Directions - From the centre of Albany head north on York Street until you reach the big roundabout where Albany Plaza is. Take a right here onto St Emile Way and then a left at the roundabout onto Middleton Road. Follow this all the way to the Middleton Beach area and turn left onto Golf Links Road. There is a well sign car park on your left where you'll find the trail head.
The Hike - With a few days in Albany to take in a variety of new trails during the best time of year, I decided to follow up my Mount Melville walk with a trip out to Middleton Beach. I have fond memories of this area thanks to family holidays at the old Esplanade Hotel and later at one of the holiday units you can rent close to the beach. During various summers holidaying here as a kid I had no idea there was a lake nearby and it only popped on my radar a few years ago when searching for new walks to do around Albany.
Having been on my to-hike list for a while, this was the trip where I would finally get around to visiting to see what was what. My last trip to the area was very fortuitous with a lovely stroll at Mount Adelaide followed by a really enjoyable walk back to Albany along the Ellen Cove to Albany Port trail. Arriving at the car park, there were a few cars around because this is a popular spot for locals to walk their dog. As I was getting my gear together I spotted a couple of long boi greyhounds arriving back at the car park after their walk around the lake. The information boards at the start of the walk give you an indication of what to expect and that is mostly that this is a haven for birdlife. I am always a fan of seeing birds on a walk and with my new camera and longer zoom lens, I was excited to hopefully get some better shots in the bag. It doesn't take long to feel like you've escaped the urban environment as you walk along the pavement into the dense wetland scenery. Enjoying a world of Peppermint Trees and Paperbarks, you can tell right away that this type of vegetation is the perfect place for birds to enjoy.
It's well protected, there is lots of debris to use for nesting and it's close to the water. It doesn't take long for the first lookout point to arrive with a small boardwalk section leading out over the water a nice way to get your first look of the lake and take in your bearings. It was a bit of a cool and windy afternoon when I visited so I didn't hang around too long, wanting to get the blood pumping to warm me up. From here you can see across the lake towards Mount Adelaide and Mount Clarence and they provide a nice feature to admire along the walk. I ran into my first encounter with one of the locals not long after the lookout with a King Skink sticking around long enough for me to take a photo. These medium sized lizards are a feature of the Middleton Beach area with the pavements being their favourite place to sun themselves. This lush section leading towards the northern corner is really enjoyable walking with an enclosed feeling among the Peppermints and Paperbarks.
As you reach the first big turn to start heading south, you become more aware of the urbanisation of this area. To your right is the edge of someone's property and although it still looks green, it's not the same as what you've just walked through (the fence is also not a nice sight). What I was enjoying along the corner was a large swath of Bracken Fern and a few wildflowers to add a splash of colour. The stretch leading towards the bird hide isn't the prettiest part of the loop with the raised path flanked by grasses and well away from the native vegetation (on the lake side of the path). Nonetheless, I still enjoyed looking towards the lake and seeing what I could spot and I was lucky with a Red-eared Firetail and what I think was a Purple Crowned Lorikeet. If you've visited here and want to know what bird you've photographed then check out this guide, it's been a big help for me writing up this post to save me from saying "grey spotty bird with red bits" and "parrot of some kind". Right near the turnoff for the bird hide I spotted a New Holland Honeyeater and it reminded me of home as we have a family nesting in one of the trees in my backyard. Never afraid to pose for a photo, this one clung to the branch for quite a few shots.
Reaching the entrance to the bird hide, I was excited to sit down and have a good look for all the different types of bird I could find (yes, I'm turning into an old man). The walk along the boardwalk leading to the hide was too interesting to just rush past so I spent a good amount of time admiring the Paperbarks thriving in the water and watching out for birds, lizards and insects. Finally entering the bird hide, I put my pack down and picked a good spot to indulge my inner twitcher. Last time I did something like this it was on the Kepwari Walk in Esperance and given the limited time we had there before the light disappeared, it was nice to have the luxury of time on my side. Off in the distance I could see plenty of nesting White Ibis, cruelly given the colloquial name of Bin Chicken, I really enjoy seeing these birds on my afternoon walks in Fremantle. Even here they don't get a mention on the information boards, which I think is a bit unfair. While there wasn't much activity happening close to the bird hide, I got some long distance shots of some Eurasian Coots and an Australian Grebe that were keeping their distance.