Albany Birding Sites

Key Species : Brown Quail, Southern Giant-Petrel (good chance), Flesh-footed Shearwater, Little Shearwater (chance), Black-browed Albatross, Shy Albatross, Yellow-nosed Albatross, Osprey, Australasian Bittern (chance), Square-tailed Kite (chance), White-bellied Sea-Eagle, waders, Pacific Gull, Fairy Tern, Brush Bronzewing, Short-billed Black-Cockatoo, Long-billed Black-Cockatoo (good chance), Purple-crowned Lorikeet (seasonal), Western Rosella, Red-capped Parrot, Elegant Parrot (chance), Rock Parrot (good chance), Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, Noisy Scrub-bird, Red-winged Fairy-wren, Southern Emu-wren, Western Bristlebird, Rufous Fieldwren (chance), Little Wattlebird, White-cheeked Honeyeater, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, White-breasted Robin, Western Whipbird (chance), Dusky Woodswallow, Red-eared Firetail. Mammals : Western Grey Kangaroo, Southern Brown Bandicoot (chance), Quokka (small chance), Gilbert's Potoroo (small chance), Southern Right Whale, Australian Sea-lion, New Zealand Fur Seal.

Albany (Post Office S35 01 22" E117 52 59") is approximately 410km south south east of Perth.  When I visit Albany, I usually also visit Waychinicup and the Stirling Ranges.  The Porongorups are also about 45km north east of Albany.  I have often come from the Fitzgerald River, and then I continue on through Mt Barker, Lake Muir and Manjimup to Augusta.

I strongly recommend staying at Coraki Holiday Cottages (08 9844 7068) on the northern shore of Oyster Harbour near the King River bridge about 10 kilometres east of Albany.  This is closer to Two People's Bay and Waychinicup and several endemic species can be seen in the gardens.  I have listed some alternative places to stay at the end.

I strongly recommend that you learn the calls for such species as Western Whipbird, Western Bristlebird and Noisy Scrub-bird so that you know what and where to look for them.  However, the playing of tapes to attract birds at Two People's Bay is off limits as it makes it harder for censuses and other scientific studies to be taken of the threatened species.  If you really want to see the three species, then I strongly recommend a tour with Simon Nevill of Falcon Tours.  His knowledge of the birds and flora in particular is excellent, plus Simon is very familiar with areas such as Waychinicup, Fitzgerald River and the Stirling Ranges.  I have been on his tour of the south west and so I can highly recommend the tour and Simon will greatly increase your chances of finding and seeing the harder species.

 

1. Two People's Bay Nature Reserve

Two People's Bay is a nature reserve of exceptionally high conservation value located 20km east of Albany.  The Noisy Scrubbird was believed to be extinct until it was rediscovered at Two People's Bay in 1961.  Recently, the Gilbert's Potoroo was also rediscovered while Quokkas were being studied.  The Western Bristlebird is also a threatened species, as is the Western Whipbird in Western Australia.  The conservation of the Noisy Scrubbird has been highly successful, and they have now been relocated to Mt Many Peaks, Waychinicup and recently the Darling Range near Harvey.  The park information centre (S34 58 30" E118 10 36") is open Sunday and public holidays from 11am to 4pm, and Wednesday and Saturday from 11am to 2pm.

Little Beach (S34 58 23" E118 11 40") - The turnoff to Little Beach is opposite the car park for the new information centre.  The car park at Little Beach is my recommended location to see Western Bristlebird.  The best time is shortly after dawn but it has been seen in the late afternoon.  Park in the last car bay, and face back up the hill.  The Western Bristlebird runs across the road to the traffic island, recently at the top where the road forks.  Sometimes it can be seen in the open on the edge of the road.  Southern Emu-wren can be found quite easily in the low heath.  You can usually find a pair of Red-eared Firetails near the toilet at the car park and Western Bristlebird has been reported here.  Rock Parrot has been seen a few times near here or down on the beach.  It is often worthwhile walking down the path past the toilets to the rocks (S34 58 19" E118 11 44") to look for seabirds in the bay, and possible Pacific Gull, Sooty Oystercatcher or Eastern Reef Egret on the rocks.  You will easily hear Western Whipbird and Noisy Scrub-bird from the car park.  I have heard the Western Whipbird just up the hill from the car park.

Little Beach to Information Centre Walk Trail - From the Little Beach car park, walk  down the path past the toilets to the rocks (S34 58 19" E118 11 44") to look for seabirds in the bay, and possible Pacific Gull, Sooty Oystercatcher or Eastern Reef Egret on the rocks.  Follow the trail to the first small patch of scrub.  There is a termite mound here.  Listen for Western Whipbird.  Continue along the trail and follow it left away from the rocks until you reach a junction with a track on the left.  This track leads back to the road to the car park where I have been very close to a Western Whipbird.  A Western Bristlebird has a territory in the low heath on this corner (S34 58 14" E118 11 32") of the track.  I have also seen Wedge-tailed Eagle, White-bellied Sea-Eagle and Peregrine Falcon from here, as well as Western Grey Kangaroo.  Continue along the track past another track on the left and a dead end track on the right until you reach a slight gully with a line of trees at the bottom near the bay.  This gully is the territory of a Noisy Scrub-bird and my recommended site at Two People's Bay.  The best way to see it is to sit on the track and wait for it to cross.  Look for a small patch of mallee just above the track.  This is where it is usually seen.  You may have to be very patient and to be prepared to wait for several hours.  You will probably only see it run quickly across the track, but it has been known to forage briefly in the open along the track.  It does not always call so your concentration had better be good.  I have stalked the bird right down to the bottom of the gully along the trees, and there are several areas that appear to be excellent viewing areas but the bird passes by but frustratingly out of sight.

Little Beach Noisy Scrub-bird Rock (S34 58 33" E118 11 26") - From the Little Beach car park, walk back up the hill to the end of the heath.  On the left, there is a bar across an old partly overgrown fire trail.  Walk along this fire trail until you reach a wide fire break on your right and a fire break cleared straight up the hill.  Walk up the hill along the fire break until you come to a large domed rock.  There is a larger rock on the right.  Sit on this rock and listen for the Noisy Scrub-bird to call, often very close.  There is a track behind the rock which may be a good place to see the bird cross as it moves about its territory.

Two People's Bay beach & picnic area (beach S34 58 23" E118 10 49") - The beach at Two People's Bay is a good place in summer to look for Rock Parrot, especially to the left about 100 to 200 metres past the creek.  I have also seen Brown Quail and Sooty Oystercatcher on the beach and a New Zealand Fur Seal in the bay.  The rocks just offshore can have terns, Pacific Gull and cormorants.  The picnic area is a good place in the morning to look for Red-winged Fairy-wren and is also a chance for Western Rosella, White-breasted Robin and Red-eared Firetail.

Sinker Reef (turn around S34 59 29" E118 09 33") - The turnoff to Sinker Reef is just before the information centre.  Early in the morning you are likely to see Brush Bronzewing along the side of the road.  There is a car park (S34 58 52" E118 10 01") about 1km from the turnoff.  The low heath near the car park used to be a recommended site for Rufous Fieldwren but it has been slashed for fire control.  I also used to hear Western Bristlebird from the car park.  The track continues as a sandy 4WD track for about 1.6km to a turn around.  Park at the end and walk down to the top of the cliff.  Look for Rock Parrot, Red-capped Parrot and Southern Emu-wren.  If you walk, then you have a chance of seeing Brown Quail, Western Whipbird, Rufous Fieldwren and perhaps Shy Heathwren.  Keep an eye on the sky for raptors such as Wedge-tailed Eagle and Square-tailed Kite.  From the top of the cliff, look along the shore for Eastern Reef Egret and Sooty Oystercatcher, and out to sea for seabirds.

