Waychinicup Granite and Kingias¦Photo: JoHn
On the first day at Cheyne’s we went for a stroll, along the road, towards Tourist Rocks, often stopping, as we spied many interesting plants including Baxter’s Banksia (Banksia baxteri) just finishing flowering and Scarlet Banksia (Banksia coccinea) commencing, showing their brilliant scarlet blooms. The differences in the leaves and the cones were noted, quite fascinating. Also spotted was a stunning Daviesia (Daviesia incrassata), the orange pea flowers bright in the sunlight.
Many holes of all shapes and sizes, seen in the roadside sandbank, led to more discussion, who dug them and made their homes there, lizards, birds, spiders, scorpions? The list could go on.
At Tourist Rocks we watched Australasian Gannets diving from a great height, making large splashes on the ocean surface, surmising these splashes could possibly be confused with whale plumes. A narrow track led us to the rocky point at the eastern end of the bay where Crested Terns were resting and a lone Sooty Oystercatcher was busy prising among the rocks.
Strolling back along the beach a Native Willow (Callistachys lanceolata) was in full bloom, giving a wonderful display. There were several dead immature Sun Fish (Mola mola) an unusual rectangular shape and interesting fins.
It was slow progress to Waychinicup National Park with numerous stops to sample the flowers, Hood Leaved Hakea (Hakea cucullata), Bald Island Marlock (Eucalyptus conferruminata) with golden balls of flowers, a small Trigger Plant (Stylidium sp.) with brilliant purple flowers, a tiny Sundew (Drosera sp.), low flowering Wattles (Acacia sp.), WA Christmas Tree (Nuytsia floribunda), Albany Woolly Bush (Adenanthos cuneatus) and the spectacular Kingia (Kingia australis) across the hillsides glowing in gold and silver.
We reached the Waychinicup River bridge in time for morning tea in the shade of the tall Yate (Eucalyptus cornuta). Hush! Listen! All heard the loud call of the Noisy Scrubbird – and was it noisy! But despite all the loud calls, the bird was not sighted. Still, wow, a thrill!
The river was flowing and we walked the track through tall trees and dense undergrowth to the Water Department monitoring weir with an interesting discovery under a bird nest . Now just where did all the deflated, dead and dry Globefish (Diodon sp.) come from? High up in a tree was a White-bellied Sea-eagle’s nest (Above: ). How did they get the large branches there, it was roughly one metre wide and nearly as solid? More of the raptors’ leavings were also found: turtles, blowfish, feathers, fish skull (leather jacket with a 7 cm spine on the skull) (Below).
Lunch was in the main Waychinicup camp area. Half of the party walked “on water” to cross the Waychinicup River to view the sealers rock, cooking oven for roasts and bread. Then a Rakali (Yellow-bellied Water Rat) was seen on the far side of the river. It slid down a rock, into the water, popped up its head and swam to the bank. In the afternoon we walked to enjoy the views of the river mouth unusual in that it features granite headlands and no sandbar.
One tough Kingia had broken at about a metre with its trunk a further two metres on the ground and its growing tip had survived with new leaves and several flower stalks with flower heads.
Back at camp there were no fish caught but a number of birds sighted: Red-eared Firetail, Western Rosella, Red-capped and White-breasted Robins, Southern Emu-wren, Brush Bronzewing, numerous Honey-eaters, Fleshy-footed Shearwater and the sound of the Noisy Scrub Bird…and no whales. A great day enjoyed by all.
On day two, once again the morning chill was banished early by warm sunshine as we set off for Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve, spotting a Brown Falcon and 80 White-tailed Black Cockatoos (Carnabys) on the way. I particularly enjoyed the glistening Kingias appreciating their difference to Xanthorrea sp..
Lana Tinsley recording Elva Letts, Johanna Notley and Peter Coyle looking at Albany Pitcher Plant,
Our first stop was on Cheyne Beach Road to hunt for the elusive Albany Pitcher Plant (Cephalotis follicularis). After making our way through head high vegetation and avoiding some squelchy areas an indicator plant, Spindle Heath (Cosmelia rubra) (Below) was spotted and we soon found our first specimen.
No wonder they are hard to find! We could easily see the pitchers, lids and distinctive markings. (Above: photo Lana Tinsley) I was able to record frog sounds on my smart phone and thanks to the FrogID app was able to identify them later as Ticking Frogs (Geocrinia leai), my first such sortie.
At the very beautiful shady visitor area at Two Peoples Bay we had refreshments and then set off for Little Beach, some by car and the rest on foot. This was an extraordinarily lovely 5km walk of natural beauty with four different land types–shady woodland, coastal heath, sand dunes and granite boulders–to a pretty, secluded beach, all with magnificent views over the flat calm bay and in warm sunshine. Along the way were Pacific Gulls, Lanoline Bush (Franklandia fusifolia) and many small diggings. We returned to Two Peoples Bay for more refreshments under a beady Magpie eye and with Fairy-wren species flitting in the undergrowth. Galahs and kangaroos were seen on the way back to base in time for happy hour: a delightful day.
On day three, bird sightings occurred before we left the caravan park, a wood heap provided shelter for Blue-breasted and Red-winged Fairy-wrens, Silvereye and White-browed Scrubwren. Once we commenced our walk behind the park there was the highlight of hearing the rare Noisy Scrub Bird, but no sighting despite waiting patiently. Other birds included Rufous Whistler, Spotted Pardalote, Western Gerygone and Tawny-crowned Honey-eater. The only reptile was an unidentified skink but there were plenty more tracks in the sand.
Identifying the plants sparked much discussion, including Slender Banksia (Banksia attenuata), Grass Tree (Xanthorrea platyphylla), Bell-fruited mallee (Eucalyptus preissiana), Australian Bluebell (Billardiera heterophylla), Dryandra sp., Isopogon sp., Foxtails (Andersonia caerulea), Calothamnus sp., Grevillea sp., Synaphea sp., Leptospermum sp., Spider Smokebush (Conospermum teretifolium), Blue Brother (C. caeruleum), Hibbertia sp. and Pelargonium sp..
Puffballs and White-gilled White Capped fungi were also seen. A small group of kangaroos watched us walk past as they lazed in the sun.
In the afternoon some headed to a lookout to the open sea and then walked back along the beach which had large areas covered in decomposing Ribbon Seaweed. Lots of cuttlefish bones were found and were examined for signs of bite marks. Late that afternoon three of the group were rewarded after a wait of half an hour to see a Noisy Scrub Bird run across a track.
Lana Tinsley, Margaret Larke, Pauline Dilley, Sue Gardner and Peter Coyle
All photos by JoHn Abbott except where otherwise noted
Tentative dates have been set for next year’s nostalgic Notley Late Easter Camp, May 20 to 24, 2019.