Monday, June 11, 2012

Perth birding and how the west was won

I set myself a goal this year, I wanted to reach my target of 600. After achieving this in March I decided I’d better increase the target to 640. I do not know if this is realistic but hey, as my friend Vik would say, “I won’t know that I cannot do it unless I try”.

I have been trying to get over to catch up with Peter Taylor in Perth for years now and after a couple of thwarted attempts finally we managed it. Sunday morning we headed out of Perth armed with a target list. The weather was gloomy, dark and raining and it stayed that way all day! 

At our first stop we were greeted by a brief break in the ever present rain and a flock of over 200 Baudin’s Black Cockatoos flew over head! Nice!! What a great way to start the day! 

We went for a walk & had some lovely birds including a very obliging Western Spinebill.

I was stoked to see a fully coloured male Red-winged Fairy-wren who although curious did not want to stick around for too long.

There were Red-capped Parrots teasing us from within the canopy as well as Western Rosella feeding on the grass.

But it was the White-breasted Robin who really won my heart at this location. What a stunning little ball of feathers…

We continued on our way and headed to Northam. A trip to Perth just wouldn’t be complete without some plastics.  The beautiful Mute Swans certainly didn’t disappoint.

The Laughing Dove is tiny, delicate and really quite pretty.

Off we went again into the wild windy weather. The rain stopped briefly but was immediately replaced by gale force winds. It was difficult to even open the car door when we stopped for a flock of Western Corella. Trying to scope them was an interesting experience. Watching them trying to fly against the wind showed just some of the challenges birds face.

Happily we continued on our way. We were steadily ticking my target list despite the weather.

White-cheeked Honeyeater got ticked before the sky totally fell down.  It was late afternoon, we were about 100km out of Perth enjoying our second seriously good coffee bag, when  a huge flock of both Baudin’s and Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos surrounded us and began feeding on the gum nuts. I sprang out of the car (after carefully putting down my coffee – I refuse to spill Robert Timms) – without rain jacket or hat proceeded to get absolutely drenched in an attempt to get photos of the Carnaby’s for   The result was some lovely shots of huge rain drops with the hint of the bird behind them…

Peter showed me the way the 2 species eat differently. The Baudin’s long bill allows them to eat more delicately while the Carnaby’s short bill requires them to hack the gum nut down much further. So, if you are unsure which bird you are watching, after they leave just check the gum nuts!

Eleven lifers in one day is amazing, I’m stoked with that result especially considering the weather was appalling all day!

Peter is a genuinely lovely bloke. If you are short of time in Perth and need the WA endemics I’d recommend contacting him. He is a fantastic birder, extremely experienced and very helpful.

So, I’m now on 620 – my end of year goal is beginning to look more achievable now. Thanks Peter!