Sunday, December 6, 2009

Herdsman Lake - Birding in Perth

Herdsman Lake is one of those fantastic isolated pockets of nature that continues to be prime quality real wild habitat even though it is entirely surrounded by city. I have been there once before and remembered it as a truly breathtaking place - partly due to the swampy nature of the place, so with a bit of Jutlandian negotiation skills I managed to convince the rest of the holidaying gang that an hour in a smelly swamp was the pinnacle of what Perth could offer on a lazy Sunday afternoon - from my point of view, we were not disappointed :-)

When it comes to waterbirds not many places do better than Herdsman Lake! Entering the boardwalks it is quickly forgotten that Perth is just on the other side of the trees and it seems the birds have reached a similar state of relaxation. As an example, the picture of the Blue-billed Duck above has not been cropped, indeed I had to zoom out to get the entire bird in the frame, since it was so relaxed about the Dane jumping around trying to get the sun in the right place.

Great Crested Grebe above and Yellow-billed Spoonbill below are birds that I have seen every single time I have been to Herdsman Lake - twice that is :-) It is actually the only place in Australia that I have seen the YBS.

Once again time was running out and we had to consider leaving to attend our last Perth dinner for this time. However the Lake had another little surprise in stall for us.

When we arrived at the lake a group of people was leaving and had alerted us to the presence of a Tiger Snake in the reeds next to one of the viewing platforms. As you can imagine this information had spurred us on at rapid speed trying to get photographic evidence of this species of snake that I had not seen before. Despite using quite a bit of time at the spot they had pointed out we did not see the Tiger. On the way back, however, we were successful! :-)

I know the picture is not best ever ... one could argue that having the head of the snake in the shot would be nice :-) But I am sure the readers will understand that none of us felt like trying to manipulate our newly found little friend into a more photogenic position.
The internet is full of pages trying to list the most venomous/deadly/dangerous snakes in the world. It is not straight forward, since a very venomous snake might be placid or due to its habitat very unlikely to get into contact with humans. In fact, the most deadly venomous creature in Australia is the European Honey bee! Still though talking potent venom, the Tiger Snake is up there with the best of them - if you were a mouse, the Tiger Snake would be the 4th worst snake to be bitten by - see the list of LD50 values here. Australia is doing pretty well on that list! ;-)

Driving back we witnessed another Australia speciality - a bush fire in some park/bush land in the middle of Perth! Firefighters were at the scene before there was any change of the fire developing, but still a reminder of, how different a part of the world this is.

This post will be the last from our Perth trip - I promise you there are still more pictures, but it is wise to save some stories for the next trip. One last incident is worth mentioning though, as we were driving towards the airport late Sunday night a Barn Owl flew across the road in front of the car. That brought the total number of new birds seen during the trip up to a respectable eleven, including a couple of very restricted species - not bad at all :-)


Anonymous said...

neat site thanks

AGL said...

Thanks - Glad you like it. Herdsman Lake is a very rewarding spot to visit and with Blue-billed ducks sitting models like the one in the post, it is very easy to get some good photos along with a bit of writing :-)

Cheers Allan