Trip report - Eastern Australia - October/November 2002 - Part 4

To: "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Trip report - Eastern Australia - October/November 2002 - Part 4
From: "Robert Grimmond" <>
Date: Mon, 6 Jan 2003 11:28:08 -0000
Saturday 2nd November

We flew from Sydney into Hobart, Tasmania, where we were to stay for seven
nights. We collected our rental car and drove to Port Arthur, where we were
to spend our first night. En route we saw our first Tassie endemic, Forest
Raven (easy to identify because it's the only corvid on the island!) and a
couple of Cape Barren Geese. From the window of our motel we found our
second endemic, Green Rosella.

Sunday 3rd November

We spent the morning and early afternoon visiting the Port Arthur Historic
Site (a former convict settlement), well worth it. We  managed to pick up a
few birds while doing so, including Black-faced Cormorant, Pied
Oystercatcher and Little Wattlebird, all lifers. What was strange to us was
the variety of European birds, such as Goldfinch, Blackbird and Starling.

On our way to our next port of call, Hobart, we picked up two new Gulls,
Pacific and Kelp.

Monday 4th November

Our first port of call was Peter Murrell Conservation Area, about 20 minutes
drive south of Hobart. This is the best known spot on the Tassie mainland
for Forty-spotted Pardalote (probably the rarest endemic) and several other
endemics and is a key site to visit if you don't want to or can't go to
Bruny or Maria Islands. After parking the car we walked round to the far
side of the large pool, where we could hear several birds calling. Two of
the endemic Honeyeaters, Yellow-throated and Black-headed were very easy to
find. We could hear Forty-spotted Pardalotes calling (it has a plover-like
'ta-will' call that I had learnt before leaving home) and managed to see a
couple quite quickly but it took some 20 minutes before we could locate a
bird low down and get really good views (Spotted Pardalotes are also
present). Other good birds in the general area were the endemic Tasmanian
Native-Hen (a flightless bird) and Yellow Wattlebird and Crescent
Honeyeater. The weather then deteriorated into squally showers, so we had to
abandon our so far unsuccessful attempts to find the endemic Dusky Robin.

On the way to the Fern Glade Track, at Mount Wellington (west of Hobart), we
found more Tasmanian Native-Hens at the Waterworks Reserve (but no Grey
Currawongs). By the time we had arrived at the Fern Glade Track the rain had
eased off. One lucky find from the car was a Black Currawong (another
endemic) by the roadside! At the edge of the car park I found a Flame Robin.
The principal targets along the track were three endemics, Tasmanian
Scrubwren (possibly to be lumped with White-browed Scrubwren in the future),
Tasmanian Thornbill and Scrubtit. The first two were relatively easy - but
no luck with the third.

On the way back to Hobart we stopped by the picnic site at the Pipeline
Track, Hall's Saddle, where we found the endemic Strong-billed Honeyeater
(as well as Yellow-throated) quite easily. We also saw Green Rosella near
Hobart so we had seen 10 of the 12 endemics in one day.

Tuesday 5th November

We were due to be spending the next two nights at Bicheno, on the east coast
but decided to go back to the Fern Glade Track before making the long
journey across country. It was a good move because not only did we find 2
Scrubtits but also a pair of Pink Robins, just inside the entrance to the
track. The male is a stunning pink and black bird. The Black Currawong also
put in another appearance.

On the journey to Bicheno we saw one new bird, Banded Dotterel. Other good
birds included White-bellied Sea Eagle, Tasmanian Native-Hen and 5
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos (like giant black moths in flight).

Luckily, we had chosen to stay at the Comfort Inn Diamond Resort at Bicheno.
This is right by the coast and is set in an area of fields (more later on
that). After we had settled in, I left Kay to crash out while I drove just
north of town to a beach, where, after some searching, I found another
target bird - the stunning Hooded Plover. On my return to the Comfort Inn, I
found a Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo in the garden and a pair of Scarlet Robins
on a fence between fields (the male being another stunner).

As luck had it there was a Little Penguin rookery in the grounds of the
Comfort Inn. Night time tours of the rookery are free to guests so we went
on the tour (first seeing a couple of Tasmanian Pademelons as we were
waiting). We had wonderful views of Little Penguins coming ashore and moving
around the nesting burrows - one even trod on my foot! As we returned to our
room, we found Penguins nesting in the shrubbery just outside. As we went to
bed we could hear them calling outside - it was quite magical!

Wednesday 6th November

We went on a day trip to the Freycinet National Park, worth going to for its
great natural beauty. We spent a couple of hours taking the hike to the
Wineglass Bay viewpoint (for picture postcard views), so we didn't spend a
great deal of time birding. One notable discovery was a Tasmanian Tiger
Snake! Birds we saw included 3 White-bellied Sea Eagles, Shining
Bronze-Cuckoo and the endemic Yellow-throated Honeyeater and Yellow
Wattlebird (the latter being common around the Visitor Centre).  On our
return to Bicheno we went to the beach I had visited the day before and
located two pairs of Hooded Plovers plus 3 Red-capped Plovers. An early
evening walk around the Diamond Resort produced the Scarlet Robins again.
Yellow-rumped Thornbill, New Holland Honeyeater and Little Wattlebird were
easy to see here.

Thursday 7th November

We spent the morning driving back to Hobart. On the way we saw a few more
Banded Dotterels. We stopped at a promising looking lake just north of
Triabunna (a Duck Reserve) and luckily found our first Blue-billed Ducks. We
also called in at Hobart Airport to extend our car rental till Saturday
morning and came across 4 Musk Lorikeets flying around the car park!

Since our journey hadn't taken as long as expected we decided to visit Peter
Murrell Conservation Area again. Here I finally managed to get a brief
glimpse of a dusky Robin in flight - thus seeing the last endemic. On the
way back to the car park we flushed a Blue-winged Parrot, another lifer. We
didn't look for Forty-spotted Pardalote but did come across two very tame
Spotted Pardalotes, as well as several Tasmanian Native-Hens, Green Rosella
and the two endemic honeyeaters found here.

In the evening we found another Black-faced Cormorant, this time in Hobart
Harbour. If you like fish and chips then Hobart Harbour has plenty of
suitable eating places - we succumbed a couple of times!

Friday 8th November

Our last full day in Tassie - and a wet one into the bargain! A search of
Lambert Park, Sandy Bay, failed to find any Swift Parrots, though we did see
Eastern Rosella and both Yellow and Little Wattlebirds. Next we walked part
of the Pipeline Track at Hall's Saddle in the hope of getting better views
of Dusky Robin. We had no luck with the latter but did see another pair of
Scarlet Robins and more Strong-billed Honeyeaters. By now the rain had

After a side trip up to the summit of Mount Wellington, we drove south to
Huonville and then along the south-east coast back towards Hobart. We saw a
number of Tasmanian Native-Hens and Banded Dotterels along this route. It
rained all the way.

Saturday 9th November

We flew back to Sydney and then on to Christchurch, New Zealand, for the
next part of our Australasian odyssey - but that's another story!

The Australian part of our trip had been wonderful. We had seen 340 species
of bird (of which 308 were new) and several mammals and reptiles. The
species list for each state visited was: Queensland 276, New South Wales 99;
Tasmania 81. We had missed a number of comparatively common birds - they'll
keep till next time!

We also met lots of nice people. We can't wait to go back (hopefully later
this year, probably to Western Australia and Northern Territory this time).

Robert Grimmond
Kent, UK

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