Hello Doug, and all,
Yes , I'm starting to feel a bit human again halfway through my second
dose of chemotherapy. Your "Gluepot " sojourn sounds like a bit of
heaven. I managed to get a bit of action visiting David in Tassie and
saw all the local beauties . He very kindly organised a pelagic from
Eaglehawk Neck, where we got a BIG tick for Westland Black Petrel.
Here is an account of our trip to see the ferals of King Island.
A happy Christmas Doug at Gluepot and to all birdo's,
VISIT TO THE FORTIETH PARALLEL
During late October ,04 , I was able to spend a couple of weeks
catching- up on birds to be found in Tasmania. This was through the good
offices of an old friend now resident in that state whom many of you
will know, David Siems. As I was in a rather fragile condition health
wise, he endeavored to make my stay as pleasant as possible and still
find the birds that I was looking for. Some of these were easily found
on a visit to the largely bush covered property belonging to David's
sister but others such as the feral exotics of the Bass Straits islands
were going to need special attention
We took the short flight from Burnie on Tasmania's north coast to the
west over tulip fields, hillsides striped with colour like some great
terrestrial rainbow, then north over a deep blue ocean dotted with
rugged , rocky islands. The small ten passenger plane took three
quarters of an hour for the flight and we were soon over a large island
presenting a neat. checkerboard pattern of dark green fields and hedgerows.
The plane continued to the western side of the island , banked sharply
to the left and landed on the airstrip just to the north of the main
centre of population, the township of Currie. We collected our car from
a bright young lady who assured us that we would have no problem finding
the birds--(this always translates as "You should have been here
yesterday") However, we drove from the airport and turned left for
Currie and there in the first paddock , the sun shining on his bright
,alien plumage stood a handsome cock pheasant. Needless to say, this was
to be a common sight together with his demure consort.
After checking out the town we headed for the northernmost point where
an historic lighthouse stood . As we drove through the paddocks David
remarked "Now there's a sight you don't see every day " and sitting on a
hedgerow was another flamboyant exotic a fine peacock! Then a short
distance along the road a flock of twenty-two feral Turkeys grazing ,
some displaying rather hopefully to the Turkey hens. We found families
of feral chooks which were reverting to their Red Jungle Fowl
origines-------it just goes to show what a wonderful world it would be
without the Fox.
We returned to the township for lunch at the Co-Op Cafe where, after
hearing of our special interest, one of the helpful Co-Op Ladies
arranged for her husband to take us to their cattle property in the
north of the island to see the Californian Quail that were seen there
from time to time ---but not this time!!! Upon return to Currie in late
afternoon we booked into the hotel. The manager, ,then took up the
challenge, ushered us into the Public Bar and calling for silence, asked
whether any ot those present could help two birdwatchers who had come
from afar , to see their Californian Quail. This stimulated much
discussion amongst the patrons,, one of whom volunteered "Yes, there
are some in the paddock out along Grassy Lane Road , where I'm building
a stockyard. You are welcome to have a look but don't touch the fence,
it's electrified." So it was out to Grassy Lane Road followed by the
good wishes of the interested patrons .We found the site but no quail .
The helpful people seemed just as disappointed as we were , as though
they were somehow letting us down, still there was an upside, we were
sent to see Max Mcgarvie, a resident who has published many papers on
the birds of King Island. In his opinion the lack of quails was due to
predation of eggs and young by the hundreds of Ravens present.
The next day while in the National Park we experienced the thrill of
rediscovery as a wild Emu raced down the road ahead of us, (King Island
Emu , extinct since 1804 ) Our sighting was the result of ( not very
successful) attempts at emu farming.. After a last ditch try at the wind
farm, and a farewell lunch at the C0-Op Cafe the car was returned and
we left on the return flight to Tassie..
We had a busy and interesting trip , thanks to Dave's organising ,in a
beautiful area, met friendly people experienced some birding unique for
Australia , what more could you want ? Well, there's always a good
reason to go back !
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