Ahoy there matey, thar she blows…

Perth is a great place to watch the Humpback Whale migration.  In September to November the whales are heading south to the Antarctic feeding grounds.  During the middle of the year they calve up near Ningaloo often not feeding for many months.

I went with a commercial company called Whale Watching Western Australia as I wanted to try them out.  They will be doing commercial Blue Whale trips off Perth Canyon in April.

We left Fremantle Sardine jetty at 9am for a 2 hour trip – heading past the shipping lanes to a spot between Cottesloe beach and Rottnest.

It was a little lumpy due to the bad weather in the days leading up to the trip and also overcast but no rain.

Once past the ships we saw a small pod of bottlenose dolphins but they were too quick to get a photo of.

We soon saw our first humpback whale – a mum with her calf.

Humpback mother with calf in Perth waters

We were soon joined by another mother with calf and it seemed like the calves wanted to play!

We were treated to all sorts of behaviours and at one time had 4 pods of mother & calves around the boat.  The captain was careful to keep the boat at distance and allow the whales to approach closer if they wanted to.

We also had this petrel hanging around that I haven’t been able to identify yet.

We then headed back saying bye to the whales and seeing this cool sailing ship.

My last interesting sighting was an Australasian gannet that dived into our wake.

The company write up each trip and also add their own photos.  I would recommend using them and will see if I might be able to see Southern rights and Minke on different trips at different times of year.  I will definitely be planning the blue whale trip and will be encouraging a group of WA Naturalists to join me.


Trapping at Kensington Bushland

One of my local areas of bush is Kensington Bushland – a remnant area of Banksia woodland.  I have blogged about it before when I put a camera trap out to watch a Rainbow bee-eater nest.  I had shown an interest in doing some more trapping and the council & friends group had arranged for a terrestrial fauna survey to be completed.

A research associate from the WA Museum had laid out a series of trap lines – with pit traps (buckets dug into the ground) with a shade mesh fence and a few funnel traps for larger animals.

This trapping went for about 2 weeks – with the traps being checked each morning.

I went the first day and we setup the funnel traps, draped them with hessian to provide some cover and also removed the lids from the trapping run about a month before.


The previous trapping didn’t catch much as it was quite cold and rainy which prevents many of the reptiles moving about too much.

Our first catch was a Bobtail in one of the funnel traps – as it was still early and quite cold it was pretty sluggish.

We also caught a few of the introduced pest Portuguese millipedes and this cool looking centipede.


Centipede in a pit trap @ Kensington Bushland

That was all we caught on my second day helping.

The third day I came down I heard the day before they had caught a dugite in one of the funnel traps.  On the second trap line in one of the pit traps, we caught a Buchanan’s Snake-eyed Skink – this is the common one you often find on the fence in your garden.

Buchanan’s snake-eyed skink @ Kensington Bushland

In the next trap line in a pit trap we caught a new species for me – Common dwarf skink (Menetia greyii).

Throughout the bushland there were lots of lovely wildflowers.

I really enjoyed the trapping and it should run again in December when it will be much warmer and catch more critters!

Rich & Rare: Greater Brixton St Wetlands

This week I attended a symposium with a number of speakers talking about the Great Brixton St Wetlands.  The main thrust was ensuring the wetland region is not affected by proposed medium to long term industrial developments surrounding the wetlands.

For its size of only 200ha it has a huge variety of plant species due to the number of different habitats found here driven by the soil types and hydrology.

I learnt lots about flows of water and how typical urban development really affects it.  We also had a fascinating talk on ecological corridors trying to allow the movement of wildlife through the developed landscape and through many of the barriers that have been erected – ie roads or lack of vegetation.

We then went for a field trip to Allison Baird Reserve owned by UWA and typically no public access.  Prof Hans Lambers led our group and he showed us many plants – only found on this reserve!

We saw some amazing plants.  These green kangaroo paws only grow in quite wet soils – I hadn’t seen them before.

Green Kangaroo Paws

Look at this tiny carnivorous sundew – thats my finger tip next to it!  Also next to it is another type of sundew.

Banksia flower.

All in all a really interesting day and wonderful to be amongst so many people who have a real interest in preserving the natural remnants in our city.