Monday, March 10, 2014


Mid January saw us pulling up stumps and heading to the south west of WA. We had enjoyed our time at work and play at Horrocks Beach, but the lure of the open road and the prospect of new vistas and birding opportunities beckoned.  

We fare-welled the local Ospreys that had kept us entertained along the beach and one last visit to nearby Port Gregory netted me a surprise bird and a lifer, Long-toed Stint, along with an assortment of other waders. 

Eastern Osprey

Eastern Osprey

Long-toed Stint

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (left) & Long-toed Stint

A Splendid Fairy-wren was a standout in the dry surrounds of our campsite at Ellendale Pool near Geraldton. We have found these charming little birds to be the most inquisitive and fearless of their family, besides the Superb Fairy-wren in the east of the country.  

Splendid Fairy-wren - male

We travelled along the coast to Jurien Bay and explored the Pinnacles in Nambung National Park. These unique limestone formations gave the landscape an otherworldly aspect. 

Sunset at Jurien Bay jetty

The Pinnacles

We swung back inland where it got progressively hotter and some of the locals at New Norcia were seeking shelter in the shade of the Salmon Gums.

Galahs - male (left) & female 

Large, noisy flocks of Western Corellas were a highlight at Mogumber, not only because of their antics, but also the first time we had seen this WA endemic. This was the more common northern sub-species, also known as Butler's Corella.  

Western Corellas

At Northam a small group of Mute Swans, descendants of birds introduced over a century ago, were cruising the placid waters of the Avon River. This self sustaining population is the only one in Australia and birders come from far and wide to see it and tick it, which I duly did!  

Mute Swan

Sacred Kingfisher

At Dryandra Woodlands, while searching for Numbats, we came across a pair of  Bush Stone-curlews laying low in the heat of the day. Although the birding was a bit slow we did pick up a family group of Blue-breasted Fairy-wrens (lifers) near the village and the Scarlet Robins were always active. The Numbats remained elusive!

Bush Stone-curlews

Scarlet Robin - male

A report of a rare Eurasian vagrant on the coast south of Mandurah had us back on the coast, camping at Herron Point where I had easy access to Lake McLarty, where this unlikely visitor had been seen. There were many Australian Pipits and White-fronted Chats on the edge of the lake, but after a couple of hours of searching and with the help of a fellow birder, late in the afternoon we finally got on to it. Little ripper! The photos below were taken on subsequent visits 

Red-throated Pipit

Red-throated Pipit

As well as this mega rarity, the lake had an outstanding array and number of waders and waterbirds. Out of the many hundreds of shorebirds along the shallow waters of the southern shoreline I spotted a Broad-billed Sandpiper, a fairly rare bird for the area and also a lifer. Pectoral Sandpipers were also a standout, but the Ruff and Reeve that had been seen recently I failed to find, not for lack of trying!

Broad-billed Sandpiper - Lake McLarty  (photo by Nicholas Hart) 

 Lake McLarty

At  Rotary Park in  nearby Busselton a lone Musk Duck was paddling in the murky, algae infested waters of the Vasse River and as I explored the riparian vegetation I was surprised by the sight of an unusual looking Willie Wagtail. 

Musk Duck - male

This particular bird has a condition known as leucism, where certain pigments are missing from it's plumage, in this case only partially. And I thought I'd stumbled upon a new bird!

Willie Wagtail

My goal of publishing a new post at least once a month hasn't quite happened so far this year, due to a lack of a wi-fi signal in many places, and also because we are spending so much time exploring and birding this incredible land of ours! Hopefully more regular updates to resume.

Cheers and Happy Birding!