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.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Around Oz Part 26 - Dryandra Woodland

Rufous Treecreeper
After a pleasant five-day stay in Perth (see last post) we travelled south-east through the Darling Range – seeing our first Grey Currawongs for the trip – to Dryandra Woodland, a wonderful swathe of wandoo woodland famed for its wildflowers, birds and mammals - especially the iconic Numbat.

Grey Currawong

Dryandra Woodland
Dryandra is the largest tract of native vegetation remaining in the the WA western wheatbelt. We settled in for a 3-night stay at the pleasant Congelin Camping Ground: a beautiful, peaceful place - such a contrast with the bustle and hustle of Perth.  Soon, some smart Scarlet Robins were strutting their stuff. Our last night here was the first on the trip where we had a whole camping ground to ourselves.

Scarlet Robin
We did a 22-km drive on our first afternoon along various tracks, travelling 8-15km/ph.  I had seen Numbat here in the early 1990s but we wanted another - and a view better than my last, and of course we looked for birds and other goodies. I's a bit like going on safari in Africa, but numbats - not cheetahs or leopards - are the target.

Elegant Parrot

Rufous Treecreeper, apparently with something edible
No Numbat that first afternoon but nice birds in the wonderful woodlands of Dryandra included Rufous Treecreeper, Western (White-naped) Honeyeater, Yellow-plumed Honeyeater and Elegant Parrot.

Western (White-naped) Honeyeater

Yellow-plumed Honeyeater
We ran into a local enthusiast from the Numbat Society, Sean Van Alphen; apparently, driving around and looking for this marvellous mammal on their days off is something of a past-time for Sean and some other tuned-in folk.

On our second day at Dryandra, we visited the Dryandra Village and did 58km of driving various tracks;  no numbats still but good birds included a pair of Painted Button-quail on the Ochre Trail, Western Thornbill, Red-capped Parrot and better views of Blue-breasted Fairy-wren than we had earlier near Cervantes (see here).

Blue-breasted Fairy-wren: male coming into breeding plumage

Western Thornbill 
Other birds included Brown-headed Honeyeater, Bush Stone-Curlew, Southern Boobook, Grey Currawong, Red-capped Robin, Jacky Winter, Restless Flycatcher, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Inland Thornbill, Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo, Dusky Woodswallow, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Grey Shrike-thrush, Carnaby’s Cockatoo, White-browed Babbler, White-browed Scrub-wren  and Weebill.

On our second full day in Dryandra, we spent the morning doing a 9-km hike along some of the reserve’s southern tracks. A Regent Parrot flew over the camp early in the morning before we headed off. We added Varied (Black-capped) Sittella and Western Yellow Robin. We had great but brief views again of Red-capped Parrot, a conspicuously shy bird here.

Western Yellow Robin
Dusky Woodswallow
In the afternoon of our second day I added Western Rosella after driving another 40km along Dryandra's roads, some of which were becoming quite familiar.

Western Rosella
Mammals included a few Western Brush-Wallaby and Western Grey Kangaroo. We were a bit early for the wildflowers – some nice flowers about but not the profusion we had hoped for.

Western Grey Kangaroo
Some tracks skirted colourful canola fields on private farms. The Numbat had been on the verge of extinction - Dryandra once being its only refuge - when a concerted attempt to contain fox numbers bore fruit, and the animal came back from the brink. In the early-1990s, when I saw my Numbat, one Numbat was seen on average during every 10km of driving; by 2012, that had dropped to one every 90km. Apparently feral cat numbers rose after the foxes were put in their place.

Dryandra Woodland
Canola fields adjoining Dryandra
Now, more attention is placed on knocking off cats, and the Numbat appears to again be increasing its population. Still, our total of 120km of driving produced zero Numbats, although I saw two Echidnas – one of my favourites.

By the way, Rupert Murdoch once owned Dryandra and was going to turn it into a bauxite mine, but was persuaded by Perth conservationist Vincent Serventy that the woodland should be protected for posterity. A good thing too.


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