Trip Report - SW Western Australia March 2010 - Part 1

To: birding aus <>
Subject: Trip Report - SW Western Australia March 2010 - Part 1
From: David Stowe <>
Date: Thu, 18 Mar 2010 14:40:07 +1100
This is a report of a trip to the South-West corner of Western Australia by David Stowe and Grant Brosie from 27th Feb - 4th March 2010 Firstly many thanks to the great people in the birding community that helped in the planning of this trip. Special mention to John Graff, Frank O'Connor's brilliant website, Thomas & Thomas, plus many more who I won't list in case i have forgotten someone! I had a wedding to photograph near Dunsborough on the 28th so it was a great excuse to add a few extra days and invite Grant along for some serious birding!
Day 1 - Saturday
We flew from Sydney on the Saturday studying our little black book of printed info we had collected from the above sources. just before lunch and had our first glimpse of Laughing Dove from the taxi on the way to the hire car place! Within 5 minutes of collecting our Corolla we had stopped and photographed our first tick. We headed straight out of Perth south along the new freeway to our first stop at Peel Inlet in search of Banded Stilt and whatever else we could see. A great spot where we saw around 50 Banded Stilt - a new bird for me. Although a Little Eagle cruising over put up a massive flock of stilts and other birds just further north that would have numbered in the hundreds at least. Other birds of interest here were Sharpies, Greenshank, Laughing Dove, our first "28 Parrot" plus Little Corellas which we weren't able to turn into Western :( Back on the freeway, our next stop was Dunsborough where we needed to scope locations for the wedding the following day. A frustrating glimpse of a flock of black cockatoos had us forever wondering and also amazed at the speed of their flight - especially compared to the Yellow-tailed Blacks we are used to over on the east coast. While at Wise Winery we saw our next lifer - Western Rosella! Purple- crowned Lorikeets flew over but no views good enough to tick. It was getting late so we headed quickly out to Cape Naturaliste and Sugarloaf Rock. After just turning into the Sugarloaf Rock road Grant picked up the call of some black cockies so we leapt out of the car and darted into the bush! We found a large flock and managed to get good views the bill of one bird to confirm Carnaby's Black-Cockatoo. We had only driven a couple of hundred metres further up the road when some small green parrots flew across the road! More screeching to a halt but our search revealed they were immature Western Rosellas rather than the neophemas we hoped for. This also highlighted how small these guys are compared to their eastern relatives. Didn't see any tropicbirds at Sugarloaf Rock however we weren't able to spend very long there. There were some terns fishing further out with some Gannets so we drove out towards the lighthouse in the hope of getting a closer view. Right near the cottage at the end we had an amazing encounter with another flock of Carnaby's that were feeding in a low banksia only 10m away! With the sun getting lower it was one of many magical birding moments for us. It was now getting late and we wanted to get to Margaret River before dark to avoid the roos. Our plans were dashed when we saw another flock of black cockies feeding on the side of the road...damn..more screeching and u-turns! But very glad we did as they were to be our first and only confirmed sighting of Baudin's Black-Cockatoo. Another amazing experience as they were feeding/flying all around us. Many photos later we really had to get on the road. We were walking back to the car and there was a dead branch beautifully lit by the last rays of sun. "Wouldnt it be awesome if a Baudin's flew onto that branch" Grant said wistfully....2 seconds later a gorgeous male flew into the perfect spot!....many more photos.....the drive in the dark will be slow.

Day 2 - Sunday
Up before the sun to make the most of the day before we had to be at the wedding. Our destination this morning was Rock Parrot. Destination - Cape Leeuwin. We arrived at Augusta before the cafe was open so we had to settle for an early bakery treat before battling the strong easterly winds at the cape. We scouted around the Waterwheel which was on the sheltered side but nothing more than Pacific Gull and a Whimbrel were seen. Spent a while walking around the rocks until the Lighthouse grounds opened. We walked in, found that it cost money just to walk out to the lighthouse and walked back out again. We tried again on the sheltered side a bit further out where our target flushed up onto a rock - a gorgeous little Rock Parrot! We quietly watched it walking over the rocks feeding (and photographed it of course) for ages and for a while the bird came to within 3m of us!! A massive highlight of our trip. Elated we headed back to Margaret River along the coast stopping at Hamelin Bay as it was in my little black book. A bonus tick for Grant here was Bridled Tern - a flock of them scoped on a big rock just offshore! Next was a drive and a little walk along Boronup Dr (also thanks to Frank). Apart from the millions of New Holland honeyeaters that seem to pervade EVERYWHERE we went on our trip, the bush seemed very quiet. We were eventually rewarded with our first views of Red-winged Fairy- Wren. I got my phone out to remind ourselves of what the White- breasted Robin call sounded like....2 seconds later a White-breasted Robin was perched on a trunk 5m away! Pleased with our success and an average of 4 new ticks per day we headed back to Margarets and the wedding..which was lovely of course but no new birds seen :)

Day 3 - Monday
Up before the sun again (a recurring them for the entire trip!) we left Margaret River with our ultimate destination Cheynes Beach in mind. We went due east via a dirt road to Nannup, then Manjimup, across to Rocky Gully, Mt Barker, then Albany. Just leaving Margaret River we had great views and photos of Aus Ringneck feeding on the side of the road showing the glowing green breast and vent. We tried not to stop much to get as much distance under our belt however a small patch of bush on the side of the road just before Manjimup had us excited with lots of activity, plus our first view of Western Wattlebird! Other good birds here were White-breasted Robin, Scarlet Robin, White-naped Honeyeater, Inland Thornbill and Square- tailed Kite. Our next target was of course Western Corella along the road to Lake Muir and in Rocky Gully. Unfortunately this was to be our first dip of the trip. Nothing even close to a corella was seen..unless you count a white-backed Magpie! ;) ........ and Rocky Gully was certainly an experience! At Mt Barker we made a phone call to see if the Buff- breasted Sandpiper had been sighted the day before at Cranbrook but no luck so we headed for Albany. A brief visit to Lake Seppings at Albany was nice with better views of Red-winged Fairy-Wren, Blue-billed Duck and Musk Duck. But after refuelling we were back on the road with a stop planned at Two People's Bay. Two Peoples Bay was gorgeous however the strong easterly winds once again really hampered our birding and we didn't so much as hear any of the "skulkers". White-browed Scrubwren and Silver Gull were pretty much it at Little Beach. I'm sure this is a great spot with more time to spare and better wind conditions but we wanted to maximise our time at Cheynes so we kept going. The detour was not without highlight though as before we got back to the highway we saw our first confirmed Red-capped Parrots! A gorgeous and striking bird indeed. Our views were not ideal though and we weren't able to get any photos so we kept driving. Back on the highway heading west and more screeching and u-turns as Grant's eagle eyes picked up 4 Elegant Parrots on a dead tree on the side of the road! We were certainly loving all the new parrots we were seeing and these were no exception. Having just seen Rock Parrot the previous day it was interesting to note how different the colours were. So back on the correct side of the road again we were now almost to our most anticipated destination....Cheynes Beach!

Part 2 coming soon.....


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