South-Western Australia's endemics tour 16-24th October 2020

Tour date: 
Friday, 16 October 2020 to Saturday, 24 October 2020
Duration: 
9 days
Price: 
Tour Price: AU$5245 per person sharing based on a minimum of 6 participants. Single supplement: AU$695
Highlights: 
A tour showcases some of the key birding areas of South-Western Australia, with a chance of seeing the South Western endemics and near-endemics. We will cover a diverse range of habitats and soak up the wonderful inland and coastal South Australia, full of fabulous birds, mammals, flora and of course outstanding landscape.
Overview: 

Western Australia is Australia’s largest state, covering almost 1 million square miles and comprising the western third of the continent (which is an area larger than Western Europe). More than 500 bird species have been recorded here, including 18 endemics and many other sub-species, near endemics, migratory and other highly sought-after species.

This tour concentrates on the south-western ‘corner’ of the state where most of the endemics can be located. The south-west of Western Australia is also one of the world's biodiversity ‘hotspots’, with some of the richest and most unique plant and animal life on earth. There are about 13,000 species of plants in Western Australia, many of which are yet to be formally named. Although primarily a birding tour, this trip will also provide opportunities to see some unique mammals and flora.

Start Location: 
Perth WA
Australia
Finish location: 
Perth WA
Australia

Inala’s Perth-Cheynes Beach-Dryandra / 16-24 October 2020 / South-western Australian Endemics Tour

Western Australia is Australia’s largest state, covering almost 1 million square miles and comprising the western third of the continent (which is an area larger than Western Europe). More than 500 bird species have been recorded here, including 18 endemics and many other sub-species, near endemics, migratory and other highly sought-after species. This tour concentrates on the south-western ‘corner’ of the state where most of the endemics can be located. The south-west of Western Australia is also one of the world's biodiversity ‘hotspots’, with some of the richest and most unique plant and animal life on earth. There are about 13,000 species of plants in Western Australia, many of which are yet to be formally named. Although primarily a birding tour, this trip will also provide opportunities to see some unique mammals and flora.

This itinerary has been designed to adjoin our Tasmanian endemics and mammals tour (24 October to 2 November 2020)

Itinerary OUTLINE:

Day 1. Fri 16 Oct 2020. Arrive Perth
Day 2. Sat 17 Oct 2020. Perth to Cheynes Beach
Day 3. Sun 18 Oct 2020. Cheynes Beach - Waychinicup Inlet
Day 4. Mon 19 Oct 2020. Cheynes Beach - Stirling Range - Albany|
Day 5. Tue 20 Oct 2020. Cheynes Beach to Jerramungup
Day 6. Wed 21 Oct 2020. Jerramungup to Stirling Range National Park
Day 7. Thu 22 Oct 2020. Dryandra State Forest and nocturnal wildlife.
Day 8. Fri 23 Oct 2020. Narrogin to Darling Range and Perth
Day 9. Sat 24 Oct 2020. Depart Perth.

Detailed itinerary:

B- breakfast, L- lunch, D-dinner

Day 1. Friday 16 October 2020. Arrive in Perth. 
Today has been set aside as an arrival day so you are free to arrive at any time that suits your travel plans. You are to make your own way to the hotel in the city (please see notes at the end of this itinerary) and we will meet at the hotel at 7.00pm for a brief orientation and welcome dinner. Please note that no activities have been planned for this day but if you plan to arrive early and would like advice on options for the day please do contact our office.
Accommodation: Perth (en suite rooms).
Meals included: D.

