Rain is plentiful now Makuru is in full swing, but cool and wet days alternate with dry and sunny ones, leaving ample time to explore nature. As the rains have steadily raised water levels of lakes and swamps, large flocks of birds aggregate on its waterlogged shores, offering excellent opportunities for bird photography.
On the Swan Coastal Plain a chain of wetlands runs parallel to the coast; many small ones have been drained, filled or cleared in the past for agricultural and urban development, but Herdsman Lake is the biggest still remaining. Known as Ngurgenboro to the Yellagonga Noongar, the lake is not only a place with a significant cultural heritage, it is also one of the last remaining wildlife havens in the metropolitan area.
Apart from a strong supply of reptiles, including the notorious Tiger Snake (Notechis scutatus), over 100 bird species have been recorded at Herdsman Lake. Waterbirds are particularly visible, amongst which the Black Swan, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Nankeen Night Heron and Australian Shelduck I have written about before. The Ibis family is represented with three species: the Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis moluccus), Straw-necked Ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis) and the Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), the smallest and, arguably, the best-looking of the three.
Although hostile behaviour from ‘glossies’ towards other Ibis species has been recorded, the grassy foraging habitat harbours a wealth of food this time of the year, so it’s happily shared with other bird species, such as the numerous Eurasian Coots (Fulica atra) that thrive at the lake’s shores.