Wow it’s that time of the year! The Wildflowers are looking magnificent and there are hundreds of different species in bloom in and around the Perth Metropolitan area.
One type of habitat that really appeals to wildflower lovers but is poorly misunderstood by the general public are swamps, creek flood plains and damp lands. They have a great species diversity as they tend to have wet, damp and dry ground which provide a mix of different flower groups. Some of the stunning September flowers in these damp areas are below:
This section of the walk was done two halves. Not because the walk was going to be too long! But as I do shorebird counts each winter and summer at Thomson’s Lake and Kogolup Lake. Doing shorebird counts takes more time as you need to get a good view of all (or nearly all) of the water birds at the lake. These counts for BirdLife Australia’s National Shorebird Program.
So on the 7 July I stepped off where I ended at the south end of Yangebup Lake to walk Kogolup Lake and Swamp and on 7 August I went around Thomson’s Lake.
There were a few wild flowers in bloom but in July there are only a few flowers out. The birds were busy feeding in the bush but there was not many waterbirds. In late winter and early spring there is lots of water in most of the lakes and the water birds spread out over more wetlands.
In total I saw 38 species of birds with the most seen being 137 Black Swan, 67 Australasian Shoveller and 52 Australasian Swamphen. It was very pleasing to see and hear a Fan-tailed Cuckoo calling from a high tree branch.
The survey also recorded 26 Rainbow Lorikeet, only 1 Australian Ringneck parrot and no Red-capped Parrots. This is very sad reflection of how this invasive lorikeet is taking over habitat and pushing our native parrots out of the Perth area.
Thomson’s Lake is a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance and a much bigger open wetland than the twin wetlands of Kogolup.
As the lake was still very shallow, the water bird diversity was quite poor. But there was 270 Black Swans present with a number of them constructing large nests. Virtually all of the Typha has been removed from the lake in the past few years and it is interesting to see the swan nests out in the open. This may make predation of the nests more likely.
A total of 39 bird species was recorded for the National Shorebird count at Thomson’s Lake. The summer shorebird counts always have more species and a greater number of water birds.
It was interesting that at Thomson’s Lake there was only 6 Rainbow Lorikeet recorded, while 6 Australian Ringneck Parrots and 2 Red-capped Parrots were recorded. This wetland is surrounded by more bush and market gardens, rather than suburban house blocks.
Thomson’s Lake has a walk path that goes around the lake, however, in late winter and early spring you need to wear rubber boots as a section of the path is covered in water. This is because at this time of the year a drain from the east of the lake is flowing into the reserve and the water goes over the track.
There is one section left to walk but I will not be have time to do this section until some time in September. Now that the wildflowers are out I am very busy looking for new wildflower sites and species that I haven’t seen before. So I suspect that my next blog post will be a wildflower one! It is looking like a good wildflower season!
The second part of the walk started at Murdoch University and finished at the south end of Yangebup Lake. This was an enjoyable walk and largely thru natural areas. This part of the walk went past Frog Swamp, North Lake, Bibra Lake, South Lake, Little Rush Lake and Yangebup Lake as well as the bushland in the south of Murdoch University. It was a beautiful sunny winters day which must be the perfect conditions for walking!
I have to confess I did this walk in late June 2020 and have been very slow to write this in my blog! So it is likely that there is more water in the lakes now as we have had more winter rain since my walk. Our wetland water levels usually peak in October when the bulk of our annual rainfall has occurred.
Frog Swamp was still dry as this is a very shallow wetland but North Lake was starting to fill and the Black Swans were looking for food, a partner and a suitable nest site! There were only a few people walking in the North Lake Reserve and so it was very peaceful.
Bibra Lake is deeper than North Lake and so had more water in it. It is also a much more popular place to walk, ride or jog around. There were a large number of Black-winged Stilts and a few Banded Stilts feeding on the lake as well as a good variety of ducks, heron and egrets. These could easily be seen from the two bird hides on the east side of the lake. I stopped for a delicious morning tea at The Bistrot Cafe which was bustling with happy diners.
The South Lake reserve is a very quiet spot as it has no parking areas near it and is surrounded by other bush reserves and a light industrial area. The lake was filling up and there was water over most of the lake.
