Esperance Trip Report (long)

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Subject: Esperance Trip Report (long)
From: John Graff <>
Date: Wed, 26 Dec 2007 13:49:42 +1030
Returned from holiday in Esperance a couple of days ago, where, amongst other 
things, I had the opportunity to check out some of the local birding sites. I 
also visited a couple of places near Hyden on the way back. The water level in 
all of the lakes near Esperance was fairly high, which meant there were few 
migratory waders overall and Hooded Plovers had not yet arrived at any I went 
to, but a wide variety of other waterbirds were present. Yellow-throated Miners 
were numerous, particularly when driving through farmland and Western 
Wattlebirds were also very common (comfortably outnumbering Red Wattlebirds). 
Cape Barren Geese were fairly easy to find in farmland around Esperance while 
Woody Island had nesting Flesh-footed Shearwaters, Brown Quail with young and a 
Spotless Crake, amongst other things. White-winged Triller were also recorded 
at several sites, suggesting that the large numbers around Perth this year may 
be a wider phenomenon (although I'm not sure of their usual abundance in the 
area). All up for the trip, 116 species were recorded, including 5 lifers (Cape 
Barren Goose, Short-tailed Shearwater (? see Woody Island report below), Shy 
Heathwren, Purple-gaped Honeyeater & Black-faced Cormorant). Below is a brief 
summary of the major sites I visited and birds seen. I used the Birds WA 
pamphlet on the area and sites listed in John Bransbury's book for site 
information. I also requested info on both Esperance and Hyden on birding-aus, 
so thanks also to Steve Davidson, Cliff Dent, Laurie Knight, David Secomb, Noel 
Luff, Peter West and Sue Proust for their helpful suggestions. ESPERANCE Lake 
Monjinup: The area near the carpark was alive with birdwatchers(!), as I 
appeared to have stumbled on an outing of the Esperance Bird Group. There were 
birds about too, with a pair of Sacred Kingfishers and a number of Elegant 
Parrots (shown to me by the bird group) being most notable. There was very 
little on the lake, a lone Musk Duck being about the sum of the birds present, 
however the surrounding bushland held large numbers of New Holland Honeyeaters 
and Western Wattlebirds along with Red-capped Parrot, Red-eared Firetail, 
Common Bronzewing and White-winged Triller amongst others. I revisited the site 
almost two weeks later and briefly checked some of the bush area, a Western 
Spinebill and good views of a male White-winged Triller being the highlights.  
Lake Warden: The lake was very full and few birds were found. Several Musk 
Ducks were displaying and some Australian Shelducks could be seen on the lake. 
A drive along Stearne Road also yielded an Australian White Ibis, White-faced 
Heron, White-winged Triller, Yellow-throated Miners and a pair of Cape Barren 
Geese in a field. Lake Wheatfield: Despite the high water level, a wader 
(probably a Wood Sandpiper) was observed flying across the lake. Also present 
were Chestnut Teal, Australian White & Straw-necked Ibis, Great Egret, 
White-faced Heron, Yellow-billed Spoonbill and Australian Shelduck, while the 
banksia woodland had large numbers of Western Wattlebird, New Holland 
Honeyeater and Red Wattlebird along with other bush birds such as Shining 
Bronze-Cuckoo and Red-capped Parrot. Woody Island & boat cruise: We stayed for 
one night on Woody Island. On the cruise out, Cape Barren Geese, Flesh-footed 
Shearwater, Black-faced Cormorant and close views of White-bellied Sea-Eagle 
were notable highlights, while on the island, several Brown Quail with young, 
Red-eared Firetails, Brush Bronzewing, Rock Parrot, Sacred Kingfisher, Spotted 
Pardalote, Golden Whistler and a single Spotless Crake were among the species 
recorded. A particular highlight was observing a number of Flesh-footed 
Shearwaters returning to their burrows just after dark. On the boat back to 
Esperance, a flock of (~500) Short-tailed Shearwaters (I have been told that 
this may be an unusual record, but I'm fairly confident in my identification. 
If anyone has info about the abundance of ST Shearwaters near Esperance, I'd be 
interested to know) and several Australasian Gannets were the best sightings.   
 Mullet Lakes Nature Reserve: One of the few lakes with any real areas suitable 
for waders, however there were still only a few about, namely a couple of 
Greenshank, about 15 Red-necked Stint and a lone Sharp-tailed Sandpiper along 
with a number of Red-capped Plovers, some with young. Other waterbirds seen 
included Chestnut Teal, Great Egret, Yellow-billed Spoonbill and Australasian 
Shoveller, while a Swamp Harrier soared overhead. Cape Le Grande National Park: 
Relatively few species were recorded in the park, although this was probably in 
part because much of our time there was through the middle of the day. Among 
those species recorded were Great Cormorant, Pacific Gull, Brown Falcon, 
Nankeen Kestrel and White-browed Scrubwren. In farmland along the road into 
Cape Le Grande, Emu, White-necked and White-faced Herons and Yellow-throated 
Miner were recorded.Peak Charles National Park: Despite a long drive from 
Esperance meaning we didn't arrive until almost midday, a number of birds were 
still about. It's worthwhile driving slowly along the road in and stopping 
where you see birds. Species seen included Shy Heathwren, Blue-breasted 
Fairy-wren, Golden Whistler, Rainbow Bee-eater, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, 
Brown-headed Honeyeater, Yellow-plumed Honeyeater, White-eared Honeyeater, 
Brown-headed Honeyeater, Purple-gaped Honeyeater, Southern Scrub Robin, Inland 
Thornbill and Wedge-tailed Eagle.  For the first week, we stayed at Esperance 
Chalet Village, which was set in park/bushland along Bandy Creek and had some 
good birds, including Brown Goshawks (??nesting), Spotted Pardalote, Golden 
Whistler, White-winged Triller, White-naped Honeyeater, Shining Bronze-Cuckoo 
and Black-fronted Dotterel along the creek. After a night on Woody Island, we 
spent the second week at Beachfront Holiday Apartments along the ocean front. 
The place was quite spacious, with lovely views across to Cape Le Grande, but 
little in the way of birds. HYDEN Around town, Yellow-throated Miners, Galahs 
and Australian Magpies were numerous.Wave Rock: Few birds about, probably 
because we were there in the early afternoon and it was fairly warm. Weebills 
were conspicuous and Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater and Rainbow Bee-eater were also 
about. The Humps area: Only three species recorded here; Striated Pardalote, 
Grey Butcherbird and Australian Raven, probably quiet for the same reasons as 
Wave Rock  Highlights from the drive between Perth and Esperance included a 
Regent Parrot north of Hammismith, an Australian Bustard west of Lake Grace and 
several Tawny-crowned and White-cheeked Honeyeaters plus what looked like a 
Pied or Black Honeyeater east of Lake King. On the return drive, a pair of 
bustards on Cascades Road north of Cascades and several Wedge-tailed Eagles 
spread throughout. All in all, an enjoyable trip. I've typed up my bird list, 
so if anyone would like a copy, let me know (off list is probably better) 
Cheers and happy christmasJohn Graff
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