North Coast Tasmania trip report

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: North Coast Tasmania trip report
From: "Marlene Lyell" <>
Date: Wed, 3 Jul 2002 19:37:49 +1000
Hi All,
     A quick visit to the north coast of Tassie provided some interesting highlights.
A smooth crossing on the ferry started the trip off well.  Shortly after leaving Devonport whilst heading west along the Bass Highway, a paddock with 70 plus cows, each attended by 2 Cattle Egrets, was by far the most Cattle Egrets that I have ever seen at one time.
      Tasmanian Native Hens were also seen whilst travelling this highway towards Rocky Cape.  I'd seen these on a previous visit (when I was only mildly interested in birding) so they weren't a new bird. 
       Family commitments and a quick visit to Rocky Cape NP took care of the next day, then a trip down to Arthur River added the only Great Egret that I was to see.  Arthur River has a plaque informing you that it is the "Edge of the World".  Next stop west, South Africa, next stop south, Antarctica, and with an icy, gale force wind blowing, I had no trouble in believing it! 
       Tuesday we were booked to return to Melbourne, so a slow crawl west along the north coast was to provide further highlights. .  
       Boat Harbour added a White-breasted Sea-Eagle plus 2 unidentified pelagic species.  One was an Albatross and although I tried to pick up some diagnostic features, not at all sure of species.  The other I think may have been a shearwater.  All brown bird with very large wingspan.  I can see a pelagic trip on the cards.
      At Table Cape, a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles were enjoying the blustery conditions whilst further east, on the northern bank of the Inglis River at Wynyard, Strong-billed, Yellow-throated and Black-headed Honeyeaters in the one tree and in the same area, Dusky Robin, but dipped on the Tasmanian Thornbill.
        If at all possible, the wind was worsening.  Not promising for our return trip across Bass Strait on the ferry.
       By the time we arrived in Devonport it was also pouring.  The sea was putting on a performance worthy of an Oscar.  Added Sooty and Pied Oystercatchers along the foreshore.
       Then we were northbound on the ferry.  The sea had no respect for large ships.  As anticipated, we were in for a roller coaster ride with 50 knot winds forcing the closure of the upper decks, with only the lower deck open for smokers.  Even then, it was unsafe to wander far from safety of the bulkhead which provided a buffer from the wind. 
        I found the only way to avoid joining the numerous "casualties" was to continue walking outside and watching the turbulent seas.  It was a magnificent spectacle.
        Maybe I'll be able to 'survive' a pelagic trip after all.  Saw 60+ species.  
        Happy birding
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