Exmouth Birding Sites

Key Species : Emu, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Wilson's Storm-Petrel, White-tailed Tropicbird (long shot), Eastern Reef Egret (breeding), Striated Heron, Spotted Harrier, Banded Lapwing, Lesser Crested Tern (good chance), Spinifex Pigeon, Rufous-crowned Emu-wren (chance), Striated Grasswren (chance), Rufous Fieldwren (good chance), Dusky Gerygone, Grey-headed Honeyeater, Mangrove Robin (good chance), Mangrove Golden Whistler (good chance), White-breasted Whistler, Western Bowerbird, Spinifexbird, Yellow White-eye. Mammals : Common Wallaroo (Euro) (Macropus robustus), Red Kangaroo (Macropus rufus), Black-footed Rock-Wallaby (Petrogale lateralis), Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), Bottle-nose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), Indo-Pacific Humpbacked Dolphin (Sousa chinensis) (good chance). Reptiles : Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas japonica), Fat-tailed Diplodactylus (Diplodactylus conspicillatus), Perentie (Varanus giganteus).

Exmouth (Post Office S21 55 46" E114 07 24") is located near the North West Cape in the north west of Western Australia 1,270km north of Perth.  The Learmonth airport is located 37km south of Exmouth.  Exmouth is best known for the nearby features of the Ningaloo Marine Park which includes Coral Bay, and the Cape Range National Park.

Although many of the roads are unsealed, 2WD will get you to all the sites mentioned below, but you might prefer a 4WD to explore some of the side tracks.

I recommend checking at the Exmouth Tourist Bureau in Murat Road to determine what tours are available and when, and to get a better idea of where everything is and to obtain a general map of the area.  You might consider a deep sea fishing trip or whale watching trip.  The snorkelling and diving opportunities are regarded as the best in Australia.

Further afield you might consider staying at Giralia Station.

There are no unique birds to make Exmouth a must to visit on your birding itinerary but there are plenty of species of interest.  Grey-headed Honeyeater is easier to find than anywhere else that I have been. Spinifexbird and Western Bowerbird are also common.  Mangrove Bay and the boat trip on Yardie Creek are the best birding sites plus the golf course and sewage ponds in town.

If you are interested in natural history in general then Exmouth is a must for your itinerary.  There is a good range of birds.  The reptiles on the road in the early evening were the best that I have seen.  The Black-footed Rock-Wallaby is a highlight at Yardie Creek. Whale watching trips are excellent during migration. The diving is regarded as the best in Australia and of course there is the chance to see a Whale Shark or a Manta RayTurtles nest on some of the beaches.

 

1. Exmouth Town

There are not many birding sites around Exmouth but there are places of interest.  In October 2000 I found White-plumed Honeyeater nesting at the Potshot Resort Hotel and Yellow -throated Miner in Maidstone Crescent at the shire office.

Sewage Works - The sewage works are not far from the tourist bureau in Murat Road.  Turn off Murat Road onto Willersdorf Road which leads around Talanjee Oval to the golf club.  At the first corner continue straight ahead on the unsealed track.  There is a rough track around the fence but I recommend that you walk clockwise.  There are two small ponds on the north side that is the best site.  Look for a few waterbirds, waders such as Grey-tailed Tattler and other birds such as Diamond Dove.  I was lucky in early November 2000 to see a White-tailed Tropicbird fly over.  The main ponds are hidden by earth banks.  You can see some of these ponds if you climb on your vehicle.  The neighbouring golf course also has some birds of interest.

Murdoch Park Golf Course - The golf club is at the end of Willersdorf Road.  I found Banded Lapwing along Willersdorf Road behind Talanjee Oval.  I saw Emu, Spotted Harrier, Nankeen Kestrel and Richard's Pipit on each visit.  Make certain that you do not disrupt any golfers.

Boat Harbour - The boat harbour is just south of town along Horwood Quays.  You should find Osprey, Silver Gull and possibly a few terns and waders.

