WA Trip March 2001 Pt B

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Subject: WA Trip March 2001 Pt B
From: "Vella" <>
Date: Mon, 2 Apr 2001 19:03:37 -0000

WEDNESDAY (14/3) – Albany Area (including Two Peoples Bay)

As recommended by Frank O’Connor, I stayed at the Coraki Holiday Cottages, on the north shore of Oyster Harbour and near the King River bridge (about 10 km east of Albany). These cottages were probably the most roomy and comfortable places to stay and ideal for a whole family. Some of the endemic birds were seen here including Red-capped Parrot, several Western Rosellas and Red-winged Wrens. Beside the Harbour was an Osprey and 2 Grey Plovers.

Later in the afternoon, went for my first drive to Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve. The spectacular coastal scenery is worth the trip alone. In the heath saw lots of bird activity with 3 Long-billed Black-cockatoos, White-cheeked Honeyeaters, Western Spinebills and excellent views of no less than 3 Western Bristlebirds at the Little Beach car park late in the afternoon. Along the beach were Pacific Gulls. Also on the road was a Heath Monitor (Varanus rosenbergi)

THURSDAY (15/3) – Two Peoples Bay

This day was a bit wet and very windy which is often the case for this part of WA, making the search for 2 of my target species, the Noisy Srcub-bird and Western Whipbird a bit more difficult. Off the Sinker Reef trail near Mount Gardiner, only briefly glimpsed a Western Whipbird and heard several Scrub-birds call (probably atleast 20) with one or two of them calling right up my feet but not revealing themselves. The Western Whipbird’s call is ventriloquial, making it very hard to locate, even when very close. My tactic in seeing the Scub-bird was to sit on a trail with the birds calling from both sides and waiting for them to hopefully cross the trail. I did this for several hours in different areas, and was that determined to see one of these elusive things. The scrub-birds are very inquisitive and it can only take a matter of minutes till they come right up to you with their very load calls. I was so surprised how they were so close at times and that I could not even get a fleeting glimpse of them. Actually at the time I thought they were "invisible". However during the day I was very impressed to see a flock of 300 plus Carnaby’s and Long-billed Black-cockatoos feeding on the pine trees on the main road to the bay. In the coastal heath at Little Beach was an immature Red-eared Firetail (like the adult but without the red ears) and great views of 2 Rock Parrots feeding only a few metres in front of me in the heath and on the track.

FRIDAY (16/3) – Two Peoples Bay ("Scrub Bird Day")

The weather cleared this morning, making the conditions to search for the Scrub-bird much better than the previous day.

On my way in to the bay, 2 Southern Brown Bandicoots crossed the road at 5 am!

Most of the day was spent in the Mt Gardiner area, sitting down and hopefully waiting for a Scrub-bird to show itself. While waiting saw 3 adult Red-eared Firetails feeding in a Casuarina, a White-breasted Robin and 2 Western Whipbirds. One of the Whipbirds was only a couple of metres in front of me in full view, picking at a loose piece of bark from a mallee, being more concerned with what it was doing than my presence.

By late afternoon after waiting for so long for the scrub bird, I was just about to call it quits but decided to give it a try along the track between Little Beach and the visitor’s centre which Frank mentioned to me is a place he had seen them. Here it only took no more than 5 minutes to get excellent views of a male Noisy Scrub-bird which slowly crossed and paused (at times to preen) over the track on 5 occasions around me. I could clearly see its black throat, white cheeks, rufous vent and fine barring on the upper-parts. I also saw this bird climbing on a bush to sing very loudly in front of me and it was deafening! What an afternoon experience!. Saw also a Western Bristlebird nearby.

SATURDAY (17/3) – Porongurup and Stirling Ranges National Park

Felt like a nice bush walk in the Prongurups (about 40 km north-east of Albany) this morning. Had a nice walk through some very tall Karri forest and right up to Nancy’s Peak, which is one of the highest points in the Porongurups. At the peak, had a great view of the surrounds where I could see Albany and the Stirling Ranges. The 3 hour return (fairly steep) walk was well worth it. En-route saw several White-breasted Robins, Red-winged Wrens and a Red-eared Firetail feeding on the forest floor closeby. Also saw 2 South-western Crevice-skinks (Egernia napoleonis) sunning themselves on a rock, a Red-legged Ctenotus (Ctenotus labillardieri) and a Four-toed Skink (Hemiergis peronii).

At the Stirling Ranges National Park (about 80 km north-east of Albany), walked along the Kanga trail (starting at the turn off to Bluff Knoll), which passes through a mixture of habitats – mallee, heath, wandoo woodland and patches of marri along a creek which borders an open paddock. The walk was good value with a number of interesting birds – 8 Regent Parrots , atleast 5 Red-capped Parrots, several Western Rosellas, atleast 10 Elegant Parrots, 4 Scarlet and 2 Western Yellow Robins, a party of 6 Varied Sittella (black-capped form), 2 Yellow-throated Miners (Dusky form), both Tawny-crowned and Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters and 3 Red-eared Firetails. Also heard a Western Whipbird and Southern Emu-wrens and saw a Heath Monitor and Western Brush Wallaby.

A brief spotlight around the cottage where I stayed in the Stirling Ranges Retreat, produced 3 Southern Marbled Geckos in the ceiling and walls as well as a shooting star in the back ground of a clear night sky.

SUNDAY (18/3) – Stirling Ranges National Park

Soon after dawn, I was on the Kanga trail again and went on a track off this trail to a dam opposite the ranger’s house. The bush around the dam was dominated by mallee with plenty of birdlife about. Both Elegant Parrots (several) and Purple-crowned Lorikeets (6) were buzzing about. Drinking at the dam was a Brush Bronzewing and several Red-capped Parrots. In the mallee were 2 Southern Scrub-robins; 2 Western Whipbirds; Inland Thornbills; Tawny-crowned, White-cheeked, Yellow-plumed and Purple-gaped Honeyeaters and Spotted Pardalotes (yellow-rumped form). A Wedge-tailed Eagle soared high above the trail.

Around the rangers house were 6 Regent Parrots, 10 plus Purple-crowned Lorikeets and a pair of Scarlet Robins. Across the road from the ranger’s house, saw a pair of the rare Western Shrike-tit with a dependant fledgling being fed by the female. Their call is very different to the Eastern Crested Shrike-tit with a "poowar-poower". Also while observing the Shrike-tits, a group of 6 Elegant Parrots flew in the same tree. Around the Stirling Ranges Retreat was a pair of Rufous Treecreepers (the male bird being very tame walking and feeding only half a metre from my foot), several Western Yellow Robins and 20 more Elegant Parrots (mainly young birds in this flock) being disturbed feeding from the ground.

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