Beach Sweep at Woodman Point

KRM Branch Excursion February
All photos C. Prickett

The February field trip was a good follow-up to the February meeting’s topic of marine plants. A good turnout of 12 attendees met at the car park at the end of Woodman Point View (at the north-western end of Jervoise Bay). As we signed in, we observed a group of Rainbow Bee-eaters on a small dead tree, taking off periodically in search of prey. Overhead a Black-shouldered Kite was hovering, searching for prey in the bush alongside the road.

We headed out along the beach, away from the car park and investigated the remains of marine flora and fauna that had washed ashore, as well as keeping an eye out for shorebird species. Immediately we spotted Caspian Terns, Silver Gulls and Little Pied Cormorants. Amongst the sea grass wrack we found a Sea Squirt, complete with some attached tube worm. We also found a beautiful brown seaweed: this was a Mermaid’s Fan Padina sp. We also found Hammer Oysters, Heart Urchins, Coral, Oyster Thief seaweed, Sargassum sp. and large banks of seagrass wrack.

Towards the end of the beach we spotted three Grey Plovers and a pair of Red-capped Plovers. A fledged Fairy Tern Chick was on the beach and a parent flew in with a sardine. However, instead of immediately giving the chick the sardine, it appeared to encourage the chick to follow it out to sea. Was it possibly teaching it how to catch its own food? With the presence of the migratory shorebirds and beach nesting birds it was disappointing to see a large number of dogs being walked off-lead on this beach.

At the end of the beach there is a rocky groyne—the remains of an old jetty—where a large group of Caspian Terns, Crested Terns, Pied Cormorants and Little Pied Cormorants were resting on the rocks. We continued past to walk along the beach towards the cement company’s jetty. However, we were now loaded up with bags of rubbish collected at the groyne—most appeared to have been left by anglers. It is disappointing that a group of people that get their enjoyment from catching marine fish species, that require a decent ocean environment to thrive, treat the ocean with such little respect.

Further investigation of the shoreline resulted in us finding part of a large Razor Clam shell with a couple of tubeworm skeletons attached. Daniel also found a cone shell that had been attacked by Cliona boring sponge, plus an intact cone shell. Other tubeworm skeletons were also found.

We added to our seabird sightings when a Pelican flew by. As we walked along a track that would take us back to the car park, a Grey Butcherbird was singing. Several Rottnest Teatree (Melaleuca lanceolata) were flowering along the track. From the car park we made our way over to a picnic area at the John Graham Recreation Reserve for morning tea. While enjoying a cuppa and some snacks we saw Singing Honeyeaters, Willie Wagtails, Ravens, Magpie Lark, New Holland Honeyeaters and Galahs. It was a nice ending to a very pleasant morning.

Colin Prickett