Noisy Scrub-bird site (S35 00 00" E118 10 55") - This used to be the site recommended by CALM.  It gives you a very good chance of seeing the bird, but it is an hour walk each way.  From the car park (S34 58 52" E118 10 01") at the start of the track to Sinker Reef walk about 600 metres to a track on the left with a wooden bar across it (S34 59 08" E118 09 57").  Follow this side track for about 800 metres going past a large water tank on the left until you get to the first covered green water tank on a bend in the track (S34 59 08" E118 10 26").  You will hear the first Noisy Scrub-birds and Southern Emu-wrens along this section.  The next section is uphill as you continue for 200 metres to a track that you pass on the left (S34 59 12" E118 10 30") and another 900 metres to the second covered green water tank (S34 59 37" E118 10 43") at the junction of another track on the left.  Continue along the track for 700 metres to the third covered green water tank (S34 59 56" E118 10 53").  You will hear Western Bristlebird and Southern Emu-wren close to the track along this section and there are good chances of seeing Western Spinebill, White-cheeked Honeyeater, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, Fan-tailed Cuckoo and possibly Rufous Fieldwren.  About 200 metres before the tank there is an area of mallee about 50 metres off the track where you should hear Western Whipbird and Noisy Scrub-bird.  From the last water tank follow the very narrow trail about 120 metres down to the gully.  You can choose to sit on the near side of the track and hope for the Noisy Scrub-bird to cross the track, or you can make your way about 30 metres to the left along the far side of the creek to an open area and sit and wait.  You should also see White-breasted Robin and sometimes Red-capped Parrot and Short-billed Black-Cockatoo or Long-billed Black-Cockatoo fly past.  If you don't see the Noisy Scrubbird within an hour then you won't see it.  I have seen it only four times here, and each time within the first ten minutes to half an hour.

Gardner Lake - On the road into Two People's Bay you cross over a creek.  This creek flows from Gardner Lake.  Before the creek there is a small car park and a track that leads towards the lake.  I haven't been all the way to the lake.  There are Noisy Scrub-birds that have been relocated here, plus Australasian Bittern has been recorded here.

Nanarup (car park S34 59 46" E118 03 43") - If you have the time, then drive down to the inlet at Nanarup.  Walk along the beach.  This looks a good site for Hooded Plover and for beach washed seabirds after a storm.

 

2. Kalgan River, King River & Oyster Harbour

Lower Kalgan River bridge (S34 56 55" E117 58 49") - The Lower Kalgan River bridge is an excellent place for a good variety of waders in summer.  Stop on the east side of the bridge and check the shoreline and the rock in the middle of the river.  It is one of the few places that I have seen Terek Sandpiper in the south west.  Common species are Common Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Grey-tailed Tattler, Pied Oystercatcher, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Eastern Curlew, etc.

Kalgan River mouth - On the south western side of the bridge there is a short track to a concrete slab near the edge of the river.  Park here and walk along the western edge of the river towards Oyster Harbour.  In summer there are very large mudflats with several thousand migratory waders.  Apart from the waders seen near the bridge, you should see Great Knot, Red Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Lesser Sand Plover, Greater Sand Plover, etc.  An Asian Dowitcher was reported here several years ago.  This is sometimes a roost site for Fairy Tern and possible Whiskered Tern and Gull-billed Tern.

Kalgan River (east side) - There is a road that follows the Kalgan River up river.  Follow the road until you reach the water ski area.  In the roadside vegetation along the road and on the fence line you can find Western Thornbill, Red-winged Fairy-wren, Splendid Fairy-wren, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Scarlet Robin, etc.

Lower King River bridge (S34 56 40" E117 56 55") - In summer, there are extensive mud flats just up river from the Lower King River bridge which can have good numbers of migratory waders.  They are mostly Red-necked Stints, Curlew Sandpipers and Grey Plovers but I have also seen Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and Long-toed Stint.

Coraki Holiday Cottages (Rebecca & Graham Freeman 08 9844 7068 email coraki@albanyis.com.au) (office S34 56 40" E117 57 03") - This is an excellent place to stay closer to Two People's Bay and Waychinicup.  They are located on the eastern side of the Lower King bridge on the shore of Oyster Harbour.  In the gardens you should easily find Western Rosella, Red-winged Fairy-wren and White-breasted Robin with chances at the right time of year for Purple-crowned Lorikeet and Elegant Parrot.  I have seen Australian Hobby nesting in the trees near the boat launching ramp at the entrance, and there are usually a few waders and waterbirds near the launching ramp.  If you walk east along the edge of Oyster Harbour past the first point there is an Osprey's nest, and a White-bellied Sea-Eagle can often be seen flying over.  There is also a fair chance of White-naped Honeyeater and Red-eared Firetail.

Western Side (jetty S34 57 34" E117 56 48") - From the Lower King bridge, head towards Albany and turn left.  Continue to the T junction at the shore of Oyster Harbour.  Look for a few waders in the shallows.  Turn right and continue to the jetty.  Look for Whimbrel, Pied Oystercatcher and other waders, terns, Black Swan, cormorants.  Continue past the jetty and turn right at Elizabeth Street, and then right again and continue back to Lower King Road.

