Saturday, 5 January 2013

Tasmania for 6 days, Dec 12

A timely post as eastern Tassie is just recovering after severe bush fires and record temperatures in the last week.  We were there just over two weeks ago!

We left Perth following a shambolic service from Jetstar (i might have already mentioned that) causing a two then three hour delay.  Ryanair are a dream compared to this!  We picked up the hire car and headed into Hobart city centre for one night/2days.  Birds around the city included Masked Lapwing, Australian Magpie, Blackbirds were everywhere, Starlings too, House Sparrow and Goldfinch.  Is this really the other end of the world? An obligatory visit to the botanic gardens in any city added Noisy Miner, Yellow Wattlebird, Little Wattlebird, Eastern Rosella, Grey Teal and Pacific Black Duck.  The city harbour and Salamanca areas had a great vibe with bustling restaurants, bars and markets. Heading north the next evening we stayed in Swansea as a means to break the journey (and cost of accommodation).  We arrived late but a walk around the added Superb Fairywren, Musk Lorikeet and reading the information in the chalet we found out there was a Short-tailed Shearwater colony about 500m away on Waterloo Headland so at dusk we took a stroll and waited.  There was no sign of anything out over the sea but the burrows were everywhere then just after dusk they started to appear zooming over the burrows causing us to take cover behind a tree and an information sign.  One at a time they crash-landed and scurried through the vegetation before their bubbling and wailing calls gave us the spooks and we left them to it.
 Short-tailed Shear and Musk Lorikeet at Swansea
A short drive the next day saw us on the Freycinet Peninsula.  On route, the amount of road-kill is a bit disturbing but if nothing else was an indicator as to what was out there.  The arable land on the way was alive with Skylarks whilst a few Dusky Woodswallows and group of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos were seen on the road to Dolphin Beach and a White-bellied Sea Eagle flew overhead.  A walk to Wineglass Bay lookout and further walk down to the beach added Tasmanian Thornbill, Scrubtit, Yellow-throated Honeyeater, Grey Shrike-Thrush, Forest Raven and finally Hooded Plover which was proving quite tricky and were to be the only ones of the trip.  Around Freycinet Lodge were more Superb Fairywrens, Green Rosellas.

 Bennett's Wallaby at WGB car park
 Wine Glass Bay from view point
 Female Superb Fairywren
male SFW at Freycinet
 Grey shrike-Thrush and Hooded Plover at WGB

  The Nuggets from Cape Tourville with breeding bird list
 Echidna having an ambidextrous scratch and central farmland- fairly barren and void of things unfortunately.  Really should be bush or forest!
  Driving into the country we headed for Derwent Bridge in order to explore the Lake St Clair area of Cradle Mnt/Lake St Clair National Park.  A walk from the park’s VC to Lake St Clair (Australia’s deepest lake) passed through some stunning forest habitat and the air was quite fresh.  The area reminded us of New Zealand’s south island and the local chalets had their woodburners fired filling the air with a sweet eucalyptus smoke.  The woodland provided the Tasmanian Silvereye, Strong-billed Honeyeater but best of all at least three Pink Robin.  What an unbelievable colour clash; ‘Calpal’ pink and black flitting about the branches in the southern beech.  The temperature dropped to 6 degrees C that evening- cooler than home!  The next morning the calls of Black-faced Cuckooshrikes and Black Currawongs filled the forest and a group of parrots high up in the canopy.  After a while grilling them I made enough out to realise they were Swift Parrots.   We left early, driving from here to Bruny Island but we stopped in Mount Field NP on the way adding Bassian Thrush, Sulphur crested Cockatoo and more Pink Robin on the 1.5hr return walk from the VC.  
Derwent Bridge bush and Pink Robin below
Tasmanian Pademelon Thylogale billardierii
Tasmanian Scrubwren and another Echidna at Derwent Bridge

We reached Kettering to cross to Bruny in the afternoon.  As soon as we arrived we drove south over the neck to South Bruny where we stayed in a basic chalet.  After previous research I’d hoped to stay at or at least visit the renowned Inala reserve but I don’t mind saying that the tariffs were unfortunately way beyond my means.  So I’d have to seek out all that I could myself on Bruny.  Unfortunately I hadn’t really done much research.  I thought things might have been slightly easier and I certainly didn’t appreciate the size of the island!  Where exactly do you find 40-spotted Pardalotes on an island 100km long!!   Other birds found were numerous Tasmanian Nativehens, Spotted and Striated Pardalotes, Kelp Gull, Black-faced Cormorant, Olive Whistler, Crescent Honeyeater, Pallid Cuckoo and a Greenfinch!  That night I googled a bit of information on 40-S Pardalotes and circled a couple of sites on the north island on our way off the island and back to Hobart for a 3pm flight the next day.  It would be cutting it fine and i was kicking myself. That evening we went back up to the viewing platform on The Neck to see the Little Blue Penguins and several hundred Short-tailed Shearwater come to land just after dusk.  The next day though we first headed south to South Bruny NP along lighthouse road checking a couple of spots for 40-Spots to no avail in strong winds.  From the lighthouse a Shy Albatross sheared through the bay and unexpectedly a small quail ventured out from a pool by the car park and I can only think it was a Swamp Quail.  A White-fronted Chat fed on the short grass (my only other sighting was on Rottnest Is in WA).  The drive back added Fan-tailed Cuckoo and a superb view of a White-bellied Sea Eagle flying out of the woodland.  A walk through the bush became a bit unnerving as the landscape was recovering from fire and a couple of snakes were seen on patches of bare earth.  Wild flowers were abundant but passing through a group of trees a pair of Bassian Thrush got my attention as they were obviously displeased with something on their patch.  Unfortunately it was a snake eating their chicks in a nest only a metre off the ground. 

                                                              View from the Neck

 ST Shearwater and LB Penguin viewing boardwalk by night, normal viewpoint by day
 Green Rosella at Alonnah, S Bruny 
 Lighthouse Rd, South Bruny NP.
White-fronted Chat at the lighthouse

 Pallid Cuckoo at Alonnah and snake eating Bassian Thrush chicks 
 wild flowers coming back after the last bush fire!
We had to leave enough time to drive back up to Hobart for our flight so it was time to head off the island.  I tried the first site for 40-spots but only saw Striated, a couple of other birds could have been but views were inadequate.  I tried further along the road and missed out again before returning back and trying again at the first spot.  A couple of birds flitting through the eucalyptus canopy were looking good, one flew towards me, over my head and into trees thankfully at eye-level for me and after a bit more flitting it appeared; a cracking little Forty-spotted Pardalote.  A time check and it really was time to leave, catching the ferry within minutes and heading north for our flight to Melbourne and a Christmas in the sun.

We really didn’t have enough time to do everything and were limited to six nights with two days around Hobart so exploring further afield or embarking on one of the long-distance walking tracks will have to be saved until next time!  Oh and seeing Orange-bellied Parrot too!  Give yourself at least a week or 10 days to do the whole place but you'll still want longer- its a great place about the same size of Ireland with similar roads too!  Please get in touch if you want any more info.

1 comment: