Pinjarra & Lake McLarty Nature Reserve Birding Sites

Key Species : Freckled Duck (small chance), Northern Shoveler (long shot), Chestnut Teal (good chance), Australasian Bittern (long shot), Glossy Ibis (good chance), White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Spotless Crake (chance), Black-tailed Godwit (good chance), Wood Sandpiper (good chance), Asian Dowitcher (long shot), Little Stint (chance), Long-toed Stint (good chance), Pectoral Sandpiper (good chance), Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Ruff (good chance), Banded Stilt (good chance), Red-necked Avocet, Little Ringed Plover (long shot), Red-kneed Dotterel, Whiskered Tern (good chance), White-winged Black Tern (chance), Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (introduced - good chance), Regent Parrot (good chance), Elegant Parrot (chance), Yellow-throated Miner, White-fronted Chat, White-winged Triller (good chance), Yellow Wagtail (long shot), Rufous Songlark (chance), Brown Songlark. Mammals : Fox (Vulpes vulpes). Reptiles : Rosenberg's Monitor (Varanus rosenbergi) (chance).

Pinjarra (Post Office S32 37 42" E115 52 30") is a sizable town located on the Murray River about 89km from Perth.  It is 58km south of Armadale on the South West Highway and 17km east of Mandurah on Pinjarra Road from the Perth / Bunbury Highway.  From Perth, travel to the south along the Kwinana Freeway, turn east (left) along Thomas Road, and at the end of Thomas Road turn south (right) on South West Highway.  The journey should take about 90 minutes from the centre of Perth.

Lake McLarty is about 21.5km from the traffic lights at the intersection of South West Highway and Pinjarra Road.  Continue south along South West Highway for 5.5km and turn right at Old Bunbury Road.  Travel along Old Bunbury Road for 5.1km (past Paull Road) and turn right at Mills Road.  Travel for 10.9km along Mills Road almost to the end until just after you reach the sign for the Lake McLarty Nature Reserve.  Either park near the gate on the right, or go through the open gate on the left and park off the side of the sandy track.

Also see the Birds Australia WA series of bird guide brochures including Mandurah.


1. Old Bunbury Road

Old Bunbury Road is 5.5km south of the traffic lights at the intersection of South West Highway and Pinjarra Road.  It is a good location in summer to look on the fences for Brown Songlark, Black-faced Woodswallow, White-winged Triller and Richard's PipitElegant Parrot can sometimes be found feeding on the ground with the Australian RingnecksYellow-throated Miner and Red-capped Parrot can sometimes be found in the marri trees beside the road.

The ephemeral wetland on the left at the intersection with Mills Road (S32 42 53" E115 49 52") usually still has some water until early in summer and is a good location to look for Straw-necked Ibis, Australian White Ibis, Yellow-billed Spoonbill and White-necked HeronSacred Kingfisher can often be heard nearby and Yellow-throated Miners can be around the house near the corner.


2. Mills Road

Mills Road is a good location to look for Brown Songlark, Black-faced Woodswallow, Crested Pigeon, Regent Parrot, White-fronted Chat, White-winged Triller, Richard's Pipit, Scarlet Robin, Common Bronzewing, Rufous Songlark and some raptors such as Brown Falcon, Little Eagle, etc.  There are often a lot of White-faced Herons in the paddocks.  Emu can also be seen sometimes.


3. Lake McLarty (S32 43.0 E115 43.0)

Lake McLarty is one of the best wetlands in the south west. It almost always has something of interest for even the most dedicated birder.  It should be a must to visit if you are in the south west from early January to the end of March.  In recent years, there has been an extensive development of a land subdivision between the lake and the nearby Harvey Peel Estuary.  This development threatens to harm Lake McLarty to the same extent as Thomsons Lake and Forrestdale Lake on the southern outskirts of Perth if an excessive use of bore water is permitted leading to a lowering of the water table.  Birds Australia WA (Inc) has commenced a regular monitoring of the lake.  If you visit the lake, then please send a list of the species that you observe at the lake and an estimate of their numbers to the BAWA (Inc) offices.

Lake McLarty regularly supports 20,000 or more waterbirds making it a vital wetland to conserve.  The time of year and the resulting water level makes a big difference to the species that are recorded.  The lake is large.  You should bring a spotting scope.

The water level is very high during winter and spring.  The most common species are a variety of ducks, Black Swan, Eurasian Coot, grebes, etc with very few wadersFreckled Duck and Nankeen Night Heron could be a chance in areas such as the flooded melaleucas in the south west corner.  I would recommend visiting the southern and western sides as the high water level at this time of year makes it impractical to walk around the lake or to get access to the south east corner and the eastern side.

The migratory waders usually start to arrive towards the middle and end of December and their numbers rapidly increase by mid January as the water gets very shallow and the exposed mud quickly expands in many areas.  They usually stay until the end of February after which the numbers begin to decrease as the lake rapidly begins to shrink.  At this time of year it is worth visiting once a week.  If the lake doesn't dry out, then it can still be worth visiting right through until May.

The number of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers is a good indication of the best time of year to look for the waders.  The most common waders are Red-necked Stint, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Red-capped Plover, Black-winged Stilt and often Red-necked Avocet.  The less common waders are Common Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Red-kneed Dotterel, Black-fronted Dotterel, Black-tailed Godwit and Banded Stilt.  The rarer waders that are seen in most years include Wood Sandpiper, Long-toed Stint, Pectoral Sandpiper and Ruff.  Other vagrant waders over the years have included Little Stint, Asian Dowitcher, Little Ringed Plover and Oriental Pratincole.  As well as the waders, there are sometimes Whiskered Terns and White-winged Black Terns.

Keep an eye out for raptors.  They often cause the waterbirds to take to the air as the raptor slowly patrols overhead.  Whistling Kite, Swamp Harrier and a pair of White-bellied Sea-Eagle are the most common raptors.

See Allan Burbidge's web page for a list of the waterbird species recorded at Lake McLarty and the highest count for each species.

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