of a trip to the South-West corner of Western Australia by David Stowe
and Grant Brosie from 27th Feb - 4th March 2010
Day 3 continued...
Driving along the road to Cheynes Beach we were pretty excited and
filled with anticipation. We had come a long way from home and Perth
just to go to this famous birding location. We had 2 nights here which
we realised as soon as we arrived wasn't going to be enough. Actually
everywhere we went on this trip we wished we had more time at, such is
the beauty of this part of the country, but Cheynes to us was another
step up. Quiet and isolated, gorgeous scenery with granite studded
heath, we didn't even get all the way into the driveway of the caravan
park without having to get out and check out the birds!
Once into the caravan park we checked into the office and said we were
birders. They then handed us a map of the area where we were to note
our bird sightings. Even better was the green folder they handed us to
study while we were there which was full of all the previous birders
maps and sightings! WOW -what a wealth of information that was and
will continue to be. Poring over it that night it was great reading
the who's who of aus birding and getting a handle on where we should
focus our time.
Lifer #12 for both of us was Western Spinebill - a nice addition to
the list in the heath next to the caravan park as the sun faded.
Getting 4 new birds per day was awesome!
Day 4 - Cheynes Beach
Continuing the theme, we got up before the sun and headed down the
road (100m from the caravan park if that) to the most reliable spot
for the Noisy Scrub-bird. After reading through The Green Folder it
became apparent that pretty much everyone gets the scrub-bird and
mostly as it crossed the road while patrolling its territory. We sat
on the side of the road and waited where we could also look down one
of the tracks that leads to the beach. It wasn't long before i was
distracted by a Brush Bronzewing that was walking up the road.
Naturally it was at that exact moment as i looked right that the NSB
ran across the beach track seen only by Grant! :(
We heard it call as it moved through the scrub parallel to the road
and at one point moved into the bush and had it callling only a few
metres away but no chance of seeing it. We then moved up to the next
beach access track to see if it would cross that too.
While waiting at the junction of the main road trying to look both
ways i had the feeling that it might cross further down the beach
track so i started to walk a bit further down. Of course as soon as i
did this the bird ran back across the main road behind me!
....Grant: 2 - Dave: 0.....
We headed back to the caravan park to do some birding there. A great
spot with the tallest stand of trees around. Plenty of Brush and
Common Bronzewings, New Holland HE (of course), plus Red-Winged FW,
White-breasted Robin, Western Spinebill, and our next new bird - Red-
eared Firetail! The first few of these we saw were all juvenile which
The next few hours were spent chasing the calls of Western Whipbirds
high into the hills through thick heath carrying alot of camera gear
and with both of us helpfully forgetting water or sunscreen! We well
and truly hated these birds and once we got back to our cabin downed 2
consecutive gatorades each in record time! But once hydrated we were
back out into the heath.
The dominant feature of the heath here is the beautiful banksias that
are everywhere and have these amazing big yellow flowers. So often we
found ourselves photographing the flowers rather than birds! Perhaps
another symbol of a bit too much sun was when we stopped and realised
that we had been photographing a Grey Fantail for 10 minutes!!...time
to move on to something more interesting....like Bristlebirds!
It really is an amazing place. Although the Bristlebird was proving as
difficult as the Whipbird. Other birds of interest were Spotted
Harrier, Carnaby's BC, Western Wattlebird (which proved frustratingly
hard to see and photograph actually), heaps of Southern Emu-Wrens
(almost as common as New Hollands LOL!), Tawny-crowned and White-
cheeked HE, plus Grey Currawong (LOVE their call!)
But as the sun went down again we realised it would be a tough ask to
get the 3 skulkers in the few hours left the next morning.
Our last morning and our last chance for me to see the Noisy Scrub-
bird! So naturally we got up pretty early again!
We decided to wait further down the first beach access track where
Grant had first seen the NSB the previous morning at that time.
We began to stand quietly and wait. Within a minute we heard a soft
single note contact call of something. Grant wondered if that was the
scrub-bird but i dismissed it as i was intently focussed on watching
the track. I wasn't going to be distracted this time!
Then from that side of the track just 3m from us out came the Noisy
Scrub-bird! He tentatively moved to the edge of the track and checked
us out, then hopped to the centre of the track, pausing briefly again
then hopped into the bush! YAY - i finally saw it - and amazing views
for sure. I even managed a crap photo but i was more focussed on
seeing it properly plus it was before 6am so still pretty dark.