 

3. Albany

Emu Point (S34 59 54" E117 56 54") - Western Rosella, Pacific Gull, terns, waders, Short-billed Black-Cockatoo.

Lake Seppings (viewing platform S35 00 41" E117 55 00") - Red-winged Fairy-wren, Red-eared Firetail, Sacred Kingfisher, Musk Duck, Blue-billed Duck, Nankeen Night-Heron.

Eyre Park (island S35 01 25" E117 54 34") - Eyre Park is a small wetland on the corner of Middleton Beach Road and Adelaide Crescent.  It is a good site for Clamorous Reed-warbler, Dusky Moorhen, etc.

Middleton Beach (east end S35 00 17" E117 55 44") - Rock Parrot.

Middleton Beach Golf Course (S35 01 02" E117 55 00") - Rock Parrot.

Albany Harbour (S35 01 56" E117 53 24") - Banded Lapwing, gulls, terns, skuas, Osprey, Red-eared Firetail.

 

4. Torndirrup & Frenchman's Bay

From the harbour, continue along the shore of Princess Royal Harbour and turn left at the first major intersection into Frenchman's Bay Road and cross the railway line.

Princess Royal Harbour (S35 02 51" E117 50 52") - Ruddy Turnstone, Fairy Tern.

Panorama Holiday Cottages & Caravan Park (S35 04 36" E117 53 07") - I stayed here during the September 1991 RAOU national campout.  There is a walk through an area of heath next to the caravan park where I have seen Red-winged Fairy-wren, Red-eared Firetail and Western Spinebill.  There was a White-faced Heron nesting in the caravan park, and a Tawny Frogmouth roosting near the toilets.  There was a Shining Bronze-Cuckoo on the power lines along the road.

Quaranup Road (S35 04 28" E117 55 40") - On the left, shortly after the turnoff to Panorama, there is a road that leads to the Quaranup Camp.  This used to be excellent, but now development has started along the road.  Look for a gap on the left that leads to the beach.  The road is a very good place to look for Brown Quail beside the road, and in spring look for cuckoos on the power line.  The beach is a chance to see Rock Parrot, plus in summer there are fair numbers of migratory waders on the beach and in the shallows.

Sharp Point (S35 05 18" E117 53 42") - Look for the sign for Torndirrup National Park.  This is a small area of karri and peppermint trees at the start of the track to Sharp Point.

The Gap & Natural Bridge (S35 07 08" E117 53 30") - The Gap is the best seawatching site at Albany.  From the car park, go towards the lookout and go to the top of the rock.  The common seabirds are Yellow-nosed Albatross, Australasian Gannet, Flesh-footed Shearwater, Great-winged Petrel, Shy Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, Southern Giant-Petrel and Little Shearwater.  Stay low to keep out of the wind.  In good conditions you can see as far as Green Island with a scope.  From the lookout, you may be lucky to see Australian Sea-lions at the entrance.

Cable Beach (S35 07 02" E117 53 56") - If the wind or the spray is unbearable at The Gap, then Cable Beach is a sheltered bay.  You are further from the seabirds, but they come in close across the entrance to the bay, before passing Cave Point behind the lighthouse.  The lighthouse would be an excellent vantage point, but it is apparently out of bounds.

Goode Beach (S35 05 26" E117 56 02") - Just before Frenchman Bay, turn left to Goode Beach.  Follow Vancouver Road, turn left on La Perouse Road, left on Austin Road and park at the corner of Rossiter Road.  Walk up the track.  This is the corner of Torndirrup National Park. Look for Western Spinebill, White-cheeked Honeyeater, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater and Southern Emu-wren in the low heath.  You then enter some banksia and taller heath and as you climb higher you reach a small area of karri forest where you can find Red-winged Fairy-wren, White-breasted Robin, Golden Whistler and possible Crested Shrike-tit.

 

5. West of Albany

Lake Powell (S35 01 00" E117 44 36") -

Grasmere Lake Nature Reserve - This nature reserve is 16km west of Albany alongside Elleker Road.  It is an excellent place for waterbirds, and Australasian Bittern has been reported here.

Muttonbird Island (S35 02 52" E117 41 38") -

West Cape Howe National Park - West Cape Howe National Park is located off Lower Denmark Road about 30km west of Albany about half way to Denmark.  Turn south along Cosy Corner Road, right on to Coombes Road and left on to Shelley Beach Road.  Most tracks are sandy 4WD tracks, but you can get to Shelley Beach.  I have never visited this park, but I have heard that it has a few very good seawatching points such as Torbay Head.

