Sandwiched between a short trip to Europe and the upcoming Kimberley Adventure Winter 2018 has been a quiet period for wildlife watching, although below are recorded two brief wildlife sorties over this period.
Birding in West Leederville
The first of these was local indeed and took place in Joseph Street, West Leederville a street adjacent to the hospital that I work at in Subiaco. The second involved a little more travel, to the suburb of Lesmurdie in Perth’s Hills.
Joseph Street is in the established Perth Western Suburb of West Leederville, as such the street vegetation is well established and uniquely to Perth consists entirely of deciduous Coral Trees (introduced.) These trees shed their leaves at the start of Winter but by early July begin to produce brilliant red flowers, a magnet for birds.
Interestingly only three species of bird are regularly seen enjoying this feast, and I assume these are the most aggressive birds to defend such an important food source. The first two are the native Red Wattlebird and Singing Honeyeater, the third is the ubiquitous introduced Rainbow Lorikeet.
The Red Wattlebird is the largest honeyeater in the South West. They are aggressive birds driving off smaller honeyeaters from their feeding territory, but their beautiful metallic calls are surely one of the nicest of the bird calls.
Red Wattlebirds feeding in flowering Coral Tree.
Singing Honeyeaters are the second native species seen feeding in the Coral Trees on Joseph Street. They are unusual amongst the honeyeaters in that the percentage of insect food in relation to nectar is much higher than in many of the honeyeaters, although nectar is very much on the menu for these birds at this time of year.
Singing Honeyeaters feeding in flowering Coral Tree.
The above two species are present early in the flowering period and remain throughout, probably because they are relatively sedentary, but once the trees are in full bloom the raucous squawks of Rainbow Lorikeets, migrating to the food source, are the dominant presence.
These birds are in plague proportions at this time, indeed I refer to them accordingly as “the flying rats.” This bird being introduced into Western Australia from the Eastern States.
The Kookaburra is another introduced bird from the Eastern states and has been here for around 100 years. Initially brought to the West to control snakes, a dubious claim regarding the larger dangerously venomous species. It is however, a voracious predator of smaller skinks and lizards.
Rainbow Lorikeet feeding in flowering Coral Tree.
The flowering period extends throughout the month of July, indeed well into the month of August at this location, probably relieving residents of the need for an alarm clock during these months!
The Mundy Regional Park is located on the Western edge of the Perth Hills approx. 22kms East of Perth. Perth during the Winter of 2018 had received unusually good falls and so with great excitement I set of to see the impressive 50m Lesmurdie Falls that occur within the park.
The best time to visit the falls is during the months of June to September when the Winter rains swell the creek and the falls are at their most impressive, although they can be viewed anytime of the year after decent rainfall.
The bottom of the falls can be accessed from Palm Terrace (Lewis Rd and Welshpool Road East,) near the suburb of Forrestfield. The upper falls are situated on the aptly named Falls Rd in the Suburb of Lesmurdie. There is an excellent walking track with purpose built viewing platforms linking the two.
The waterfall was spectacular after all the recent rains, but there was another reason for my visit to Lesmurdie Falls. I had read that Bandicoots were very easy to see at the picnic area near the carpark on Falls Road.
The Quenda (from the Noongar word kwernt,) or Southern Brown Bandicoot occurring in the South West of WA has recently been raised from a subspecies (Isoodon obesulus fusciventer,) to a full species (Isoodon fusciventer,) a result of consistent differences in the shape of some of the teeth and previously published molecular data.
The Lesmurdie Falls Quenda are relatively bold and obviously accustomed to human presence, while foraging around the picnic tables for scraps. During the cooler temperatures of the Southern Australian Winter many marsupials become more active in daytime, accordingly, I saw my first Quenda an hour before sunset, although I suspect on cloudy days they would be a possibility all throughout the day.
Quenda – Lesmurdie Falls.
With the onset of darkness, greater numbers of Quenda emerged from the foliage until there were up to four individual animals foraging around the picnic tables. Most impressive was a large adult male but there was also a small, endearing juvenile in attendance.
Quenda – Lesmurdie Falls.
It was wonderful to see these native marsupials doing so well at this location, but eventually I had to capitulate to the large numbers of mosquitos present in this damp habitat. Lesmurdie Falls is without doubt the easiest place to see Quenda in WA, although other places I have found productive for this species include Murdoch University Campus, Perup Nature’s Guesthouse and Busselton. #NatureNeverFailsToImpress!
See here for Quenda at Perup Nature’s Guesthouse in the Southwest
See here for further information for mammals in WA:- Where to see mammals in Western Australia