Day 2. Saturday 17 October 2020. Perth to Cheynes Beach.
This morning after an early breakfast we travel to the southern coastline of Western Australia. Today is a long travel day but we will stop en route to bird. We will visit the Darling Range in search of the first of the endemics with Western Wattlebird and Gilbert's Honeyeater. We continue to Williams and a stop at the Beaufort River to look for Pink-eared Duck, Elegant Parrot, Brown-headed Honeyeater, Rufous Songlark, White-winged Triller and a chance of Painted Buttonquail and Black-tailed Native-hen. We continue to Kojonup and then to Rocky Gully where we will look for Western Corella and Baudin's Black Cockatoo. We will travel to Mt Barker and then stop at Porongurup for more chances of Baudin's Black Cockatoo and Scarlet Robin. We hope to arrive at Cheynes Beach in time for a first look for Noisy Scrubbird.
Accommodation: Cheynes Beach (en suite rooms).
Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 3. Sunday 18 October 2020. Cheynes Beach - Waychinicup Inlet.
This morning we will take a pre-breakfast walk to look for Noisy Scrub-bird and Western Bristlebird. After breakfast, we will spend the morning looking for Western Whipbird (nigrogularis), White-breasted Robin, Red-winged Fairy-wren, Splendid Fairy-wren, Western Wattlebird, Western Spinebill, Red-eared Firetail, Southern Emu-wren, Brush Bronzewing, Brown Quail, Sooty Oystercatcher and Pacific Gull. Lunch at Cheynes Beach. After lunch, we will look for Rock Parrot along the beach and then visit the very scenic Waychinicup Inlet for more chances of Red-winged Fairy-wren, Red-eared Firetail, Southern Emu-wren, Gilbert's Honeyeater, Carnaby's Black Cockatoo, Baudin's Black Cockatoo, Swamp Harrier, White-bellied Sea-Eagle. There are also good chances during the day for Southern Brown Bandicoot and several reptiles and with luck Quokka and Bush Rat. After dinner, we will take a spotlighting trip in search of Spotted Nightjar and Tawny Frogmouth with chances of a few mammals, frogs or reptiles.
Accommodation: Cheynes Beach (en suite rooms).
Meals included: B, L, D.
 
Day 4. Monday 19 October 2020. Cheynes Beach - Stirling Range - Albany.
We will spend the early morning at Cheynes Beach if needed, and then travel to the Stirling Range where we will spend the morning looking for Emu, Hooded Plover, Carnaby's Black Cockatoo, Elegant Parrot, Regent Parrot, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Western Yellow Robin, Scarlet Robin, Restless Flycatcher and chances of Crested Shrike-tit, Australian Owlet-nightjar, Little Eagle, Rufous Songlark, Southern Emu-wren, Western (Rufous) Fieldwren and Square-tailed Kite. This is also a great place to view wildflowers. After lunch, we will go to Albany for more chances of Red-winged Fairy-wren, White-breasted Robin, Western Rosella, Red-eared Firetail and chances of Buff-banded Rail, Fairy Tern, some shorebirds and if time permits some seabirds. If needed, we have the option of visiting Two People's Bay which is a good backup site for Western Bristlebird and Western Whipbird (nigrogularis). Return to Cheynes Beach with another chance to spotlight for nocturnal birds and mammals after dinner.
Accommodation: Cheyne Beach (en suite rooms).
Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 5. Tuesday 20 October 2020. Cheynes Beach to Jerramungup.
We have a final chance to search for Noisy Scrub-bird before travelling to Jerramungup and then east towards the Fitzgerald River NP to look for Western (Mallee) Whipbird (oberon), Shy Heathwren and Western (Rufous) Fieldwren. This is another excellent area for wildflowers. We will also look for Black-fronted Dotterel and Chestnut Teal. After lunch at Jerramungup we will visit the mallee to the south west where we will visit a Malleefowl mound (may not be active) and look for Purple-gaped Honeyeater, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, Southern Scrub-robin, White-browed Babbler, Spotted (Yellow-rumped) Pardalote, Blue-breasted Fairy-wren with chances for Banded Lapwing, Crested Bellbird and Square-tailed Kite plus more chances for Shy Heathwren, Western (Mallee) Whipbird (oberon) and Painted Button-quail. There is also a high chance of seeing Western Brush Wallaby. We will stay in this area until late afternoon to search for Malleefowl along the road side, before travelling back to Jerramungup for dinner.
Accommodation: Jerramungup (en suite rooms).
Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 6. Wednesday 21 October 2020. Jerramungup to Narrogin.
After an early breakfast, we may revisit parts of the Stirling Range before continuing to Gnowangerup, Katanning and Wagin. We will visit several of the lakes near Wagin where the main targets are Banded Stilt, Red-necked Avocet, Black-fronted Dotterel, Red-kneed Dotterel, Pallid Cuckoo, Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Mistletoebird, Red-capped Robin, Mulga Parrot and Hooded Plover. We will arrive in Narrogin in the late afternoon, hopefully with enough time to visit Fox's Lair near our accommodation.
Accommodation: Narrogin (en suite rooms).
Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 7. Thursday 22 October 2020. Dryandra State Forest. Narrogin.
We depart after an early breakfast for Dryandra State Forest. We probably will not return until about 22:30. The key targets today include Bush Stone-curlew, Painted Button-quail, Carnaby's Black Cockatoo, Elegant Parrot, Rufous Treecreeper, Blue-breasted Fairy-wren, Western Thornbill, Yellow-plumed Honeyeater, Brown-headed Honeyeater, Gilbert's Honeyeater, White-eared Honeyeater, White-browed Babbler, Varied Sittella, Jacky Winter, Scarlet Robin, Red-capped Robin, Hooded Robin, Western Yellow Robin, and Crested Shrike-tit. We will also search for Numbat throughout the day, with the best chance in the late afternoon. After an early dinner, we will take a walk in an extensive fenced enclosure within Dryandra State Forest where the Department of Parks & Wildlife’s amazing efforts at breeding a variety threatened species has been very successful. We may encounter Bilby, Boodie (Burrowing Bettong), Mala (Rufous Hare-wallaby), Marl (Western-barred Bandicoot) and Mernine (Banded Hare-wallaby). This hare-wallaby is the sole surviving species of sthenurine kangaroos in a safe fox-free environment. On our return to the hotel we will spotlight for Tawny Frogmouth and a variety of mammals including Brush-tailed Possum, Short-beaked Echidna, Western Brush Wallaby, Tammar Wallaby and Woylie.
Accommodation: Narrogin (en suite rooms).
Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 8. Friday 23 October 2020. Narrogin to Perth.
We depart early this morning after breakfast. Activities for today depends on what we haven't seen. We have further options for Regent Parrot, Hooded Robin, Crested Shrike-tit, Red-eared Firetail, Baudin's Black Cockatoo, White-fronted Chat, Rufous Songlark, Brown Songlark, Gilbert's Honeyeater, Western Wattlebird and Fairy Tern. This afternoon will be spent around the Perth wetlands including Herdsman Lake for waterbirds such as Blue-billed Duck, Musk Duck, Pink-eared Duck, Australasian Shoveler, Freckled Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Hoary-headed Grebe, Nankeen Night-Heron, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Buff-banded Rail, Australian Crake, Spotless Crake, Swamp Harrier and Australian Hobby. We then travel to our accommodation in Perth at about 18:00. Accommodation: Perth (en suite rooms).
Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 9. Saturday 24 October 2020. Depart Perth.
This morning we will depart Perth airport where the tour will end. Participants continuing onto the Inala Tasmanian tour will fly Perth to Hobart today to join the rest of the group.
Meals included: B.

PRICING AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Group size: minimum 6 and maximum 8 participants to one guide or to 12 pax + 2 guides.

Tour Price: AU$5245 per person sharing.  

Single supplement: AU$695

Price includes: Accommodation as per the itinerary, specialist guide and transport, meals, entrance fees and activities as mentioned in the itinerary.

Price does not include: International and domestic airfares, alcoholic beverages, snacks, internet, laundry or other items of a personal nature.

