Shark Bay Birding Sites

Key Species : Emu, Malleefowl, Lesser Sand Plover, Banded Lapwing, Pacific Gull, Black-eared Cuckoo, Fork-tailed Swift (summer), White-winged Fairy-wren, Thick-billed Grasswren, Rufous Fieldwren, Shy Heathwren (chance), Redthroat, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Slender-billed Thornbill (chance), Southern Whiteface, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Crimson Chat, Orange Chat (chance), Hooded Robin, Southern Scrub-robin, White-browed Babbler, Chiming Wedgebill, Varied Sittella, Crested Bellbird, Mangrove Grey Fantail, White-backed Swallow, Rufous Songlark, Brown Songlark, Yellow White-eye. Mammals : Bilby, Euro, Long-beaked Bottlenose Dolphin, Dugong.

Shark Bay is a World Heritage Area located about 850km from Perth.  From Perth, head north of Geraldton on the North West Coastal Highway to the Overlander Roadhouse and then turn west to Denham and Monkey Mia.  It is a long day's drive from Perth which I have done twice, but I recommend staying at Kalbarri on the way.

This area is very well known for the Long-beaked Bottlenose Dolphins that come in to the Monkey Mia beach.  Don't go walking in bare feet or shoes with thin soles in the mulga as the area is infested with double gees (three corner jacks).

The following are the best locations that I found in four visits to Shark Bay in October 1995, February 1996, June 1999 and July 2004.  The Birds Australia WA Inc. bird guide brochure for Shark Bay is excellent also.

 

1. North West Coastal Highway

Billabong Roadhouse (S26 48 56" E114 36 52") - There is some good birding between the Billabong Roadhouse and the Overlander Roadhouse.  Look for birds as they cross the road or stop and listen for Chiming Wedgebill which is very common especially as you get further north.  I stopped 15km south of the Overlander Roadhouse in June 1999 and saw Chiming Wedgebill, Crimson Chat, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, White-winged Triller and Rufous SonglarkMalleefowl has been reported just north of the Billabong Roadhouse.

Overlander Roadhouse (S26 24 44" E114 27 51") - I recommend refuelling here.  There are a few birds around the roadhouse such as White-plumed Honeyeater, Crested Pigeon and Rufous Songlark.  Reset your trip meter to zero.

 

2. Overlander Roadhouse to Denham

Windmill 1 (9.8km S26 24 42" E114 21 55") - Look for a windmill on the south side about 100 metres off the road.  There is a track that leads part of the way.  This is worth a 20 to 30 minute stop to look for Chiming Wedgebill, Crested Bellbird, White-winged Fairy-wren, Crimson Chat, Hooded Robin, Red-capped Robin, White-browed Babbler, Zebra Finch, Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo, Banded Lapwing, etc.  I surprisingly saw Dusky Woodswallow here in July 2004.

Windmill 2 (19km S26 25 20" E114 16 46") - There is another windmill on the south side of the road with a similar range of species.  I surprisingly saw Dusky Woodswallow and Singing Bushlark here in July 2004.

Hamelin Pool Caravan Park (turnoff 29km office S26 24 01" E114 09 55") - This is worth a stop for lunch or as an alternative place to stay.  I have seen Black-eared Cuckoo, White-winged Fairy-wren, Brown Songlark, etc in the caravan park or on the salt marsh especially near the sewage pond.  The sewage pond was an excellent birding site but in June 1999 it was overgrown with reeds.  Orange Chat, Slender-billed Thornbill and Broad-billed Sandpiper have been reported here.  The stromatolites are a must to see on the beach.

The following distances are from Denham.

Shell Beach (45km S26 12 59" E113 46 37") - The beach is of interest but I have seen very little in the way of birds here.

Salt Marsh (S26 12 03" E113 42 30") - There is a large area of salt marsh near Goulet Bluff Road.  This is a possible area for Orange Chat, Slender-billed Thornbill and Rufous Fieldwren.

Fowlers Camp Road (23km S26 12 03" E113 42 30") - This area does not look anything special, but I have seen some very good birds here.  Rufous Fieldwren is common along the road.  There are mangroves and a sandbank at the end of the road (S26 06 23" E113 37 07") where birds of interest could be found.  In July 2004 I possibly saw a Shy Heathwren and a Chestnut Quail-thrush in the scrub near the start of the road (S26 06 07" E113 37 48").

Eagle Bluff (19km) - I haven't seen very much at Eagle Bluff, but along the track to Eagle Bluff there is a track to the right that leads to a small lagoon (S26 04 22" E113 34 53") which could have birds of interest.

 

3. Hamelin Station Stay

I haven't visited here, but I have heard very good reports.  They are advertising to birders.  They have self contained units, shearer's quarters and campsites.  There is a wetland and I am sure that there would be a very good variety of birds around the station.