Interestingly even though the time was similar to the previous
mornings sighting, the bird was going in the opposite direction!
Elated, we moved back to the heath near the caravan park and the sandy
4wd track where we had spent so much of our time the day before in
search of the Western Bristlebird. We decided to give up on the
Whipbird as we kept hearing the Bristlebird calling. Closer it came
but it only called every 15-20 minutes so it wasn't a quick process.
In the end we were unsuccessful and added another dip to our list. One
consolation was our best view of a gorgeous adult Red-eared Firetail
as close as 3-4m. Grant did his best firetail whistle impersonation
while we were waiting for the bristlebird to call and in it came! What
a stunning bird!
We then heard a loud call from about 50m up the track and ran for
it...it was the Whipbird! We got to where we thought the call had come
from and stood for a minute scanning the thicker banksia scrub for
movement. To Grant's amazement a Western Whipbird flushed from the
island between the two tracks where he was standing and flew a couple
of times between thickets allowing us brief but satisfactory views of
a bird we had thought we had no chance with!
So my morning was getting alot better - going from 0 to 2 out of 3 for
the skulkers! Elated again we called it time out for Cheynes Beach as
we still had to get to Dryandra with enough time to seek out our last
We decided on a short cut north west turning off the highway at Fish
Trap Rd with the aim of stopping in at Porongurup NP as noted in T&T.
Not far along this road we had our first encounter with the third
black cockatoo of the trip and another subspecies tick - Red-tailed
The carpark at Porongurup NP wasn't far off the main road and turned
out to be the best decision we could have made. Driving into the
carpark the air was filled with the calls of Purple-crowned Lorikeets
which had still eluded us. Grabbing our bins we soon got great views
of a bird feeding above us. 15 minutes later and they had all gone!
Interestingly there was heaps of flowering gums EVERYWHERE we went on
our journey through the south west.
Our next target to fall was an obliging Western Yellow Robin which we
saw from the same standing position as the lorikeet! And behind it in
the binocular view was a White-breasted Robin. Also in the carpark
were a pair of equally obliging Scarlet Robins.
Interestingly T&T mentions Rufous Treecreeper and Blue-breasted Fairy-
Wren to be common here. We saw neither although Red-winged FW were
common. (Grant did think he saw a treecreeper but it was really high
against a cloudy sky and it disappeared quickly without enough of a
view to tick)
Next stop - Dryandra!
We had 3 hours of daylight and still needed 3 more birds to complete
our target list and make it 20 lifers each!
We checked into the Lions Village where we were going to stay the
night and chatted to the delightful caretakers Lisa and John. John
guaranteed Rufous Treecreeper behind the Old Mill Dam so
wholeheartedly that our spirits sank a bit - who hasn't dipped on a
dead cert!?!? But much to our relief and joy one of the first birds we
saw there was indeed the Treecreeper! And they were indeed common
there. We kept walking out in the bush behind the dam seeking out
likely wren habitat. It wasn't too long before we came across a couple
of groups of Blue-breasted Fairy-Wrens! We heard Regent Parrots
calling but didn't see them much to Grant's dismay. We did however
have a small flock of Elegant Parrots fly in near us which was great.
Interestingly I played the call on my phone to double check what we
were hearing and they all flew straight in to the tree near us! I
hadn't thought of any parrots coming into a call? So we then got great
views of half a dozen of these stunning little guys. Yet another
Then at 5pm on our last full day in WA we saw our 20th and final tick
- Western Thornbill! Yay!
We spent the last minutes of sunlight watching ringnecks and rosellas
come into John & Lisa's birdbath and our last night in WA in a great
cottage listening to Bush Stone-Curlews.
Day 5 - An even earlier start than normal as we had to get the hire
car back by 9:30am and a taxi to the airport. Nothing special to
report except flying home on a new QANTAS plane that had the cool
personal entertainment screens...and an hour and a half sitting on the
tarmac while they fixed a fan...:)
So thanks again to those that helped out and I would thoroughly
recommend this part of the country to anyone. I know I'll be back with
the family for sure.
PS - i have started to put a few images together (but more to follow)
on my pbase site in the Visual Trip Report section
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