Tasmanian Trip Report

To: "" <>
Subject: Tasmanian Trip Report
From: Tim Dolby <>
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2013 02:09:09 +0000
I think I've just worked it out. Cat.
 on behalf of Tim Dolby
Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 1:00 PM
Subject: Tasmanian Trip Report

Hi all.

A couple of corrections - the Black-tailed Native-hens at Fern Glade were, of 
course, Tamanian Native-hen. Stupid birds. (That's the beauty of a having a web 
page. I can just change or correct the text as I please. (Changing things on 
birding-aus - well that not so easy.)

It's also been pointed out that there are no Spot-tailed Quoll and Tassie Devil 
on Bruny Is. There's of photograph of what I thought was Spot-tailed Quoll 
footprints at the bottom on the report. I wonder what they are? Eastern Quoll? 
I've got a couple of shots of what I thought was Tassie Devil prints somewhere 
- I might see if I can track them down and have another look.


 on behalf of Tim Dolby
Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 10:18 AM
Subject: Tasmanian Trip Report

Hi birders,

I've just returned from a birding / family to sunny Tasmania, see below a trip 
report. For a full report, with some half decent photos, see Any feedback welcomed.

Cheers Tim

This report covers a 16 day birding and family (x2) holiday to sunny Tasmania 
in January 2013. From a 'trip report' context, I was a little concerned about 
covering the entire state in just one trip report. How could this possibly do 
the Apple Isle justice? Many of the places we visited could easily have had 
dedicated trip reports. Some areas you'd need to spend months there just to 
understand its ecological rhythms. So here goes, I'll try to fit them in to 
just one rather long trip report. Wish me luck.

The wildlife in Tasmania is reflected by the islands rich diversity of 
habitats: a fantastic, sometimes rugged, coastline, dry sclerophyll forest of 
its eastern half, extensive heathland on its west, and wet cool temperate 
rainforest across the centre. Being a family trip of course we swam at any good 
beach we found, and visited every chocolate shop, berry farm (great cherries) 
and cheese factory we past. However we also made concerted effort to visited 
Tasmania's wonderful wild places, and Tasmania's unique birds and wildlife were 
continually on our minds.

Travel and Itinerary
>From Melbourne we took the Spirit of Tasmania II car ferry to Devonport. The 
>cost of taking our car (an X-Trail) is extremely reasonable. Due to the 
>subsidised 'Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme', the car 
>one-way for a 450 km ferry trip costs you just $89. (By comparison the cost of 
>a car to Kangaroo Island one-way cost $140, and the distance covered is just 
>20 km!) This Tasmanian ferry cost is apparently designed to equate to price 
>you'd spend on petrol if you drove the same distance. Having our car meant we 
>could pack as much camping gear as we liked, plus the boogie boards, plus my 
>reference books, the fancy camping chairs including the moon chair, and so on. 
>So, everyone was happy.

During the trip we managed to circumnavigate the Apple Isles in 16 days. With a 
pleasant mixture of camping and staying in cabin style accommodation, out first 
stop was Burnie in north-west Tasmania, From there we travelled east to Bicheno 
for five days, south to wonderful Bruny Is for a few days, a day in Hobart 
town, then west across the islands' centre to Strahan via Derwent Bridge, and 
finally north to Stanley and Rocky Cape National Park. For the most part, the 
distances travelled were relatively straight-forward. Why "Sunny Tasmania"? 
Tasmania has a reputation for cold weather ! During our stay we had sunny days 
for virtually our entire trip. The weather temperature ranged between 20°C and 
25°C. Simply perfect. Note: we arrived in Tasmania  in the second half of 
January, however in early January Tasmania experienced extremely hot 
temperatures, with several sites breaking all-time maximum temperature records. 
Hobart recorded a maximum of 41.8°C.

Fern Glade and the Tasmanian Platypus ( Day 1)
First stop Burnie, staying in a cabin at Burnie Oceanview. Despite being a bit 
daggy, it was actually really good - and it had a glass-enclosed pool, great 
for the kids. The beach directly opposite proved excellent for Little Penguin, 
with ~40 strolling up the beach just after dusk.

The main reason for staying in Burnie was to visit Fern Glade, a small, but 
delightful bush reserve 4 km east of town. From my experience it's also the 
best place in Tasmania to see Platypus. To get there turn on to Old Surrey Rd 
on the western side of the Emu River Bridge, 1 km east of Burnie. After 350 m 
turn left on to Fernglade Rd and the reserves picnic area is another 1 km.

