Seal Island – Kayaking Trip

CuriousSealion

Curious Sealion

 

Seal Island

Seal Island

 

A couple of days ago I went kayaking with my husband to Seal Island.  I was keen to go in order to see all of the wildlife and hoping that the sealions or dolphins might come and see us.  However, I was also aprehensive as it’s further than I’ve ever been previously.  So, what did we see?  Well, firstly, the sealions.

 

Sealion and pups

Sealion and pups

 

This mum had her pups with her on the beach.  The most sealions I counted at once was 14.  They were mostly just lying on the beach, but a few ventured into the water.  I was so pleased when eventually one decided to come and play for a while.

 

Sealion who came to see me

Sealion who came to see me

 

Here’s one in the water with me.

 

 

 

 

 

Sealion

Click on ‘Sealion’ for video

 

Pelicans on beach

Pelicans on beach

 

 

There’s a huge pelican colony there.  These pelicans didn’t seem to be bothered by the sealions on the beach.

 

 

 

Ospreys and Chicks

Ospreys and Chicks

 

 

We paddled over to another island where I’d seen an osprey previously.  The pair had nested and had (I think) 2 chicks, though it was hard to see.

 

 

Me Filming Ospreys

Me Filming Ospreys

I was nervous of getting my good camera wet so I took my old automatic with me.  It was temperamental to say the least and it’s zoom and focus kept playing up, but I did get some photos and video clips in the end.  We sat and watched as the male brought in a fish (about 7 inches long) and then the parents both fed on it and helped feeding the chicks.

 

It was a fabulous trip.  There were 2 downsides. Firstly, we didn’t see a single dolphin even though there’s a pod that lives there and they often go and play around the kayaks.  Secondly, achey shoulders the next couple of days.  However, it was well worth it and I’m sure we’ll do the trip again.

 

Herdsman Lake, Perth

Great Egret at Herdsman Lake

Great Egret at Herdsman Lake

I’ve passed Herdsman Lake many times but I recently managed a visit there and it was well worth it. Lots of different birds were out on show, many of them ready for breeding season. This great egret was happy for me to watch him fishing from fairly close by.

Ibis Walking at Herdsman Lake

Ibis Walking at Herdsman Lake

 

The most striking thing about the lake for me was the sheer numbers of ibis there.  I’d never seen one until I came to Australia so it’s great to see so many.  There are hundreds of them, perching in trees, grazing on the lawns and flying overhead.

Blue-Billed Duck (male)
Blue-Billed Duck (male)

 

 

Another surprise for me at Herdsman Lake was the blue-billed duck.  I’d never heard of one, never mind seen them, but they were out in numbers too.  The male’s bill really is very blue at breeding time.

View from the board walk
View from the board walk

 

 

The lake is in the middle of a built up area in NW Perth, with a visitor centre and car park on the southern edge. There are plenty of other car parks around it and footpaths, cycle tracks and one or two bird hides. This photo was taken from the board walk by the visitor centre. It’s fairly short but takes you right through into a reed bed and past this stretch of mangrove.

So, who else did I see?

Whistling Kite

Whistling Kite

 

A whistling kite hunting.

Red Wattle Bird

Red Wattle Bird

Honey eaters and wattle birds.

Australian Reed Warbler
Australian Reed Warbler

 

 

Australian Reed Warblers

 

 

 

Buff-Banded rail running for cover
Buff-Banded rail running for cover

 

 

 

Buff-banded rail

 

 

 

 

 

I also saw tree martins, welcome swallows, shovellers, australasian grebes, great crested grebes, fantails, pelicans, pied cormorants, musk ducks, black swans, purple swamp-hens, black-tailed native-hens, black swans.

And a pacific duck with her new family.  Very common but it’s always a treat to see a family of young ducklings.

Ducklings

Ducklings

Now Football Celebrities at the Mall

My last post was about the surprise appearance of Birds of Prey at the local shops.  When I went yesterday, I got to meet  a local football star – and even stroke him!

