Western Australia: Southwest Specialties


Dates and Costs:

 

06 – 14 December 2022

Spaces Available: 4

Price: AU$4,365 / $3,377 / £2,431 / €2,843 per person sharing (6-8 participants)

Single Supplement: AU$817 / $632 / £455 / €532

 

* Please note that currency conversion is calculated in real-time, therefore is subject to slight change. Please refer back to the base price when making final payments.

 

12 – 20 October 2023

Spaces Available: 7

Price: AU$4,900 / $3,791 / £2,728 / €3,192 per person sharing (6-8 participants)

Single Supplement: AU$915 / $708 / £509 / €596

 

02 – 10 October 2024

Price: AU$TBC per person sharing (we expect 2024 prices to be 5-10% higher than 2023 prices) (6 – 8 participants)

Single Supplement: AU$TBC


Tour Details

Duration: 9 days
Group Size: 6 – 8
Tour Start: Perth, Western Australia
Tour End: Perth, Western Australia


Price includes:

All accommodation (as described above from day 1 through day 8, note accommodation at Amelup might include shared bathrooms, we usually stay in small cottages that have a couple of private bedrooms and a communal dining room and bathroom)
Meals (from dinner on day 1 until breakfast on day 9)
Expert tour leader
National park/birdwatching reserve/protected areas entrance fees
Private transportation during the tour and transfers (possibly shared) to and from the airports

Price excludes:

International or domestic flights to get to/from Darwin
Any pre- or post-tour accommodation, meals, or birding/sightseeing/etc. excursions
Visa if required
Items of a personal nature, e.g. gifts, laundry, internet access, phone calls, etc.
Any pre- or post-tour accommodation, meals, or birding/sightseeing/monument excursions
Soft/alcoholic drinks (drinking water is safe from the taps, please bring a refillable water bottle)
Personal travel insurance
Gratuities (please see our tipping guidelines blog)

Western Australia: Southwest Specialties
December 2021/2022/ October 2023/2024

 

Due to geographic isolation and diverse habitats, the southwest of the state of Western Australia boasts several endemic species and subspecies. This nine-day small-group well-paced tour will focus on finding as many of these endemics as possible, while also enjoying a wide range of other interesting flora and fauna along the way.

Southwest Australia birding toursBlue-breasted Fairywren is one of our targets on this trip.

 

Local endemic species that we will be focusing our attention on during the tour include Carnaby’s (Short-billed) and Baudin’s (Long-billed) Black Cockatoos, Western Corella, Red-capped Parrot, Western Rosella, Noisy Scrubbird, Western Bristlebird, Red-winged Fairywren, Western Fieldwren, Western Thornbill, Western Wattlebird, Western Spinebill, Gilbert’s Honeyeater (formerly known as Western White-naped or Swan River Honeyeater), White-breasted Robin, Red-eared Firetail, and the newest addition to the southwest Australia endemic list, Black-throated Whipbird (described as a new species in 2018 as a result of the split of Western Whipbird into two species – the other half of the split occurring in South Australia and now called White-bellied Whipbird). Other species that just about get out of Western Australia and are near-endemics to the state (and still Australian endemics) also form targets as they are unlikely to be found on other eastern tours, these include Western Yellow Robin, Rufous Treecreeper, Blue-breasted Fairywren, Western Whistler, and Spotted Scrubwren (a 2019 split from the White-browed Scrubwren complex). Due to recent fires in its previous stronghold, the likelihood of finding Western Ground Parrot is unfortunately very low, as this species, with a tiny remaining population, is pushed nearer to the brink of extinction.

Southwest Australia birding toursOne of the toughest birds to see in all of Australia; we will hope to see Noisy Scrubbird well again, this is one seriously tough bird, but we have a great record of seeing them on our tours.

 

Additional species we will also be looking for include the Australian endemics Malleefowl, Square-tailed Kite, Banded Stilt, Hooded Dotterel, Rock Parrot, Elegant Parrot, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Splendid Fairywren, and the near-endemic Fairy Tern. The isolation of southwestern Australia has led to a high degree of endemism, also at the subspecies level, and we will try to see as many of these as possible in case of potential future splits, such as (Western) Scarlet Robin and (Western) Crested Shriketit. This tour will prove interesting for those participants who have been birding on the Australian East Coast and/or in Tasmania and are interested in the possibility of some potential future armchair ticks!