This was the second time I'd visited Fern Glade. The first was in the 1990's, 
indeed it was the very first site I went birdwatching in Tasmania. Flying into 
Wynyard to attend a conference in Burnie, and at the end of the day I walked to 
Fern Glade. On this occasion several Platypus swam in the shallows so close to 
shore that you could touched them. I remember thinking about how large they 
were. In fact they were massive; by comparison to some of the Platypus I'd seen 
on the mainland, they were nearly three times the size! This certainly 
supported Bergmann's eco-geographic rule that animals of larger size are found 
in colder environments. Although his theory was originally formulated in terms 
of size between different species, in the case of the Platypus (as with most 
mammals in Tasmania), the principle can been recast in terms of populations 
within the same species. The principle also applies to the Tasmania's birds. 
The local Masked Owl (ssp castanops) is ~50% heavier than mainland birds. There 
are many more such example. To add one more to Bergmann's list, I personally 
think the Blackbird is larger in Tasmania. Considering its relatively recent 
introduction, the size increase seems to have occurred in just a few 
generations. Anyway, my plan was to visit Fern Glade and show my family a few 
'dead cert' Tasmanian Platypus. We arrived around lunch time and within an hour 
a very large male Platypus swam past the picnic area, and down the river. Not 

Birds. Like the previous time I'd visited Fern Glade, it was very birdy. 
Several Black-tailed Native-hen called noisily along the river bank. In 1998 I 
remember watching them in the same place. On that occasion they having a 
massive brawl - indeed the fight was so viscous that I felt like breaking the 
fight up. Fern Glade is an excellent spot for robin, such as Dusky, Scarlet and 
Pink Robin, while other birds here include Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo (the 
Southern or Tasmania ssp xanthanotus), Green Rosella, Tasmanian Scrubwren, 
Golden Whistler, Forest Raven and honeyeater such as Yellow-throated, 
Large-billed and Black-headed. Laughing Kookaburra feed around the picnic area; 
like the Superb Lyrebird, they are amongst a number of the Australian mainland 
native birds introduced to Tasmania.

Bicheno ( Day 2-6)
Next stop was Bicheno. It's a very pleasant coastal town located on the east 
coast of Tasmania, 280 km from where we were staying in Burnie. The main reason 
we chose to stay in Bicheno was to hang around the beach and go swimmer. It was 
the summer holidays after all. That said, in terms of birding the areas great, 
with habitats such as great beaches, impressive on- and off-shore rocks, 
adjacent heathland and surrounded by dry eucalypt forests.

The 3 km Waub's Bay foreshore walk (~3 km one way) treks you from town to a 
picturesque nature reserve called Diamond Island CR. Dominated by Seaberry 
Saltbush ( Rhagodia candolleana), the island protects a colony of Little 
Penguin. Along the foreshore walk itself there were Little Penguin, Musk 
Lorikeet, Green Rosella, Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo, Australian Magpie (ssp 
hypoleuca), honeyeaters such as Black-headed, Yellow-throated and New Holland, 
very tame Grey Fantail (ssp albiscapa), Superb Fairy-wren (larger deep-blue 
Tasmanian ssp cyaneus), Tasmanian Scrubwren, Brown and, perhaps surprising, 
Tasmanian Thornbill (seen in the shadier scrub about 50 m south of the Gordon 
St carpark), a species I normally associated with forests.

A pair of Hooded Plover feed along the Bicheno shoreline, as well as Australian 
Pied and Sooty Oystercatcher. Seabirds included Kelp and Pacific Gull, Caspian 
and Crested Tern, Australasian Gannet, Black-faced Cormorant, a continual 
distant swath of Short-tailed Shearwater, and the odd Shy Albatross. 
Occasionally I'd see a pair of White-bellied Sea-Eagle, one of less than 200 
pairs breeding in Tasmania. Sitting on the balcony of the house we'd rented 
(north part of Bicheno near Diamond Is), each evening Little Penguin called all 
around us. For some reason there incessant call reminded me of Bush 
Stone-curlew calling at night on Magnetic Is.

One of the big birding surprises in Bicheno was stumbling across the Governor 
Is Marine Nature Reserve. The reserve consists of two small islands immediately 
east of the town. I’d not heard about this reserve, and I literally stumbled 
across it while buying fish. To my surprise Governor Is supports one of 
Tasmania's largest breeding colony of Crested Tern, ~2000 pairs, as well as 
nesting Silver Gull, Little Penguin, Sooty Oystercatcher and occasional 
White-fronted Tern. In Bicheno, it is also worth doing the walk up to Whalers 
Lookout. It provides good views across to Governor Island, and was a good spot 
to see Tasmanian Rock Orchid (Dockrillia striolata).

Douglas-Apsley National Park (Day 3, visited while staying in Bicheno)
Douglas-Apsley National Park is a good example of the dry eucalypt woodlands 
found across much of the eastern Tasmania. With an interesting diversity of 
eucalypts (the park contains over half of the Tasmania's species), the main 
types included Blue Gum (Eucalyptus globulas), White (Manna) Gum (E. viminalis) 
and the endemic Black Peppermint (E. amygdalina). The other dominant trees 
include Yellow Dogwood (Pomaderris elliptica), Silver Banksia (Banksia 
marginate), Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon), Black Wattle (A. mearnsii) and 
Black Sheoak (Allocasuarina littoralis). These all added up to a very pleasant 
national park. I was both keen to see what woodland birds occurred in the park, 
but also keen do some spotlighting for birds and mammals. Access to 
Douglas-Apsley is via Rosedale Rd, 5 km north of Bicheno. On the way into the 
park I had my first encounter with a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagle, with two 
adults cirling over farmland. This is the endangered Tasmanian ssp fleayi, with 
an estimated population of just 80 pairs. Along the road there was a small 
group of Wild Turkey, not necessarily wild free-flying birds but they certainly 
were in the wild, as well as Flame Robin and Eastern Rosella (ssp diemenensis), 
with its rich red-head and larger white cheeks.

