The Nullarbor & Western Australia Header - Southern Right Whale with calf.
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Total Trip Bird Species : 214 New 'Lifers' : 9
19/09/17 - Arrived home today after 13 weeks away. The last 2 days spent travelling, cold and wet. Next trip November, though in between posts will be added.
17/09/17 - Just a few shots from the Arid Gardens, a place we visit any time we go through Port Augusta. We are now in Mannum, South Australia, beside the Murray River.
14/09/17 - We have been on the road since our catch up with Eric at Kalgoorlie. On Tuesday, we stopped at the Nullarbor Roadhouse and, again, went searching for the elusive Nullarbor Quail-thrush, this time successfully. No photo but good views of at least 3 birds. Similar to 2 years ago, with the return of the migratory waders, there are 2 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers at the desal overflow. We will be in Port Augusta for 2 nights for another visit to the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden which, hopefully, should be flowering and attracting honeyeaters.
08/09/17 - From Cervantes, we made our way to the Lions Village in Dryandra Woodland, staying in a cottage for 2 nights as a break from the caravan. We arrived Monday and went to Barna Mia that night to see the mammals that they breed there. Most are endangered or extinct on the mainland and now only exist on predator proof islands off the coast. The photos were taken under red beam torches - b&w looks a lot better than red and orange. We were fortunate to see a Woylie in the forest the next day. From Dryandra we went to Narrogin (only 28km) and stayed overnight. This allowed us to revisit Foxes Lair, a lovely bush reserve directly opposite the caravan park. We are now in Kalgoorlie for the night and will meet up with a friend, Eric, from Tamworth as we head towards home and he continues his journey.
03/09/17 - Similar to our last stop, Geraldton, Cervantes was the central point to visit Leseuer N.P., The Pinnacles in Nambung N.P. and a local look around. Leseuer was not at it's best for wildflowers this year but still had a lot to keep the cameras snapping. The Pinnacles are made up of thousands of limestone pillars believed to have been formed 20-30,000 years ago. Lake Thetis is nearer Cervantes and is a saline lake containing stromatolites - similar to those at Hamelin Pool.
02/09/17 - Our stay at Geraldton was as a base to explore Greenough (pronounced Grenoff), Mullewa and Pindar. Greenough is an historic settlement, Mullewa is known for it's wildflowers and Pindar is where the Wreath Flower is found.
27/08/17 - In the last week we completed the rest of the Murchison River gorges and revisited the coastal lookouts. The wildflowers are starting to bloom, and we are hoping that we will encounter more varieties as we move further south, despite it not being a particularly bountiful season. A last look for Humpback Whales from Red Bluff lookout today was rewarded by the best views we have had whilst here - a pod of at least 6 whales circling not far from shore, a magnificent experience. Geraldton is our next stop south.
23/08/17 - I (Arthur) did a half day trip by light plane to Wallabi East Island, one of the islands in the Houton Albrolhos group. Denise decided to keep her feet firmly grounded. The group consists of 122 islands and coral reefs app. 80km from Kalbarri. Unfortunately the day was quite windy thereby curbing my birding opportunities but, nonetheless a very enjoyable day as you can see by the fantastic colours created by the varying depths of water. The island with the huts on it is used by lobster fishermen when in season. The islands are well known as the site the ship Batavia was lost in 1629.
20/08/17 - We are staying at Kalbarri for 2 weeks. It is a beautiful spot to relax as well as explore. So far we have visited the coastal cliff walks, done a trip up the Murchison River and been to Port Gregory. This week we will visit the various Murchison River gorges further out of town and maybe do another tour. As you can see below the wildflowers are beginning to bloom. It has been a dry winter and it is not expected that the flowering will be as good this year.
14/08/17 - Hamelin Station (owned by Bush Heritage Australia) is a very pleasant stay with the bore water fed lake providing good habitat for many species. Shark Bay and Monkey Mia lived up to expectations with beautiful scenery from the lookouts and, with the shallow water below, revealing some of the sealife. At Monkey Mia we went to the feeding of the dolphins on Thursday then back again on Friday to do a cruise to see the Dugongs and more dolphins - especially those known as sponge dolphins. The pictures below explain.
04/08/17 - Another large post as we extended our stay at Carnarvon to 7 nights. We have spent time around Carnarvon and also travelled 50km from town in 3 different directions. North of Carnarvon were the Blowholes, quite spectacular as there was a blustery wind aiding the size of the incoming waves. Pictures don't really do it justice. As we were looking out to sea whilst having lunch, we remarked that a whale sighting would be good. No sooner said than a Humpback Whale breached in front of us! East of Carnarvon was Rocky Pool, one of the few places to hold water after the Gascoyne River dries from the winter rains. South of Carnarvon were 3 spots, Uendoo Creek, Bush Bay and New Beach. Some nice scenery by the ocean but more suited for fishing than our birdwatching 'hobby'. Saturday is market day in Carnarvon so we will go and have a browse. Sunday we move south to Hamelin Station for 1 night then on to Shark Bay.