Southwest Australia birding toursA much-hyped potential split into its own species the (Western) Crested Shriketit is a stunning bird and worth seeing regardless what happens to its taxonomy.

 

For those wishing to explore Australia further, this tour can be combined with our other Australian tours: Tasmania – Endemics and the Orange-bellied ParrotEastern Australia: from the Outback to the Wet Tropics, and Northern Territory – Top End Birding. From 2022 our new Northern Territory – Alice Springs Birding tour will precede this Western Australia tour and is a perfect combination. All five of our Australian birdwatching tours could be combined into one long tour, or you could just do one or two (or more!), whatever suits your time. We can also arrange further extensions (e.g., sightseeing trips to Sydney, Uluru, etc., and pelagic trips) if you wish.

  

Itinerary (9 days/8 nights)

 

Day 1. Arrival in Perth

Morning arrival into Perth, if not arrived ahead of the tour starting. We will meet in the afternoon and spend the late afternoon birding around Perth, including near to our hotel, adjacent to the famous grounds of the Kings Park and Botanical Gardens, within the city. If we have time, we will take a walk into the park, where we will hope to connect with the first of the southwestern endemics, Western Spinebill and Western Wattlebird, as well as more widespread White-cheeked, New Holland, and Singing Honeyeaters and the huge and ever-vocal Red Wattlebird. Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo could be present, feeding in the pine trees, and we will likely find Little Corella, Australian Ringneck, Laughing Dove (introduced from Africa/India), and Rainbow Lorikeet and Laughing Kookaburra (both introduced from eastern Australia). Passerines here may include Australia’s smallest bird, the tiny Weebill, Australian Reed Warbler, and Little Grassbird, while waterbirds may include the beautiful Nankeen Night Heron and the stately Black Swan. We may also visit other sites within the city depending on local flowering conditions.

Overnight: Perth

 

Day 2. Perth to Dryandra Woodland

We will likely spend the early morning birding around Perth, seeing some of the above species and others. If tidal conditions allow, we may find Red-necked Stint, Sharp-tailed and Curlew Sandpipers, Great and Red Knots, and Pacific Golden and Grey Plovers, among others. We will also check out some of the lakes in and around the city before we head south. The waterbodies here may harbor a late Freckled Duck if we are very lucky but other species likely include Hardhead, Blue-billed Duck, and Hoary-headed Grebe. Lakeside vegetation may hold Little Grassbird, Australian Reed Warbler, Grey Fantail and Spotless Crake. We will also keep our eyes peeled skywards for any raptors that may be overhead.

Southwest Australia birding toursSpotless Crakes are often shy and retiring, but occasionally, with patience, they can show well.

 

After a late breakfast we will leave Perth and head south towards the Dryandra Woodland area, keeping a look out for Baudin’s Black and Red-tailed Black Cockatoos along the way. After lunch we will check in to our accommodation for the next couple of nights and then head out for an afternoon birding in the local vicinity. This is one of the prime birding sites in the region, so we want to do it justice over the next couple of days.

Overnight: Narrogin

 

Day 3. Full day at Dryandra Woodland

The woodland consists of an interesting mix of Eucalyptus (jarrah, wandoo, and marri), with a good native shrub layer. We will spend the full day in and around the woodland and will look for some of the area’s specialties, such as Western Yellow Robin, Rufous Treecreeper, Western Whistler, Blue-breasted Fairywren, Western Thornbill, Spotted Scrubwren, and (Western) Crested Shriketit. We will also look for ‘the’ special mammal found at Dryandra – the rare Numbat.

Southwest Australia birding toursAn exceptionally rare and range-restricted endemic mammal – Numbat. Unusually for an Australian mammal, this species is diurnal, spending its days hunting for termites.

 

There are plenty of birds to look for around the huge woodland, and we will focus on finding the above birds and other exciting species such as Painted Buttonquail, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Brown Goshawk, Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo, Red-capped Parrot, Western Rosella, Regent Parrot, Elegant Parrot, Brush Bronzewing, Black-faced Cuckooshrike, Western Spinebill, and Tawny-crowned, Yellow-plumed, Brown, Brown-headed, White-cheeked, New Holland, White-eared, and Gilbert’s Honeyeaters, Restless Flycatcher, and Splendid Fairywren.