Once in the park, I was surprised to find that Yellow Wattlebird was the most 
common bird. I then noticed that Yellow Wattlebird was Douglas-Apsley's 
national park emblem. It made perfect sense. As far as calls go the Yellow 
Wattlebird must have one of the silliest. A sort of load raucous kukuk, spat 
out while the bird jerks its head back and forward. Doing the pleasant Lookout 
Track (~1.2 km return) to the Apsley Waterhole I saw Musk Lorikeet, Green 
Rosella, Common Bronzewing, Yellow-throated and Crescent Honeyeater, Noisy 
Miner, Forest Raven, Grey Butcherbird (the Tasmanian Butcherbird ssp cinereus), 
Pallid Cuckoo, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Scarlet Robin and Grey Shrike-thrush 
(ssp strigata). One thing noticeable about the Tasmanian Grey Shrike-thrush is 
its noticeably larger bill; as usual, it was also nice to hear the local vocal 
dialect, an ascending joe-witt-ee. Several Beautiful Firetail feed near a small 
dam along a small 4W4 track that leads west from the car park - it borders the 
western fence line. Also here were several 'Bennett's Wallaby', the shaggier 
Tasmanian subspecies banksianus of the Red-necked Wallaby. There were also some 
large canine-type tracks here, with fresh dropping. So, I decided this was a 
good spot to return to that evening and go spotlighting.

That night, with John Shute, it didn't take long for us to find several 
enormous rufous-brown coloured Common Brushtail Possum. They were easily twice 
the size of any possums I'd seen previously. Spotlighting at the small dam 
where I'd seen the Beautiful Firetail earlier, a large stocky and very black 
animal moved quickly up the track. I pointed it out John, and we tried to 
follow it, hoping to get a better views. In loping gaits, it ran up the track 
and in to the bush. It was a Tasmania Devil, my first in the wild!

Along the road back to Bicheno a Morepork flew into a roadside tree. It was 
nice to finally get a view of this bird. Although I'd heard them many times 
previously, I'd never actually seem one in the flesh. This species of owl was 
formally classified as a Southern Boobook, and known locally as the Tasmanian 
Spotted Boobook ssp leucopsis. According to the IOC it's recently been split 
from the mainland Boobook and is now considered a subspecies of the New Zealand 
Morepork (Ninox novaeseelandiae leucopsis ). Some birders wonder how can this 
split occur? How can a subspecies of the New Zealand bird be found in Tasmania? 
The logic is that it's remnant population. Historically Ninox novaeseelandiae 
was once found right across Australia. However, since the rise of Bass Strait, 
another bird in the same Taxa, Ninox boobook, moved across mainland Australia 
and now dominate the landscape. The result is that Ninox novaeseelandiae 
leucopsis became isolated in Tasmania.

Seeing this bird meant that it was now an official 'life tick', and I could add 
it to my Australian list. That's assuming I adopt the IOC checklist of course. 
May as well, it does contain more species than other comparable lists. Apart 
from being good for twitching, having more species on the list isn't such as 
bad idea. For instance, you just need to think of the conservation value of 
splitting Ground Parrot - Western and Eastern. From a purely political context, 
rather than taxonomic, this means more dedicated conservation funds for the 
Western Ground Parrot because of its higher classification status.

Day trips from Bicheno (Day 4-5, visited while staying in Bicheno)
>From Bicheno we made day trips to a few areas within a cooee.

NORTH of Bicheno. St Helens, Binalong Bay and Scamander Forest Reserve / Trout 
>From Bicheno, we travelled north up the Tasman Hwy. Stopped at St Helens for 
>Tasmania's self-proclaimed "world's best chowder" at the Paddle Wheeler, a 
>fish and chippery on a boat in the harbour. While sipping my soup (it was 
>pretty good) a Fairy Tern flew past. Not a bad way to see my first Tasmanian 
>Fairy Tern. Note that I later saw another Fairy Tern in Scamander harbour.

Binalong Bay was a short drive north of St Helens . The beach here was simply 
spectacular. By my reckoning, one of the best swimming beaching in Australia, 
perfect for kids. Along the beach I found to two separate grups of Hooded 
Plover, two and six. According to the local park rangers, who incidentally is 
currently researching Lewin's Rail in Tasmania, there'd been two successful 
breeding attempts by Hooded Plover on Binalong Beach this season. On the way 
back from Binalong Bay we made brief (20 km) detour to the Trout Creek picnic 
area in Scamander Forest Reserve. Although it was fairly uneventful in the 
early evening, for reference this is a good site for Tasmanian Masked Owl.

