Am catching up on my email backlog and came across your interesting message
below. It was a pleasure to read, and made me go all patriotic as Perth
is, and always has been, my home - despite interstate and overseas travels.
I particularly went all patriotic when you called my home "waterfowl
> capital of Australia". Its nice to hear such good words said about your
"Perth has more lakes than you can poke a stick at, and the Uni I worked
> at [in Mt Lawley] had a neighbouring park, complete with lake and
> vegetated island"
Is this Edith Cowan Uni?
Think I'll go and investigate that lake.
Did you get the chance to visit some of the other lakes around Perth? And
did you get to the Eric Singleton wetland reserve in Maylands? (its an old
quarry developed for waterfowl and sticky-beak birdwatchers like us) -
there are some good birds there. It has a timber bird-hide where I go with
my binoculars especially when I need to chill out. I've watched Pink-eared
Duck display, seen and heard Musk Duck call and display, heard and seen
Clamourous Reed-Warbler in the rushes around the edge, etc. etc. Its a
great spot. I come away from there full of peace and tranquility for
mankind. The reserve extends down to the Swan River, and there's a walking
path that leads from the carpark to, and past, the Reserve, then on to and
along the River. When you walk you have to keep one eye out for all the
doggy-doos that the local 4-leggeds have left behind. The main wetland in
the Reserve is largely inaccessible to dogs fortunately, although they do
come into the hide occasionally.
My office is not far from Hyde Park, close to West Perth, and occasionally
I go there at lunchtime. I've only seen the more common species there
Anyway, its true, Perth does have many lakes, although it had a lot more
before settlement commenced in the 1830's/40's. Many were filled in for
So, Perth is a good place to visit for waterfowl....
> From: Laurence and Leanne Knight <>
> Subject: birding-aus Lunch Time Observations
> Date: Monday, 14 June 1999 15:26
> It was a lovely sunny day in Brisbane the other day - temperature in the
> low 20s and views to the Great Dividing Range from Albert Park. The
> weather reminded me to put some notes together on the casual
> observations I made in the three years of life in Perth [waterfowl
> capital of Australia].
> Perth has more lakes than you can poke a stick at, and the Uni I worked
> at [in Mt Lawley] had a neighbouring park, complete with lake and
> vegetated island. I could watch the Carnabys cockatoos having fun with
> the pine [radiata] cones outside my office window and the maggies
> swooping unfortunate school children who passed through the car park.
> The maggies had it in for anyone with skates or a skate board and would
> glide in like stealth bombers before making a racket beside the
> unfortunate's ear. They were very selective in their harrassment and
> never bothered me when I walked through the car park or rode my bike
> down the street.
> Anyhow, I had my lunch in the park virtually every workday [you can do
> that at Perth, because although it gets more rain in winter in Melbourne
> the weather is a much nicer - you only have to stand behind a tree for a
> few minutes while the rain belts down then back out into the sun -
> rarely ever any lingering drizzle].
> That gave me plenty of time to observe the birds residing at the lake.
> When they were in residence, a pair of swans were lords of the lake.
> None of the other birds messed with them, and if they saw someone doling
> out food on the other side of the lake, they would fly in and land [in
> the water because that is easier] wherever was convenient - if that
> meant landing on the ducks that was tough [the latter proved very adept
> at ducking, so I never observed any collisions].
> There were also groups of maned and pacific black ducks and the
> occasional shelduck living by the lake [none of the more interesting
> species that inhabited the other lakes - pinkeared, bluebilled, musk and
> Oz shovellers turned up, which probably makes sense since it was a
> fairly shallow lake].
> The PB ducks were more prolific in their breeding at the lake, and from
> time to time flotillas/platoons could be seen making their way around
> the place. It was interesting to see that while the ducklings were
> competent divers, the adults appeared to be too bouyant [which is why
> they are dabbling divers]. While being unable to fly, the ducklings
> were amazingly fast through the water - they appeared to wiggle rather
> than paddle].
> There were a few domestic ducks that hung around the lake, and from time
> to time they would have broods of chicks, but never seemed to managed to
> raise any [the chicks would disappear one by one]. The larger of the
> swans seemed to have it in for one of the domestic duck and would give
> her a thorough going over it if caught her on the open water.
> PB ducks are not very large, and in addition to being bossed by the
> swans and domestic ducks, they were also pushed around by the coots.
> The coots provided the main entertainment at the lake. There were
> plenty of coots around the lake, and these were governed by 2-4 breeding
> pairs [the island was a natural nesting site].
> The breeding pairs had well defined territories, and I got to see heaps
> of stand-offs along invisible boundary lines. Sometimes it was a simple
> staring match at the border and sometimes there was some serious leg
> wrestling - the coots lie back on their wings and try to push their
> opponent under water with their legs [very comical to watch]. Typically
> at the end of a bout, the coots would turn ritual circles in the water
> and swim back into their territories.
> Generally if one bird got caught in a border dispute, its mate would
> rush over [half running, half flying] to lend assistance.
> The dominant males were not backward in putting the immatures in their
> place. If on land, the dominant males would stalk forward with their
> heads held menacing low and forward before breaking into a run when they
> got close. In the water, there were many slow 'line astern' chases
> [coots aren't very fast swimmers and they tend to labour when they are
> in a hurry].
> The coots tended to have 3-5 chicks per brood. I never saw the parents
> attacking their chicks [as David A. suggested in the 'Life of Birds'].
> The parents would get their chicks out onto the water when they were
> still tiny red-capped balls and fed them sludge from the bottom of the
> lake. The coots had an interesting way of diving - pushing up before
> ducking down. The coots were very concientious in feeding their chicks,
> and put plenty of effort into breaking food up into manageable sizes for
> The immatures tended to form a collective after they had been kicked out
> of their parent's territory. They ate a lot of grass, and they were
> prone to eating while lying down if they were feeling comfortable and
> There were also a couple of moorhens living on the lake. [Other lakes
> tended to have proportionly more moorhens than was the case here]. For
> some reason, these moorhens were pretty shy and they tended to be cowed
> by the coots, but being slightly larger could beat the coots when
> There were also a couple of breeding pairs of Oz grebes on the lake.
> They made lots of noise for such small birds which spent a lot of time
> under water. They engaged in lots of frenetic chases across the lake,
> which were punctuated with underwater stretches. They also engaged in
> ritual circling, though it was more of a getting together than a dusting
> off. As you could imagine their chicks were minute and very hard to
> spot when they first left the nest.
> Other birds round the lake included reed warblers [which tended to stay
> out of sight as is their wont]. A range of herons, egrets, spoonbills,
> cormorants and darters would turn up from time to time to engage in a
> bit of fishing. It was interesting to watch the cormorants swimming
> around the shallows chasing the knuckled sized fish, and they did catch
> the odd yabbie.
> The pick of the visitors were the rufous night herons who roosted in the
> willows by the lake.
> Next time you are in Perth, spend some time by a lake - you might see
> something interesting - a hoary headed grebe, a great crested grebe, an
> elegant parrot, a little eagle, a swamp harrier, a few glossy ibis, a
> chestnut breasted rail or a spotless crake ...
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