Nature Watch

Carole's pied oystercatcher. (Pictures: Supplied)

Western Australia a bird-spotter's paradise

I’ve arrived back to the Bellarine after a fantastic trip, where I drove all the way from Exmouth in Western Australia to home.

I added 19 new birds to my personal Australian bird list, which is creeping towards 500 species.

The highlights of my trip were many, but I must say my day at Gluepot Reserve in South Australia was wonderful. Gluepot was established by Birds Australia, now Birdlife Australia, in 1997, by the purchase of Gluepot Station, a former pastoral area.

This was Birds Australia’s first reserve, and this area was protected due to its outstanding flora and fauna values. I couldn’t take the hired campervan to the reserve due to the 60-kilometres of dirt track that has to be negotiated to reach the area, and I was resigned to not going there until I spotted a brochure at the Waikerie Campground advertising day trips.

I recommend 20/20 Birding tours to Gluepot. Carl went out of his way to give me a great experience with food, bird spotting and comfort first class. He even stayed until after dark to see if the spotted nightjars were on the dirt road on the way back to Waikerie. Unfortunately, they were not on the track, but it was just a great day.

My lowlight of my trip was very unfortunate due to my own stupidity. I was near Bunbury in WA and came across a paddock that was replete with many parrots. I have never seen anything like it in my life.

I know I saw Regent parrots, red-capped parrots and western rosellas. The parrots were so busy feeding that they sat on fence posts just near the car and did not worry about me, and I took hundreds of photos.

When I reached Busselton, I went to load the photos on my computer, viewed them and thought they were on my computer and deleted the memory card. However, it seemed that I had been viewing the photos via the memory card and they were not on my computer, and I lost the whole lot.

It has taken me all this time to stop kicking myself literally, as I’m sure that there were parrots in the flocks that I had never seen before. I went to the paddock the next day and it was nowhere near as good. What a dill. Actually I still have tears in my eyes writing about this.

I saw 185 bird species on my trip. Nankeen kestrels, Australian ravens, magpies, magpie larks, New Holland honeyeaters, red wattlebirds, galahs, crested pigeons and whistling kites are thriving in Australia.

The rarer birds I saw were western wattlebirds, western whipbird, western spinebills, chiming wedgebill, blue-breasted fairy wren, red-winged fairy wren, Rufous treecreeper, white-browed treecreeper, slender-billed thornbill, scarlet-breasted parrot and slaty-backed thornbill.

Since returning to lockdown, I have been for a few walks in ‘Sue’s Park’ near my house in Ocean Grove, where the beautiful eastern spinebills, little wattlebirds and the ever-present New Holland honeyeaters are thriving.

Unknown persons managed to break into the information centre at the Ocean Grove Nature Reserve by jemmying open the roller doors and stealing the pot-bellied stove, which is so disappointing. I hope whoever did this is warmer for the experience and know that certainly the members of the Friends of the OGNR are so disappointed.

Barrie from Clifton Springs who wrote to me a few weeks ago to ask about potential roosting sites for little cormorants on the Bellarine was thrilled to see a very large flock of these birds rising and circling above Lake Lorne, while workers from the COGG were doing land maintenance around the lake. He estimated their number to be about 50 percent of those he observed flying to sea in the mornings above Clifton Springs.

The middle Island at Lake Lorne is certainly a popular area for many species of waterfowl to roost.

On the subject of Lake Lorne, I received an email from Kevin, who with his wife Anne Maree, ventured to Lake Lorne, despite the cold and windy weather. Kevin photographed a lovely pink-eared duck. It is named after a spot of pink feathers on the side of the head, which is obvious in Kevin’s photo.

Kevin also photographed 116 crested terns opposite At the Heads restaurant on the Spit in Ocean Grove. Kevin thinks that they were celebrating the absence of dogs as the weather was so bad.

I also received an email from Lee, who photographed a pair of black-fronted dotterels at Hospital Swamp. The black-fronted dotterel can be seen wading in the shallow mud of freshwater wetlands, lakes, rivers, sewage farms, storm drains and marshes.

I received another email from Carole, who was supposed to fly to WA twice this year due to cancellations from 2020, and both trips were cancelled.

Still slightly miffed by a lack of holidays, Carole went down to the local beach for a walk and much to her amazement she was cheered by a seal swimming close to shore.