SOUTH of Bicheno. Moulting Lagoon, Freycinet and Cape Tourville Lighthouse
Moulting Lagoon is a large wetland and Ramsar site 18 km south of Bicheno. It's 
a significant breeding and moulting site for Black Swan (as many as 10,000 
birds have been recorded), and there were plenty about. Other birds here 
included Chestnut Teal, Australian Shelduck, Musk Duck, Australian Pelican, 
Great Egret and White-faced Heron. There were also a few of the larger waders, 
Eastern Curlew and Bar-tailed Godwit. FYI I accessed the lagoon via Flacks Rd - 
it's heads south off Cole Bay Rd (the road to Freycinet) about 16.5 km from the 
Tasman Hwy. The best spot for birding is at the very end of the road. There 
were a few birds of prey around the wetland, a White-bellied Sea-Eagle, several 
Swamp Harrier, easily the most common raptor on the island, and a Brown Falcon.

On your way to Moulting Lagoon, a few of kilometres down Flacks Rd, you pass an 
enclosed sanctuary for Tasmanian Devil. An extremely impressive structure, it 
was great to see that my sponsorship of John Weigel's Australian Big Year was 
going in the right direction. My sponsorship went towards fence building at 
Devil reserves. Thanks John.

The Freycinet Peninsula has an impressive bird list of 147 species. My brief 
visit didn't do the park justice. I must admit I was a little deterred by the 
large number of tourists, particularly overseas tourists - there were a lot of 
Germans. Indeed when visiting the Freycinet NP Information Centre, the 
information officer mistook me for being German. This was perhaps because I 
started our conversation by pointing to some handout - I was trying to get bird 
and plant lists etc, as you do.  As I opening my mouth to speak, in 
pigeon-English, she said "You want a park pass!" I gestured towards my wife, 
who was organising the pass. The information officer said to me, again in 
pigeon-English "Go and stand next to your wife! Go on! Off you go!" 
Unfortunately what followed wasn't very pleasant and involved a few expletives. 
I'm still not particularly proud of myself : (

The view from Cape Tourville Lighthouse is spectacular, providing a perfect 
vantage point for seabird-watching, and you look down upon The Nuggets, an 
important breeding and resting sites for seabirds. Groups of Australian Fur 
Seal were hauled out and resting. Out to sea there were seabirds such as 
Crested and Caspian Term, Kelp and Pacific Gull, Australasian Gannet, 
Black-faced and Great Cormorant, Sooty Oystercatcher, Short-tailed Shearwater 
and few Shy Albatross (white-capped ssp cauta) glided close onshore. Along the 
walk Tree Martin hawked for insects, and dozens of skinks scurried under the 
walk way, including White's (Egernia whitii), Occellated (Niveoscincus 
ocellatus) and Metallic (N. metallicus) Skink. Not a bad collection: I wonder 
why so many, and such a range of species, are found in one spot? The 
black-morphed Tasmanian Tiger Snake (Notechis ater humphreysi), sometimes known 
as the 'Black Tiger', is fairly common on the Freycinet Peninsula (and across 
much of Tasmania). Looking at my old copy of Snake of Australia by Graeme Gow, 
he notes that this supspecies is cannabalistic. It's also the snake that feeds 
on the Muttonbird (Short-tailed Shearwater) colonies in Bass Strait. Many are 
blind after having their eyes pecked by defending Muttonbird. Interestingly 
this doesn't seem to affect the mortality rate with many, despite being blind, 
living a full and prosperous life. Bennett's Wallaby is also common of the 
Freycinet Peninsula, and are tame around the Wineglass Bay car park. From there 
I did a walk through some heathland just west of the Wineglass Bay car park 
(accessed via a the road that continues west from near the carpark entrance), 
along which there were Green Rosella, Brush Bronzewing, Scarlet Robin, Golden 
Whistler, Tasmanian Scrubwren, both Brown and Tasmanian Thornbill, Shining 
Bronze-Cuckoo, Eastern Spinebill, Little and Yellow Wattlebird and New Holland, 
Black-headed, Yellow-throated and Crescent Honeyeater.

Interlude. The Flight of the Bumblebee
On my first day in Tasmania I was surprised to see Large Earth Bumblebee 
(Bombus terrestris), as stunning a looking bee as you'll ever see. Over the 
rest of the trip I was amazed how common they were. I knew they'd become 
established in Tasmania - they were 1st reported in 1992) - but on previous 
trips I'd never noticed them. Now they were literally everywhere, and feeding 
on both exotic and native flowers. This could become a real problem. Introduced 
bees, no matter what species they are, can change the nature of 
plant-pollination. They displace native flower-feeding, and they can reduce the 
pollination of native plants and increase the pollinating and  proliferation of 
exotic plants. As a child, I remember watching Harry Butler's In the Wild. In 
one particular episode Harry makes the comment that "The Rabbit is not 
Australia's most destructive introduced animal, the European Honey Bee is!". 
According to some 19th century theorists, the laws of aerodynamics indicate 
that Bumblebee is incapable of flight. Their wings are just too small to 
support flight. Some anti-evolutionary theorists argued that because the flight 
of Bumblebee was scientifically impossible, it therefore proved in the 
existence of God. Of course such an idea is fanciful, as fanciful as Disney's 
Fantasia. Given the fact that the Bumblebee can fly, arriving in mainland 
Australian may be just a matter of time.

