Latham's Snipe at Lake McLarty WA

Subject: Latham's Snipe at Lake McLarty WA
From: Frank O'Connor <>
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2009 17:12:10 +0900

The snipe that was reported at Lake McLarty has been shown to be a Latham's Snipe. This is the second record for WA.

I went there yesterday (Wed 21st January) and found it after two hours searching. For those who don't know Lake McLarty, it is south west of Pinjarra. I usually use South West Hwy, Old Bunbury Road and then Mills Road but with the roadworks for the Perth Bunbury Hwy it might be better to go South West Hwy, Greenlands Road, Thompson Road, Mills Road. Park at the low white gate. Walk away from the road slightly to your left and find a gate through the fence. Then make your way left to the south end of the lake, and then work your way up the right (east) side of the lake. The snipe was about halfway along in flooded or wet grass. I didn't flush it walking north, but it flushed three times as I walked back, each time about 50 metres away. You will be walking about half the time in 5 to 10cm of water so take appropriate footwear. This is the highest water level that I have seen at Lake McLarty for many years this late in January, and so it should continue to get better for waders. There is a Birds Australia WA excursion (for members) in early February that should be good.

Apart from the snipe, I counted the following :

Black Swan 1000 (including a few cygnets)
Australasian Shelduck 500 (very rough guess - half the number of swans)
Pink-eared Duck 15
Australasian Shoveler 50 (mostly west side)
Grey Teal 500 (very rough - about as many as the shelduck)
Chestnut Teal 5+ (1 male, 4 female - not a full count, there may be more)
Pacific Black Duck 250 (very rough - about half as many as the grey teal)
Hardhead 5 (north end)
Australasian Grebe 4 (breeding plumage) north end
Hoary-headed Grebe 80 (north end)

Little Pied Cormorant 2 (west side)
White-faced Heron 70
Australian White Ibis 60 (rough - about twice the AW ibis)
Straw-necked Ibis 30

Osprey 1
White-bellied Sea-Eagle 1
Whistling Kite 4
Swamp Harrier 1

Eurasian Coot 35+ (rough)

Black-winged Stilt 1000+
Red-necked Avocet 270
Banded Stilt 7
Red-capped Plover 80+
Latham's Snipe 1
Common Greenshank 4
Marsh Sandpiper 2
Red-necked Stint 180+
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper 250+
Curlew Sandpiper 60+

Whiskered Tern 1 (breeding plumage)
Silver Gull 235

Non waterbirds seen / heard were (I didn't make any search, so there would have been others I did not record):

Australian Ringneck
Splendid Fairy-wren
Yellow-rumped Thornbill
Grey Fantail
Willie Wagtail
Grey Butcherbird
Australian Magpie
Australian Raven
Welcome Swallow
Tree Martin
Little Grassbird

I also saw two Emus along Mills Road between the roadworks and the lake.

I did not see any Black-tailed Godwit, Pectoral Sandpiper, Long-toed Stint, Wood Sandpiper or any of the crakes that have been recently reported. The latter was very surprising as I must have walked along about 500 to 800 metres of typha edge. I wasn't looking explicitly for them, but I would have thought I would have flushed a few, especially given some of the high counts during the last week.

On a down side, there was a Red Fox (plus another along Mills Road), and there were the remains of four dead Black Swans that looked like they have been predated by foxes.

My other concern is that the typha on the east side is spreading. At this stage it is still generally well back from where you would normally expect the waders to be, but if left unchecked it will continue to spread. There was no sign of cattle. The management plan identifies the invasion of typha as a threatening process, and it allows for a few cattle during summer.

PS : Does someone have the latitude / longitude for the centre of the lake? If you can send it to me, then I will complete an Atlas form. I will also send the data to the Shorebirds 2020 project, although this lake will be counted during the formal counts in early February.

Frank O'Connor           Birding WA
Phone : (08) 9386 5694 Email :

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