After the sun goes down, we will take a look around for some of the woodland’s nocturnal creatures, such as Bush Stone-curlew, Australian Boobook (formerly called Southern Boobook), Eastern Barn Owl, Australian Owlet-nightjar, and Tawny Frogmouth. At this time, we will also be looking out for some of the area’s many mammals such as Short-beaked Echidna (sometimes also seen during the daytime too), Woylie, Western Brush Wallaby, Tammar Wallaby, and Western Grey Kangaroo.

Overnight: Narrogin

 

Day 4. Dryandra Woodland to Stirling Range National Park

We will spend the morning back in Dryandra Woodland or another nearby interesting site, focusing on finding the aforementioned species and others that we may still be looking for, or want to see again after our last couple of days.

As the day progresses, we will continue south to the Stirling Range National Park, an area renowned for its impressive flora and pretty landscape, as well as plenty of avian targets. While here we will search for Black-throated Whipbird, Southern Scrub Robin, Western Spinebill, Gilbert’s and Purple-gaped Honeyeaters, Western Yellow Robin, Blue-breasted Fairywren, and Western Fieldwren.

Overnight: Amelup

Southwest Australia birding toursWestern Spinebill is one seriously beautiful honeyeater.

 

 Day 5. Stirling Range National Park to Cheynes Beach

We will spend the morning birding at Sterling Range, seeking out those species referred to above but also many others, such as Square-tailed Kite, Spotted Harrier, Little Eagle, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Elegant Parrot, Regent Parrot, Rufous Treecreeper, Southern Emu-wren, Red-winged Fairywren, White-breasted Robin, (Western) Scarlet Robin, Western Thornbill, (Western) Crested Shriketit, and Red-eared Firetail.

After our birding session here, we will travel down to the south coast township of Cheynes Beach, along the way looking out for interesting species such as White-necked Heron, Banded Stilt and other interesting shorebirds/waders. Cheynes Beach is home to some great (and very difficult) birds, and we will start looking for these as soon as possible after our arrival and check in for our two night stay here.

Overnight: Cheynes Beach

 

Day 6. Full day at Cheynes Beach

A full day birding the Cheynes Beach area for three of Australia’s toughest, most skulking birds: Noisy Scrubbird, Western Bristlebird, and Black-throated Whipbird (a different subspecies from that at Stirling Ranges and a much talked-about potential further future split). These birds are difficult to see, but we will put all of our effort into securing views of them all during the course of the day.

Southwest Australia birding toursThe heathland at Cheynes Beach is beautiful and occasionally one of the major skulkers shows well, such as this Western Bristlebird.

 

There are also plenty of other species to look for in the area, such as Wedge-tailed Eagle, Black-shouldered Kite, Spotted Harrier, Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Brush Bronzewing, Southern Emu-wren, Red-winged Fairywren, Spotted Scrubwren, Inland Thornbill, White-cheeked Honeyeater, New Holland Honeyeater, White-breasted Robin, Dusky Woodswallow, and Red-eared Firetail.

Weather permitting, at night we will look and listen for Tawny Frogmouth, Australian Boobook, and Spotted Nightjar, as well as the area’s nocturnal creatures such as Quokka, Western Ringtail Possum, the tiny Honey Possum (sometimes possible during the day too – they are tiny!), Western Brush Wallaby, and Southern Brown Bandicoot.

Overnight: Cheynes Beach

 

Day 7. Cheynes Beach to Augusta

We will spend the early morning birding around Cheynes Beach again, enjoying views of some of the above species and mopping up any others we may still want to try and see. We will then make our way west along the spectacularly forested coast with giant red tingle and karri trees towards Augusta. With a stop at Lake Muir Nature Reserve along the way we may find a selection of interesting wildfowl and waders (very much depending on water levels), such as Banded Stilt, Eurasian Coot, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, White-faced Heron, Blue-billed Duck, Freckled Duck, and Chestnut Teal. More secretive species around the lake shore include Spotless Crake, Black-backed Bittern, and Australasian Bittern.

Regardless of water levels, the woodland surrounding the lake is home to a population of Western Corella, known as ‘Muir’s Corella’, which is an endemic and isolated subspecies and worth looking for. Other birds possible here include Emu, Carnaby’s, Baudin’s, and Red-tailed Black Cockatoos, Western Rosella, Australian Ringneck, Brown Quail, Square-tailed Kite, Western Spinebill, Gilbert’s Honeyeater, Southern Emu-wren, White-winged Triller, Restless Flycatcher, Western Yellow Robin, (Western) Scarlet Robin, and Spotted Pardalote. We will arrive in Augusta in time to freshen up before visiting the local award-winning fish restaurant.

