Thursday, October 27, 2011

Perth Wader Sites (Part 2: Coastal & Estuarine Sites)

This is the second  part of our two-part guide to wader sites near Perth, this time focussing on coastal and estuarine sites (although the sharp-eyed amongst you will notice a couple of sites that are technically lakes have snuck in here too!). The sites this time are listed roughly in order of closeness to Perth CBD, although there are a few out of place.

Alfred Cove: Alfred Cove is one of Perth’s best known wader sites, located within 15 minutes of the city centre. Whilst wader numbers (particularly small species like Sharp-tailed and Curlew Sandpiper) have fallen significantly at the site in the last decade or so, you can usually still find a reasonable variety of waders here over summer. The most commonly seen species are Bar-tailed Godwit, Great Knot, Common Greenshank, Grey Plover, Australian Pied Oystercatcher and Black-winged Stilt. Red Knot, Red-necked Avocet, Pacific Golden Plover, Red-necked Stint and Red-capped Plover are also reasonably regular, and Black-tailed Godwits have been observed regularly over the last few years. Other less common visitors can include Pacific Golden Plover, Whimbrel, Terek Sandpiper, Grey-tailed Tattler, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, and Banded Stilt.

To reach the cove, park near the sports centre at Troy Park off Burke Dr. Check the samphire and any muddy margins of the cove and any nearby sandbanks and mudflats along the Attadale foreshore - the extent of the exposed sandbanks varies with the level of the tide.

Grey Plover are one of the most common coastal waders to visit the Perth area, and can usually be seen at Alfred Cove during wader season.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Perth Wader Sites (Part 1: Lakes)

This is the first post of a two-part guide to wader sites near Perth, covering lake sites. The second part will cover coastal and estuarine sites. The sites are ordered according to how good they are for waders, although obviously the precise order will always be debatable and will vary with conditions, so it’s a rough guide only. The occurrence of waders at all the lakes listed here is dependent on water level, so it’s useful to seek local advice on which lakes are in best condition at that particular time. To assist with this, we will endeavour to provide periodic updates on the conditions of the lakes around Perth through summer, either on this page or on our Twitter site. GPS positions are included for some of the spots mentioned to help with finding them.

Lake McLarty: When water levels are right (typically Dec-Feb), Lake McLarty was formerly the best wader site in the Perth area (and indeed the entire south-west), with counts in excess of 10,000 waders frequently recorded. Unfortunately, the cessation of periodic cattle-grazing in the reserve combined with reduced water levels from lower rainfall and increased draw-down has resulted in a steady increase in grass growth, and grass now covers the majority of the lakebed. This has resulted in major declines in wader numbers at the lake, with few (if any) counts over 1,000 in the last two seasons. Uncommon species like Pectoral Sandpiper, Long-toed Stint and Ruff are still fairly regular though.

As the water level falls at the start of summer, flooded grass areas become available for waders. At this time, Sharp-tailed Sandpipers are typically the commonest migratory wader present, usually with small numbers of Curlew and Pectoral Sandpipers. Black-tailed Godwit, Common Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Red-necked Stint, Long-toed Stint, and Wood Sandpiper are also regulars in small numbers. Resident waders including Black-winged Stilt, Red-necked Avocet, and Red-capped Plover are also generally common, and Banded Stilt can sometimes be found in small numbers. In the current situation, this remains the situation until the lake dries.

A mixed flock of waders at Lake McLarty, including Sharp-tailed and Curlew Sandpipers, and Red-necked Stints.