Chilling in Perth

August 2nd 2018
Published: August 2nd 2018
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I’ve used the word ‘chilling’ quite a lot in this blog. I don’t know why, I don’t particularly like the phrase to be honest, but it’s just one that I seem to employ quite regularly when I’m too lazy to be more eloquent. Anyway, I’ve used it as the title today, because it’s winter here and relatively far south so it does get fairly cold, easily into the single digits and up into the hills it almost approaches freezing during the nights. Although it’s actually warmer than I was expecting and it’s not much colder than the Atherton Tablelands near Cairns which are cold because of the high altitude. It’s rather like a British autumn here, with daily rain at the moment that’s mostly drizzle and comparable temperatures to a British autumn.

I’ve been in Perth for a few days now, and tonight will be my fifth night out of fifteen here. This is the one bit of the trip where birding and wildlife isn’t the sole purpose of the trip (though it looks like I’m fitting quite a bit in) and I visit Perth every couple of years to see relatives so I have done lots of the wildlife around here in the past. The whole trip so far has been basically me making my way towards Perth with a few brief stops on the way since you have to change flights anyway. I just got side-tracked in Malaysia for five weeks, as one does, and then had to stop in Darwin and Cairns on the way since I was passing by anyway. And since I had to stop on the way it would have been a waste not to look around a little bit for wildlife so I just had a two month transit really. And that’s how you get to almost 900 birds and to 165 mammals in a single year, just stop along the way briefly.

Anyway, so far, I’ve mostly just done a bit of opportunistic birding here and there and added quite a few species including most of the common ones and some unusual ones with a surprisingly large number of lifers. I have several relatives in two different areas of Perth, so I’ve been able to get birds from the Perth Hills area as well as from some more inner-city sites, namely King’s Park and Herdsman Lake. Yesterday, I also went on a short afternoon trip especially for birding to Bungendore Park which is a site that I particularly like and it is, in my opinion, the best birding spot for South Western endemics and special birds that could fairly be described as being in the Perth suburbs rather than being out of Perth.

Herdsman Lake is a spot that appears prominently on the Perth birding radar as it is quite central to the city and is very good for picking up wetland birds with a wide variety of waterfowl in particular. There’s always very good birding around there with very large numbers of conspicuous waterbirds like ibises and swamphens and a variety of ducks and the potential for more unusual species like rails and things. I’ve visited Herdsman Lake quite a few times in the past, so I was very surprised to get a lifer this time, as amongst the Dusky Moorhens was a Black-tailed Native-hen which I saw all too briefly before it managed to disappear off surprisingly quickly. I had heard about this species being present at Herdsman, so I have looked out for it in the past and it’s a cool species to see. King’s Park is the other spot in the city itself that I’ve done which is a very pleasant park that is good for some of the more common woodland birds, as well as having stunning views over the Perth city and over the mouth of the Swan River with some of the more common seabirds. It’s also quite a good spot for Southern Brown Bandicoot which are common in the hills around Perth too. You can’t miss the bandicoot digging marks in the right area of King’s Park and on this visit I got a rather poor view of one moving about in the undergrowth, but I have seen them much better on previous visits.

As well as some birding in the Perth Hills, I was able to go on an afternoon trip for a few hours to a spot that is particularly good to get many South West endemics and special birds which was Bungendore Park and Wungong Dam. This spot is in the Armadale suburb of Perth and is on the edge of the city but can still reasonably be called ‘in Perth’ and is, in my opinion/experience of birding the Perth area, the best spot for regional specialities without going out of the Perth metropolitan area. It’s got wetter forest around the Wungong Dam and dry forest just up the hill in the Bungendore Park area and is particularly good for the endemics that are very difficult elsewhere in Perth like the Western Yellow Robin, White-breasted Robin, and Western Spinebill. All three of which are extremely easy here and all three of those are species that I have typically found to be extremely difficult to impossible in other spots around Perth. Other endemics that tend to be difficult elsewhere that I found include the Red-winged Fairy-wren and firetail and a couple of species that I was hoping to find but missed on this visit were the Western Rosella and Baudin’s Black Cockatoo. The Black Cockatoo isn’t easy in Perth as the vast majority are Carnaby’s although some Baudin’s do get to the Perth suburbs in winter and I’ve seen them before at Bungendore, and the rosella seems to be a species that I’ve had difficulty with in the past although it occurs in a lot of the forest around the city. They are around, just not that easy to find.

You may have noticed three lifers from my trip to Bungendore Park! Given that I hadn’t anticipated getting any lifers from these places and that I’ve visited Bungendore Park before and birded it seriously on my last visit two years ago, I was quite surprised to get lifers. The Elegant Parrot I was looking out for as that’s a species I actually missed last time but the other two were a bit more surprising and nice unexpected ticks.

I’ve also done a bit of planning for what’s left of the trip. It looks like I’ll get to do two short trips from Perth; a one-night stay on Rottnest Island and a two-nighter at Dryandra Woodland. Both of those should be great, Rottnest I did last time I was here but I didn’t get to spend the night and I’ll have more than double the time this time, and Dryandra Woodland I’ve only done once before and that was four years ago before I was seriously birding and mammaling and we didn’t stay very close to the woodland last time so Dryandra should be particularly good.

I’ve also done a bit of booking for my final month in Asia at the end after Perth where, after Singapore, I’ll be adding in two weeks in a surprise country that wasn’t in the original plan…

First Day: (Herdsman Lake + Various Around Suburbs)

Red Wattlebird
New Holland Honeyeater
Australian Ringneck
Australian Raven
Australian Shelduck
Black Swan
Black-tailed Native-hen
Australian Shoveler
Long-billed Corella
Chestnut Teal
Yellow-billed Spoonbill
Australian Reed Warbler
Bluebill Duck
Yellow-rumped Thornbill
Musk Duck

Second Day: (brief bit of birding in a bit of woodlands in the Perth Hills in the Kalamunda area)

White-cheeked Honeyeater
Laughing Dove
Carnaby's Black Cockatoo
Red-capped Parrot
Common Bronzewing
Dusky Woodswallow
Grey Butcherbird
Western Thornbill
Scarlet Robin
Western Gerygone

Western Grey Kangaroo

Third Day/yesterday: (Bungendore Park and Wungong Dam)

Splendid Fairy-wren
Western Yellow Robin
Red-eared Firetail
Western Whistler
Western White-naped Honeyeater
White-breasted Robin
Spotted Pardalote
Red-winged Fairy-wren
Brown-headed Honeyeater
Grey Currawong
Elegant Parrot
Western Spinebill
Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater
Western Wattlebird

Fourth Day/Today: (King’s Park)

Fairy Tern
Pacific Gull

Southern Brown Bandicoot

Additional photos below
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2nd August 2018

Enjoy chill time Wiliam!
Enjoy the chill time William. You do need a slower pace to pick up with your health too.

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