Overnight: Augusta

Southwest Australia birding toursCarnaby’s Black Cockatoos can sometimes be found feeding on spilt grain on the side of the remote roads.

 

Day 8. Augusta to Busselton

The morning will be spent birding around the rugged coastline of the Cape Leeuwin area, pretty much the most southwesterly point of this huge continent-country where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean. We will look for seabirds here, such as Bridled Tern, Fairy Tern, Flesh-footed, Hutton’s, and Little Shearwaters, Southern Giant and Northern Giant Petrels, and Indian Yellow-nosed, Black-browed, and Shy Albatrosses. Much depends on what the weather is doing as to what is possible here over the water on any given day.

Along the coast we will look for Sooty and Pied Oystercatchers, Hooded Dotterel, Grey-tailed Tattler, Far Eastern Curlew, Pacific Reef Heron, Rock Parrot, Southern Emu-wren, and Splendid Fairywren.

After birding here, we will slowly wind our way up the coast, checking our areas of Banksia, jarrah, and marri woodland, with the hopes of seeing more black cockatoos, and (Western) Crested Shrike-tit. We will stop in the picturesque Margaret River for lunch and will arrive in the Busselton area in the afternoon for the final night of the tour.

Overnight: Busselton

Southwest Australia birding toursHooded Dotterel is considered Vulnerable (BirdLife International), which is not surprising, it has a lot of recreational pressure on its breeding grounds (sandy beaches) but we will hope to find this beautiful shorebird during the tour.

 

Day 9. Busselton to Perth, departure

Our final morning will be spent checking out some areas around Busselton where we often find interesting shorebirds and waterfowl. We will them commence the return journey back to Perth keeping our eyes peeled for anything interesting we may still want to see.

We will arrive in Perth mid-afternoon where the tour will conclude.

Overnight: Not included

 

Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors.

Download Itinerary

Southwestern Australia Trip Report, December 2019

8 – 16 DECEMBER 2019

 By Andy Walker

DOWNLOAD TRIP REPORT

Southwestern Australia trip reportNoisy Scrubbird is one of the toughest birds in Australia to see, but we had great views of this bird and even managed to capture the memorable moment it ran toward us.

 

Overview

 

This scheduled tour of the southwest of Western Australia commenced in Perth on the 8th December 2019 and ended back there on the 16th December 2019. The tour visited several main birding locations, these being Dryandra Woodland, Stirling Range, Cheynes Beach, Cape Leeuwin, and Busselton, as well as plenty of other stops along the way.

A total of 164 bird species were seen (plus one species heard only), including many Australian endemics and numerous very localized southwest Australian endemics. The highlight sighting of the tour was the exceptional views we had of the notoriously shy Noisy Scrubbird, a real skulker, but which on this occasion showed really well for us all, even allowing the rare opportunity of a photograph (see trip report cover photo). We also had very nice looks at the other two tough birds of the region, Western Bristlebird and Black-throated (formerly Western) Whipbird.

The regional endemics were major targets on this trip, and we saw all we looked for, including Baudin’s Black Cockatoo, Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo, Western Corella, Red-capped Parrot, Western Rosella, Red-eared Firetail, White-breasted Robin, Western Wattlebird, Red-winged Fairywren, Western Whistler, Western Spinebill, Gilbert’s Honeyeater, etc. Several near-endemics to southwestern Australia were also found, such as Blue-breasted Fairywren, Western Yellow Robin, Spotted Scrubwren (a recent split from White-browed Scrubwren), and Rufous Treecreeper, along with a few potential future splits, such as the western subspecies of Crested Shriketit, Varied Sittella, and Scarlet Robin.

Plenty of other great Australian endemics and target birds were found, with some of the highlights being nesting Square-tailed Kite and Little Eagle, a Tawny Frogmouth family, several Emus, Rock Parrot, Elegant Parrot, Spotless Crake, Fairy Tern, Red-capped Robin, Splendid Fairywren, and Hooded Dotterel. An unexpected bonus was Eurasian Hobby, a rare vagrant to Australia and the first raptor we saw on the tour!

We also enjoyed an interesting range of mammals and reptiles (such as Numbat, Honey Possum, Western Gray Kangaroo, Southern Brown Bandicoot, and Dugite). Full species lists for all birds and other animals identified are provided at the end of this report.

