Abrolhos and Central Western Australia Trip Report

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Abrolhos and Central Western Australia Trip Report
From: "Peter Marsh" <>
Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2009 17:20:58 +1100
Dear Birders,
Dick Jenkins, Merilyn Brown, Grant Penhryn and I have just got home from a very 
successful birding trip to the Abrolhos and Central Western Australia.
The trip started by my calling for expressions of interest by other birders in 
hiring a boat to get out to the Abrolhos to look for Lesser Noddy. I got enough 
people together to make it a goer and arranged the use of a game fishing boat 
from Geraldton which comfortably took the 4 of us for 2 days and 1 night at 
Pelsaert Island. If anyone wants contact details for the boat let me know. The 
second target was Grey Honeyeater near Paynes Find. All of the participants on 
the boat trip wanted to also look for the Honeyeater so we hired a car from 
Perth Airport and did a round trip in the car.

Best bird on the drive up to Geraldton was Carnaby's Black Cockatoo, Laughing 
dove was the only other "local" bird seen. The trip out to Pelsaert Island 
started quietly with a Flesh Footed Shearwater, Wilson's Storm-petrel and a 
Sooty Tern being the only birds seen until we were very close to the island. We 
headed directly to the East coast of the island adjacent a known breeding site 
for Lesser Noddy. As we approached closely to the Island a couple of Lesser 
Noddys flew by, which was a relief! We were able to land easily from a dingy 
and walked down the island a short way to 2 adjacent breeding colonies 
containing hundreds of active nests. The birds were very relaxed with us around 
and we were able to view the birds at our leisure. In the same area as the 
Lesser Noddys were lots of Roseate Terns showing their soft rosy breasts, 
Bridled Terns, Pied Oystercatchers, Fairy Terns and Pacific Gulls. The very 
green western race of Silvereye flitted about in the low scrub. Within the 
island were a number of small lakes with a number of waders around the margins 
and a Spotless Crake.

In the afternoon we rejoined the boat and motored around to the more protected 
Western side of the Island to moor for the night.We passed a mixed flock of 
Wedge-tailed and Flesh-footed Shearwaters and a small number of Hutton's 
Shearwater. This last sighting was interesting as Hutton's is not listed in the 
Abrolhos bird lists that I have seen. We went ashore again and walked down to 
the southern end of the island adjacent the lighthouse. The air was thick with 
birds, a mixed flock of Sooty Terns and Common Noddy. There must have been at 
least 10,000 birds in the air at times. The sight and sound was quite 

On the trip back to Geraldton the next afternoon we saw at least 8 migrating 
humpback whales and a number of Common Dolphin. We also got distant views of 
Streaked Shearwater and Brown Skua. In all we saw 33 species on the islands and 
the sea voyages there and back.

We drove to Cue the following day picking up, inter alia, Pied Honeyeater, Grey 
Currawong, Cockatiel and Crested Bellbird. We went on to Nallan Station from 
Cue where, with permission from the owners, we caught up with White-fronted 
Honeyeater, Variegated Fairy-wren, Redthroat  and Red capped Robin among other 
birds. Nallan Lake a bunch of ducks and waders and a single Whiskered Tern.

Early the following morning we returned to Nallan Station (we had not stayed 
there as their accommodation was fully booked) and found Chestnut-breasted 
Quail Thrush, Mulga Parrot, Crimson Chat and Varied Sitella. As the day started 
to warm up we headed west past the Big Bell mine to Walga Rock stopping 
unsuccessfully at Frank O'Connor Banded Whiteface site along the way. A cool 
forest of Casuarina produced Western Bowerbird, Slaty-backed Thornbill and 
Little Button-Quail. We returned to Nallan again in the late afternoon with the 
specific intention of looking for Bourke's Parrot coming in to drink at one of 
the bores. With a bit of time on our hands we detoured via the Nallan Lake 
again and interestingly found a considerable change in the birds present. The 
large number of Red-capped Dotterels had gone; the Whiskered Turn was replaced 
by a single Gull-billed Tern; a group of Black-tailed Native-hen had arrived 
with Hardheads, a Marsh Sandpiper and a group of Hoary-headed Grebes. A few 
quiet beers were consumed beside Jackson's Well on the station before a small 
group of Bourke's Parrots appeared in the last light of the day. What a great 
way to finish a wonderful days birding.

Our journey to Paynes Find started with a detour back to the Banded Whiteface 
site where we were rewarded by a single bird popping up and showing itself very 
nicely as we were looking at a party of White-winged Fairy-wren. A stop at Lake 
Austin produced Rufous Fieldwren but not Orange Chat.

Out to the Beacon Road site 30 Km south of Paynes full of hope for a Grey 
Honeyeater. We spent around 5.5 hours there that afternoon and the following 
morning seeing in all 32 species but not a sight or sign of a Grey Honeyeater. 
There was a lot of Acacia miniritchie, which they are supposed to like, around 
and a small amount of  flowering mistletoe but no GH! We had brief sightings of 
a Spotted Nightjar on the road back to Paynes Find.

Our last full day saw us driving back to Perth after our second session at the 
non-GH site picking up Western Corella on the way at New Norcia. We had booked 
a motel at Wattle Grove south of the Airport and on the way there diverted to 
look at a site on the Swan close to the Ascot racecourse in the hope of picking 
up Crakes or Rails but the water levels were all wrong. We then called in at 
Binkley Brook to start our search for the close in SW endemics. We got 
Red-capped parrot; Red-winged fairy-wren and Red-eared Firetail here.

Our last morning was spent at Wungong Gorge and the nearby Bungendore Park. 
Between these two site we saw White-breasted Robin, Wester Rosella, Red-tailed 
Black-cockatoo, Baudin's Black Cockatoo,  Western Thornbill, Western Spinebill, 
Rufous Treecreeper and Western Yellow Robin. It was a happy group of birders 
who wound up at the Airport at lunchtime for their various flights home.

I would like to thank my companions for their wonderful company and their 
varied and complimentary skills in picking up bird calls and sighting birds - 
all of which added immeasurably to the experience for me. Thanks also to Frank 
O'Connor for his web site which yet again proved a mine of useful information.

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