Auzzie - The Wedge-Tailed Eagle

Auzzie – West Coast Eagles Mascot

 

Meet Auzzie, the Wedge-Tailed Eagle.  Auzzie is a mascot for the Weat Coast Eagles.  (For international readers, it’s the AFL equivalent to Manchester United.)  Auzzie even has his own facebook page.  I stood in line to stroke Auzzie  (- average age of those in queue, roughly 10 I’d say).  It was mainly to get a close up photo though.  That was difficult as he wasn’t keen to keep his head still as he was turning to look all around him.  However the photo much better than my previous best attempt.  This eagle was flying over woodland about an hour’s drive away.  Not a very sharp picture, but great to identify him.  You can easily see his tail shape.

Wedge Tailed Eagle - Australian Bird of Prey

Wedge Tailed Eagle – Australian Bird of Prey

This time I spoke to the keepers of these lovely birds who are very helpful and extremely knowledgable.  They are from the Western Australian Birds of Prey Centre, wabirdsofprey.com, and they give these talks to all sorts of groups (schools, guides and scouts etc).

Sooty Owl - Australian Bird of Prey

Sooty Owl – Australian Bird of Prey

Barking Owl - Australian Bird of Prey

Barking Owl – Australian Bird of Prey

 

This time I also got to see a Barking Owl and a Sooty Owl which was great as I haven’t seen either before.

 

 

 

The picture quality isn’t too bad given that they were taken on a very old mobile phone.  The biggest lesson for me from this week is ‘Always take a camera to the supermarket’.

Sooty Owl - Australian Bird of Prey

Sooty Owl – Australian Bird of Prey

 

Birds of Prey- where you least expect them

Often, when I see birds , I haven’t actually gone looking for them,  they just happen to be there.  It might me when I’m walking the dog, going on a bike ride, walking the children to school, down on the beach.  Seeing them isn’t actually a surprise, but it isn’t always my purpose.

Kmart - special offer
Kmart – special offer

Yesterday I went to the supermarket (not so unusual),  but when I came out I had to walk through the mall, and I saw this.

Was it a special offer?  No, a keeper had several birds on a perch and on her glove and was giving a talk.  In the middle of the mall.  There were lots of eager faces looking up from rows of chairs.

It was a great idea.  A Birds of Prey show by the shops during the school holidays.  The children, and plenty of adults, sat down to listen, and then got a really close up view of birds they might normally only see at a distance.  I’m not sure whose idea it was or who paid for it (maybe the shopping centre) but it was certainly a popular show.  The more our children know about the wildlife around them, the more likely they are to grow up respecting and protecting it.

Brown Falcon - Australian Bird of Prey

Brown Falcon – Australian Bird of Prey

Nankeen Kestrel - Australian Bird of Prey

Nankeen Kestrel – Australian Bird of Prey

 

 

 

I hope my identification is spot on – if not, feel free to correct me.

 

 

 

 

Lake Joondalup

I visited Lake Joondalup on my first trip to Australia and couldn’t get over the number of parrots there were (these turned out to be corellas).  I vowed to go back again if ever we moved here – and now I do, regularly.  The lake is home to resident and migratory water birds, and the surrounding parks and woodland are home to many other birds and wildlife.

long-necked turtle

Long-Necked Turtle – Lake Joondalup

One of my favourite things to see there is the aptly named long-necked turtle.  It’s not easy to see one and it helps if it’s very sunny so you can see through the water clearly.  I’ve seen them from Neil Hawkins Park (on the West bank, near to the centre of Joondalup).   There’s a walkway onto the lake where you can look for them, and you can usually see plenty of the less shy waterfowl too. The park has a play area and plenty of barbeques, so it’s usually full of families.  The resident long-billed corellas live there and are very friendly.  They can normally be found on the lawns in the day, along with the pigeons.  Gallahs nest there and I also sometimes see ringnecks and rainbow lorikeets.  Due to the amount of wildlife in the reserve, there are plenty of birds of prey there.  Swamp harriers often cicle over the water and eagles occasionally visit.

Lake Joondalup - Dry

Lake Joondalup – Dry

 

 

Further South, by Edgewater, is Picnic Cove.  Another play area, more barbeques, more water birds.  And also (although I’ve never seen them), tiger snakes.  During the summer the water level drops.  By autumn, the water almost disappears at Picnic Cove.

