Beeliar Wetlands Birding Sites

Key Species : Musk Duck, Australasian Shoveller, Little Bittern (long shot), Australasian Bittern (long shot), Baillon's Crake (chance), Australian Spotted Crake (good chance), Spotless Crake (good chance), waders, Little Ringed Plover (long shot), Franklin's Gull (long shot), Sacred Kingfisher (good chance). Mammals : Southern Brown Bandicoot (chance). Amphibians : Oblong Turtle (Long-necked Tortoise). Reptiles : Black Tiger Snake (Notechis ater).

The Beeliar Wetlands are a string of wetlands in the southern Perth metropolitan area.  A spotting scope is a big advantage for all the wetlands.  Beware of the chance of Tiger Snakes at all of the locations!


1. Thomsons Lake (UBD Map 387)

Thomsons Lake is one of Western Australia's most important conservation reserves.  It often supports more than 10,000 waterbirds and for this reason it has been included in conjunction with Forrestdale Lake on the List of Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention.  It should be very high on your list of places to visit in summer.  It is very similar to Forrestdale Lake although it tends to dry out later (if at all) in the year.  You should wear waders or an old pair of joggers as the peat mud is usually soft (ankle to calf deep) but fortunately it is not sticky.  Make certain to carry some water as there is no shade.  The lake is about 2.5km to walk around, but I usually only visit a small area.

A major highlight of Thomsons Lake were the extensive beds of typha reeds which were the home of large numbers of Spotless, Australian Spotted and Baillon's Crakes and Buff-banded Rail. Clamorous Reed-warbler and Little Grassbird were also common.  Little and occasionally Australasian Bitterns were also recorded.  However very heavy rains flooded the lake in February one year, and the water level remained high until the past couple of years when the water has receded.  The result has been that the typha has nearly all gone and it has only just begun to regenerate on the southern side.  Hopefully the typha will return to its former extent.

The lake is a good site for large numbers of Eurasian Coot, ducks, Black Swan, and Hoary-headed Grebe and other waterbirds.  Less common and rare sightings for the south west have included Glossy Ibis, White-winged Black and Whiskered Tern, Royal Spoonbill, Chestnut Teal and Black-tailed Native-hen.

The other highlight is during summer when there are large numbers of wadersRed-necked Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt, Red-necked Avocet and Red-capped Plover are the most numerous, but there can be large numbers of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and Banded Stilt, and good numbers of Common Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit and Long-toed Stint.  Less common or rare species for the south west have included Pectoral Sandpiper and Oriental Pratincole.

You can usually see a good number of raptors, and in the surrounding bush land you can usually find Red-capped Parrot, Little Wattlebird and Inland Thornbill. Rainbow Bee-eaters nest during summer.

The easiest way to get to Thomsons Lake is to head south from Perth along the Kwinana Freeway and turn right (west) at Russell Road.  The lake has recently been surrounded by an electric fence to exclude feral animals and so access is restricted to only three places.

Russell Road Entrance (S32 09 38" E115 49 40" UBD Map 387 L7) - There is a parking area off Russell Road.  Pass through the gate and then walk about 200 metres down the track to the south side of the lake. I recommend this entrance until the typha beds regenerate.  There is a path maintained through the baumea bulrushes to the edge of the lake.  This is a banding study site for Splendid Fairy-wrens.

Pearce Road Entrance (S32 09 19" E115 49 15" UBD Map 387 N8) - About 400 metres west of the Russell Road entrance, turn right into Pearse Road and park in the cul de sac at the bottom of the hill.  Climb the small fence and walk to the gate about 50 metres to the right to get access to the south west side of the lake.  This was the entrance that I preferred when the lake was surrounded by extensive beds of typha reeds, as a very good crake site was about 300 metres along the track to the left, and the waders were in this corner.

Branch Circus Entrance (S32 08 15" E115 50 10" UBD Map 368 B14) - From the other entrances, head east along Russell Road and turn left (north) into Hammond Road and then left into Branch Circus.  Walk through the gate and continue west inside the fence and then follow a track for about 500 metres to the north east side of the lake.  I recommend the other two entrances if you are looking for waterbirds.  This entrance gives you a better opportunity to look for the bush birds.


2. Kogolup Lake (S32 08 17" E115 49 53" UBD Map 368 A14)

Kogolup Lake is accessed from the Branch Circus Entrance to Thomsons Lake.  Walk along the outside of the electric fence down the track for about 500 metres.  I have only visited this lake a few times but there is a chance of something different being found there later in summer, although it was almost surrounded by typha reeds in January 2002.


3. Kogolup Swamp (S32 07 31" E115 49 56" UBD Map 368 A9)

Kogolup Swamp is located about 1km west of Hammond Road on Beeliar Drive.  This is either not shown on roadmaps or else it is shown as the northern extension of Kogolup Lake.  There is a short limestone track to a gate.  Park at the gate.  You need to climb the gate and walk about 100 metres to the edge of the swamp.  This swamp is worth a short visit from December to May when the water level has dropped to expose areas of mud.  There is usually a good variety of ducks including Australasian Shoveller and Musk Duck plus other waterbirds.  As the swamp dries it is a good site for Spotless Crake, Australian Spotted Crake, Baillon's Crake, and a small number but good variety of waders.  This is a very good site to see Whistling Kite and Swamp Harrier and Little Eagle has been seen.  The very small area of banksia scrub usually has Yellow-rumped and Inland Thornbill, Grey Fantail and Splendid Fairy-wren.