Please note: Meals and drinks: Breakfast generally consists of a continental style breakfast with cereal, fruit and yoghurt and tea/coffee.  Full cooked breakfast is not generally offered at most locations.  Lunch will generally consist of a packed lunch style meal eaten in the field, with sandwich/filled roll, fruit, and a drink.  Dinner usually consists of several options for main with the choice of either an appetiser or dessert. Drinks (soft and alcoholic) are generally not included but at lunches and breakfasts juice may be made available.

The itinerary: Whilst we aim to follow the itinerary as planned, please note that the itinerary provided should only be used as a guideline.  Depending on individual trip circumstances, weather, and local information, the exact itinerary may not be strictly adhered to.  The guides reserve the right to make changes to the itinerary as they see fit.

Trip Report
Inala’s South-Western Australia Endemics Tour / Birds and flora in a biodiversity hotspot
Prepared by Bron Scott, November 2018.

ITINERARY OUTLINE:
Day 1. Sun 21 Oct 2018. Arrive Perth
Day 2. Mon 22 Oct 2018. Perth to Cheyne Beach
Day 3. Tue 23 Oct 2018. Cheyne Beach
Day 4. Wed 24 Oct 2018. Cheyne Beach
Day 5. Thu 25 Oct 2018. Cheyne Beach to Jerramungup
Day 6. Fri 26 Oct 2018. Jerramungup to Narrogin
Day 7. Sat 27 Oct 2018. Dryandra State Forest and nocturnal wildlife.
Day 8. Sun 28 11 Oct 2018. Narrogin to Darling Range and Perth
Day 9. Mon 29 Oct 2018. Depart Perth.

DAILY REPORT:

Day 1. Sunday 21 October 2018. Perth.
Our first night's accommodation was adjacent to Kings Park and close to Swan River, so we had a good birding opportunity as soon as we arrived. The first ticks of the trip included New Holland Honeyeaters and Western Wattlebirds, which were squabbling and feeding in the trees around the hotel, and Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants roosting in John Oldham Park across the road. We met for dinner and spent the evening discussing the plans for the trip ahead.

Day 2. Monday 22 October 2018. Perth to Cheyne Beach.
After breakfast, we left the hotel, pausing briefly to survey the birds in the park, before heading towards Cheyne Beach on the south coast. Our first stop was on the Darling Scarp, where we saw Gilbert's Honeyeater, Western Wattlebirds, and a lone Red-capped Parrot in trees along the edge of the road. Once across the Scarp, the scenery changed to a mixture of farmland (mostly wheat and sheep) and remnant Wandoo (Eucalyptus wandoo), an open woodland with an understorey of grass and low-growing flowering plants. North Bannister yielded a large flock of Carnaby's Cockatoos feeding in a paddock. At Beaufort River, we explored an area along the water's edge. A small colony of fairy martins were nesting under the bridge, the birds swooping over the river and the road. Brown-headed Honeyeaters were busy in the trees, along with several other small species. Although the main wildflower season was over, plenty of species were still in bloom.
On our way to lunch we stopped to look at a small flock of feral ostriches, an unusual tick for the day! After Kojonup drove to Frankland and Mt Barker. Among the sightings of the day was a Square-tailed Kite being chased by Grey Currawongs, a mixed group of Carnaby's and Baudin's Cockatoos, and a flock of Western Corellas. After Mt Barker, we crossed into low coastal heathland, dominated by banksias and hakeas. We arrived in Cheyne Beach in the late afternoon, just in time to see a Noisy Scrub-bird dart across the sandy track! At our accommodation, we were able to spot a wide variety of birds from our cabins. Common species included White-breasted Robins, Splendid and Red-winged Fairywrens, Red-eared Firetails, and Common and Brush Bronzewings. In the evening, Western Grey Kangaroos grazed on the well-watered lawns. After a large dinner, we settled in for our three-night stay.

