Monday, 21 September 2015

Wildlife upside down 1: Perth

We took all of August off to do a tour of Australia. Although the holiday was not solely one looking at the wildlife we did still manage to see some spectacular sights and creatures.
Our itinerary took us from Perth to Darwin, Cairns, Uluru, Sydney, Adelaide and Kangaroo Island. So, our first stop was the bottom left corner, the coastal city of Perth
Virtually the first bird we saw, and one that was ever constant across the continent was the rainbow lorikeet. This smallish parrot was actually in a shopping centre and their colour and raucous calls added a very tropical feel to the town.

Surprisingly for an island there are very few gulls. Effectively, if you exclude rarities there is only one small gull, the silver gull. Like all gulls though they are just at home in parks as on the coast.

The park here was also home to another bird we met many times on our trip, the magpie-lark.

They are incredibly confiding and have a loud, strident call. In fact, black and white seemed to be the colour of birds in the park, as it also held, in order, willie wagtails, torresian crows and australian magpies.

On our second day we visited Kings Park, which is a very large area of formal and informal gardens almost within Perth - think Kew Gardens.
As well as most of the birds above there were a few other nice birds showing.
This is a white-cheeked honeyeater. This family comprises over 30 different species in Australia and if you are going there are the ones you need to practice identification on. Many are almost impossible to tell apart unless they call. This one was easier though!
A similar looking bird, although not closely related, is the red wattlebird. They are actually quite large, about the size of a green woodpecker.

Like many birds, this one also was tame, and i took this photo whilst having a cup of tea in the park!
Not far away we came across one of the totemic birds of Austrlia, the galah.
This pair were clearly thinking that Spring was in the air!
Being a park, there were a  number of waterfowl around as well, and two of the commoner ones were these wood ducks and this smart female Pacific black duck.

Other birds that we saw of note were pied cormorants, australian darters, brown honeyeater, white ibis, dusky moorhens, Welcome swallows and our old friend the house sparrow.

We also stopped at Perth at the end of our holiday, and spent the day on Rottnest Island. This is a 90 minute boat trip of the coast and is popular with locals and tourists alike for one main reason.

These small marsupaisl are the reason the island has its name when they were misidentified as rats, hence rats nest or Rottnest in Dutch.

 They are totally unafraid of people, in fact you get clusters of tourists around them with their own personal interaction going on.

The island itself is not large, about 5 or 6 miles long by a couple wide, and most people explore it by bike - there are no cars on the island apart from a few for the staff and rangers.
Wildlife apart from the quokkas was a bit hard to find as we were in Winter so most of the water birds which breed were not present, but there were some nice birds to be found. This is one of the birds clearly named after somethnig the early settlers found similar, the red-capped robin.

This smart looking chap is a white-fronted chat.

On the water were these black-winged stilts, as well as Australian shelducks and Caspian terns.

 On the land were more galahs and this cheeky pair of Australian ravens.

In summary, despite us not really doing the area justice Perth was a great start to our holiday and definitely a place to recommend visiting, especially the quokkas!!