Wader Sites Near Perth Western Australia

I have been asked to give a brief description of the best wader sites in the south west of Western Australia.  There are some good wader sites away from Perth (especially Hooded Plovers at Esperance), but all species can be found within a short distance from Perth.  Therefore I will restrict this article to sites that are close to Perth.  You are welcome to contact me for more details if you are visiting WA.  I am also starting to put information such as this on to the World Wide Web at birdingwa.iinet.net.au.

If you visit Perth, then you should arrange to visit the Birds Australia WA Group office near Perry Lakes at Perry House, 71 Oceanic Drive, City Beach (08 9383 7749).  At the office you should purchase for $4 the booklet ‘Birdwatching Perth and Environs’.  There are also numerous country brochures that are useful.  The office is staffed by volunteers from 9:30am to 12:30pm.

The best wader site on the Swan River is at Alfred Cove (BP&E site 1A).  The waders arrive in mid October and during the peak at low tide there can be several thousand birds.  They are mostly common species such as Red-necked Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Pied Oystercatcher, Black-winged Stilt, Bar-tailed Godwit, Great Knot, Marsh Sandpiper and Grey Plover but something different occasionally turns up such as Red Knot, Pacific Golden Plover, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, etc.

Pelican Point (site 1Q) is a high tide roost on the other side of the river.  There are guided walks here every Tuesday afternoon at 5:30pm from October to April.  Bring some insect repellent as the mosquitoes are ferocious.

Herdsman Lake (site 1H) has very few waders but you can often find the odd Black-fronted Dotterel, Red-kneed Dotterel and Wood Sandpiper along the south west shores.

The North Mole (site 1T) at Fremantle harbour is the best place in the south west to find Banded Lapwing.  Look on the last vacant land on the left just before you reach the mole.

The salt lakes on Rottnest Island (section 6) are good for waders.  The highlight is the large flock of Banded Stilt but Red-capped Plover, Red-necked Stint, Curlew Sandpiper and Ruddy Turnstone are common.  Red-necked Phalarope have been seen for the past few years just to the left of the causeway. Sanderling and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper are often near the Causeway early in the summer, and Lesser Sand Plover is a chance.  Red-necked Avocet breed on a few of the lakes.  Pied Oystercatcher and Banded Lapwing can often be found near the 1st green and 2nd tee on the golf course.  The beach and shallow reef at Salmon Bay often has Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwit and a few other waders.

Kogalup Swamp (site 3.1) usually has a few waders, and it is one of the sites that often turns up something different such as Black-tailed Godwit, Pectoral Sandpiper or even Little Ringed Plover, Gallinago sp. Snipe or Masked Lapwing.  A spotting scope is useful.

Thomson’s Lake (site 3.2) can have very large numbers of waders when/if the water level recedes by late January or February.  This is a good site for Red-necked Avocet, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Long-toed Stint and a chance for Pectoral Sandpiper and Banded Stilt.  Bring sandshoes as the mud is soft, and a spotting scope is very helpful.

Forrestdale Lake (site 3.6) is very similar to Thomson’s Lake except that it usually dries out by early to mid January.  Late December is usually the best time for waders.

Woodman’s Point (shown in section 3 but not described) is the best site in Perth to look for Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone and Greater Sand Plover. Red-capped Plover and Grey Plover are also common and there is often a Great Knot, Grey-tailed Tattler or something different.

The WA Water Ski Park (Baldivis Road in Baldivis) has a few waders on the shore of the ski lakes, and more in some old clay pits in the paddock next door.  An Inland Dotterel and an Oriental Pratincole were seen here a few years ago.

Lake Cooloongup (off Dixon Road near the Old Mandurah Road near Rockingham) is a good site for waders such as Banded Stilt, Red-necked Stint, Curlew Sandpiper and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.  A Little Stint in breeding plumage and an unconfirmed Baird’s Sandpiper were seen there in late January a few years ago.

Mandurah is an hour south of Perth.  The Mandurah Harbour (site 4.3) is a good site for Greater Sand Plover plus a few other waders.  The Creery Wetlands between the new traffic bridge and Peel Inlet is the most likely place near Perth to see Eastern Curlew, Whimbrel and Pacific Golden Plover, plus there are more common waders such as Great Knot and Common Greenshank.  The Coodanup banks (site 4.6 especially the far eastern end) at the north of the Peel Inlet can sometimes have good numbers of wadersLake Preston south of Mandurah is a very good place to find Hooded Plover near the causeway along Preston Beach Road.

The best wader site in the south west is near Pinjarra at Lake McLarty (site 4.10 about 2 hours from Perth) as the water level recedes from late December through to the end of February.  There can be more than 20,000 waders with large numbers of Black-winged Stilt, Red-necked Avocet, Red-necked Stint and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper as well as Common Greenshank, Curlew Sandpiper and Red-capped Plover.  The highlights almost every year are Wood Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Long-toed Stint and Ruff plus there have been sightings of Little Ringed Plover, Asian Dowitcher, Gallinago sp. Snipe, etc.  Other waders include Banded Stilt, Black-tailed Godwit, Marsh Sandpiper, Red-kneed Dotterel and Black-fronted Dotterel.

The Vasse Wonnerup Estuary near Busselton (about 2.5 hours south of Perth) is reported to be another excellent site for waders and a Common Redshank was seen there in April 1997.  However I haven’t birded at this site so I can’t give you any other details.  The Leschenault Inlet near Bunbury (2 hours south of Perth) is another site that I have heard about.

Copyright Frank O'Connor 1997-2004 Visits Last Modified 31st January 2002