Humpback whale watching

As a result of the boat dramas we had with the Blue whale watching tour (which I had organised for the WA Nats), I was offered a free Humpback tour and they also said I could bring my wife Mel along. I was also able to include my 4 year old son Liam.  I can’t recommend Whale Watch Western Australia highly enough!  This was my third trip with them.  They are a highly professional, passionate family business who really care about showing the beauty of whales and increasing knowledge in the general public.

They have a custom built 25m catamaran with multiple viewing decks – the commentary is also really enlightening and they always upload a trip report onto their website at the end of the day which includes high quality images for you to download after your trip – see ours.

Liam and I in front of MV Steep Point @ Freo Sardine Jetty

Liam was very excited – really hoping to see dolphins as well as whales.

Liam looking for whales and not with his parents!

We headed out past the shipping lanes to a region just in front of Rottnest where the whales pass, heading South this time of year.  They haven’t eaten for many months in the North as its the time for calving.

We soon found a pair of male humpbacks (Megaptera novaeangliae).  Liam was very excited to see his first ever whale.  We missed a single dolphin that was in the wake for a short time and ended up being the only dolphin seen.

We had wonderful views of the whales who were very comfortable approaching the boat as the crew are skilled in setting the whales at ease – keeping the required distance away and allowing the animals to come closer should they want to.  Whales are intelligent mammals and as a result do have a curiosity about the world around them.

We spent a long time with the whales – at one time another commercial jetboat approached and the whales seemed to come closer to us to get away from that vessel.

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Thompson Bay, Rottnest visible from boat in the whale zone

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Tail flukes

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Whale blow

Just as the two hour tour was at an end we headed for home and I saw a pair of Australasian gannets on the way in.

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A great trip that Liam really enjoyed and was very comfortable on the boat.  As he is only 4 he found it hard to just watch for whales, but he was able to go inside and play, plus he made a few new friends at the same time.  Perhaps next time we will bring our daughter – but she is only just 2 and still too young for this type of activity on a boat.

Beavers whale watching!

 

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Sullivan Rock Herping

I have been wanting to go out herping in the colder weather for a while now.  It’s a good time when reptiles can be found brumating (the reptile version of hibernating) and can be quite sluggish giving good views up close.

Jimmy was again game to join me with my 4 year old son and we managed to pick a beautiful clear winters day, but with some rain looming in the evening.  We headed out at midday with Liam enjoying the car trip.

Liam enjoying an audio book on the trip out

We headed to Sullivan Rock on Albany Hwy in Mt Cooke – it’s where the Bibbulmun  track crosses the highway and there is a good sized car park.  We crossed the road following the track where it crosses Sullivan Rock.

As we got to the rock we headed East to get to some areas where we thought less people would visit.  Along the way we lifted rocks looking for reptiles – always carefully placing the rock back in exactly the same spot to minimise disturbance.  Many rocky outcrops in the Perth Hills have been damaged with people taking rocks for their gardens, rock cairns being built, vehicles driven on the rocks damaging habitat and rocks just generally being moved.  Many living things use the rocks as habitat – so they must be treated with care.

The first reptile we found was a Barking gecko (Underwoodisaurus milii).  This is a pretty cool gecko that, when threatened, will raise its whole body up on its legs and ‘bark’ like a small dog.  This one was pretty sluggish and ambled off underneath another rock.

Barking gecko @ Sullivan Rock

The next thing we found was a scorpion under a rock – Liam was very keen to touch but we had to insist it was a bad idea!

We enjoyed a picnic lunch on the rock and then kept looking.  There was quite a lot of water seeping down the rock but we didn’t find any frogs under the wet rocks or in some of the rock pools.

We found a couple of small skinks that moved off too quickly to ID or photograph.

We then found a family of Ornate crevice dragons (Ctenophorus ornatus) – there was one larger with three smaller.  Three of them dashed off to another rock but one just sat there, pretty much motionless.

We then headed for home – pleased we had found 3-4 species of reptiles and really giving Liam a good nature experience.  He loved his time and had been so good clambering over the rocks.  He was pretty tired after this and got a few Zzz’s in the car on the way home!

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.

Kensington Bushland

This is my local bushland and I love going there.  I have recorded 16 species of bird there now and I’m trying to find other critters there as well.

Over the weekend I was there a couple of times and took these shots of the birds.

I am currently working on another naturalist project and will blog about it when I get the chance 🙂

Bremer Bay Trip and Roadkill

Over the Christmas break my son and I went to Bremer Bay camping for 4 nights.  We had a great time and I hoped to get out spotlighting but only managed to take a whole lot of young kids out – but we had a lot of fun doing it and found mainly spiders.  No possums as hoped – though my son said he saw plenty 🙂 and it started raining at the end of our walk.

 

We did about 1000kms over the week and I saw lots of roadkill.  As a matter of interest I did a rough tally of what I saw:

  • Foxes 6+
  • Roos 4-5
  • Rabbits
  • Snakes – this Dugite was seen in Bremer Bay

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  • bobtails – I managed to shoo a live one off the road hopefully to live another day
  • various birds

Wildlife takes a beating on the roads…