Birding TRip Report - Around Perth WA

To: "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Birding TRip Report - Around Perth WA
From: "Simon Mustoe" <>
Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2006 20:24:37 +0800
Just squeezed in a couple of frantic but highly successful days of birding in 
Perth before some work. The only 'dip' was the western (possibly 
soon-to-be-split) subspecies of crested shrike tit despite putting in about 7 
hours at Dryandra State Forest. Consolation however, by way of another 15 birds 
for the Aussie list including every to-be-expected bird within a relatively 
short drive of Perth and a plethora of unique western subspecies.

Highlights (i.e ticks) in order of appearance
















11 July - South of Perth

Stayed the night of the 10th at Narrigen in the Duke of York and left pre-dawn 
for the Ochre Trail in Dryandra State Forest. The dawn chorus was spectacular 
TREECREEPER well before it was light enough to see them. I returned to this 
site before midday on the 12th for another three hours and the species list was 
similar. If this was anything to go by, you couldn't really miss the main 
species. BLUE-BREASTED FAIRY-WREN is pretty common once you get used to the 
call, as is the treecreeper, though good 'deck' views can be tricky  - the area 
around the Mill Dam seems to be good. WESTERN SPINEBILLS were common in the 
Dryandra at the top of the rocky slope and also on Weirah Road near the 
Arboretum where they shared space with other honeyeaters (TAWNY-CROWNED (a 
few), YELLOW PLUMED (abundant), WHITE-NAPED (chloropsis subsp.)). I didn't come 
across little wattlebird here, although it is recorded. PAINTED BUTTONQUAIL 
were common, calling throughout dawn and I flushed six without any effort in 
about four hours of walking. Also commonly present were GREY SHRIKE-THRUSH 
(rufiventris subsp.), GOLDEN WHISTLER (fuliginosa subsp.), the spectacular 
(never thought I would say it about a scrubwren) maculatus subspecies of 
WHITE-BROWED SCRUBWREN and variant type Australian Ringnecks, half way between 
the subspecies zonarius and semitorquata.

At the Old Mill I picked up WESTERN THORNBILL, which I saw again the next day 
at the Ochre Trail. This bird is like a large and plain version of the 
buff-rumped thornbill. At the Old Mill they were cavorting with INLAND 

I then headed just north along Dryandra Road from its junction with Tomingley 
Road and headed west into the Wandoo, quickly finding a good mixed flock 
comprising various species already seen and also VARIED SITELLA (pileata 
subsp.). To my surprise, a WESTERN YELLOW ROBIN appeared and I saw one, 
possibly two more once I had left the feeding flock whilst returning to the 
car. I followed sitella flocks three times over the two days hoping that a 
crested shrike tit might have tagged along, but sadly to no avail.

At about 1pm, I headed off to Gleneagle Rest Area, on advice from Frank 
O'Connor but by now the wind had picked up and it was raining intermittently. 
On arrival I quickly found RED-WINGED FAIRY-WREN, which I also saw the next day 
in the orchard at Wungong Dam. The birds are at the logged-area on the southern 
side of the loop-road. They were by a burnt tree trunk half way to the small 
creek. The area has been planted with conifers so I am not sure how long it 
will be suitable but for now, the birds are easily observed. They are easily 
separated from blue-breasted not only by habitat, but also by the very pale 
colour of the blue head in males, which also have a striking pale blue saddle. 
Other plumages also have all-black beaks and the pale around the eye of 
non-breeding males is not as bold as in blue-breasted. Apparently 
white-breasted robin also occurs here but I did not stop to look, preferring to 
use the rest of the afternoon at Wungong Gorge.

I turned left on Admiral Road and immediately heard cockatoos calling. There 
were about 300 black-cockatoos in gardens, all of which appeared initially to 
be LONG-BILLED BLACK COCKATOOS. I had just moved on up the hill and most of the 
birds took off. A SQUARE-TAILED KITE appeared over the treetops and instantly, 
I heard SHORT-BILLED BLACK COCKATOOS calling. Several were gathered in the top 
of conifers affording scope-views. Note, the bills may be diagnostic, but are 
not that easy to see as feathers obscure the feature, plus the difference 
between a male short-billed and a female long-billed is not as distinct to the 
untrained eye as it may seem, especially as the birds may not give easy head-on 
views. A combination of close observation and call seems desirable for a first 
view! I then proceeded to look for LITTLE WATTLEBIRD following instructions on 
Frank O'Connor's website but failed.or at least I thought as I stumbled across 
one ceremoniously barking from the top of an acacia in a garden on Admiral Road 
as I continued towards the gorge. I only saw / heard three on the trip and they 
seemed most likely to occur in wattles in gardens.

An afternoon visit to the gorge was disappointing and I picked up no new birds 
though there were many SPLENDID FAIRY-WRENS (splendens subsp.but sadly no 
males) and RED-TAILED BLACK COCKATOOS at the top of the hill on my way out. I 
found out later that there is a drinking pool at the top of the hill leaving 
the gorge on the right hand side and that all three species often gather there 
to drink at dusk.

12 July

Having not seen the main birds of interest at Wungong Gorge, I stayed the night 
in Armidale and returned at dawn the next day. Again, a walk to the orchard and 
back along the gorge produced nothing until right at the end I managed to call 
up a pair of WHITE-BREASTED ROBINS. At this point, about 200 long-billed black 
cockatoos appeared to feed in the gorge so I gave up being able to hear 
RED-EARED FIRETAIL and I was on my way back to the car when one literally flew 
over my head and landed in a eucalypt. I ran up slope and got great views of 
what is a most spectacular bird. It surprised me that this individual was right 
out in the open. In fact, it flew off and landed in the top of a eucalypt on 
the roadside. I have a feeling that mid-winter, the birds disperse more as 
there is little in the way of grass seeding. The traditional locations may be 
more prevalent in the spring and summer. Finally, I also picked up WESTERN 
ROSELLA on the way back to the car. This was to be my only view of this species 
in two days!

I was in two minds now but decided that the one hour drive to Dryandra was 
worth one last shot at the shrike tit (and numbat). Neither appeared but it was 
worth it for better views of ELEGANT PARROT. For anyone familiar with turquoise 
parrot, these birds are most often in the tree tops. If you hear them calling 
(classic neophema with a rasping trill), look for a stag and they will almost 
certainly land on it. I also saw the novaenorciae subspecies of WHITE-EARED 
HONEYEATER which, along with a few singing honeyeaters, I missed the day before.

Finally, I drove the 120 kilometres north to Northam. There were two MUTE SWANS 
on river, and a number at the weir. These are all fenced in so I wonder if 
their status as 'wild' and self-sustaining will shortly be called into 
question. From here I drove north towards Toolyay and came across a flock of 
about 300 little corellas. I am not sure how lucky I was as an initial scan 
revealed none and I began to wonder whether the difference between this and the 
western was that obvious. The birds started to fly off then a scan of a tree 
next to the road and a pair of WESTERN CORELLAS were evident. They are more 
like long-billed in that (a) the bill is long; and (b) they have scarlet 
markings including a very prominent patch on the throat. A only had a minute to 
admire them before I had to head back to Perth.

Thanks very much to Frank O'Connor particularly, and his website for providing 
locations. A great way to spend a couple of days but again it would be nice to 
take a more leisurely approach.perhaps when I retire in about 30 years or at 
least when the kids have left home in just over half that period.


Simon Mustoe.

AES Applied Ecology Solutions Pty. Ltd
39 The Crescent
Belgrave Heights
Victoria 3160

Tel +61 (0)3 9752 6398
Fax +61 (0)3 9754 6083
Mob 0405 220830

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