The coach and tagalongs met at Hamelin Bay Caravan Park on the first evening. Participants took self-guided tours around the historic site, visiting the shell quarries, lonely graves and stromatilites. After an early morning bird walk, the group travelled to Coral Bay. Nesting birds were prolific en route and special sighting included a flock of Straw-necked Ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis) and a group of Brolgas (Grus rubicundus). Spectacular Sturt’s Desert Peas (Swainsona formosa) were flowering on the roadside.
Coral Bay activities included bird walks, coral viewing via boat and snorkelling. A side trip to Maud’s Landing which was extremely helpful for us to put the conservation issues, with respect to the development, in perspective.
Travelling towards Exmouth, an interesting stop at a termite mound also revealed interesting lizards, stick insects, spiders, ants, various plants and grasses as well as the termites.
Then a detour to the spectacular scenery of Shot Hole Canyon.
The group camped at the CALM ranger outpost “Bungelup” in the Cape Range National Park.
The group’s mandate for this trip was specific research for CALM on:
- Black footed Rock Wallabies
Gorge walks were undertaken to monitor these species. Collections of snails – dead or alive were pursued with unbelievable enthusiasm. Sightings of Black footed Rock Wallabies were logged on the GPS and recorded for the CALM database. Well over 100 Bird sightings were recorded including the black morph of the white winged fairy wren (Malurus leucopterus edouardi)
The group enjoyed a Yardie Creek boat tour with special sightings of black-footed rock wallabies and White and Blue Reef Herons, Rufus Night Heron, Bowerbirds and Wedge Tailed Eagles.
Snorkelling was experienced almost every day with Oyster Stacks being one of the most popular sites. Magnificently coloured corals and reef fish delighted swimmers – enough to make us forget how cold the water really was!
Fossilized corals were abundant in the area which were both interesting and photographic.
Special sightings included – Glorious sunsets, abundant Euros (some boxing near the camp), Turtles and Reef Sharks in the shallows and pods of Whales “playing” in the ocean.
Doubtfully appreciated was a 4:30am wake up call to view “the best Meteor Shower for the Century” Will Libby sighting, two others just saw “stars”!
On the final night, the coach cooks – Rick and Steve, invited the tagalongs to join the bus group for the evening meal. It was a great meal and social night – much appreciated by all.
Rock Wallabies at Cape Range
The Black-footed Rock Wallaby (Petrogale lateralis) is a small wallaby which has suffered a massive decline in the population on the mainland with many local extinctions. It is now found only in small numbers in several widely scattered locations including Cape Range. Fox and probably cat predation is a major cause of decline in this species. It has been listed as vulnerable on the threatened species list.
During our stay at Cape Range, CALM asked us if we could conduct a rock wallaby survey in the ranges.
The survey was conducted early morning and late afternoon as we had been advised that this was the time wallabies came out onto the ledges to sun themselves. We situated ourselves along the various gorges and sat quietly for 30 minutes observing the various rock ledges. We also searched for scats in all the gorges to determine wallaby presence. The survey was a great success with over 35 wallabies sighted in 12 different gorges. Pilgrimunna was by far the best gorge with 17 wallabies sighted. I would like to thank everyone for their enthusiasm in helping with this project. A report is being prepared for CALM and a copy with be lodged in the club office.