Day 3. Tuesday 23 October 2018. Cheyne Beach.
In the morning we walked to the heathland next to our accommodation to look for Western Bristlebird. The weather was overcast and blustery, but that did not deter the wildlife and we were treated to good views of the vocal but secretive Bristlebird at the edge of the track. We also spotted a Western Whipbird (nigrogularis form) in vegetation.  Down at the beach, we saw Crested Terns flying around the headland, and a Common Sandpiper and Ruddy Turnstone searching for food among the dunes of stranded seagrass. From there, we drove to picturesque Waychinicup, west of Cheyne Beach, where a creek empties into an inlet protected by granite cliffs. The area was a site for sealing in the days before the settlement of Albany, but little evidence of this remains in the tranquil setting. Gilbert's Honeyeaters were abundant in the trees on the water's edge, and a male Western Whistler sang heartily above our heads as we walked along the path.
The next stop was the beach, hoping for a glimpse of rare Rock Parrots among the Sea Spurge (Euphorbia) at the base of the cliffs. We had no luck with those, so headed up to the cliff top. This area of spectacular granite boulders overlooking the ocean was rich in plants, birds and reptiles. The strange Bullanock (Kingia australis) had just finished flowering, but other species, notably a variety of peas and Rice Flower (Pimelea), were still in bloom. Here we saw another Western Bristlebird and a group of hyperactive Southern Emu-wrens among the heathland plants. A White-bellied Sea-eagle flew past while we were looking for Bristlebirds. Later, we visited a patch of jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) along a creek, which was popular with Western Whistlers. Just after dark, we saw a spotted nightjar on the road. It sat still for a few moments and then took flight, the white patches on its wings almost luminescent in the headlights.

Day 4. Wednesday 24 October 2018. Cheyne Beach.
At Porongurup National Park, we walked through tall karri (Eucalyptus diversicolor) forest with an understorey of Acacia and a variety of peas. Notable birds included the white-bellied western form of Crested Shrike-Tit, and Rufous Treecreepers, which hopped around the picnic tables at the car park. At one point, one of the treecreepers was too close for the cameras! From here, we drove along the northern border of Stirling Ranges National Park, and stopped at a Nature Reserve. We looked for Hooded Plovers, but the shore line was uninhabited. In Stirling Ranges NP, we saw Little Eagle and Western Yellow Robins.  During lunch we saw Elegant Parrots, a Sacred Kingfisher, an Australasian Owlet-Nightjar sitting at the mouth of its tree hollow, a Restless Flycatcher, and a group of sun-bathing Gilbert's Honeyeaters, among other species. We returned to Cheyne Beach via Albany, visiting the mudflats for shorebirds and the lookout at Outer Harbour for seabirds. The diversity was not high, but we were lucky to spot a flock of Common on the far shore of King River. Back at Cheyne Beach, another night drive produced a Spotted Nightjar flying across the road. Heading back to the cabins, we were rewarded with a spectacular view of the moon over the Southern Ocean.

Day 5. Thursday 25 October 2018. Cheyne Beach to Jerramungup.
Leaving our lovely accommodation at Cheynes Beach, we headed to Jerramungup in the Wheatbelt. Jerramungup was established as a service centre in the 1950s for the WWII soldier settlement project in the area. Despite extensive clearing, large patches of sandy mallee and heath remain among the farmland. Our first major stop was Fitzgerald River National Park, known for its diverse flora. The spectacular Royal Hakea (Hakea victoria) lined the access road, its fiery foliage glowing in the morning sun. We viewed a Malleefowl nest, but actual Malleefowl proved elusive. Other bird species made up for that absence. Among them were Shy Heathwren and Western (Rufous) Fieldwren, both of which we watched singing on top of the tangled vegetation. The oberon form of Western Whipbird was more reluctant to show, but we saw birds dart across the track and heard several individuals calling from the thickets. After a stop at Gairdner River, we walked around the extensive mallee at a Nature Reserve. Some of the mallee eucalypts were in flower, including a stunning purple-leaved species with pale yellow flowers that were popular with bees and honeyeaters. While we were viewing an inquisitive Southern Scrub-robin by the road, we were joined by a Crested Bellbird, which called from the top of a dead tree and allowed a relatively close approach. The mallee also provided us with our only sighting of Purple-gaped Honeyeater and Western Brush-wallaby. After a productive day's birding, we returned to Jerramungup for dinner.