 

Lake Joondalup

Lake Joondalup

Spider at Lake Joondalup

Watch out for spiders

 

Once the winter rains come and it starts to fill again, plenty of birds arrive to breed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a 16km circuit of the lake that you can walk, run or cycle that takes you by the lake and through the woods.  In the summer you’ll see spiders with enormous webs in the trees.

 

 

What might you see there:  Shoveler, duck, black swan, Australian Shelduck, musk duck, long-billed corella, gallah, rainbow lorikeet, ringneck parakeet, pink eared duck, white faced heron, white necked heron, spoonbill, egret,  kookaburra,  black shouldered kite, Australian kestrel, swamp harrier, wedge-tailed eagle, white bellied sea-eagle, pelican, buff banded rail, black-tailed native-hen, chestnut teal, ibis, red-kneed dotterel, whiskered tern, hoary-headed grebe, Australasian grebe

 

Black Shouldered Kite

Black Shouldered Kite

 

Long-billed Corellas

Long-billed Corellas – Lake Joondalup

Yanchep National Park

Yanchep National Park has become one of my favourite places to go to see wildlife.  One of the things I loved when I arrived was that each time I went I saw something that amazed me.

Koala feeding at Yanchep

This is one of the few places in WA where you can see koalas.  They don’t live in the wild in WA as there aren’t any suitable areas – large enough forests with the right
kinds of eucalyptus trees.  In Yanchep they live in eucalyptus trees in ‘open’ enclosures.  Extra branches of food are provided in large containers.  The raised walkway ensures that you can get a really good, close up view of them.  Absolutely mesmerising.

Kangaroo Chilling Out at Yanchep

There is also a large population of kangaroos.  Arrive early enough and you will find them grazing on the lawns in huge numbers, or on the golf course.  Later in the day, they will be lying in the shade resting.

This is where I first saw a bobtail (blue tongued, short tailed lizard) in the wild.  There are many reptiles there, although you are unlikely to see them.  Most people are more than happy to obey this warning sign.

Snake Warning at Yanchep

Don’t argue with a Tiger Snake

And the birds?  This is where I first saw a purple swamphen. The first time I saw one, it was a little camera shy and it took a while to get a decent picture.  The next time
we visited, we discovered that producing a picnic helps them to overcome any nerves.  It was raiding the food basket along with the ducks and took some effort to shoo away!  Yanchep was also where I first saw a whistling kite – in fact, I saw a pair.  The
Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo is endangered, but you wouldn’t think so when visiting
Yanchep.  Hundreds of them fill the trees and the sky.  I have 2 gripes with this
species.  Firstly, they like to perch very high up in very high trees, so it’s hard to get a good photo without a great zoom lens.  The sky is so bright that they are always silhouetted against a bright background.  Secondly, whenever I get home from Yanchep I have to wash the car as it is covered in cockatoo poo.  Maybe I’ll have to invest in a cover.  It’s a haven for many species largely because of the lake – there is so little open water in the region, especially by April when other lakes have dried up.  There
are also emus in the park.  I haven’t seen one there (it’s quite hard to find them) but I did see my first wild ones nearby, on the way home from the park.  They were just by the side of the road, and they let me approach them to get a picture.

Cave Roof, Yanchep

There are beautiful caves with regular guided tours for all ages – a big hit with the family.  Once the lake is full, at the end of the winter, you can hire rowing boats.  There’s a pub, a cafe and an ice-cream shop too.  On bank holidays the park fills with families bringing picnics or food for barbeques.  It’s not a swings and slides type of park at all but that doesn’t stop the children having a great time there.

Entry on foot or bike is free, but you pay per car for parking.  We bought a park pass
which covers all the WA National Parks, great value for anyone intending to go to several of them.

Some birds you might see at Yanchep: white-tailed black cockatoo (also known as Carnaby’s black cockatoo), gallah, ringneck, purple swamphen, whistling kite, swamp harrier, Eurasian coot, dusky moorhen, white faced heron, white Ibis, musk duck, Australian wood duck, teal, Australasian shoveler, Great egret, clamorous reed-warbler, great crested grebe, darter, cormorant, honey eater, fan tail, emu (if you are very lucky!), wattlebird