Bruny Island (Day 7-9)
>From Bicheno we headed south through down town Hobart to Bruny Island. We 
>camped at the excellent Jetty Beach campground in South Bruny Island National 
>Park. The campground and the beach here are absolutely superb! It was a little 
>busy being the Christmas holidays, but I image that for most of the year you 
>could pick and choose your site.

Jetty Beach - South Bruny Island National Park
Located at the very north end of Bruny Island, the Jetty Beach Campground was 
one of those places where you didn't need to move about to be surrounded by 
birds.  In fact. it was the most "birdy" place I visited in Tasmania - it's 
surprising how little has been written about Jetty Beach by birders.

Dusky Robin was the most common bird around the campground, with several nests 
immediately adjacent to our campsite. The adult birds continually searched for 
food all around us, sometimes sitting, typically sideways, on the tree beside 
you. On Bruny Island I met up with local conservation Nick Mooney, and by his 
reckoning Jetty Beach is the best spot in Tasmania for seeing Dusky Robin up 
close. After staying there a few days, I'm in complete agreeance. Olive 
Whistler was another campground bird, with a male calling each morning 
immediately beside our tent, as did Bassian Thrush, scurrying around the 
Austral Bracken (Pteridium esculentum) thickets. The thrush was perhaps feeding 
on Forest Scorpion (Cercophonius squama), the only species of scorpion that 
occurs in Tasmania. Quite common around the campsite, I found several under the 
tent when we packed up.  Fortunately it's fairly harmless. Other birds seen 
around the campground included Green Rosella, Satin Flycatcher, Rose and 
Scarlet Robin, Golden Whistler, Grey Shrike-thrush, Yellow-throated, 
Strong-billed, Black-headed, New Holland and Crescent Honeyeater and Striated 
Pardalote, and two Tree Martin spent most of their day hawking for insects 
around our site. There was even a young family of very green Green Finch, with 
the two parents were being continually hassled by four youngsters.

Jetty Beach is pristine and idyllic . And no self-respecting idyllic beach in 
Tasmania would be seen without a pair of Australian Pied Oystercatcher. There 
was also Chestnut Teal, large flocks of Silver Gull, Pacific Gull, Crested Tern 
and White-faced Heron, and a small pod of Bottlenose Dolphin swam offshore. 
Along the beach the foot prints of Spot-tailed Quoll and Tasmanian Devil were 
visible above the tide line.

Along the access road into Jetty Beach you pass through some excellent areas of 
heath. For birders a good heathland is paradise - so of course that's where I 
spent my mornings walking. The heath was scattered with flowering Tasmanian 
Christmas Bell (Blandfordia punicea). What a spectacular flower. I was actually 
surprised to it here. The last time I had seen Christmas Bell was in Crowdy Bay 
National Park (central NSW) - this was the Large Christmas Bell (Blandfordia 
grandiflora), and equally spectacular. It seems a very long hop between there 
to here, and why aren't Blandfordia sp. found in Victoria? Somewhere like 
Croajingolong? Was there some historical geological link between Tasmanian and 
central NSW? Another common flowering plant that provided striking colour 
across the heath was the Narrow-Leaf Trigger Plant ( Stylidium lineare). A 
really interesting plant, with its butterfly shaped bright pink flowers, it has 
a pollination mechanism that involves a sensitive "trigger", unique to this 
family. It also possesses glandular trichomes that are capable of digesting 
nutrients from any prey captured in its sticky mucilage, suggesting that it's 
either carnivorous or at the very least protocarnivorous. What a wonderful 

Beautiful Firetail was a common bird in the heath, as were Yellow-tailed 
Black-Cockatoo, Olive Whistler (ssp apatetes), Scarlet Robin, Satin Flycatcher 
and Shining Bronze-Cuckoo and Fan-tailed Cuckoo, while Crescent Honeyeater was 
the most common honeyeater. A nice surprise was a couple of immature 
White-bellied Sea-eagle circling over the heath towards Jetty Beach. The 
lengthy Labillardiere Peninsula circuit walk - it's about 15 km - starts at the 
Jetty beach campground, and does a loop of the peninsula. Beautiful Firetail, 
Tawny-crowned Honeyeater and Olive Whistler occur along the beginning of the 
walk and, although I didn't see any, so do Eastern Ground Parrot. Half way 
along the walk you come to Partridge Island, an small island of the coast of 
Bruny that protects a large colony of Forty-spotted Pardalote.

Cape Bruny Lighthouse
Like the Cape Tourville Lighthouse, the views from the Cape Bruny Lighthouse 
are spectacular. Around the lighthouse the most interesting species were Flame 
Robin, Shining Bronze-Cuckoo and a pair of Blue-winged Parrot zitted overhead. 
Out to sea, there were rafts of Short-tailed Shearwater and there several Shy 
(White-capped ssp cauta) Albatross.

