Bibra Lake Bird Walk

 

South of the Swan River is a string of lakes known as the Beeliar Wetlands which are a chain of twenty six lakes stretching from Manning Lake in Hamilton Hill to Madura Swamp near Mandurah Wetlands. Nineteen of those lakes and associated wetlands have been incorporated into the Beeliar Regional Park. This extensive belt of wetlands that has been widely acknowledged as a biodiversity hot-spot having a greater number of endemic species than most other regions in Australia. Within this the Nyoongar with their hunter-gatherer life-style managed the land with their fire-stick farming and survived by hunting and trapping a variety of game, including kangaroos, possums and wallabies; by fishing using spears and fish traps; as well as by gathering an extensive range of edible wild plants, including wattle seeds.  Since colonisation three-quarters of these wetlands have been drained for urban development. What remains has suffered untold damage through the introduction of feral animals and plants. Thankfully Australia is a signatory of the Ramsar Convention and several key wetlands on the Swan Coastal Plain have been set aside for conservation. Bibra Lake is the fourth lake (heading southwards) in that chain of lakes that makes up Beeliar Regional Park. Whitefellas believe that they discovered the lake in 1842 and named it after the bloke who bought the land in 1843, one Benedict von Bibra. The Nyoongar say they have known about the lake since time began and to them it known as Walubup.

I first went to Bibra Lake about thirty years ago and thought it was a bit boring and hadn’t been back until the other week. I was called upon for driving duties for the Beloved Significant Other (BSO) and I was left with a morning to kill. So I looked in my copy of Birding Sites around Perth by Ron Van Delft (sadly out of print and unavailable now) and saw that Bibra Lakes was nearby and rated as a good location for birding. The down side to this was that we were experiencing the first major cold front of winter and that meant it was bucketing down and blowing a gale. So suitably swathed in Gore-Tex and equipped with a suitably weather resistant camera I headed off to walk around the lake not expecting to see much.

 

Live Here by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
A comforting warning painted on the cycle path that runs around Lake Bibra. It was cold and wet in winter so not much chance of a snakey encounter.

 

Initially I thought that with it raining I had more chance of photographing ducks as it was the perfect weather for them. There were quite a number of different species on the shore and the water. I was quite taken by the Shovelers and the Pink Eared Ducks. The Shovelers are quite a string looking duck with colouring and almost disproportionately large bills. They can often be seen foraging in shallow water where they filter water through their bills insects looking for insects, crustaceans and a variety of plants. Such a specialised mode of feeding means that they are limited to certain types of habitat such as freshwater swamps and lakes with large reed beds. Shovelers also tend to hang out with pink-eared ducks which are so called because of the patch of pink feathers on the sides of the drakes head. Like the Shovelers they too are filter feeders. As the walk moved through areas of paperbark and sheoak trees then smaller insect eating birds were seen such as Willie Wagtails, Grey Fantails, Silvereyes, and various types of wrens. Over all as I did the 8.5 Km walk I saw 18 different species of bird which I felt was a pretty good haul considering the weather conditions. So I’ve revised my opinion of Bibra Lakes and will not wait another 30 years before my next visit.

 

Australasian Shoevelers by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Australasian Shoevelers, Spatula rhynchotis. Bibra Lake, Western Australia. Panasonic Lumix G85 with Panasonic LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/400 sec, f6.3 at ISO 250.

 

Keeping A Low Profile by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
A pink-eared duck (Malacorhynchus membranaceus) keeping a low profile while amongst Eurasian coots (Fulica atra). Bibra Lake, Western Australia. Panasonic Lumix G85 with Panasonic LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/500 sec, f6.3 at ISO 3200.

 

Brown Honeyeater, by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Brown Honeyeater, Lichmera indistincta. Bibra Lake, Western Australia. Panasonic Lumix G85 with Panasonic LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/500 sec, f6.3 at ISO 2500.

 

Varigated Fairy-wren by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Varigated Fairy-wren, Malurus lamberti. Bibra Lake, western Australia. Panasonic Lumix G85 with Panasonic LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/500 sec, f6.3, ISO 320.

 

Willie Wagtail by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Willie Wagtail, Rhipidura leucophrys leucophrys, Bibra Lake. Panasonic Lumix G85 with Panasonic LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/500 sec, f6.3 at ISO 1600.

 

Mistletoebird by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
A female mistletoebird, Dicaeum hirundinaceum, at Bibra Lake in Western Australia. Panasonic Lumix G85 with Panasonic LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/500 sec, f6.3 at ISO 2000.

 

Bibra Lake by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Bibra Lake is part of the Beeliar Wetlands which is an internationally recognised birding hotspot. This is one of two bird hides that have been buit at Bibra Lake.

 

Feed A Bird? by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Don’t feed the birds sign at Bibra Lake complete with Willie Wagtail, Rhipidura leucophrys leucophrys. Panasonic Lumix G85 with Panasonic LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/500, f4, ISO 250.

If you are interested in the birds that can be seen at Bibra Lakes, and indeed throughout the Beeliar Wetlands Birding WA has a useful webpage that gives info on the species that can be seen and where. Birdlife Australia put out a couple of useful brochures which can be got from regional visitors centres or downloaded as PDFs from their website. The brochures are:

 

White-headed Stilt. by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
White-headed Stilt, Himantopus himantopus subsp. leucocephalus. Bibra Lake, Western Australia. Panasonic Lumix G85 with Panasonic LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/500 sec, f6.3 at ISO 1600.

 

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