a week in the south west

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Subject: a week in the south west
From: "Dion Hobcroft" <>
Date: Sun, 30 Aug 2009 10:57:32 +1000
Flying into Perth on the 22 Aug my dad and I made a direct dash to Stirling
Ranges staying at the Retreat. Strong winds and cold temperatures did not
help but the park was alive with birds including flocks of hollow
prospecting Purple-crowned Lorikeets and a good mix of honeyeaters. A night
walk turned up the frog Neobatrachus pelobatoides. Next day travelled
through to Esperance and a walk along the pier turned up a loafing Pied
Cormorant amongst the numerous Black-faced plus the tamest Pacific Gulls. On
the 24 Aug I drove out to the Poison Creek area of Cape Arid National Park.
The strong winds and heavy showers finally started to ease. On the drive in
the national park a small moving object was spotted crossing the road which
I thought was a Fieldwren. On closer approach it turned out to be a Honey
Possum making a dash across the road. Hitting the brakes, putting the car in
neutral, getting out of the seatbelt, opening the door I saw it disappear
into the sandplain heath. I waited just where I saw it dive into cover at a
narrow gap in the vegetation and a minute later I saw it again as it dashed
across this gap. I spent the following dawn and dusk sessions listening out
for Ground Parrots unsuccessfully (hard to discern over the abundant
Tawny-crowned Honeyeaters piping). Birding was still excellent with great
views of Brush Bronzewing, Southern Emu-wren, Blue-breasted Fairy-wren,
Western Fieldwren, Horsfield's Bronze and Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Western
Wattlebird, Western Spinebill and White-cheeked Honeyeater. A night drive
turned up several frogs including Heleioporus eyrei, Crinia subinsignifera
and numerous Litoria adelaidensis. Returning to Esperance I made a stop at a
place on the Merivale Road I was based on Starling Patrol in 1983. Sure
enough I found a Spotted-thighed Frog Litoria cyclorhynchus under the same
rocks 26 years later!

On the morning of the 26 Aug my dad and I drove the scenic loop west along
the Esperance coastline. First highlight was a Southern Right Whale loafing
off Observatory Point. Second highlight was a Hooded Plover with a chick at
Pink Lake. This bird had a strikingly black back and long bill compared to
eastern states populations, enough to make me think it must be a distinct
undescribed subspecies. The third highlight was a pair of Masked Lapwings
beside the highway to Ravensthorpe only 5 km from Esperance. This species is
a vagrant in the south west so I took a few photos. I tried to put this
record on the WA Birdline through Eremaea but the link was not working. We
made it back to the Stirling Ranges. A morning birding session turned up a
stunning male Western Shrike-tit, nest building Western Yellow Robins,
Elegant and Regent Parrots and tame Rufous Treeceepers. We finished our trip
with a night at Wave Rock near Hyden. The birding was pretty good here with
a pair of Redthroats being the highlight and a Shining Bronze-cuckoo that
must be close to the edge of the range. The temperatures warmed enough for a
few Ornate Dragons to emerge from their granite hideways whilst a tiny
Granite Froglet Crinia pseudinsignifera was located calling from a seepage
at the Wave Rock. All up a fun adventure.

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