For some reason, Kogolup Swamp has had more than its share of rarities for the south west including Long-toed Stint, Little Ringed Plover, Gallinago sp. Snipe, Cattle Egret and Masked Lapwing.


4. Yangebup Lake (S32 07 25" E115 50 10" UBD Map 368 B8)

Yangebup Lake is just north of Kogolup Swamp.  You can either walk from there, or you can return along Beeliar Drive, turn left (north) into Hammond Road, and turn left into Yangebup Road which is now a dead end.  The best site is the south east corner (S32 07 22" E115 50 06" UBD Map 368 B8). Yangebup Lake usually has a good variety of ducks (especially Musk Duck).  At times it has very large numbers of Silver Gulls and White-winged Black Tern, Freckled Duck and Little Ringed Plover has been recorded there.

You can view the north east side by returning to Hammond Road and turning left into Parkes Street and parking in the small car park (S32 07 00" E115 50 13" UBD Map 368 B5).  If you are coming from Bibra Lake then turn right off Forrest Road into Osprey Drive and left into Parkes Street.


5. South Lake (S32 06 04" E115 49 14" UBD Map 347 L14)

From Yangebup Lake continue along Forrest Road to about 300 metres past Bibra Drive (before Phoenix Road).  There is a small swamp on the left and a smaller area just ahead on the right.  This is usually worth a quick stop to look for Yellow-billed Spoonbill and Whistling Kite.  Sometimes there will be a few waders or other waterbirds.


6. Bibra Lake (UBD Map 347)

Bibra Lake is a popular picnic spot on the weekends.  There is a very good cycle path around the lake.  The distance is about 7km.

It is an interesting lake for birding as it has a good variety of habitats.  The open water nearly always has a good variety of ducks including Musk Duck, Blue-billed Duck and Australasian ShovellerHoary-headed and Great Crested Grebes are often seen.  The picnic area attracts very large numbers of Silver Gulls and twice Franklin's Gull has been recorded here in late summer.  There is a large area of banksia woodland on the north east side which has a good number of bush birds including New Holland Honeyeater, Western Gerygone, Yellow-rumped Thornbill and Rainbow Bee-eater breeding in summer.  The eastern side has a boardwalk and a bird hide and some flooded paperbarks that can have Nankeen Night Herons.  There are a few small areas that later in summer can be suitable for crakes, and there is a small escaped flock of Chestnut-breasted Mannikins.  This is also a very good site to see Oblong Turtle (Long-necked Tortoise).

Southern Side (S32 06 02" E115 49 28" UBD Map 347 M14) - From the swamp, return to Bibra Drive and turn left into Progress Drive and then right into a small car park.  Walk along the old path looking for Sacred Kingfisher and then along the new path until you reach the seat overlooking the lake.  Banded Stilt and Red-necked Avocet can often be seen in summer when the water level has receded.

Western Side (S32 05 24" E115 49 16" UBD Map 347 L9) - Park in the southern car park in Progress Drive.  It is worth a stop for an ice cream and then check out the waterbirds and the gulls.  This is where the Franklin's Gull has been recorded twice.

Northern Side (S32 05 06" E115 49 43" UBD Map 347 P7) - Park next to the bike path at the north eastern end of the lake in Hope Road.  Walk about 300 metres south to the bird hide.  Look for crakes in the typha reeds, waders if there is exposed mud, waterbirds, raptors, etc.

Eastern Side (S32 05 29" E115 50 08" UBD Map 348 B10) - Park in the small car park in Bibra Drive at the start of the bike path.  I usually walk along the grass track to the right for about 100 metres and then down a track for about 100 metres to a small swamp with a drain leading into it (S32 05 27" E115 50 06").  There is a good chance for Spotless Crake and I once saw Southern Brown Bandicoot.  I then walk back along the track and go west around the swamp to the cycle track.  From there I walk right as far as the boardwalk and walk out looking for waders, Nankeen Night Heron, etc.  In late December 1998 there was a Little Ringed Plover.  I usually return along the cycle track, but you could walk right through to Hope Road at the north end of the lake and then walk back through the banksia woodland.  It could also be worthwhile to leave the path and walk across to the paperbark swamp in the south east corner.


7. North Lake (S32 04 44" E115 49 19" UBD Map 347 P7)

North Lake is just north of Bibra Lake. I usually only stop briefly in Progress Drive near Du Maurier Road to look for waterbirds.  However, it is worth more of a look than this.  There is a small swamp in Hope Road near the corner of Progress Drive that is worth a check.  You can also walk around the edge of the main lake.  There is usually a good range of waterbirds including Yellow-billed Spoonbill.

Copyright Frank O'Connor 1997-2002 Visits Last Modified 31st January 2002