30/07/17 - We have been off the air for a week whilst enjoying a station stay at Bullara Station between Exmouth and Coral Bay. We enjoyed daily walks around the Station and a drive to the station's edge where it meets part of the Exmouth Gulf. Bullara once ran sheep but is now running cattle using sustainable practices. From the Station we had 2 trips to Exmouth where we had a glass-bottomed boat cruise over the Ningaloo Reef and a boat trip up Yardie Creek, highlighted by the presence of Black-flanked Rock Wallabies. We also took a day trip to Coral Bay and are glad we hadn't decided to stay there. It was one big caravan park with everyone so close together it would have been claustrophobic. There was one good point, some good pictures of Rufous Fieldwren. We are now in Carnarvon for 4 nights.
22/07/17 - Three nights in Tom Price saw us spend most of our time birdwatching, with 2 new species found - Spinifexbird (photos below) and Rufous-crowned Emu-wren - enough for i.d. only (A) but no photo. We are now at Nanutarra Roadhouse for the night, then to Bullara Station where we will stay for a week as we explore the Exmouth and Coral Bay areas.
20/07/17 - Karijini, a place for rugged gorges and some permanent water. Dales campground, where we stayed, had been subject to a fire started by lightning in 2016. Much of the understorey is returning as can be seen by the wildflowers, but many of the Mulgas are dead, only a few producing epicormic growth. Most of the park is OK, but it is easy to imagine what a large scale wildfire could do. Managed to score another new bird, Grey Honeyeater, but unable to get a photo. We are currently in Tom Price doing some walks in the mornings and relaxing in the afternoons. Life's tough, but someone has to do it.
16/07/17 - Following our stay at Nallan Station we again headed north, stopping overnight at Kumarina and Newman on our way to Karijini N.P. After 4 weeks and 5400km we have reached the northernmost point of this trip. In 2015, we reached Karijini after 6 weeks of 35-39 degree days, had 1 walk around and headed south. Temperatures this time are forecast as a moderate 27 degrees. We head off for a few nights bush camping at Dales Gorge tomorrow then on to Tom Price.
12/07/17 - Walga Rock is app. 47km from Cue and is one of Australias' largest monoliths - 7km around the base with varying facets to grab attention. Just inside the entry is a mass of Aboriginal art, including an early depiction of a sailing vessel. Milly Soak was the original water supply to Cue but is no longer used, even as a well. A birding highlight was our first sighting of a Chiming Wedgebill.
09/07/17 - Following our Super Pit tour on Thursday - the mine operators are touchy about pictures of the mine being published - we left Kalgoorlie Friday morning for an overnight stop at Leonora where we were able to photograph the Gwalia mine and parts of the old town. Then next day saw us stopping at Sandstone for a night before proceeding to Cue via a few hours at Mount Magnet to explore 'The Granites' and do a bit of birding. Arrived at Cue mid afternoon. We will explore around Cue for a couple of days then a big move of 12km to Nallan Station for 2 nights before continuing north again.
04/07/17 - Kalgoorlie has its old buildings but they are not easily photographed with the bustle of town life. A stop at Coolgardie, on our way to Rowles Lagoon, gave us a much better opportunity as there was hardly any traffic at all. Coolgardie appears to be on the way to becoming a 'ghost town', so many buildings just empty shells. We are doing the obligatory Super Pit Tour on Thursday, a look at the largest open cut gold mine in Australia. We have visited a few parks and the Kalgoorlie Arboretum enjoying the dry country vegetation but, unfortunately, though we have had sunny days, a cold wind has been constant and our search for local wildlife has not been overly fruitful. Maybe we need to be further north!
30/06/17 - Leaving Nullarbor Roadhouse, we had a quick stop at a Bight lookout before stopping at Border Village rather than Eucla. A good move as the park was much nicer. Moving on the next day to Cocklebiddy overnight then off to Fraser Range Station, with a stop at Madura for coffee and a look from the top of the pass. We then had 2 nights at Fraser Range Station, a 500,000 acre property that once stocked sheep. All were removed about 8 years ago and the Station left to recover for 6 years. Over the last 2 years cattle have been slowly introduced and stock is currently app. 2000. Eventually, stock will be increased to a maximum - and manageable - level of 10,000 head. A great place to stay and we will definitely revisit on our return trip. After talking with the Station owner, we are hoping for some extra access as a trade off for a survey. Arrived at Kalgoorlie today for a week to explore the history of the town and the surrounding country.
25/06/17 - What an exhilarating experience watching the Southern Right Whales so close to the coast. We had at least 10 whales in sight whilst watching, most of the females with a calf beside them. The calves were 'frolicking' at times - they were the ones doing all the tail slapping. No luck on the Quail-thrush (maybe in the spring on our return), but we did manage to identify a Rufous Fieldwren in Saltbush behind the roadhouse. Next stops Eucla and Cocklebiddy as overnighters then to Fraser Range for a station stay.
23/06/17 - We left home on Monday, 19th with overnight stops at Nhill Vic, Bolivar SA, Kimba SA, Ceduna SA. Only a couple of brief stops for birding, mainly driving.
We arrived at the Nullarbor Roadhouse SA today where we are staying 3 nights with the aim of doing some whale watching, at The Head of the Bight and, hopefully, finding a target bird species, the Nullarbor Quail-thrush. After arriving, we walked to a shallow pool created by run off from the small desalination plant the roadhouse has and were extremely surprised to find 4 Australian Spotted Crakes and a Black-tailed Native-hen in residence. A Dingo was walking along the airstrip towards us but decided it was outnumbered so she veered off into the scrub.