 

4. Denham (Post Office S25 55 41" E113 32 04")

Denham Foreshore (S25 55 43" E113 32 03") - The main bird of possible interest is likely to be a Pacific Gull.

Denham Water Treatment Works (S25 55 30" E113 32 27") - The Water Authority is located on Monkey Mia Road close to the tourist information bay as you approach Denham.  You can't see the main ponds, but there is a small pond that is visible.  The radio tower close by is a good place to look for Osprey.

Little Lagoon - From the Denham foreshore, take the road at the northern end of Knight Terrace past the Foodland supermarket which becomes Stella Rowley Drive.  At about 3.5km, turn left on the dirt road, turn left at the first car park (S25 54 23" E113 31 44") which overlooks Little Lagoon, past the viewing platform (S25 54 23" E113 31 36") and continue 200 metres to the turn around area.  You can walk from here to the mouth of the creek (S25 54 09" E113 31 23").  Look along the creek in the mangroves for Striated Heron, Mangrove Grey Fantail and possible Yellow White-eye and at the the mouth for waders.  The lagoon itself seldom seems to have many birds.

 

4. Monkey Mia (Information Centre S25 47 36" E113 43 11")

Car Park (S25 47 38" E113 43 12") - The car park is the best location to see Thick-billed GrasswrenWhite-browed Babbler is often found in the car park also.  Note that there is a visitor fee payable.

Explorer's Walk Trail - This is a relatively easy walk of about 1.5km.  The walk starts in the car park, leads up to a bird hide at a small dam, winds around the top of the sand dune and then down to the flat and out to the beach.  You can return along the beach to the visitor centre, or along the flat back to the car park.  Stop at the dam to look for birds coming into drink such as Common Bronzewing, Zebra Finch, etc.  This is best on hot days or later in the day.  Look on the top for Thick-billed Grasswren, Southern Scrub-robin, Crested Bellbird, Variegated Fairy-wren, etc.  Look on the sand spit for waders and terns.

Sewage Ponds (S25 48 01" E113 42 53") - About 200 metres from the Monkey Mia car park, there is a track to the left up the hill.  The beginning of the track is part of the Explorer's Walk Trail.  Keep going up the hill for about 600 metres to the sewage ponds that are fenced.  It is about 600 metres to walk around the fenced area.  Look for waterbirds and waders in the ponds, and similar bush birds outside the fence.

 

5. Francois Peron National Park

Francois Peron Homestead (Visitor Centre S25 50 22" E113 33 22") - The homestead and visitor centre is 6km from the Monkey Mia Road.  A national parks fee is payable.  The track is very sandy, and a 4WD is strongly recommended, but a 2WD can get through to the homestead but no further.  Find the fenced grassy area with the hot tub behind the visitor information centre.  Walk along the tracks past this area looking for Emu, Chiming Wedgebill, Southern Scrub-robin, Crested Bellbird, Thick-billed Grasswren, Variegated Fairy-wren, White-winged Fairy-wren, Black-eared Cuckoo and possible Malleefowl.  A pair of Brown Goshawks nest in the tall trees at the back of the homestead.

Big Lagoon (S25 46 29" E113 28 33") - From the bitumen at the homestead, head along the track to Cape Peron.  The turnoff to Big Lagoon is 2.2km along the track, and it is a further 9.7km to the lagoon.  There is very little at the lagoon itself, but you can walk along the shore to the left for about 30 minutes to a large area of mangroves that should be of interest.  Walking further, you can get to the mouth of the lagoon.

Cape Peron - I haven't been further north than the turnoff to Big Lagoon, but the peninsula should have areas of interest.  Bottle Bay is a further 39km from the Big Lagoon turnoff, and Cape Peron is 43km from the turnoff.

 

6. Tamala Station

Tamala Station is located along the road to Useless Loop.  There are camping areas provided on the station.  I haven't visited the station, but it should be of great interest because the mulga eucalypt line passes through the station.  You need to book ahead.  Contact Ian and Kerry King on 08 9948 3991.

Allan Burbidge's Shark Bay Bird List

Shark Bay Holiday Cottages, PO Box 124, Denham 6537 (Phone/Fax 08 9948 1206 Email sharkbayhol.cottages@bigpond.com.au)

Hamelin Station Stay, (Phone 08 9948 5145) Email hamelinstationstay@bigond.com

Hamelin Pool Caravan Park, Hamelin Pool 6532 (Phone 08 9942 5905 Fax 08 9942 5989 Email hamelincaravanpark@bigpond.com)

CALM, 67 Knight Terrace, Denham 6537 (Phone 08 9948 1208) 

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