat, Southern Brown Bandicoot and the endangered Dibbler, a large 
antechinus (in a surprising parallel context to Noisy Scrub-bird it was 
rediscovered at Cheynes Beach in 1967 after a gap of 80 years).

North Point and Betty's Beach
Located on the edge of North Point (which faces Two Peoples Bay) Betty's Beach 
is a really interesting birding site worth further investigating. It proved a 
very good site for Western Whipbird (nigrogularis), hearing them as soon as we 
got out of the car, as well as Rock Parrot. On a recent trip to Kangaroo Island 
in South Australia I got onto Western Whipbird and Rock Parrot at Cape Du 
Couedic on the Weir Cove Tk.

The similarity between that site and Betty's Beach was remarkable. Upon 
arriving at both sites I heard Western Whipbird immediately as I got out the 
car. In both sites the Whipbird were on the north side of the road up a short 
track at the base of a hill, and the site over looked a rugged granite headland 
massif, with a major headland on the west side of the coast. At both sites 
birds include small flock of Rock Parrot, Tawny-crowed Honeyeater, New Holland 
Honeyeater,  Southern Emu-wren, White-browed (Spotted race maculatus) 
Scrubwren, Southern Emu-wren, Tree Martin, Welcome Swallow and Little Raven. 
The only difference was the species of Spinebill - Weir Cove they were Eastern 
Spinebill, while at Betty's Beach Western Spinebill.

Looking across to South Point, Little Beach and Two People Bay from the 
Limestone Rocks at North Point provides excellent sea views into Two Peoples 
Bay. Here were saw Flesh-footed Shearwater, Great Cormorant and Caspian Tern, 
while Black Oystercatcher feed on the rocks. At the small fishing locality of 
Betty's Beach (where you seem to step back in time 50 years) a large Kings 
Skink scurried across the road.

The Gap, Albany
>From the lighthouse at The Gap we had superb views of the seas. The seas were 
>calm, so there weren't many species seabirds around, however we did manage to 
>see Flesh-footed Shearwater, Great-winged Petrel, Sooty Oystercatcher, and a 
>quick view of a pterodrama, possibly a Soft-plumaged Petrel. The Gap, in 
>Torndirrup National Park, is on the southern side of Frenchmans Bay 20 km 
>south west of Albany (pronounced, I've been informed Al-bany not All-bany). 
>The area consists of wind-swept coastline and rugged headlands, with some 
>protected bushlands. Looking from the cliffs, to an area behind the surf I 
>also saw a very large shark (~15 foot), too hard to tell what it was, but 
>large enough to suggest Great White.

Stirling Ranges
Brief visit, which didn't do the area justice. We visited Mt Trio in the 
Stirling Ranges, an area of mixed mallee heath, and a good site for the mallee 
race (oberon) of the Western Whipbird. Here we saw Purple-crowned, 
Yellow-plumed, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, Western Wattlebird, and what a brief 
very short and distant of call of what I thought was a Gilbert's Whistler. 
Golden Whistler was also heard here. A good place to see the distinctive 
Rosenberg's Goanna is along the dirt section of the Salt River Rd, which runs 
along the northern boundary of the park. Along here we had two Rosenberg's 
sunning themselves along the road.

Rocky Gully
Rocky Gully is a small town on Muirs Hwy, and is one of the best locations to 
see the uncommon southern race (pastinator) of the Western Corella. A 
particularly good location is around a farm 200 m west of the town centres 
along the Rocky Gully - Franklands Rd. You can view the farm from the Muirs Hwy 
via a small powerline break in the roadside vegetation (opposite Mills Rd). 
Here we saw a large flock of Western Corella in the area bordering farmland.

>From here we headed back to Dryandra (where we stayed a second night) and then 
>north to Northam through Western Australia's "wheatbelt" via the Great 
>Southern Hwy. Along the way there were a couple of good birding locations. The 
>northern race (derbyi) of the Western Corella, along with Little Corella, 
>flocked to drink at a storage dam on the west side of the Great Southern Hwy 
>in the centre of the township of Beverley - providing a nice opportunity to 
>see both species (Little and Western Corella) side by side (literally).