From South Lake you need to walk to North Lake Road to go around the railway line and then enter the Little Rush Lake Reserve. This is a nice small lake with a good limestone walk trail going around it. There was water in the lake but very few water birds. The biggest excitement on this part of the walk was seeing a Quenda or Southern Brown Bandicoot which quickly scampered into some thick bush when it saw me!
The next and last lake on the mornings walk was Yangebup Lake. This is a large and very deep lake. It is the deepest of all the Beeliar wetlands and has water in it all year. This lake has a good firm bitumen walking path all the way around it. A bird hide was installed there in the north east of the lake earlier in the year.
In total the walk was about 16 kilometers with only about 135 meters elevation gain. It took me about 4 hours to walk which is quite slow but it was a relaxed pace that allowed enjoyment of the birds, flowers and scenery!
There are two more sections to go. One has already been completed and hopefully the blog post will be up next week!
The Beeliar Wetlands are made up of two chains of lakes and swamps directly south of the Swan River and close to the coast. Beeliar is the name of the Aboriginal group who lived in this area and these lakes were important places to them due to the high food productivity of wetlands and their spiritual significance. The wetlands are in “chains” as they are between the large dunes that run parallel to the coast.
As restrictions eased during the Covid-19 pandemic, I decided to walked the wetlands of the second chain (between the second and third dunes) from north to south. It was interesting to get a new perspective of these wetlands through their connectivity and provide some much needed exercise and fresh air!
The first section I did was from the Canning Bridge Train station to the middle of Murdoch University. This went along the Canning River to Booragoon Lake, Blue Gum Lake and Piney Lakes.
This first part of the walk along the river was quite busy with people enjoying walks, jogging and canoeing on the river.
It was wonderful to see quite a few art works that featured birds along this part of the river.
Between the river and the first lake their was a hill which would probably be the fourth dune from the coast. This area is all heavily developed and between the river and Blue Gum Lake Lake is housing.
During winter the lakes and swamps are still filling with water and usually reach their highest water level in October. Blue Gum Lake is a small wetland with an eastern deeper section and the western area is more like a swamp. The wetland has some good bush on the south side and the northern side has been steadily revegetated by the local council and Friends of Blue Gum Lake.
Between Blue Gum Lake and Booragoon Lake I enjoyed a lovely morning tea at Cafe Denada! The only way to walk from Blue Gum Lake to Booragoon Lake was by walking suburban streets, however, the school and recreation areas here provide some pleasing open space that is frequented by birds.
Booragoon Lake is a larger lake that is surrounded by paperbarks (Melaleuca) and Flooded Gum (Eucalyptus rudis). There are many paperbarks in the south west section of the lake which provide nesting habitat for ibis and cormorants.
Only Leach Highway separates Booragoon Lake and the Piney Lakes Reserve. It was necessary to walk to the traffic lights to cross the highway and this would be a major obstacle for any animals to try to cross. They could only walk across safely in the middle of the night.
Piney Lakes is a large reserve and includes some large areas of natural bush, grassed areas with barbeques and picnic tables, children’s playgrounds and an Environmental Centre. It is a quite a popular area for locals to exercise, have picnics and relax.
From Piney Lakes it is again necessary to walk thru suburban areas to Murdoch University. This includes crossing South Street which is as busy with cars as Leach Highway.
The entire walk was 12.4 km and took just me about 2.5 hours (including morning tea). I used the Strava phone app to track my path.
It would be wonderful to know how these places looked prior to European settlement. Obviously much more bush and birds. It would be interesting to know how much water would have been in the lakes then as well. Clearing the land to put in houses increases water flowing into the groundwater that fills these lakes but some of the water ends up in the sewerage system which is pumped to the ocean and garden bores pump water from the groundwater too.
Wow time has flown by and it is over halfway through Spring! With the warmer weather this spring, our wildflowers here in Perth have just gone past the peak. But they are only just past the peak flowering and most flowers are still showing their glorious colours.
The daisies in the Wandoo woodlands are at there most brilliant and dazzling in white and yellow! There are also patches of Blue Lechenaultia along the road verges in the Darling Ranges and Wandoo Woodlands. The gorgeous yellow Common Popflowers are also along some verges in the Wandoo woodlands.
