Western Australia – Part 4 of 4

Little Penguin - portrait by Alex Vargas, Australia 2009

by Alex Vargas on November 25, 2011 · 1 comment

in Birding Australia, Digiscoping & Bird Photography

Penguin Island: a small patch of land with some very special birds + Herdsman’s Lake: lots of waterfowl in the big -City- Park and Lake

We decided to take one morning and sleep late (I know… lazy as birders). Then after lunch, we took the short ferry ride to The Penguins Island. Boy! what a cool corner of heaven… Blue waters all around, sunny waves of tropical feelings and many, many birds… Including the unique and special Little Penguin; the smallest, in fact.

October 25 – Penguin Island

The super strong sun and the -even- stronger wind on the short ferry ride, got me worried on the conditions for photography… After all, this was my chance of getting  my first ever image of a penguin and had big faith for some other cool species like Bridled Tern and Buff-banded Rail.

In fact, just arriving, my perception changed drastically, as many of the Silver Gulls -from a big nesting colony in the island- and the Australian Pelicans seemed like suspended in a 0 gravity chamber… barely moving while “floating” in the overwhelming wind.

Australian Pelican by Alex Vargas

Australian Pelican by Alex Vargas, Australia 2009

The Silver Gulls are an amazingly noisy welcoming on the deck and you can get truly close to individuals in all ages and sizes… if you can take the parents screaming like crazy in your ears, that is

Silver Gull by Alex Vargas

Silver Gull by Alex Vargas, Australia 2009

Silver Gull - chick by Alex Vargas

Silver Gull - chick by Alex Vargas, Australia 2009

I enjoyed a lot watching many birds while walking around the island, but the wind and the light were pretty tricky to get decent images… Many cool birds escaped my memory cards like that, particularly on the beaches, where we encounter some groups of terns, many pelicans, the unique looking -white bellied- cormorants and more.

Crested Tern by Alex Vargas

Crested Tern by Alex Vargas, Australia 2009

A very good surprise, though, was how one of our main targets was so friendly and happy feeding right at the open. We had been told that the Rail was going to be a challenge… the only challenge was the people scaring them while walking by. Then, 30 seconds later, adult and juvie will jump back in the lawn!

Buff-banded Rail by Alex Vargas

Buff-banded Rail by Alex Vargas, Australia 2009

Buff-banded Rail - juvenile by Alex Vargas

Buff-banded Rail - juvenile by Alex Vargas, Australia 2009

Time was flying away and our chances of a nice frame of the smallest penguin in the planet were flying away as well… I was a bit frustrated. We saw several chicks and juveniles hiding under steps and in some dark caverns, but no photo star… And just as we had decided to give up, there was our winner!… horay!

Little Penguin by Alex Vargas

Little Penguin by Alex Vargas, Australia 2009

A mother -presumably young- came quickly out of the water and took us by surprise walking super fast into the caverns, but before we could start to wonder if we had screwed our best -and unique- chance, she came back out and paused its quick step for a second to check us out… then, the shutter sounded like a machine gun!… 60 seconds later, she was gone into the water for good… Oh God… thanks!!!

October 26 – Herdsman’s Lake

Our last day before flying our separate ways around the world (Ricky to Costa Rica and myself back to Thailand), we decided to pay a visit to one of the largest lakes in Perth’s map, The Herdsman’s and it turned out to be a fantastic choice, with tons of birds and quite a few new species!

There were sings everywhere warning about the very poisonous Black Tiger Snake (one pretty creepy placed behind a kids playground?!) We walked carefully for a while, but then realized that it was still way too cold to worry that much and all that waterfowl around made us warm and feeling confident.

Blue-billed Duck - male by Alex Vargas

Blue-billed Duck - male by Alex Vargas, Australia 2009

We found several cool species here and some new ones to our WA list, including Nankeen Night-Heron, Yellow-billed Spoonbill and Glossy Ibis.

Nankeen Night Heron by Alex Vargas

Nankeen Night Heron by Alex Vargas, Australia 2009

Yellow-billed Spoonbill by Alex Vargas

Yellow-billed Spoonbill by Alex Vargas, Australia 2009

Glossy Ibis - inmature by Alex Vargas

Glossy Ibis - inmature by Alex Vargas, Australia 2009

I was happy to find some familiar feathers that I see in Thailand from time to time, like the huge Darter

Darter by Alex Vargas

Darter by Alex Vargas, Australia 2009

…and there were lots of Australian White Ibises around… gracious birds…

Australian White Ibis by Alex Vargas

Australian White Ibis by Alex Vargas, Australia 2009

After watching this nice group of Ibises, we called the day and decided to go hunting for souvenirs and an early sleep for our morning flights next day…

Some related links:






At the parking lot, this tiny dove turned as our last Bird-Photo species in Western Australia… what a ride!

Laughing Turtle Dove by Alex Vargas

Laughing Turtle Dove by Alex Vargas, Australia 2009

Special thanks in this series to Frank O’Connor, the top birding expert in the area who kindly shared lots of info with me and even got some time to have a nice chat on the way. If you are visiting WA, should seriously consider having a scan to his website and even contacting him… He is a cool gent!



Happy Bird-Photo Adventures!



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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Birdernaturalist November 29, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Nice stuff! Now I *really* want to go to Western Australia.


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