Day 6. Friday 26 October 2018. Jerramungup to Narrogin.
In the morning we drove back to search for Malleefowl and try for a better look at a Western Whipbird. From there, we drove to the tiny settlement of Ongerup and Katanning, a major Wheatbelt town. At a roadside stop, we had excellent views of a pair of Red-capped Robins, with the male collecting insects to feed the young, a pair of Western Yellow Robins, and a small flock of Varied Sittella. We pressed on to the agricultural centre of Wagin, home of a giant ram statue, which celebrating the role that sheep played in the region's prosperity. We found a variety of waterbirds including Australian Shelduck, Pink-eared Duck, and Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterel. From Wagin, we drove to Narrogin, where we explored a bushland reserve filled with flowers, ranging from sturdy Grass Trees to delicate blue and red Lechenaultia.

Day 7. Saturday 27 October 2018. Narrogin.
We spent the day in an area of 17 blocks of natural Wandoo woodland and Mallet (Eucalyptus astringens) plantations spread out among farmland. The blocks vary in size and each has its own 'flavour'. In one block, we were almost overwhelmed by birds, including Shining Bronze-cuckoo, Varied Sittella, Rufous Treecreeper, Western Gerygone, and the last endemic on our list, Western Thornbill. In another, we were fortunate to see a pair of Black Honeyeaters, an arid-zone species that is an infrequent visitor to the South West. We searched intensely, but unsuccessfully, for Painted Button-quail, but in doing so startled a Woylie, which broke cover. This was a very lucky sighting during the day. After an early dinner back at Narrogin, we drove to Barna Mia, a mammal conservation facility in the heart of Dryandra Woodland. Barna Mia is part of a program to eradicate introduced predators in the area and to repopulate the woodland with native mammals. Among the species bred in the predator-proof enclosures are Woylies, Bilbies, and plump little Boodies, once the most widespread native marsupial. (The enclosures only protect the inhabitants against mammalian predators. Snakes and birds of prey can still find their way in!) The tour through Barna Mia began at dusk and took 90 minutes to complete. Dryandra Woodland was unexpectedly quiet at night; spotlighting revealed no birds or mammals along the road edges. On the way back to Narrogin, we stopped to check the only roadkill we saw. The unfortunate animal on the road was a Chuditch (Western Quoll).

Day 8. Sunday 28 October 2018. Narrogin to Perth.
From Narrogin, we drove to a nearby Nature Reserve, where we saw several Regent Parrots, including a young one being fed by its parents, a Pallid Cuckoo, a Rufous Whistler, and an extraordinary number of grumpy ants. Climbing the Darling Scarp we encountered Blue-breasted Fairywrens and Western Spinebills. Returning to Perth on a busy Sunday afternoon was a shock after a quiet week in the rural South West! We stopped on Swan River, where Red-necked Avocets, Crested Terns, Whimbrel and Terek Sandpipers were feeding on the sand and in the shallow water. An Osprey, the only one of the trip, flew overhead, Further upstream the group split up and managed to see (and hear) quite a variety of wetland species, including Blue-billed Duck, Little Grassbird, and Nankeen Night-heron. The last birding location of trip was ground zero for Painted Button-quail, with a pair crossing the walking track!

Day 9. Monday 29 October 2018. Perth.
After breakfast, we left Perth for the airport. A successful trip with more than 150 species of birds recorded and some marvellous memories.

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