Some of the beautiful flowers that have been out in the last week are:
There will be plenty of beautiful wildflowers to enjoy in the Perth area in glorious spring weather over the next few weeks. It’s well worth visiting the bush while there are still so many beautiful flowers out and before the hotter weather arrives.
Wow! The wildflowers are really looking beautiful at the moment but still not quite peaking yet. The spots that will become a blaze of colour still have quite a bit of green peaking thru the colourful blooms. Many of the carnivorous plants of the genus Drosera are flowering with Orange, Pink and White flowers (see some images below). Quite a few of the orchids are also flowering now.
The aroma as you walk through the hills is amazing! The Karri Hazel is absolutely at its best and, with the scientific name of Trymalium odoratissimum, you can understand that they have a strong perfume! The Honey Bush (Hakea lissocarpha) is also still covered in white flowers and fills the air with it’s sweet perfume.
Some of the flowers out now include:
It is great to see many people out and about enjoying our wildflowers and natural parks at the moment. Last weekend, when on a Wildflower, Waterfall and Wildlife tour, some of the carparks were very full with cars as many local families and visitors were enjoying the scenery. I urge you to get outdoors and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us here in Perth while it is looking spectacular and while the weather is absolutely brilliant!
August is not the peak wildflower season in Perth but it is a time when many of the wildflowers are starting to bloom. You will see individual flowers open from a variety of species rather than large areas of colour. There are enough flowers blooming now to fill your flower rainbow!
So what is flowering now in the Perth area? I am glad you asked! Some of the flowers out now are depicted below.
It is definitely a good time to get out into the bush to take in the beauty that surrounds us. Bush walking and looking at wildflowers is a great way to take a mindful break from our high paced lives. Be in the moment observing nature by looking, smelling, feeling the texture of the leaves and bark and listening to the sounds of our glorious natural areas!
Every birdwatcher and bird photographer is different and Perth Birds and Bush is knowledgeable enough to meet these different needs. Let me tell you about three different bird tours for each of Donna, Grace and Geoff. They were all keen bird photographers but all very different in what they wanted from their tour.
Geoff is from the UK and was more of a birder who takes photographs when the opportunity arises. He happy to see the birds and photographs are a secondary but still important part of his hobby. He booked a five hour tour with the primary focus being local endemic species as he had not visited Perth before. On the five hour tour we visited 3 bush bird locations in the Darling Range and one wetland location. The wetland spot was included as he had not seen Tawny Frogmouth and was keen to see some raptors. Geoff definitely photographed more bird species than Grace or Donna but we did not spend time letting the birds get closer to us or trying to move around the birds for better light. We saw at least 53 species on the tour.
Donna from Melbourne wanted to see and photograph 5 bird species that she had not yet seen on her many visits to Perth. These were Western Spinebill, Western Wattlebird, Western Thornbill, Western Yellow Robin and Gilbert’s Honeyeater. We visited three locations during her 5 hour tour and she saw and photographed Western Spinebill, Western Wattlebird and Western Thornbill from her target list. In total we only saw 23 birds but it was the species which mattered. Donna is keen to see her birds but wants to also get photographs of each one. But she does not need to get perfect photos, that is an amazing bonus! She was thrilled to have photographed three of her target species and the next day she went back on her own to one of the spots we visited and managed to take a beautiful photograph of a Western Yellow Robin.
Grace from Canada booked a 4 hour tour and wanted to get fabulous photographs of a fairy-wren and possibly a robin. We went to a location where there are two species of fairy-wren and two species of robins present. She uses a tripod and likes to spend time letting the birds get close to her so that she can take stunning crisp photographs. She got amazing photographs of several Splendid Fairy-wrens, Scarlet Robin and White-breasted Robin, as well as some other species. Several times during the tour the Splendid Fairy-wrens were within 2 meters of us and similarly the Scarlet Robins and White-breasted Robin were within 2 meters of us at least once. We only saw 14 species in the four hours but only need to walk about 100 meters to find the species at the location we were at!
These tours were all very different but all three people were very happy with their tours. Communication when booking a tour is the key thing to ensure Perth Birds and Bush will plan the best tour for you. When you book using the booking form please include a comment about what you want from the tour. I always send a bird list back to you from the initial bird tour booking to check what you want to see to make sure that I can plan your tour to meet your wishes!