 

Detailed Report

 

 Day 1, 8th December 2019. Arrival in Perth and city birding

Arrival in Perth, Western Australia. We had an afternoon birding session at a lake in the southern city suburbs not far from our accommodation, and the first raptor we saw of the entire trip was a vagrant Eurasian Hobby! This species was first recorded on mainland Australia in 2016 and was possibly even the same bird that has been returning to the area each winter. It is incredibly elusive at times, and seeing it was a nice piece of luck to start our tour! More typical, but no less exciting birds included Blue-billed Duck, Musk Duck, Hoary-headed Grebe, Australasian Shoveler, Little Corella, Rainbow Lorikeet, Swamp Harrier, Whistling Kite, Grey Butcherbird, and Splendid Fairywren.

 

Day 2, 9th December 2019. Perth to Narrogin

We spent the morning birding at a lake and wetland in Perth, not far from the CBD. Numerous birds were encountered, including many seen the previous afternoon but also plenty of new ones and improved looks of others. Some of the highlights seen included Spotless Crake, Buff-banded Rail, Australasian Darter, Pink-eared Duck, Great Crested and Australasian Grebes, Brown Goshawk, Nankeen Night Heron, Purple-backed Fairywren, Western Gerygone, and Black-faced Cuckooshrike, to name a few.

Southwestern Australia trip reportWe had some excellent looks at the secretive Spotless Crake right out in the open.

 

After checking out of our hotel in Perth we drove for a couple of hours to the rural town of Narrogin, arriving for a late lunch and check-in to our delightful B&B. We were slightly delayed by a flock of Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos along the way – a welcome distraction!

Our afternoon birding took us to a small patch of woodland near the town, and we found lots of small birds foraging, with a good breeding season in evidence judging by the number of fledglings present. Some of these included Weebill, Scarlet Robin, Red-capped Robin, Western Yellow Robin, Western Thornbill, Inland Thornbill, Rufous Whistler, Striated Pardalote, and Grey Shrikethrush. A pair of Yellow-rumped Thornbills were busily trying to satisfy ‘their’ baby Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo, Red-capped Parrots (a stunning endemic) were fighting among themselves, and, best of all, we found a Square-tailed Kite sitting in its nest! It’s always such a joy to see this rare bird of prey.

 

Day 3, 10th December 2019. Dryandra Woodland

We took a morning drive around Dryandra Woodland, where we found several species we had seen the previous afternoon (such as Western Thornbill, Western Gerygone, and Weebill) but also several new ones that included the brightly plumaged Western Whistler along with Spotted Scrubwren, White-eared Honeyeater, Gilbert’s Honeyeater, Yellow-plumed Honeyeater, Restless Flycatcher, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Australian Ringneck, Rufous Whistler, and Rufous Treecreeper. The woodland edge held Sand Monitor, Elegant Parrot, Grey Currawong, Western Spinebill, New Holland Honeyeater, Australian Pipit, and Rufous Songlark.

Southwestern Australia trip reportWestern Whistler is a really pretty bird, and we saw them at several locations throughout the tour, always a welcome distraction!

 

Southwestern Australia trip reportFound through southern Western Australia and just into South Australia, Rufous Treecreeper is always a big target bird, and luckily it was common at a few locations we visited.

 

After a break during the heat of the middle of the day we again ventured out for an evening birding session at Dryandra Woodland. During the last few hours of light we added Varied Sittella (pileata subspecies), Western Rosella, Red-capped Parrot, Common Bronzewing, Blue-breasted Fairywren, and Western Gray Kangaroo (great views of an adult male and a female (with joey in pouch) drinking at a waterhole. As soon as it got dark we took a drive around the woodland and found an adult Tawny Frogmouth with two rather cute recent fledglings, although the only other sighting of note was of a Common Brushtail Possum.

 

Day 4, 11th December 2019. Narrogin to Stirling Range

We spent the morning birding at Dryandra Woodland again, where we found many of the same birds as on the previous day, but it was nice to get further good views of many of the regional endemics and near-endemics such as Western Whistler (including a pair with a nest), Western Yellow Robin, Red-capped Parrot, Western Spinebill, Western Thornbill, Western Gerygone, Spotted Scrubwren, Gilbert’s Honeyeater, Blue-breasted Fairywren, and Rufous Treecreeper. Further looks at Scarlet Robin, Rainbow Bee-eater, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, and Varied Sittella were also welcome. The highlight, though, was a brief sighting of the rare Numbat, a termite-eating, carnivorous marsupial restricted in the wild to only the southwestern corner of Western Australia.

