Stirling Range National Park Birding Sites

Key Species : Emu, Chestnut Teal, Square-tailed Kite (nesting), Spotted Harrier (chance), Wedge-tailed Eagle, Little Eagle (nesting), Short-billed Black-Cockatoo (nesting), Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Regent Parrot, Western Rosella, Red-capped Parrot, Elegant Parrot (nesting), Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo, Masked Owl (chance), Rufous Treecreeper (nesting), Blue-breasted Fairy-wren, Red-winged Fairy-wren, Southern Emu-wren, Western Thornbill, Little Wattlebird, Purple-gaped Honeyeater, Yellow-plumed Honeyeater, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, Western Yellow Robin (nesting), White-breasted Robin, Southern Scrub-robin, Western Whipbird (chance), Dusky Woodswallow (nesting), Red-eared FiretailMammals : Western Grey Kangaroo.

The Stirling Range National Park is approximately 380km south east of Perth and 80km north of Albany via Chester Pass Road.  I usually visit the Stirling Range from Albany by driving north on Chester Pass Road, or after Dryandra State Forest by driving south through Narrogin, Wagin, Katanning, Broomehill, Gnowangerup and (optionally) Borden.  The Porongorups are about 45km north east of Albany.

I recommend staying at the Stirling Range Retreat (08 9827 9229) on the northern edge of the park on Chester Pass Road opposite the turnoff to Bluff Knoll.  The caravan park has some chalets, cabins and backpackers accommodation.  The Bluff Knoll Cafe (08 9827 9293 or UHF 37) is a small cafe across the road that is open from 7am to 9pm if you don't want to organise meals.

The operators of the caravan park Tony and Ayleen Sands are very helpful.  They have two or three mud maps for walks from the caravan park and a bird list for the Gnowangerup District.  All the walks are good for birds.

September to November is the best time of the year to visit as many species are nesting, but any time of the year is usually good except for very hot or windy days.

Look out for the CALM brochure Stirling Range and Porongorup National Parks available at many of the fee paying stations and information centres.

 

1. Stirling Range Retreat (08 9827 9229 - S34 18 58" E118 11 25")

I always stay at the Stirling Range Retreat unless I am just passing through on the way to Albany or the way back to Perth.  The owners Tony & Ayleen Sands are very helpful and interested in the birds of the area.  Ask at the office for the mud maps for the walks above, plus a bird list of the area.  There are good places to walk around the retreat to casually bird.  The area near the swimming pool can be good for Blue-breasted Fairy-wren and I have seen Southern Scrub-robin and Western Yellow Robin near the chalets.

There is a good walk around the block.  Follow the western fence north until the corner and turn right (east) following the fence.  There is a small grain silo where there is often spilt grain where Galah, Elegant Parrot and Regent Parrot come to feed.  Continue along the track beside the fence and return along the firebreak that is parallel and close to Chester Pass Road.  Allow 1.5 to 2 hours for the return walk.

 

2. Ongarup Creek Walk

This is a 4km return walk through an excellent variety of habitats.  The walk begins at the Bluff Knoll turnoff (S34 19 02" E118 11 30") and is marked with yellow arrows.  They recommend 1.5 hours but allow 2 to 3 hours for birding.  The walk starts by walking nearly 1.5km east along the fence line.  There is a Little Eagle nest about 200 metres from the start in a tall white gum.  Masked Owl has been reported in this area.  This is followed by a good area of mallee where Southern Scrub-robin and Purple-gaped Honeyeater can be seen.  Look for Emu and Western Grey Kangaroo in the paddock.  At the corner turn right (south) for about 300 metres.  The thick mallee and grass trees is a chance for Western Thornbill.  At the next corner turn left and follow the fence east for about 100 metres to Ongarup Creek (S34 19 27" E118 12 31").  The heath near the creek can be very good for honeyeaters.  Spend some time along the creek looking for possible Red-winged Fairy-wren, White-breasted Robin and Red-eared Firetail.  The return walk follows the firebreak track for about 2km.  There is an open area of wandoo where you can find Rufous Treecreeper, Yellow-plumed Honeyeater and Dusky Woodswallow.  There is some thick mallee around the open woodland where Southern Scrub-robin can be found and Western Whipbird has been recorded.

