Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Around Oz Part 29 – Albany and Cheyne Beach: Noisy Scrubbird, Western Whipbird, Western Bristlebird, Southern Right Whale

Western Bristlebird
After our visit to the Walpole-Nornalup area (see last post) we continued east to the WA south coast port city of Albany, where we had a couple of nights in the very nice Emu Park Tourist Park, right by the sea with lots of bush around. I was surprised to see that Red-capped Parrot was common and tame, after the bird was so elusive during our earlier visit to Dryandra Woodland.

Red-capped Parrot

Red-capped Parrot

Emu Point, Albany
We had a full day out in the Albany area. Just down the road at Lake Seppings, there were 200+ Blue-billed Ducks and quite a few Musk Ducks.

Musk Duck female
We were impressed by a tour we did of the old whaling station – whaling ended in Australia when this place in King George Sound shut down in 1978. We visited various parts of Torndirrup National Park including The Gap, The Bowholes, Newell’s Harbour and Salmon Holes. More fabulous coastal scenery - as if we  haven’t had enough of it.

Glenn with (Pygmy) Blue Whale skeleton, old Albany whaling station

Newel'sl Harbour, Torndirrup National Park near Albany
We headed east 60km to Cheyne Beach for a three-night stay in the caravan park. This site is well-known as being particularly good for three of Australia’s more difficult birds – Western Whipbird, Western Bristlebird and Noisy Scrubbird. I had seen all three previously (though not this race ,nigrogularis, of the whipbird - but wanted another look at all three.

Cheyne Beach
We were pleased to see plenty of wildflowers in the coastal heath, although we were a little early for the full show. It’s a lovely setting with a pure white, sandy beach and turquoise sea sweeping eastwards.

Scarlet Banksia - Cheyne Beach

Wildflower Cheyne Beach
Wildflower Cheyne Beach
 We saw Carnaby’s Cockatoos on the way in. There were plenty of Brush Bronzewings about the hamlet of Cheyne Beach. Around the caravan park were White-breasted Robin, Splendid Fairy-wren, Western Spinebill, Western White-naped Honeyeater and White-browed Scrubwren.

Brush Bronzewing
During our first stroll we had magnificent views of a Southern Right Whale and her calf not more than 100 metres or so offshore, just beyond the waves breaking; they were so close we initially thought they were stranded. A dead Barn Owl was found near the beach. In the evenings from our camper van, we can hear the whales sprouting in the sea nearby.

Southern Right Whale

Southern Right Whale
On the first afternoon I walked the 4-wheel drive track that heads south of the caravan park for about 1.5km. Towards the end of the track I heard Noisy Scrubbird and Western Bristlebird. I had superb views of a Western Bristlebird about half way along on the way back and saw a second briefly, with a third bird heard. I also saw Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, Red-winged Fairy-wren and Southern Emu-wren.

Heathlands of Arpenteur Nature Reserve, Cheyne Beach
My first morning was centred on the track area between the caravan park and beach – the site renowned for Noisy Scrubbird. Three scrubbirds were vocalising at different sites and I saw one  briefly. I also had excellent if brief views of a Western Whipbird, which was calling. One Western Bristlebird was also calling. Later we walked the circuit track via Back Beach. Loads more wildflowers; another Southern Right Whale; and our first Western Wattlebird of the trip. Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross and Flesh-footed Shearwater were seen offshore.

Western Wattlebird
 Seeing the wattlebird means I have seen all the south-west WA endemic species and subspecies on this trip – with the exception of Western Ground Parrot - along with those species that have the region as their main centre of distribution.

Western Bristlebird tracks
We also saw plenty of cat and fox tracks on the sandy tracks, along with bristlebird foot tracks.

On the second afternoon, I hiked to Channel Point, east of the caravan park. I heard a Western Whipbird and a Noisy Scrubbird towards the end of the track and saw a Red-eared Firetail. Coming back I heard a Noisy Scrubbird not far from the caravan park, and saw my second Western Bristlebird; another bristlebird was heard further up the track.

Western Bristlebird
On my second morning, I again walked the track south from the caravan park that I walked the first afternoon. I tracked down a Noisy Scrubbird not far from the park and had three brief but close views. I heard two more scrubbirds further on, where the track levels out along a ridge with plenty of rocks about. I heard Western Whipbird calling twice and saw two other birds briefly, one crossing the track and one in flight over the heath. I saw a total of 6 Western Bristlebirds, hearing about 12 others. A very productive morning; at one point I had bristlebird, scrubbird and whipbird calling at the same spot (among the rocks along the ridge). Southern Emu-wren was also seen again.

Site where  bristlebird, scrubbird, whipbird recorded
On our last afternoon we drove to the mouth of the Waychinicup River and Mt Many Peaks. The river is quite unique in that it is totally exposed to the Southern Ocean, so every wave movement causes a rush of water up the river (that is usually not possible due to a build-up of sandbars at river mouths). I heard Western Whipbird and Western Scrubbird here - 1 of each - this was early afternoon, so I suspect this might be a ood site for both species. There was a camp ground here I had not been aware of. Swamp Harrier and Brown Quail were added to the list.

Mt Many Peaks

Waychinicup River mouth

In the late afternoon,on the tracks between the caravan park and the beach, I heard a single Noisy Scrubird and a pair of Western Whipbirds.
Regarding the three WA endemic skulkers, being careful to avoid double-counting, I saw 2 Noisy Scrubbirds, both calling, and heard 6 others (8 total recorded). I saw 4 Western Whipbirds, 2 of them calling, and heard 4 others (8 total). I saw 6 Western Bristlebirds, and heard 12 others (18 total).


After posting this I photographed a Western Whipbird and found a Western Pygmy Possum - see here.


  1. Hi Greg, enjoying your updates. They are bringing back memories of our trip following pretty much the same route as you. I was there earlier this year and it was a real thrill to snaffle the three skulkers. I dipped on Shy Heath-wren which were purported to be here (I got that later in SA). Looking forward to more of your exploits!

  2. Thanks John, yep it's heaps of fun!

  3. Wow, what a great place and fab, coastline, Whales and those splendid-capped parrots and superb shot of the brush bronzewing, not to mention that flaming banksia. congrats, on a great trip.

    1. Thanks Arija, it has been a wonderful trip