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Perth experiences a Mediterranean climate, hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. The majority of the urban area is located on the coastal plain, between the Darling Scarp and the Indian Ocean. The CBD and much of the city lies on the shores of the Swan and Canning rivers and their estuaries.
The main native vegetation of the sandy coastal plain consists of Banksia heathland and Jarrah and Tuart forest. Much of the native vegetation has been cleared to make way for building, grassed parkland and pine plantations.
On the Darling Scarp (sometimes referred to as the Darling Range, but not an actual mountain range) Jarrah forest dominates on the hard, laterite soils.
Freckled Duck is occasionally seen on urban wetlands, mainly Herdsman Lake.
Birds you can see here include:
Black Swan, Blue-billed Duck, Musk Duck, Australian Wood Duck, Pink-eared Duck, Grey Teal, Chestnut Teal, Australian Shelduck, Freckled Duck, Hardhead, Pacific Black Duck, Mallard (introduced), Australasian Shoveller, Australasian Grebe, Hoary-headed Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Little Penguin, Darter, Great Cormorant, Little Black Cormorant, Little Pied Cormorant, Pied Cormorant, Australian Pelican, Australasian Gannet, Great Egret, Little Egret, Eastern Reef Egret, White-faced Heron, White-necked Heron, Rufous Night Heron, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Australian White Ibis, Straw-necked Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Osprey, Square-tailed Kite, Whistling Kite, Little Eagle, Wedge-tailed Eagle, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Swamp Harrier, Black-shouldered Kite, Collared Sparrowhawk, Brown Goshawk, Nankeen Kestrel, Australian Hobby, Peregrine Falcon, Dusky Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Eurasian Coot, Spotless Crake, Baillon's Crake, Australian Spotted Crake, Buff-banded Rail, Ruddy Turnstone, Bar-tailed Godwit, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Common Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Red Knot, Great Knot, Red-necked Stint, Black-winged Stilt, Red-necked Avocet, Pied Oystercatcher, Pacific Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Red-capped Plover, Black-fronted Dotterel, Banded Plover, Brown Skua, Pacific Gull, Silver Gull, Crested Tern, Caspian Tern, Fairy Tern, Crested Pigeon, Common Bronzewing, Rock Dove (introduced), Senegal Dove (introduced), Spotted Dove (introduced), Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Carnaby's Cockatoo, Baudin's Cockatoo, Long-billed Corella (introduced), Little Corella, Galah, Rainbow Lorikeet (introduced), Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Regent Parrot, Western Rosella, Red-capped Parrot, Australian Ringneck, Elegant Parrot, Pallid Cuckoo, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo, Shining Bronze Cuckoo, Southern Boobook, Barn Owl, Tawny Frogmouth, Sacred Kingfisher, Laughing Kookaburra (introduced), Rainbow Bee-eater, Splendid Fairy-wren, Red-winged Fairy-wren, Southern Emu-wren, Striated Pardalote, Spotted Pardalote, White-browed Scrubwren, Western Gerygone, Weebill, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Western Thornbill, Inland Thornbill, Red Wattlebird, Western Wattlebird, Singing Honeyeater, Brown Honeyeater, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, New Holland Honeyeater, White-cheeked Honeyeater, White-naped Honeyeater, Brown-headed Honeyeater, Western Spinebill, White-fronted Chat, Scarlet Robin, Red-capped Robin, Western Yellow Robin, White-breasted Robin, Varied Sitella, Golden Whistler, Rufous Whistler, Grey Shrike-thrush, Grey Fantail, Willie Wagtail, Magpie Lark, White-winged Triller, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Grey Butcherbird, Australian Magpie, Grey Currawong, Australian Raven, Australian Pipit, Chestnut-breasted Mannikin (introduced), Red-eared Firetail, Red-browed Finch (introduced), Mistletoebird, Welcome Swallow, Tree Martin, Clamorous Reed-warbler, Little Grassbird, Silvereye
Grey Kangaroo, Long-necked Tortoise, Tiger Snake, Bobtail Skink, Gould's Monitor, Humpback Whale, Bottlenose Dolphin
History and Use
Areas of Interest
Perth sits on the Swan River coastal plain. Many of the lakes and wetlands have been filled in and built over, but a string of large lakes remains, all are good sites for birds.
The northernmost of the large lakes in the metro area and the start of the Yellagonga Reserve. The main area for viewing is Neil Hawkins Park at the end of Boas Road. A scan across the lake from the small jetty will reveal various species of ducks, Black Swan, Australian Pelican, and a few waders. Raptors such as Swamp Harrier and Whistling Kite are common over the lake. You can walk north along the lake edge to a lookout point, there are often good bush birds along here such as Grey Butcherbird, Splendid Fairy-wren, Western Gerygone and Striated Pardalote. Despite signs discouraging such activity, many people still feed birds on the large grassed picnic area - most of these are feral - Rock Dove, Long-billed Corella, Short-billed Corella and Rainbow Lorikeet are abundant. A few natives join in the fun including Pacific Black Duck, Australian Shelduck and Australian Ringneck.
A little further south is Picnic Cove. This can be a good area for crakes if the water is low. There are also viewing spots dotted around the lake.