In the Township of York, on the Avon River there was an impressive array of 
waterbirds between the bridges on Balladong St and South St. Here we saw 
Nankeen Night Heron, Darter, Little Pied, Little-black, Great Cormorant, Great 
Egret, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Hoary-headed and Australasian Grebe, all 
roosting along the river. The best access was via the west side of the South St 
Bridge (through a small train museum).

One of the strangest birding twitches I've undertaken was heading to the 
Northam Weir 100 km east of Perth to see Mute Swan. Perhaps romanticized the 
moment - when I would see a legitimized population of Mute Swan in Australia. 
However upon reaching the site it was like visiting the wetlands the city Zoo. 
The birds where there, but it didn't feel like you'd seen them in the wild. For 
example I remember seeing Flamingos in Hong Kong and there wasn't any emotional 
attachment; it wasn't until I saw a true wild population in the Camargue in 
France that it took a real emotive experience. (I could name dozens other 
similar experiences.)

That being said the birds (Mute Swan) were there, and what a superb birds they 
were! Being in Northam reminded me of the stories of the disbelief that 18th 
century Europeans felt when they first heard about existence of 'Black Swans'. 
Such an idea turned flat-world conservative thinker's views of reality on their 
head. Soon we'd believe that mammals could have a bill like a duck!

Herdsman Lake and Lake Monger Reserve
Before heading home we dropped in a couple of the Perth's suburban lakes, 
Herdsman Lake and Lake Monger Reserve, both located only a few kilometres from 
the centre of Perth. Herdsman has extensive areas of reed beds in centre which 
is shallow at low water levels, and narrow strip of paperbark around lake. We 
birded on the north side getting onto a nice selection of birds including Great 
Crested Grebe, Australasian Darter, Australasian Shoveler, Pink-eared, 
Blue-billed and Musk Duck, Great Egret, Yellow-billed Spoonbill (interestingly 
Royal Spoonbill is very rare in SW WA ), Australian Reed-Warbler, Little 
Grassbird and Western Gerygone (another surprising city species - in Victoria 
you'd have to travel well over 100 km out of Melbourne to have a chance of 
seeing this species).

Lake Monger is also a large lake (~2km diameter) however it's surrounded by pen 
parkland. Again there was a nice selection of waterbirds, including a range of 
ducks that in the eastern states are uncommon (certainly in or near cities), 
but where the common ducks on suburban lakes, such as Australasian Shoveler, 
Pink-eared, Blue-billed and Musk Duck - I wonder if this has something to do 
with WA's drought i.e. uncommon species pushed into urban landscapes (for 
example in Melbourne during the drought period this was most obvious with our 
Parrots and Cockatoo, such as Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo.)

By the end of our trip we'd seen all the local south west WA endemics - and 
also picked up Mute Swan. The most noticeable about WA was how incredibly dry 
it was. For example one of dominant aspect of Dryandra (and much of the 
southern part of the state) was the number of trees that had either fallen 
over, or were in in the process of falling over. After any strong wind, trees 
would start tumbling down. The major cause is obviously: the prolonged Western 
Australia drought (the land was as dry as a bone) has affected the root systems 
of many of the trees (contracting to the point of non-existence). In many ways 
it reminded me of eastern Australia prior to recent rains (and floods). The 
most affected areas, in terms of fallen trees, I came across was in Dryandra 
along the northern section of Guru Rd; it looked as though it had been hit by a 
cyclone. Despite the dryness of south-west WA the birdlife and birding was 
tremendous - being almost the perfect birding destination, with a
 ll the common species a little bit different to what I'm used to in Victoria, 
intermixed with a nice selection of rare and unusual species. There is also a 
nice selection of mammals, such as the Honey Possum and Numbat, adding 
wonderful wildlife experience.

Big thanks to Greg Oakley, Tim Bawden and Frank O'Connor (and his tremendous 
website for their good dirt, and to the birders who'd 
provided mud map details at Cheynes Beach. Thanks also to the people at 
Dryandra Village, great stuff.


Tim Dolby

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