WA Trip March 2001 Pt D

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Subject: WA Trip March 2001 Pt D
From: "Vella" <>
Date: Mon, 2 Apr 2001 19:06:10 -0000

THURSDAY (22/3) – Lancelin and Kalbarri

On my way up north, saw a Western Fieldwren singing away on top of the heath at Nilgen NR. This was about 10 km east of Lancelin, from the dirt track at the end of Sappers Rd. The Western Fieldwren is much like the Striated Fieldwren but with whiter under parts and a chestnut forehead. On nearby KW Rd, flushed 2 Painted Button-quail and saw White-cheeked Honeyeaters.

Arrived at Kalbarri, early in the afternoon. A strong front was passing through around this time, producing very windy conditions but cooling the area down. Because of these conditions, hardly any birds were seen while at Kalbarri , but a Thorny Devil (Moloch horridus) was a pleasant surprise. It can be argued as being the most ugly looking lizard, but I find this slow-moving harmless lizard fascinating. Had a beautiful view of the Murchison River gorge while walking on the Z-bend trail.

FRIDAY (23/3) – Kalbarri and Sharks Bay Area

Still very windy this morning at Kalbarri so decided to head my way soon after early morning to Sharks Bay.

At the car park at Monkey Mia (within the Sharks Bay World Heritage area), I was greeted by the tame and very inquisitive Thick-billed Grasswrens. These grasswrens are common in the Sharks Bay area, and this is probably one of few places in WA were they exist. Also saw a nicely plumaged male Variegated Wren with females.

Birding along the road between Monkey Mia and Denham revealed Emus, a Little Eagle, a male Crested Bellbird, Chiming Wedgebills, many White-winged Wrens, atleast 10 White-backed Swallows and Rufous Fieldwrens.

In the mangroves along the stream flowing from Little lagoon near Denham, were some Yellow White-eyes, 2 Mangrove Herons and 2 Common Sandpipers. Sharks Bay is probably about the southern limit for the first two species.

On the nearby beach, beside the end of the stream were many waders including 10 plus Large Sand Plovers, 10 plus Red-capped Plovers, 200 plus Bar-tailed Godwits, 4 Grey-tailed Tattlers, 50 plus Red and 30 plus Great Knots, 70 plus Red-necked Stints, 2 Curlew Sandpipers and 15 plus Pied Oystercatchers. There was also 3 Pacific Gulls and 10 Caspian Terns amongst these waders.

SATURDAY (24/3) – Sharks Bay Area (Monkey Mia and Denham)

A brief walk on the Monkey Mia Trail (which starts at the car park), at dawn disappointingly produced few birds, probably because it was cool and windy. The few birds seen included Thick-billed Grasswrens, White-winged Wrens and White-browed Babblers.

Another visit to the little lagoon area yielded much the same as the previous day but saw also a Reef Egret and 4 Fairy Terns.

After lunch, went on the "Shotover" wildlife cruise, to see some of Shark Bay’s marine inhabitants. This cruise was a pleasant sailing experience with "No Sea sickness" guaranteed by the tour operators. The trip took us to the shallow areas with seagrass were many marine animals inhabit. Shark Bay is about 10 per cent sea grass, and up to 4 species of sea grass can be found within a hectare in some areas. Having significant sea grass areas, provide important feeding areas to the bays endangered marine animals, this being part of the reason why this area was afforded World Heritage Status. In addition, there are significant populations of other endangered animals on both the main land and offshore islands, which have played a major contribution to this status. Several of these animals such as Western Barred Bandicoot, Burrowing Bettong, Banded and Rufous Hare-Wallabies probably no longer exist anywhere else.

On this 2 and ½ hour tour, the main highlight for all on board, was seeing a Dugong female and calf for around an hour over the sea grass beds. We also saw several Bottle-nosed Dolphins (besides the ones I saw during feeding area in the morning), a 2.5 metre Manta Ray together with 3 Leopard Sharks as well as both Green and Loggerhead Turtles (Chelonia mydas and Caretta caretta).

A brief spotlight at night revealed a single beautifully marked Bynoe’s Prickly Gecko (Heteronotia binoei) found beside a rock crevice on the Monkey Mia trail.

SUNDAY (25/3) – Sharks Bay Area to Mullewa

On the road to Hamelin Pool, some of the birds seen beside the road included several Chiming Wedgebills, 100 plus Diamond Doves, 100 plus Zebra Finches, a pair of Mulga Parrots, 2 male Hooded Robins, many White-winged Wrens, many Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters and Black-faced Woodswallows. At Hamelin Pool, saw the prehistoric stromatolites, which is another of Sharks Bay very unique attractions.

Birding between the Overlander Roadhouse (at the turn off to Sharks Bay from the North-west Coastal Highway) and Billabong Roadhouse produced Red-capped Robins, a male Redthroat, Southern Whitefaces (with chestnut flanks), Chestnut-rumped Thornbills, more Chiming Wedgebills etc.

The highlight of the day, was when driving further south near Nerren Nerren (just south of the Billabong Roadhouse) when a Black-breasted Buzzard took flight from the road side and then circled above a few times. A raptor I do not come across too often. Also saw a Lozenge-marked Dragon Ctenophorus scutulatus) in this area of mallee. This dragon is really fast moving, and I had to creep very slowly to get good views.

Stayed at Mullewa that night which is about 100 km east of Geraldton.

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