TASMANIA - a few recent observations.........
1. Where to find the endemics:-
As far as I can tell it has traditionally been recommended that the
best place to see all the endemics is on Bruny Island. I suspect it is
easier to find them within a 25 km radius of Hobart. One does not even have
to get out of second gear to see them if one visits Hobart, Mt Wellington,
Fern Tree & Howden at this time of the year.
2. Kelp Gull - they are everywhere; the first native bird I saw after
arriving at Hobart airport ... House Sparrow, Blackbird, Starling and then
Kelp Gull flying down the Derwent, followed by Indian Turtledove & Domestic
Pigeon.... that is the way it is in 2003.
3. King Penguin. First reported by Mike Carter at Fortescue Bay on
04/03/03 and subsequently by Murray Lord.
It turns out that "NP&W decided to capture the bird and take it to
Hobart". Despite a few phone calls, I could not find out what happened to
the bird. I hope it had a happy ending.
4. Masked Owl. Listed as common in Tasmania. I was fortunate to hear
the "loud tearing calico" call at the base of Mt Wellington but failed to
actually see a bird, despite a lot of effort. No sign at the T&T sight
just north of the Hobart airport.
5. Scrubtit - I would welcome any clarification on the current status
of Tasmanian Scrubwren - White-browed Scrubwren - Scrubtit as variously
listed in the Oz field guides. There seems to be a lot of variation, eg
Slater talks about black sub-terminal and white terminal bands on the tail
of Scrubtits which are not mentioned in any other field guide as far as I
can tell. Pizzey says Scrubtits are larger while Slater says they are
generally smaller than WB scrubwrens. I spent many hours recently in the
fern/rainforests near Mt Wellington (one great advantage in this area is
that there are few leaches) looking at scrubwrens and conclude that that
there appears to be two different "scrubwrens". All appear darker than in
the field guides, although this maybe due to the low light conditions, and
all without any tail bands. The main difference is the calls, - the two
distinct type are, although there are variations, (1) the typical scrubwren
harsh grating zit zit call , by far the most common, and (2) a more
"musical" call (the ones which make this musical call appear to be lighter
underneath and with more distinctive markings on the wings - so I conclude
they are "Scrubtits" although I could not make out the "greyer lores" and I
never heard the reported "to-wee-too" call reported in Slater or the "chzit"
call in Morcombe. The birds in Pizzey are silent?). In other words - what
is the status of the Scrubtit as a distinct species please?
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