November KRM Branch Excursion Report
Coodanup Foreshore and Creery Wetlands are good locations to spot some of the thousands of migratory shorebirds that make the long trip from their Arctic breeding grounds to spend the southern summer feeding on the Peel-Harvey Estuary’s rich mudflats. Despite the threat of heavy rain associated with an approaching front, we had a good turnout of 11 members and visitors. We met at the car park near the Nairns bird hide and were pleased to see some migratory waders approaching along the mudflats. As we were filling out the attendance form, an Eastern Osprey flew past at head height with a decent-sized fish in its talons. It all happened too fast for us to grab our cameras—nevertheless it was a great start to the day.
After this excitement, we focused our binoculars on the approaching waders and saw that it was a mixed flock consisting of Red-necked Stints, Sharp-tailed Sandpipers (below) and Great Knots. A lone Grey Plover, still showing some colour from its breeding plumage, was also spotted a bit further down the shoreline.
We headed back along the sea wall to get a closer look at another group of birds we had noticed on the drive in. These were mainly Australian Shelducks, together with Pacific Black Ducks and Pied Stilts, but also included some Bar-tailed Godwits and a Common Greenshank. Unfortunately it was at this point that the weather front arrived and the heavens opened with a heavy rain squall. We beat a rapid retreat back to our cars to sit it out.
When the rain eased up, we ventured out again and—as luck would have it—we discovered that the bird hide that is normally locked was in fact open. This allowed us to move inside and observe the mudflats while keeping dry. Along the shoreline, towards the river mouth, a mixed group of terns were resting on a sandy patch. It consisted of Caspian Terns, Crested Terns and a few Fairy Terns. A PhD student who is studying the Caspian Terns was also looking for shelter and joined us at the hide. Her study involves observing the terns along this portion of the foreshore and she is often to be found, early in the morning, sitting near the spot favoured by the Caspian Terns. We had a nice discussion with her on the terns in particular and other shore birds in general. Despite the rain, we were able to watch the coming and going of numerous water birds, including :
- Australian Pelicans,
- Black Swans,
- Eastern Great Egret,
- Little Pied Cormorant,
- Pied Oystercatchers,
- White Ibis,
- Whistling Kite,
- Silver Gulls
- Grey Teal.
We took advantage of the shelter of the hide to have morning tea.
A slight break in the weather allowed us to venture out and get a few photos of a group of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers that foraged close to our position. The break in the weather encouraged most of us to drive the short distance to the entrance to Creery Wetlands. We walked into the reserve and made our way to the boardwalk that passes over a large area of Samphire and low shrubs, ending at an observation point. During our walk we added to our bird list for the day, spotting:-
- Splendid Fairy-wrens,
- Welcome Swallows,
- Willie Wagtail,
- Little Grassbird,
- Black-faced Cuckoo Shrikes
We also passed a group of Western Grey Kangaroos feeding amongst the Samphire, one with a pure white triangular patch on its forehead. From the observation point we spotted more Great Egrets, Australian Shelduck and Pied Stilts and we could also see a large flock of Banded Stilts out in the middle of the lagoon. Unfortunately, out to the west we could see another rain squall approaching, so decided it was time to retreat to the car park before it hit us. Arriving just in time, we hastily packed up, said our farewells and headed for home. Despite the inclement weather we had an enjoyable morning and saw a total of 30 bird species, highlighting once again what a wonderful natural asset the Peel-Harvey Estuary system represents.