Jackadder Lake is a small lake to the north-west of Herdsman Lake. It's nice for a quick stroll around. Birds to look out for are Eurasian Coot, Purple Swamphen, Dusky Moorhen, Silver Gull and various ducks. I have seen three Caspian Terns here at one time, which is unusual.
The largest urban wetland in the world, Herdsman Lake is a mere 6km north of the CBD. The lake is largely covered in introduced Typha orientalis reeds, but these provide an excellent area for birds to hide and breed. It is about 5km around the entire lake, but walking a section still yields some great birding.
Gould League Centre - This is on the southern side of the lake at the end of Selby Street. Rufous Night Herons are often abundant in the nearby paperbarks as well as a variety of ducks in the water. It is not unusual to see 9 species of duck on an outing to this lake (Pacific Black Duck, Australian Shelduck, Australian Wood Duck, Grey Teal, Pink-eared Duck, Australasian Shoveller, Hardhead, Blue-billed Duck and Musk Duck). On the short walk to the east of the Gould League Centre Bitterns have been viewed in early morning and evenings. Keep an eye out for Buff-banded Rail also on the grassed area.
Maurice Hamer Reserve spans the lake's side. A walk from the Gould League Centre to the carpark at the far end can easily yield 50 species. Look out for Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Great Crested Grebe, Hoary-headed Grebe (in large flotillas), Eurasian Coot, Great Cormorant and Purple Swamphen. Swamp Harriers are common patrolling the Typha reed.
The south-west corner has a bit of bushland where you can see a few bushbirds such as Western Gerygone, Yellow-rumped Thornbill and Rufous Whistler, as well as Rainbow Bee-eater in the Summer. This is also the best spot to view Chestnut-breasted Mannikin - a small introduced population lives at the lake.
After walking a short way up the western side of the lake (known as Floreat Water), you will come across a dredging barge. If the barge has not been moved in a while it should be covered in nesting Great Cormorants. The two small species of grebe are also common here.
I have seen Tiger Snakes multiple times at Herdsman Lake. These snakes are highly venomous, but will not attack if left alone.
Glendalough Open Space
Lake Monger sits next to the freeway just north of the city and is slightly south-east of Herdsman Lake. This lake is considerably smaller than Herdsman and can be easily walked around. Most of it is bordered by grass parkland and introduced plants, but the eastern side has been revegetated and a filtering channels built to clean up water runoff from the freeway before it enters the actual lake.
If you're short on time a walk along the southern edge yields the best birds I find. In the south-west corner is a small island covered in reeds. When the water level is low this can be a good place to observe crakes and rails. Black-fronted Dotterel are common here. Listen for the loud calls of Clamorous Reed-warbler in the reeds. If you are patient these small brown birds are quite easy to see here. When the water level is low a large expanse of mudflat is exposed on the western side, where you will probably see Black-winged Stilt and Red-necked Avocet. There are multiple signs around the lake discouraging bird feeding, but it is still prevalent, as well as dumping of domestic waterfowl, so Mallards, Muscovy Ducks and Greylag Geese are resident. Among the natives to be seen from the southern shore are Australian White Ibis, Australian Pelican, Black Swan, Blue-billed Duck, Pink-eared Duck, Australasian Shoveller, Australian Shelduck, Great Crested Grebe and large flotillas of Hoary-headed Grebe. Introduced Little Corella and Rainbow Lorikeets are abundant in the pine trees. An Australian Hobby also patrols this area so keep an eye out. The south-eastern corner where the filtering pond is is good for waders at the right time of year. Common Sandpiper live up to their name among Red-capped Plovers and Black-fronted Dotterels.
North Lake and Bibra Lake
Alfred Cove is possibly the best spot close to Perth city to see migratory waders. During low tide a large expanse of mudflats are revealed. The surrounding reeds and the small amount of bushland also house various waterfowl and a few bushbirds. A spotting scope provides the best views of waders and waterfowl.
Park next to the building and oval on Troy Reserve and first walk east to the small viewing area over what is actually Alfred Cove. Buff-banded Rail are known to breed in the reeds next to the drain. In the trees you will find Striated Pardalote, Willie Wagtail and Rainbow Lorikeets. All three of these species nest here. From the viewing area look out for Black-winged Stilt and Common Greenshank on the muddy areas and among the reeds. A scan of the far shore often yields these species as well as rails. Little Black Cormorant and Little Pied Cormorant are usually sitting on the pylons in the water. Musk Ducks often display here, listen for the strange squeaking and plonking sounds.
Walking back towards the carpark you will notice on the river side that there is a tall structure. On top is an active Osprey nest. The Osprey used to nest on a radio tower, but a platform was erected for them to nest on when the tower was removed.
Low tide is the best time for viewing waders, but many birds can be seen at any time. As you walk along the river look out for Black Swan, Australian Pelican, Pied Oystercatcher, Red-capped Plover, Chestnut Teal, Australian Shelduck and Pied Cormorant on the sandbars. Some of the waders often seen here in Summer are Common Greenshank, Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Red-necked Stint, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Curlew Sandpiper.
As you walk back you may see Australian Pipit on the grassed area. Unfortunately as human (and dog) activity becomes more prevalent, the number of bushbirds in the small of area of bushland is declining. However you can still observe Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike and Yellow-rumped Thornbills here.
John Forrest National Park
Ellis Brook Reserve
Access and Facilities