Adventure Bay
The birding around this attractive coastal township was quite good, with birds 
such as Tasmanian Native Hen, Green Rosella, Yellow-throated, Strong-billed  
Honeyeater, Yellow Wattlebird, Black Currawong and Dusky Woodswallow all fairly 
common. Near Adventure Bay I was pleasantly surprised to find some cool 
temperate rainforest, particularly along Coolangata Rd near the top of Mount 
Mangana, and the short and very pretty Mavista Nature Walk. The rainforest had 
the classic feel of an ancient Gondwana forest, and contained birds such as 
Pink and Dusky Robin, Robin, Tasmanian Thornbill and Scrubtit, with a pair in a 
gully on the Mavista Nature Walk.

The Cheese Company and Swift Parrot
While eating day old cheese and freshly cooked bread that the Bruny Island 
Cheese Company a few Swift Parrot flew over, with bursts of high pitched 
chattering pee-pit, pee-pit. Note. During spring and summer the best spots to 
look for Swift Parrot on Bruny Is are the Robert Point Ferry Terminal, Church 
Bay (Killora), the Adventure Bay foreshore and the Grassy Point Tk, east of 
Adventure Bay. Reports tend to be associated flowering Blue Gum (Eucalyptus 
globulus) and Black Gum (E. ovata).

The Neck
Connects the two halves of the Island, ‘The Neck’ is an interesting place 
that's well worth a stop. It's an breeding site for Little Penguin and 
Short-tailed Shearwater (~240,000 pairs breed on Bruny!). The best viewing area 
is near the steps up to the lookout at the Hummock, where there's a boardwalk 
and viewing platform.

Some notes on Forty-spotted Pardalote on Bruny Island
FYI here's a few notes on Forty-spotted on Bruny Is. Intrinsically linked to 
White Gum (Eucalyptus viminalis), the best spot to search for Forty-spotted on 
Bruny Is are on North Bruny Is at the north end of Bruny Island Main Rd, just 
south of Dennes Point - search around the base of Waterview Hill. They also 
occur in the roadside woodlands along Missionary Rd, particularly near McCraken 
Creek. On South Bruny Island, they are also found on INALA, a privately owned 
eco-friendly property with excellent accommodation. Notably all of Tasmania's 
endemics plus Masked Owl have been recorded on INALA, possibly the only site in 
Tasmania where this occurs. Its owned by Dr Tonia Cochran, who conducts 
excellent wildlife tours. The Forty-spotted Habitat Network also have some 
excellent map on their website that deal with Forty-spotted distribution.

Hobart, Peter Murrell Reserves and Snug Creek (Day 10)
Back on the mainland, mainland Tasmania that is, we stayed a night in Hobart. 
Everyone wanted to visit Mona, Tasmania's new Museum of Old and New Art. 
Typically, perhaps stupidly, I chose to go birding instead. (I was actually 
fairly keen to go to Mona, but that's another story.)

The Peter Murrell Reserves are the most reliable location near Hobart to see 
the endangered Forty-spotted Pardalote. Discovered here by the Coffee Creek 
Landcare Group in 1994, the best spot for seeing them is in the northern 
section of the reserve, entering via Huntingfield Ave. To get there, turn left 
off the Channel Hwy into Huntingfield Ave, 2 km south of Kingston (passing the 
Antarctic Division), travel 700 m and then turn left again down a dirt track - 
it's located immediately south of the Vodafone Factory. Here there's a Peter 
Murrell Reserves sign at the entrance. Follow the track down to the carpark 
near the Penrhyn Pond. There's a good map of reserves at the parks website. 
Upon arrived, I walked along the western edge of the Penrhyn Pond, past the 
birdhide, until I reached the Coffee Creek Fire Trail. Here pardalotes of all 
types were calling from the White Gum at the intersection of the Coffee Creek 
Fire Trail and Scarborough Fire Trial, with a delightful cacophony of the bird 
calls: the two-toned se-saw of Spotted, the higher-pitched wit-wit-wit of 
Striated, and the where-where-where of the Forty-spotted. After a bit of 
searching I found several Forty-spotted foraging in the upper foliage. Other 
birds here include Hoary-headed Grebe, Swamp Harrier, Brown Falcon, Tasmanian 
Native-hen, Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo, Galah, which is interestingly only a 
recent arrival to Tasmania (either introduced or self-introduced), Eastern 
Rosella, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Grey Butcherbird (ssp cinereus), Brown and 
Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Yellow Wattlebird, Yellow-throated Honeyeater, 
Black-headed, Crescent and New Holland Honeyeater, Eastern Spinebill, Superb 
Fairy-wren, Dusky Woodswallow and the sooty black Tasmanian Grey Currawong, 
known locally as the 'Clinking Currawong' (ssp arguta).

