Thursday, 13 August 2009

08/08/2009: Western Australia (Day 2)

On the second day, the whole group of us was up early as we wanted to visit Yanchep National Park, which is another 20 km from our house. As we drove along the country road up north towards our destination, we were greeted by the great Australian Bushland. It is certainly different from the rainforest back home. Here the vegetation is not as dense and the trees are smaller. Our group had to pull over at the side of the road when I spotted a flock of Short-billed Black-cockatoos foraging on some low bushes just next to the road. However, my companions did not complain at all and were just as mesmerized as I was observing these large Parrots at such close proximity. The Parrots were so close that I had difficulty capturing them within the frame of my camera!

I even managed to capture a pair in flight at a distance...

We had to make another stop before our destination and this time it is because of the national bird of Australia - the Laughing Kookaburra. Any birding trip to Australia, even a casual one, is not complete if you did not get to see this remarkable Kingfisher. I am extremely delighted to have been able to observe and capture its images. I even managed to hear its characteristic laughing calls a few times throughout my stay.

When we finally reach Yanchep, we were greeted by one of the most iconic Australian animals - the Kangaroo. These Grey Kangaroos are wild individuals that have grown accustomed to human presence. They are rather confiding and will allow close approach. They go about their daily routines under close observations by visitors to the park and they seem to know that as long as they are within the borders of this park, that are not at risk to hunting. Anyway, cameras were snapping away inside the car - including mine.

Here's a young one. I believe the right term is a Joey...

Nothin' like a good scratch, huh mate?

My wife just couldn't resist taking a photo with these lovable marsupials...

A bird alighted on the top of a dead tree diverted my attention from the Kangaroos and it turned out to be a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike.

We then had make our way to the Crystal Cave as the guided tour was about to start. It turned out to be quite an interesting tour.

After the tour, I had a quick look-around at the nearby bushland to see if there's anything about.

And for my effort, I was rewarded with a rather confiding New Holland Honeyeater...

Our next stop was the Koala Bear refuge within the park. It is basically an open pen with a perimeter fence to keep the Koalas in. The result, you get to observe Koalas at a close distance and the animals are in their natural habitat doing what they do best - being Koalas. These adorable animals are and always will be a hit with the visitors and it was no different with our group.

How can you possibly not fall in love with this fellow?

After the Koalas, we spend some time at lakeside close to the Visitor's Center. It was quite a breath-taking sight and as the rest of the group was soaking in the view, I was checking out the birds - as usual.

Dear, please take a picture of me with the lake? Ok, hon...as soon as I'm done with this male Maned Duck...

Anyway, I got more shots of a pair of Maned Ducks foraging near the edge of the lake.

The female was a little shy and usually kept a safe distance from me...

The male, on the other hand, was not the least bothered by my intrusion...

Whenever there are ducks, there will be Pacific Black Ducks. Some of the water birds here are accustomed to human feeding and this make them extremely bold. They will walk right up to your feet. I had to actually back away from this fellow which came so close to where I was crouching down.

Here are a few more shots of this common species...

The strangest-looking Duck in Australia is probably this fellow - a male Musk Duck.

Only the male bird will have a large bulbous lobe of skin hanging under his bill. This sac increases in size at the start of the breeding season. As part of his courtship display, he will inflate the lobe on the throat.

Sorry, mate. I don't have any food with me...

Among the Pacific Black Ducks, I managed to also pick out a few Chestnut Teals resting in the shade, like this female.

There was also a couple of Purple Swamphens foraging at the edge of the lake...another sight that reminded me of home.

We had lunch at the deli next to the Visitor's Center. While waiting for lunch to be serve, a pair of Australian Magpie-larks foraging on the lawn caught my attention. There's a slight difference between sexes and this is the female...

And this handsome fellow is the male...

The Australian Ravens were busy picking scraps left by visitors...

One of them incurred the wrath of a Willie Wagtail and the latter proceeded to dive-bomb the much larger Raven until it flew off. Willie Wagtails are known to be active, bold and aggressive and from what I have seen, there is no doubt about that.
And don't ya even think about coming back to my tuft!

As I continued to wander around the vicinity, I came across a Grey Fantail. It was resting briefly on the perimeter fencing and this allowed me to capture a few shots before it dived back into the vegetation.

There were plenty of Ringnecks in the vicinity as well. These large green Parrots are quite tame and will even pick-up scraps from the picnic tables.

This form with the red fronted patch is called the "28" as their calls sound similar to "twenty-eight". The other form lacks the red patch and the "eight" from its call.

All the shots from this locality comprise only of the "28" forms...

After lunch, we headed for Sunset Coast, a 22 km strecth of stunning coastline and a popular tourist as well as local hotspot.

We stopped at a pier called the Ocean Reef Boat Harbour to enjoy the view. I was more interested at the resting Silver Gulls. This species is common everywhere including in the city center itself.

There were a few Crested Terns resting on the stakes at the pier as well...

The sand dunes along the coastline are made up of short scrub vegetation. This vegetation is home to the White-winged Fairy-wrens but I did not manage to find any. I can still remember my encounters with Fairy-wrens during my last trip and they look like warblers that have undergone a major cosmetic treatment. Beautiful, active and small - that's about sums it up.

There was, however, a female Australian Magpie-lark to keep me company during my search for the Fairy-wren...

And this female Australian Magpie. Thanks, ladies...

As we were about to leave the car park, I saw a small raptor alighting on a distant lamp post and it turned out to be an immature Black-shouldered Kite. The underwing pattern and the black area around the eyes distinguishes it from the similar-looking Letter-winged Kite. I double checked just to be sure...

On the way back to the house, we made a quick stop at Lake Joondalup South as I showed the group where my local patch for this trip was. I was able to show them a Dusky Moorhen which was paddling around the lake. It looks quite similar to the Common Moorhen but it is a different species altogether.

The Australasian Grebes were much more confiding today and an adult in breeding plumage looks almost identical to the Little Grebe but again, it is a completely different species.

The resident Galah...

And Rainbow Lorikeet wrapped things up for a tiring but rewarding second day in Western Australia.

2 comments:

yen said...

love those colourful parrots/Lorikeet.

Choy Wai Mun said...

Thanks, Yen. Me too...