Wow it was a wonderful two days of birdwatching and bird photography with Alan from Sydney. It was Alan’s first visit to Western Australia, so he had not seen any of the south-west endemic species and also had a number of other species that he had not managed to photograph elsewhere in Australia.
Every client who contacts Perth Birds and Bush for a birdwatching tour is emailed a list of birds that can be seen in and around the Perth area and Alan returned the list with notes about which species he would like to see. Perth Birds and Bush then plans the tour day or days to ensure the best chance to see the most birds that the client is interested in seeing. For Alan it was best to have the first day in the Darling Range and Wandoo woodlands and the second day in the Darling Range, Banksia woodlands, and wetlands in the Perth suburbs.
Day 1: Darling Ranges and Wandoo Woodlands
The first two hours of the morning was spent in the Darling Ranges just to the east of Perth. We saw many bush birds including Australian Ringneck parrot, Red-capped Parrot, Splendid Fairy-wren, Red-winged Fairy-wren, White-breasted Robin and Red-eared Firetail.
We then drove to the Wandoo woodlands further to the east of Perth. These woodlands are in an area which receives less rainfall than Perth and is the area where much of the forest has been cleared to grow wheat and raise sheep. It is a beautiful habitat that is very different to the Marri and Jarrah forests of the Darling Scarp and attract a number of different bird species.
In the Wandoo Woodlands we saw Painted Button-Quail, Western Rosella, Australian Ringneck parrot, Red-capped Parrot, Yellow-plumed Honeyeater, Crested Shrike-tit, and Western Yellow Robin, as well as, other species. There seemed to be quite a few Painted Button-Quail present and we even managed to photograph one as it skulked away from us. We had both morning tea and lunch in this area to ensure that we made the most of this beautiful and species diverse area that is quite distant from the city.
On the way back into Perth we stopped briefly in the Darling Ranges again and had great views of Red-tailed black-Cockatoo, Western Yellow Robin and a variety of other more common species.
Day 2: Darling Range, Banksia woodlands and wetlands in Perth
The second day was spent looking for birds in the Darling Range that we couldn’t find on the first day and other bush and water birds that Alan wanted to see. We visited different sites in the Darling Range partly as these sites are slightly better for the birds in question and provided other places for Alan to experience. But as Alan was staying in Perth for about 1 week it allowed him to familiarize himself with these sites, so that he could go back again on his own, to take more photographs.
Our first stop was at Lake Monger in Perth, as a few days earlier I had seen Spotless Crake there and this was a target species for Alan. We never saw any but on the next day he went back to this location on his own and managed to see and photograph a Spotless Crake at the location I had shown him. We saw a large group of Blue-billed Ducks, Pink-eared Ducks and a number of Black-fronted Dotterel which are all very beautiful water birds!
Our second stop was a patch of Banksia woodland on our way to the Darling Scarp and almost immediately we had great views of Western Wattlebird feeding and calling. We saw this species several other times on the second day. Once we reached the Darling Scarp we soon were able to see and photograph Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo, Western Gerygone, Western Thornbill, Western Spinebill, and Scarlet Robin.
We then visited a large wetland for lunch and to start looking for some of the other water birds that Alan wanted to photograph. He was very pleased to see a large group of Musk Duck close to the edge of the wetland, a very large number of Pink-eared Ducks basking at the edge and we were both thrilled to see a Quenda or Southern Brown Bandicoot foraging out in the open! We saw a number of other species including: Glossy Ibis, Red-necked Avocet, Whistling Kite and Swamp Harrier. After this we went to another Banksia woodland site and saw a large variety of honeyeaters as well as a pair of Brown Goshawk.
Our biggest disappointment on the second day was that the Fairy Terns had left their nesting areas within the last week as the chicks had obviously fully fledged. However, Alan was visiting Rottnest Island during his stay and had a good chance to see them there. We finished the day at one more wetland site were we had excellent views of Nankeen Night Heron and Freckled Duck. We had distant views of a group of Purple-backed (Variegated) Fairy-Wrens including one male with some breeding plumage. We could hear some crakes calling and Alan had a quick glimpse of one but they were hiding from us too well!
In total over the two days we had both seen 91 species of birds and this included over 20 species that were lifers for Alan that he had managed to photograph.