The Snug Falls Walk is a nice walk to combine with a trip to Peter Murrell 
Reserves, located ~10 km to the north. Relatively close to each other, visiting 
both is a good way combine a visit to dry eucalyptus woodlands and wet 
temperate forests. Snug Falls is an great place to see the endemic and uncommon 
Scrubtit. To get there from Hobart, take the Channel Hwy 24 km south to Snug (a 
town that officially has the best name in Tasmania). From there turn down Snug 
Tiers Rd, and after 1 km turn left onto Snug Falls Rd - following this to the 
sign-posted car park. The walk down to Snug Falls descends for about 1 km, down 
through bushland to a cool, fern-lined rainforest gully at Snug Falls. I found 
the best place for seeing Scrubtit to be the very bottom of the walk, near the 
waterfall. Here, with a bit if searching, I also found some of the other wet 
forest specialists, such as Pink Robin, Olive Whistler, Bassian Thrush and 
Tasmanian Thornbill. The Scrubtit were on the right side of the track 
immediately before you reached the falls. Black Currawong was also a common 
bird around Snug Falls, its loud, distinctive but comical call (best described 
as a kar-week, week-kar) reverberated around the bottom of the valley. In the 
woodlands on the way down to the falls I also saw Green Rosella, Crescent, 
Strong-billed and Yellow-throated honeyeater, Scarlet Robin, Grey 
Shrike-thrush, Brown Thornbill and Grey Fantail. PS. Snug Butchery sells cheap 
Lobster (35$ each) and home-made Scollop Pies (a Tassie specialty). Not a bad 
butcher. In fact the butcher in Bicheno was also excellent. Must be a Tasmanian 

Lake St Claire, Derwent Bridge and the Franklin River (Day 11)
>From Hobart, we drove across central Tasmanian via the Lyell Hwy. Spectacular 
>scenery and a spectacular road. We stayed overnight in the highlands of 
>Tasmania, staying in backpacker style huts (called Bushwalkers Rooms) at the 
>Derwent Bridge Wilderness Hotel. Cheap and good value (30$ per person) - not 
>to everyone's liking, but perfect for birdwatching-types. Black Currawong and 
>Yellow Wattlebird were common around the huts. Spotlighting at night produced 
>Tasmanian Pademelon and an enormous Wombat. The call of the Morepork here was 
>distinctively different from the other Morepork I'd heard in Tasmania. In 
>terms of Ninox distribution, what was going on here?

Lake St Clair was a place to avoid. I've never seen so many middle-classed, 
white, conservation-minded, Katmandu-shopping types in my life - a bit like 
myself really. All had enormous rucksacks, no one was smiling, and looked as 
though they'd just tried to climb Everest but failed. It was like looking a 
mirror and seeing a thousand faces looking back - the only thing missing was a 
pair of binoculars around their necks. Seeing them sent shivers up my spine, 
and I couldn't wait to get out of there.

Between Derwent Bridge and Queenstown (now that's some sort of town), we 
stopped to walk the Franklin River Nature Trail. Regarded as one of Tasmania's 
best short walks in Tasmania, it takes you along the banks of the Franklin 
River and wides through cool temperate rainforest. You really do feel like 
you're stepping back in time. The rainforest here is simply magical, and the 
ground is completely covered in think moss! I've never seen anything like it. 
That being said, it wasn't particularly birdy - although a spring dawn chorus 
might be interesting. Bird here include Pink Robin, Black Currawong, Forest 
Raven and Crescent Honeyeater.

Strahan (Day 12-14)
Strahan is a delightful, somewhat touristy town located on Tasmania's west 
coast. We stayed at the Strahan Backpackers YHA, which proved excellent, with a 
very pleasant small camping area nestled beside a stream. White Gum in the 
camping area attracted honeyeaters such as Strong-billed, Black-headed and 
Yellow-throated, while a Collared Sparrowhawk made a regular appearance. It had 
a regular flight path up and down the stream. At dawn and dusk a lone Laughing 
Kookaburra gave a solitary laugh, with no replies. How often do you hear that? 
One laugh made by a solitary Kookaburra? Obviously a bit a jackass. At night an 
Australian Owlet-nightjar (ssp tasmanicus) called in the campground - the only 
place in Tasmania where I heard this species.

In terms of birding Strahan is best known for its superb heath and Button-grass 
plains. I found that the best area for birding was Ocean Beach Rd, just past 
the airport. On several morning walks I flushed several  Eastern Ground Parrot, 
although be prepare for a bit of hiking through boggy heath - my shoes are 
still wet - for ease of access look for areas with knee-high heath, the best 
length for seeing Ground Parrot. Tasmania's other heathland specialists were 
all common here, such as Southern Emu-wren (ssp litteri), Beautiful Firetail, 
Striated Fieldwren, this is the western Tasmanian ssp diemenensis, another 
Tasmanian ssp fuliginous occurs on the east side of the island, Tawny-crowned 
Honeyeater, Brush Bronzewing and Olive Whistler - on one particular walk I must 
have seen / heard at least twelve seperate Olive Whistler. The heathland along 
Macquarie Heads Rd, which runs off Ocean Beach Rd immediately before you reach 
the airport, is also pretty. Ocean Beach, quite naturally at the end of Ocean 
Beach Rd, held Red-capped Plover, and Australian Pied and Sooty Oystercatcher, 
and the shoreline scrub here contains a Short-tailed Shearwater colony.