 

3. Kanga Walk

This is a 4.4km return walk.  You can do the full walk in two to three hours, or you can concentrate on two areas of mallee and wandoo.  The walk begins at the Bluff Knoll turnoff and is marked with green arrows.  The walk starts along the Bluff Knoll Road past the picnic area.  Look for the Square-tailed Kite nest next to the road between the two entrances.  It breeds in spring.  Continue until you reach the firebreak track on the right just past the 60kph sign.  The firebreak travels south east for about 1.5km to the Papa Colla Creek (S34 19 40" E118 10 54").  The track starts with an excellent area of mallee heath on the left where you can look for Purple-gaped Honeyeater, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, White-eared Honeyeater, Brown-headed Honeyeater, Southern Emu-wren, Southern Scrub-robin and possible Western Whipbird.  Keep an eye above for Short-billed Black-Cockatoo and raptors such as Wedge-tailed Eagle, Little Eagle, Square-tailed Kite and Brown Goshawk.  At the creek turn right and follow the creek across Chester Pass Road to the fence corner.  The return walk follows the fence line but I usually walk through the open wandoo woodland looking for Rufous Treecreeper, Western Thornbill, Yellow-plumed Honeyeater, White-naped Honeyeater, Blue-breasted Fairy-wren, Short-billed Black-Cockatoo (nests in spring), Elegant Parrot, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Dusky Woodswallow, Western Yellow Robin and possible Australian Owlet-nightjar.  Look especially in and around the small dense thickets for the smaller species.  The birds usually feed in mixed flocks.

 

4. Rangers Dam

I don't usually walk the full Kanga Walk.  Most times I park at the picnic area or at the pull off on Chester Pass Road.  There is a track behind the rangers house that crosses the firebreak track of the Kanga Walk.  Walk south east along this track for less than 1km until you reach a small dam.  This track passes through the mallee giving much better chances of seeing the mallee species such as Purple-gaped Honeyeater, Southern Scrub-robin, Southern Emu-wren, plus other honeyeaters and cuckoos including a good chance of Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo.  I have seen Emu and Brush Bronzewing at the dam.  I usually spend about 1 hour for the return walk to the dam from the firebreak track.  I then walk through the open wandoo woodland to the pull off on Chester Pass Road, cross over and wander through the woodland roughly parallel to the road until I get back to the Bluff Knoll turnoff.

 

5. Salt River Road

From the Stirling Range Retreat entrance, head north on Chester Pass Road for 5.0km to Salt River Road.  This is an unsealed road.  It is suitable for 2WD vehicles, but it can be dusty or muddy.  This is a good road to look for birds such as Emu, raptors, cuckoos, Western Whipbird, honeyeaters, etc and reptiles such as Shingleback and Rosenberg's Monitor.  You will cross over South Formby Road after 12.5km.  Look for Emus near the Camel Lake Nature Reserve (S34 18 24" E118 01 32").  I have seen a Western Whipbird in the mallee heath at 19.4km west of South Formby Road (8.2km east of Red Gum Pass Road).  Salt River Road is being sealed east of Red Gum Pass Road.

 

6. Red Gum Pass Road

This is an unsealed road.  It is worth birding for 30 minutes to an hour at Red Gum Springs (S34 22 26" E117 47 16") 8.1km south of Salt River Road (2.6km north of Stirling Range Drive).  Look for cuckoos, Spotted Pardalote (nominate form), whistlers, Red-winged Fairy-wren, etc.  Numbats have been released in this area, but I have yet to see one here.

 

7. Stirling Range Drive

This is an unsealed road and it can be badly corrugated.  It is spectacular for wildflowers in spring.  It is 40.7km from Red Gum Pass Road to Chester Pass Road.  It can be worth stopping to bird near the car parks at White Gum Flats (S34 24 10" E117 54 31") and Talyuberlup (S34 22 26" E117 47 16") to look for cuckoos, whistlers, Western Yellow Robin, White-breasted Robin, etc.

 

8. Stirling Range to Amelup (S34 15 09" E118 13 09")

If  you are coming to (or leaving) the Stirling Range from Borden along Chester Pass Road then look closely for birds along the way, especially in the last section south of Amelup.  I have seen Chestnut Teal on the farm dams, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Red-capped Parrot, Spotted Harrier, White-winged Triller, etc.

 

CALM Stirling Range National Park Office, Chester Pass Road, Amelup 6338 (08 9827 9230)

Stirling Range Retreat (Tony & Ayleen Sands), Chester Pass Road, Borden 6338 (Phone : 08 9827 9229 Fax : 08 9827 9224 Email stirlingrangeretreat@bigpond.com)

 

Copyright Frank O'Connor 1997-2003 Visits Last Modified 11th September 2003