 

2. Exmouth to Yardie Creek

Yardie Creek is 90km by road from Exmouth.  It is part of the Cape Range National Park.  You should find Emu, Euro and Red Kangaroo along the road so drive carefully.  The road from Exmouth to the Lighthouse Caravan Park in particular was very good in the early evening for reptiles and I saw Banded Lapwing one night.

Mauritius, Jacobsz and Jansz Beaches - These beaches are nesting sites for Green Turtles in particular from late October to February.  Contact the tourist bureau of the CALM officers at the Milyering Visitor Centre for more details.

Mangrove Bay - This is part of the Cape Range National Park.  The turnoff is 8km north of the Milyering Visitor Centre.  There is a fauna hide that especially in the early morning or the late afternoon is worth a quick look for Euro and Red Kangaroo coming in to drink and I saw Western Bowerbird and Brown Songlark.

There is a bird hide in the mangroves overlooking a shallow lagoon as part of Mangrove Creek.  I saw Western Bowerbird and Dusky Gerygone.  I found the hide disappointing as there was no exposed mud area for waders to roost or feed.

The best sites are the mangroves straight ahead from the car park.  I saw Rufous Fieldwren in the dune.  Walk along the beach to the right until you get to Mangrove Creek.  I saw small numbers of a good variety of waders, Striated Heron, Dusky Gerygone, Mangrove Grey Fantail, Mangrove Robin, and Lesser Crested Tern.  The other mangrove species should also be a chance.  You can return at low tide around the exposed flat rocks but be careful not to tread on the exposed mangrove roots.  In the mangroves on the left near the point I have seen Yellow White-eye, Mangrove Grey Fantail and White-breasted Whistler.  There is another area of mangroves in the bay further around to the left.  Beware of the mosquitos and sand flies.  Allow at least an hour to check this whole area and longer if you are looking for specific species.  Low tide is the best time to visit.

Milyering Visitor Centre - This is 52km from Exmouth.  There are excellent displays about the Ningaloo Marine Park and the Cape Range National Park.  The centre is the CALM headquarters for these parks.  There are free pamphlets on the parks, including the park bird list, information on turtle nesting, etc.  Note that there are daily entry fees for the park.

Mandu Mandu Gorge - The turnoff is 15km south of the Milyering Visitor Centre.  The 3km walk is strenuous along the northern scarp of the gorge and back along the pebbles and stones of the river bed.  The birding was disappointing.  Grey-headed Honeyeater was very common at the far end of the walk.  Western Bowerbird, Australian Ringneck, Spinifexbird and Spinifex Pigeon were the other better sightings.  The singing of the very common Pied Butcherbirds echoing through the gorge is another highlight.  If you visit the gorge to bird then you will probably prefer walking up and back along the creek rather than the climb.  Allow 90 to 180 minutes and ensure that you take sufficient water.

Yardie Creek - Yardie Creek is 90km from Exmouth.  The road is now almost completely sealed but allow 90 minutes for the trip from Exmouth to cover the time for the park registration and stoppages for kangaroos, birds, etc.  The main attraction is the boat trip operated by Neil McGregor.  It leaves at least four days a week at noon.  The trip lasts just over an hour.  You can book at the tourist bureau or just turn up and pay at the boat.  The highlights were the Black-footed Rock-Wallaby and the birds nesting along the gorge including Eastern Reef Egret, Striated Heron, Little Corella, Nankeen Kestrel and Welcome Swallow.  There is also a 1.5km return walk along the northern scarp.  Allow 1 to 2 hours for the walk and take sufficient water.  There is a 4WD track that follows the coast south to the Ningaloo Homestead but you need to cross the shallow water when the sand bar is open, and you probably will need to reduce your tyre pressures to cross the sand bar, so I don't recommend this.

 

3. South of Exmouth

The eastern side of the Cape Range National Park is accessed from the Exmouth to Learmonth road south of Exmouth. Look for Osprey nesting on power poles, and Wedge-tailed Eagle, Red-backed Kingfisher, Brown Songlark, etc along the road.

