Woodman Point

KRM Branch, 26 February 2024
Cormorants at the Point.

KRMB’s first excursion for 2024 was a beach sweep at Woodman Point. A group consisting of 7 members plus a visitor, Margaret Owens, met at the carpark at the end of Woodman Point View on a slightly overcast morning that was a welcome relief from the heat wave experienced during the week prior to the walk.

Our walk would take us along the beach towards the rocky groin that forms the Point. A few sea birds were spotted flying past as we walked along the beach: these included Caspian Terns, and Pied Cormorants. Daniel checked out the shoreline for seashells, explaining some of the features of the more interesting specimens as we walked along. Daniel would go on to post 48 specimens of seashells on iNaturalist from this one beach!

A buoy in the middle of the ocean Description automatically generated

Looking south from the beach a strange cloud phenomenon was spotted just above the horizon. Discussion on our Facebook Group indicated that it was a Fata Morgana, a complex form of superior mirage visible in a narrow band near the horizon caused by diffraction of light.

As we neared the Point, we saw the first shorebird for the day, a Red-capped Plover. A little further along there were mounds of Sea Grass wrack, which provided ideal foraging habitat for more Red-capped Plovers, some Grey Plovers, and Ruddy Turnstones. Welcome Swallows flew back and forth above the sea grass mound in search of the flies that inhabit these mounds. Overhead we spotted a pair of Fairy Terns that were searching for small fish. We would later spot a juvenile Fairy Tern nestled in amongst a small heap of sea grass wrack indicating that the adult terns were probably still feeding the juvenile. On the rocks at the end of the Point, there were good numbers of Pied Cormorants, Little Pied Cormorants, Crested Terns, and Caspian Terns. A patch of Coastal Pigface (Carpobrotus virescens) found on the rocky groin was seen to be infested with Iceplant Scale (Pulvinariella mesembryanthemi); this scale was more prevalent than when we last visited in early 2022. A single Coastal Berry Saltbush (Rhagodia baccata) shrub was also growing on the rocky groin. No other occurrence had been seen during our walk, so in all probability it grew from a seed that was passed through a Silver Gull.

As surprising as it was to find this lone plant, we were even more surprised to find several Saltbush Blue butterflies (Theclinesthes serpentata) feeding on its flowers. Also found in this shrub was a tiny Common Gea Orb-weaver Spider (Gea theridioides) that had its web deep amongst the shrubs. It was feeding on a saltbush Blue butterfly that had got caught in its web. At least two species of wasps were also seen in this shrub. It was amazing to see that from a single dropped seed a little ecosystem can be created.

From the Point, we walked along the beach to the Cockburn Cement jetty from where we walked along the path through the coastal woodland to the car park. On the way, we would add Grey Butcherbird and Laughing Dove to our bird list, along with Rainbow Lorikeets. From the car park we drove back to the cleared area at the intersection of O’Kane Court and Cockburn Road where we sat in the shade of some large trees for morning tea as a light sprinkle of rain fell.

As we enjoyed our refreshments a Whistling Kite glided overhead and caused a huge flock (100+) of Rainbow Lorikeets to take to the air. We all agreed that it was the largest flock of Rainbow Lorikeets any of us had seen. Other than the large flock of the pest lorikeets it had been a great morning; the beach itself was clean, we picked up much less rubbish than on our last visit, and the lack of dogs made it much more enjoyable as we were able to get closer to the birdlife. We had spotted 18 species of birds during the walk, the list being uploaded to Birdata, plus over 50 observations were uploaded to iNaturalist.

Colin Prickett

All photos: Colin Prickett