Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Canning River Regional Park - Yellow-billed spoonbill

I visited the Canning River Regional Park last Saturday. For birdwatching, I wasn't as impressed with the park as I was with the Herdsman Lake. At Canning River, waterbirds didn't seem to hang around much. I have seen some ducks, a few cormorants (little black and great cormorants), an Australian white ibis, a purple swamphen, a few dusky moorhens, a few spotted doves, and rock doves.

The highlight has to be watching three yellow-billed spoonbills flying around high above in the sky. It was pointless to snap it considering the limited zooming power of my camera. I watched them through my binoculars and can only tell you they looked so beautiful when they were flying.

It is possible that I arrive at the park at midday, hence most of the birds have vanished from sight. At Herdsman Lake, birds seem to hang around the whole day, and so it really doesn't matter if you visit Herdsman Lake at midday.

Anyway, I also came across a very cooperative yellow-billed spoonbill that kept perching on a dead tree a short distance away - for almost 10 minutes I think. And so I could snap away at my heart's content!

Two indications that the bird is in the middle of a breeding season - outer wing plumes that were tipped black and long hackles on the upper breast.

Scratching its armpit!? Apparently birds don't need to have a pointed bill to preen their feathers.

That bill looks just like the wooden spoon in my kitchen.

The few yellow-billed spoonbills that I have bumped into before were quite camera-shy but this one was happy to pose in front of my camera. Photographing this spoonbill was the other highlight of my trip to the Canning River Regional Park.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Swan Estuary Marine Park - Birdwatching (2)

Finally, after hearing so much about the hundreds of waders that can be seen at Alfred Cove at low tide, I made my way there on Friday. Alfred Cove is part of the Swan Estuary Marine Park.

There are many signs around, providing visitors with information about the cove and particularly its birdlife.

(CLICK to enlarge the image)

(CLICK to enlarge the images)

"Whose estuary it is?" - Certainly a reminder that visitors should respect and care for the birdlife at the cove.

I like this one - you can turn the wheel and find out what kind of bird activity can be expected at the cove at different time of the year.

Looking towards the city center of Perth from Alfred Cove at low tide.

At low tide, hundreds of waterbirds were wading in the river. There were many (>100) of Australian white ibises, and even more silver gulls.

Pelicans resting on a sandbar

Other birds I saw including pied oystercatchers (top), pacific black ducks (left) and crested terns (right). There were also black swans and many little black cormorants, little pied cormorants and great cormorants. I also saw a white-faced heron near shore.

I watched most of these birds though my binoculars. They were too far away to photograph. Getting near them was also a challenge as I kept sinking in the sand/mud with every step I took. So I decided not to risk falling and getting my camera wet.

The wooded area near the shore of Alfred Cove is also a good spot to look for birds. And safer for my non-waterproof camera too. I managed to photograph the following:

1. Rainbow lorikeet
2. Australian ringneck
3. Red wattlebird
4. Australian magpie
5. Australian raven
6. Laughing kookaburra
7. Galah
8 & 9. Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)- the first (or maybe second time?) I saw one.
The osprey is a medium-sized (50-65 cm) bird of prey. With that size, it's actually smaller than a pied cormorant and a great cormorant. It is also known as sea hawk, feeding mainly on fish. It has a beak with a strong hook and powerful legs. This osprey nest is on the top of a very tall post that has been erected for the bird to breed.

Other birds species that I came across included willie wagtails, magpie-larks, laughing doves, and spotted doves.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Swan Estuary Marine Park - Birdwatching (1)

The Swan Estuary Marine Park encompasses Alfred Cove, Pelican Point and Milyu, together forming an area of more than 300 hectares. The mudflats, seagrass beds and intertidal vegetation in these areas provide a variety of habitats for numerous animals, especially migratory wading birds.

Of the three areas, Pelican Point is the nearest to the Crawley campus of the University of Western Australia and to where I live too. So naturally, I have visited Pelican Point a number of times.

Next to the sign of the Pelican Point Conservation Area, there are two palm trees. The larger one, with lots of dead leaves on the stem, seem to be a hang-out (or maybe nesting place?) for rainbow lorikeets. I have seen several rainbow lorikeets calling from the top of the tree on all my visits to Pelican Point.

Signs were erected at Pelican Point to inform visitors how they can avoid disturbing the birds.

When I visited the spot in late September/early October, I saw pelicans, cormorants, black swan, silver gulls (these are everywhere anyway) among other bird species.

Little pied cormorant (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos)(red arrow); Pied cormorant (Phalacrocorax varius)(blue arrow)
*Pied cormorant have yellow facial marking and black thighs (see here), two characteristics that distinguish them from little pied cormorants. Little pied cormorants are smaller (60 cm) and have shorter bills compared with pied cormorants (75 cm).

Little black cormorant (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris)(black arrow); Great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)(white arrow)
*Little black cormorants have no yellow facial markings and are smaller (60 cm) than pied cormorants (85 cm).

Crested terns (Sterna bergii) - adult (top); juvenile (bottom)

Caspian terns (Sterna caspia) - adult (top); juvenile (bottom)

Australian white ibises (Threskiornis molucca)

Yellow-billed spoonbill (Platalea flavipes) - I have seen this beautiful bird only once, when I went for a walk late in the afternoon.

Pied oystercatchers (Haematopus longirostris)

Black-winged stilts (Himantopus himantopus)

Australian shelduck (Tadorna tadornoides)
I have also seen pacific black ducks and musk ducks there.

Red-capped plovers (Charadrius ruficapillus) - male (left); female (right).
Thanks to Denis Wilson and Bushanwater, members of the Birds in Backyards Forum who identified this bird for me.

Guide to the Wildlife of the Perth Region