Subject: Swifts
From: Reg Clark <>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 18:16:29 +1100
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,

Reg .


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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