West Coast Park

When running out of options for something to do on a lazy weekend, an excursion to the West Coast Park will surely not disappoint.

The park comprises a 3-km strip running parallel to the main road, West Coast Highway. It is served by three large car parks (1, 2 and 3), all chargeable by the minute.

We could easily explore the park with our own two feet…

…or rent a bicycle and blaze the trails on wheels.

Dogs are certainly welcome…

…and they will probably appreciate a good scrub at the dog wash.

As we make our way into the park, we may occasionally find ourselves wandering off the main track and into secluded trails surrounded by dense jungle vegetation.

Helpful signs will point us back onto the main path.

The wonderfully lush vegetation provide a conducive habitat for the wildlife to live in, and keep both animals and photographers happy and occupied.

The Collared Kingfishers (Todiramphus chloris) are permanent residents of the park, and can sometimes be seen out on a hot date.

If we crane our necks, we might spot the Blue-throated Bee-eater (Merops viridis) perched high up on a branch with a bee in his beak.

This pair was observed hanging out with a couple of pigeons on the same branch, but were too high up for my camera’s humble zoom lens to reach. The bee-eaters’ vivid brown, white, blue and green colours are not apparent in this photo, but we were able to identify them by their characteristic tail-streamers.

Often heard but not easily spotted is the vociferous Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus), with his shrill and progressively insistent calls resounding through the park.

The Tanimbar Corella (Cacatua goffiniana), also known as the Goffin’s Cockatoo, is an uncommon introduced resident and globally classified as Near Threatened. We were fortunate to observe this fidgety fellow hopping around and having a feast in a pong pong (Cerbera odollam) tree.

It is always amusing to see the Striated Heron (Butorides striata) creeping around like the Pink Panther in the wide open field and striking his favourite hunting pose.

The intricate carpet-like patterns on the Water Monitor’s back is fascinating to observe from afar while we hang back a safe distance so as not to provoke him.

As we arrive at an intersection and ponder on our next path…

…we notice that everyone seems to be hurrying somewhere…

…so we follow them…

…and when we reach the party, we realise that it is already in full swing!

The western side of the park has a lovely coastal walk with a fabulous sea view…

…and is a perfect place to set up a hammock and catch a few winks.

For a while, we thought we had walked in on a community in the Shire.

Overlooking the sea are rows of casuarina trees, which have become prime real estate for the resident raptors.

Here in one of these casuarina trees, a family of Brahminy Kites (Haliastur indus) decided to set up home and raise their young.

The Crested Goshawks (Accipiter trivirgatus) couldn’t lose out, and had to build their nest just a few casuarina trees away.

A trip to West Coast Park is not complete without visiting the Marsh Garden, tucked away at the western corner of the park.

A sturdy boardwalk provides a comfortable experience walking through the marsh.

A floating platform jutting out into the marsh lake allows us to observe the turtles and monitor lizards as they muck around in the murky water…

…or take an afternoon siesta in the shade of the trees away from the hot sun.

That is also a good place for the White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) to hang out and hunt for fish, and the perfect place for us to hang out and stalk him.

If we’re lucky, we might also spot the Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), a migrant bird that visits us during the winter migratory season.

Meanwhile in another section of the park, the kids are having a whale of a time frolicking in the playgrounds.

At the end of a hot and humid day out, the sight of those golden arches is simply too good to resist.