Shothole Canyon - The turnoff to Shothole Canyon is about 17km from Exmouth.  This is a 13km unsealed road that leads to a car park at the end.  There is very little vegetation and hence very little bird life for about the first 8km due to a large bush fire in early 1999.  The last part of the road is well vegetated with spinifex clumps, mallee and other vegetation.  Grey-headed Honeyeater is very common in this area.  You should also find Spinifexbird, Red-browed Pardalote, Crested Bellbird and Little Woodswallow fairly easily.  The habitat looks very suitable for Rufous-crowned Emu-wren and Striated Grasswren but I failed to locate them.

Drive slowly along the road and stop where you hear bird activity.  There are a few sidetracks that look like they could have good birding.  The best track is 9.4km from the turnoff and goes for about 500 metres.  Walk slowly and listen.

As the regrowth in the burnt area increases the birding should improve.  There is a track 6.7km from the turnoff that goes for at least 500 metres and possibly much further along the valley.

The walk from the final car park is scenic but there is very little in the way of birds.

Charles Knife Road - This road is about 23km south of Exmouth.  It leads to the Thomas Carter Lookout and the Badjirrajirra walk.  The 12km road is partly sealed but the unsealed section is steep in places.  This road is not worth birding as it was burnt out in the fires of early 1999.  It will need several more years to revegetate.

Wapet Creek - This creek is very well lined by mangroves.  The unsealed track is signposted just north of the Learmonth airport.  Follow the main track to the creek.  Bird here and try the tracks around the mangroves to the left and the right.  I saw Mangrove Grey Fantail, Dusky Gerygone and Yellow White-eye and heard Mangrove Golden Whistler.  I didn't have much time to explore the side tracks or try to find the best birding sites.  I didn't get to the south side of the creek, or near the mouth of the creek.

 

4. Further Afield

I haven't visited any of the following locations but they should have something of interest.

Coral Bay - Coral Bay is 155km by road from Exmouth.  This is a highly recommended site for snorkelling and diving.  There are tours to swim with the Whale Sharks from March to June and all year to look for Manta Rays, dugongs, dolphins, whales and turtles.

Ningaloo Homestead - This is about 130km from Exmouth.  Ask at the tourist bureau for more details.

Bullara Station Stay (08 9942 5938) - This is a pastoral sheep station located about 86km from Exmouth.  They have accommodation and camping.  I am sure that there would be some good birding sites and station stays are always a place of interest. They are situated close enough to Ningaloo and Coral Bay.

Giralia Station (08 9942 5937) - This is a pastoral sheep station located about 125km from Exmouth on Burkett Road.  They have accommodation and camping.  I am sure that there would be some good birding sites and station stays are always a place of interest.

Muiron Islands - These islands are north east of the cape.  There are same day, overnight and longer fishing and diving trips to the islands.  Look for Humpback Whales, dolphins, turtles, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Wilson's Storm-Petrel, etc on the way there.  The islands should have Beach Stone-curlew, some migratory waders, possibly Brown Quail, etc.

 

Bullara Station Stay (Phone 08 9942 5938) stay@bullara-station.com.au www.bullara-station.com.au

Exmouth Tourist Bureau, Murat Road, PO Box 149, Exmouth 6707 (Phone : 1800 287 329 or 08 9949 1176 Fax : 08 9949 1441) exmouth-tour@nwc.net.au

Excape Backpackers (Phone : 08 9949 1201 Fax : 08 9949 1680)

Exmouth Base Lodge, PO Box 142, Exmouth 6707 (Phone : 1800 241 474 or 08 9949 1474 Fax : 08 9949 1440) baselodge@nwc.net.au

Exmouth Budget Accommodation (Phone : 08 9949 1703 Fax : 08 9949 1300)

Giralia Station (Denver & Rae Blake), Burkett Road, Exmouth Shire 6707 (Phone / Fax : 08 9942 5937)

Lighthouse Caravan Park, Yardie Creek Road, Exmouth 6707 (08 9949 1478)

Ningaloo Safari Tours (Neil McLeod), PO Box 203, Exmouth 6707 (Phone : 08 9949 1550 Fax : 08 9949 1624) ningaloosafari@nwc.net.au

Exmouth Bird List (Microsoft Word 95) (15KB)

Copyright Frank O'Connor 1997-2010 Visits Last Modified 1st September 2010