Elleker Grasmere Road Swamp (S35 01 51" E117 44 03") -

 

6. Boat Trips

Albany has tremendous potential for very exciting pelagic seabird trips.  The only problem is picking days with suitable weather.  In three trips in November 2003, May 2004 and November 2005, we have seen Kerguelen Petrel, Great-winged Petrel, White-headed Petrel, Soft-plumaged Petrel, Grey Petrel, Flesh-footed Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Hutton's Shearwater, Wandering Albatross, Black-browed Albatross (both races), Shy Albatross, Yellow-nosed Albatross, Sooty Albatross, Wilson's Storm-Petrel, White-faced Storm-Petrel and Black-bellied Storm-Petrel.

Sail-A-Way (John & Forrest Woodbury 08 9845 1068) - They operate a 42 foot catamaran.  The boat is a little slow, but handles the conditions very well.  It can take 15 people reasonably comfortably.  I have been on one trip on this boat.  It is cheaper, but very slow getting to the shelf.  It is hard to look for birds on the way out, but good once you are there.  We saved time by leaving from Torbay west of Albany.

Spinners Charters (Peter Barrett 08 9841 7151 email peter@spinnerscharters.com.au) - They operate deep sea fishing trips.  Their boat is the 42 foot MV Chivers Regal II.  It cruises at 15 knots, and takes about 1.5 hours to get to the continental shelf.  The boat has a maximum of 18 passengers.  I have been on two trips, but not on their new boat.  The new boat is much faster, and Peter regularly visits the shelf and knows the area well, and he has experience with pelagic seabird trips.

Silver Star Cruises (Paul Guest 0428 936 711 email info@whales.com.au) - They operate whale watching trips.  Their boat is the 50 foot MV Silver Star II.  It has a top speed of 25 knots, and takes about 1.5 hours to get to the continental shelf.  The boat has a maximum of 30 passengers.  They are cheaper that Spinners Charters, and the boat is faster.  The vision may not be good while travelling out to the shelf, but when at the shelf you have the option of going to the upper deck or the bow where you will get the best views.

Southern Ocean Charters (Les Bail 08 9841 5068) - Les Bail operates a good boat for whale watching and deep sea fishing.  The whale watching is only within the harbour to look for Southern Right Whales.

 

Also refer to the book by Ray Garstone Birds of Albany An Annotated Checklist, the Birds Australia Western Australia (Inc) bird guide brochure for Albany, and the Albany Bird Group's web site.

Albany Tourist Bureau, Old Railway Station, Proudlove Parade (08 9841 1088)

CALM Albany District Office, 120 Albany Highway, Albany 6330 (08 9842 4500)

CALM Two People's Bay Nature Reserve Office, Kalgan 6330 (08 9846 4276)

Coraki Holiday Cottages, RMB 8552, Lower King Road, Albany 6330 (Phone : 08 9844 7068 Fax : 08 9844 1468 Email coraki@albanyis.com.au)

Dolphin Lodge, 1 Golf Links Road, Middleton Beach 6330 (Phone/Fax : 08 9841 6600)

Middleton Beach Chalets, 3 Golf Links Road, Middleton Beach 6330 (08 9841 7500)

Country Cottages, RMB 8622, Nanarup Road, Lower Kalgan 6330 (08 9846 4228)

Emu Point Beach Chalets, 9 Medcalf Parade, Emu Point 6330 (08 9844 8889)

CWA Albany Seaside Holiday Flats, 37 Flinders Parade, Middleton Beach 6330 (08 9841 1591)

Havana Villas, cnr Birs & Firth Streets, Emu Point 6330 (08 9844 1085)

Albany Backpackers Lodge, cnr Stirling Terrace & Spencer Street, Albany 6330 (08 9841 8848)

Bayview YHA, 49 Duke Street, Albany 6330 (08 9841 3949)

Frenchman Bay Caravan Park, Frenchman Bay Road, Albany 6330 (08 9844 4759)

Oyster Harbour Caravan Park, Elizabeth Street, Lower King 6330 (08 9844 7164)

Panorama Holiday Cottages & Caravan Park, 106 Frenchman Bay Road, Albany 6330 (08 9844 4031)

 

Copyright Frank O'Connor 1997-2006 Visits Last Modified 28th February 2006