It was then time to leave the Dryandra area for our next stop, Stirling Range. Along the way we found Black-faced Woodswallow, Crested Pigeon, Collared Sparrowhawk, Nankeen Kestrel, Wedge-tailed Eagle, and Brown Falcon. Nearing our accommodation we found a flock of around 40 Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos foraging on the ground, presumably on some spilled grain.

An evening birding session at our accommodation gave us more looks at Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Red-capped Parrot, and Gilbert’s Honeyeater, fleeting views of a rapidly hunting Australian Hobby, and our first Grey Fantail of the trip, but most impressive of all was the pair of pale-phase Little Eagles soaring overhead.

 

Day 5, 12th December 2019. Stirling Range to Cheynes Beach

We spent the majority of the morning birding around the grounds of our accommodation, where we found several really great birds, the best being the (Western) Crested Shriketit, a potential future split from the birds found in the north and east of this huge country. We enjoyed prolonged views of a pair of adults with their two recent fledglings. Other birds found as we walked around included Splendid Fairywren, Blue-breasted Fairywren, Gilbert’s Honeyeater, Western Spinebill, Brown-headed Honeyeater, Restless Flycatcher, Elegant Parrot, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Little Eagle, Wedge-tailed Eagle, and Sacred Kingfisher. A Shingleback Lizard was sitting in the driveway as we left the site.

After an early lunch we commenced our journey to Cheynes Beach. Usually we’d stop for some birding in the Stirling Range National Park; however, a lightning strike had started a fire a few days before our visit, and as a result the park was, unfortunately and understandably, closed. We saw a small group of Emus in a stubble field, so we stopped to take a look at them and as a result found White-fronted Chat, White-winged Triller, Black-faced Woodswallow, and yet more Elegant Parrots. Farther along the way we found some water containing a flock of Pied Stilts and Grey Teal, and a Dugite (a large, venomous, brown snake) almost crossed the road right in front of us! Nearing our accommodation a quick stop produced Purple-gaped Honeyeater, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, and White-cheeked Honeyeater, all of which were new species for the trip.

An afternoon walk near our gorgeous beachside accommodation provided some new birds and excitement in the form of two new southwestern Australia endemics, White-breasted Robin and Red-winged Fairywren as well as Brown Quail, Common Bronzewing, Brush Bronzewing, Sooty Oystercatcher, and White-bellied Sea Eagle. Just as the sun was going down we spotted a new mammal, the tiny and incredibly cute Honey Possum feeding in some flowers. Amazing just how small this little thing is! We also saw a Heath Monitor.

 

Day 6, 13th December 2019. Cheynes Beach

We spent the day birding within the vicinity of our accommodation at Cheynes Beach, home to three incredibly tough and highly sought southwest Australian endemic birds (Western Bristlebird, Black-throated Whipbird, and Noisy Scrubbird), as well as several other key regional species. As we entered the heathland the first species we got eyes on was Southern Emu-wren. We had good views of a pair of birds with a couple of young, and almost immediately afterwards we found the first of the three big targets, Western Bristlebird. After a short chase we had some great views as one sang from the top of the bushes. Both Black-throated Whipbird and Noisy Scrubbird were also heard singing distantly, but views of these would need to wait. Honeyeaters were also in evidence, with Western Spinebill, Red Wattlebird, White-cheeked Honeyeater, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, and New Holland Honeyeater all abundant.

After a break for breakfast we checked out a different area of heathland, where after a short walk we found and saw Black-throated Whipbird, a skulking species and another one of the “Big 3”, which showed really well in the end. Until recently this was known as Western Whipbird, but the east-west split means this bird in Western Australia has had a name change. Walking around the area we found more local endemic species in form of Red-eared Firetail and a brief Western Wattlebird, both new for the trip, with further views of White-breasted Robin, Red-winged Fairywren, and Western Spinebill, plus Pacific Gull, Greater Crested Tern, Sooty Oystercatcher, and Rock Parrot along the beach.

Southwestern Australia trip reportWestern Bristlebird is one of the tougher and key-target birds in the southwest of Western Australia, where it is endemic. We had great views of this one first thing in the morning.

 

Southwestern Australia trip reportBlack-throated Whipbird (formerly Western Whipbird) gave some good looks as it foraged and then sang for a bit. This is another one of the tougher Western Australian endemic targets.

 

The main target of the afternoon was seeing Noisy Scrubbird, which is rightfully considered the toughest of the “Big 3” to actually see. Hearing the ear-piercingly loud call of this bird is easy, though seeing it is not. We sat and waited for a couple of hours, and just when we were about to call it a night we got the showing of our lives of this southwest Australian endemic. We could watch it sitting in a bush, singing its head off, before it ran across a road right past us, giving great views. Totally blown away by this excellent sighting (see photo on trip report front cover) we returned to our accommodation for dinner and a celebratory drink! While waiting for the scrubbird we had good looks at Southern Brown Bandicoot, King’s Skink, and Brush Bronzewing. A really wonderful day with some very high-quality birds in the bag!

 

Day 7, 14th December 2019. Cheynes Beach to Augusta

The morning was spent re-looking at a few of the area’s specials around our accommodation, such as Western Whistler, Red-winged Fairywren, and White-breasted Robin, with addition of Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Shining Bronze Cuckoo, Spotted Pardalote, and Spotted Harrier. We had a long travel day ahead of us, and it was forecast to be a scorcher, so we commenced our journey after breakfast. A few stops along the way added a few species for the day/trip list, the main one being Western Corella, a very local endemic, which showed nicely in the 40 oC heat. Other birds of note included Red-capped Parrot, Elegant Parrot, Western Corella, a brief pair of Baudin’s Black Cockatoos, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Splendid Fairywren, and White-necked Heron.

Southwestern Australia trip reportWestern Corella is another southwest Western Australian endemic. Despite the incredibly hot conditions we found a flock sheltering in the shade near Lake Muir.

 

Day 8, 15th December 2019. Cape Leeuwin to Busselton

We spent the early-morning period near the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, the meeting place of the Southern and Indian Oceans. The conditions were calm, though a little breezy, and not great for seabirds, but we did see Shy Albatross, Australasian Gannet, Hutton’s Shearwater, and Greater Crested Tern. One of our main targets on land was Rock Parrot, and we enjoyed watching a flock of four birds in the glorious morning sunlight, and later a couple of birds flew nice and close, giving excellent views as they then fed at our feet! Other birds noted around the headland included Grey Butcherbird, Southern Emu-wren, Silvereye, Sooty Oystercatcher, and Whimbrel.

After breakfast we started our journey north toward Busselton, where we would spend the night. We first stopped at some beautiful karri forest, where we found Baudin’s Black Cockatoo, (Western) Crested Shriketit, Western Rosella, Gilbert’s Honeyeater, Red-winged Fairywren, Western Gerygone, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, and more.

Southwestern Australia trip reportThe western subspecies of Crested Shriketit (male pictured) is a stunning bird, but also a potential future split of the two subspecies found in northern and southern/eastern Australia, so it’s always good to put in the extra effort to connect with it.

 

A stop at a beautiful beach yielded Hooded Dotterel, Red-capped Plover, Pied Oystercatcher, and Pacific Gull. A stop at some wetlands near our hotel in the afternoon gave us some gorgeously golden-plumed nesting Straw-necked Ibis and a mix of wildfowl. Black-fronted Dotterel was another new trip bird too.

 

Day 9, 16th December 2019. Busselton to Perth and tour concludes

We spent the final morning of the tour birding at some wetland areas around Busselton, where we had close-up views of many species of waterfowl and had excellent views of Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Nankeen Night Heron, Pink-eared Duck, Common Greenshank, Caspian Tern, Banded Lapwing, and Grey-tailed Tattler.

As we headed back into Perth for the conclusion of the tour we stopped at a couple more sites, a coastal sandbar, where we added Bar-tailed Godwit, Red-necked Stint, Grey Plover, and Fairy Tern, and finally a coastal wetland, where we found Pectoral Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, and Red-necked Avocet among many thousands of other birds, a seriously impressive sight.

 

Please see the downloadable PDF above with the full species lists included. This is a sample trip report. Please email us ([email protected]) for more trip reports from this destination.

‘Andy is a superb guide with a wonderful knowledge of birds and where to find them. He is enthusiastic and keen, great company and a real pleasure to bird with. Our Australian trip was very successful in terms of sightings and also really enjoyable. Andy played a big part in that with his superb organisation, excellent birding skills, easy-going nature and positive attitude. I would happily join Andy on a birding trip again and hope to be able to do so later this year!’

Janice

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