The other "must do" thing in Strahan is to take a boat cruise around Macquarie 
Harbour and up the Gordon River. It really was excellent, and cruising up the 
rainforest-lined Gordon River is something to behold.
Although I'm not spiritual, standing on the front of the boat gliding slowly up 
in the Gordon River was about as close you get to a spiritual experience. It's 
worth every dollar spent. In the upper reach of the Gordon River, scanning the 
riverbank, a Tasmanian Azure Kingfisher (ssp diemenensis) took flight and flew 
up the Gordon. I was pretty happy about seeing colourful little bird, possibly 
my best bird for the trip. It's rare in Tasmania, and added further colour to 
an already colourful experience. Although I didn't get a chance to visit, the 
narrow coves of Birchs Inlet on the south side of Macquarie Harbour are said to 
be worth a visit. Like the Gordon River, it's only accessible by water 
transport. Along with Melaleuca, it's a study site for Orange-bellied Parrot in 
their breeding range, and birds such as Azure Kingfisher and the other 
heathland specialists are found there. Note re the boat. We chose the Brown and 
White boat of World Heritage Cruises. The only logic behind this was that they 
were a local, family-owned boat who've been working the river for over a 100 
yrs. Also, it's worth noting that there's no need to book premium or gold seats 
(not that a birder ever would). The standard seat almost identical and, as soon 
as the trip starts. you can to move around the vessel, where they are plenty of 
spots for viewing and photography.

The Nut, Stanley (Day 15)
Our penultimate destination in our circumnavigation of the Tasmania was 
Stanley, a very attractive coastal town on the north-west side of the island 
250 km from Strahan.  Adjacent to the township is the sheer-sided bluff known 
as The Nut. It's well worth a visit. Little Penguin breed on the northern 
foreshore, and there is also a significant colony of Short-tailed Shearwater 
with an estimated 13,000 burrows. The day I visited, it was good for 
sea-birding, seeing Shy and Black-browed Albatross, Australasian Gannet, 
Sharp-tailed Shearwater and Black-faced Cormorant. Of note, both Peregrine 
Falcon and Nankeen Kestrel (rare in Tasmania- there's only an estimated ten 
breeding pairs) breed on The Nut. I dipped on both, however the white-wash of 
the Nankeen Kestrel nest can be clearly seen on the south side of the bluff. 
Another bird seen near Stanley was Latham's Snipe, flushing a single bird from 
coastal vegetation near the intersection of the Strahan and Bass Hwys.

A word of warning though. Although Stanley is a pretty seaside town, we found 
the caravan park horrible. Put simply it was full of - I hate to use the word - 
bogans. Through day and night dozens of ... well you know, walked noisily up 
and down caravan park, each with a beer in hand. It may have just been the time 
of year, but we couldn't wait to get wait to get out of there. When I packed 
the car to leave a crowd formed, each onlookers with a beer in hand.

Rocky Cape National Park and Sisters Beach (Day 16)
Last stop, before heading home from Devonport, was Sisters Beach and Rocky Cape 
National Park, 60 km east of Stanley. We stopped to go for a swim with the kids 
- the beach at Sisters Beach and, nearby, at Beach Harbour, must be amongst the 
very best in Tasmania, equal to the beaches at Binalong Bay and Bicheno.

After a swim, I managed to sneak off for a couple of hours and do a couple of 
walks in the neighbouring Rocky Cape National Park. Although relatively small, 
just over 3000 hectares, the park protects an picturesque coastline with rocky 
coves, stunning sheltered beaches, heathland and Banksia-covered hillsides and 
there are sweeping views across Bass Strait. The park also has a long history 
of continual human habitation, dating back for at least eight thousand years to 
when Bass Strait settled at its currently sea level at the end of the last Ice 
Age. While walking the parks sandy tracks, Dusky Woodswallow was the most 
common bird. Being migratory, this may have been a slight anomaly in terms of 
timing and place, however so many Dusky Woodswallow was intriguing. They were 
actually more at Rocky Cape than anywhere I've seen in Victoria. It may just 
have been a good year, the time of year, or the location (in terms of migration 
paths), but I never would have guessed this. A similar intrigue for me occurred 
with Tree Martin. Again more common in Tasmania than in Victoria. Some of the 
other birds seen at Rocky Cape included White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Short-tailed 
Shearwater, Kelp and Pacific Gull, Black-faced Cormorant, Australian Pied and 
Sooty Oystercatcher, Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo (the parks logo), Galah, 
Green Rosella,  Eastern Spinebill, Crescent, Strong-billed, Yellow-throated,  
New Holland and Black-headed Honeyeater, Little Wattlebird, Tasmanian 
Thornbill, Golden Whistler, Satin Flycatcher, Australasian Pipit and Beautiful 
Firetail. I'd read somewhere that Painted Button-quail had been recorded in the 
park. Looking around I noticed a couple of areas of platelet-like scrapings. 
Perhaps they are here.

Rocky Cape National Park is interesting in terms of its plants. The hills 
overlooking Sisters Beach are dominated by old growth Saw Banksia (Banksia 
serrata). Aside from a small population (of about 80 trees) on Flinders Island, 
this is the only place in the Tasmania where this tree is found. The dry forest 
in the park are dominated by a Tasmanian endemic, Smithton Peppermint 
(Eucalyptus nitida), while other interesting plants in park include Grass-tree 
(Xanthorrhoea australis), Spreading Guinea Flower (Hibbertia procumbens), 
Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium), Scented Paperbark (Melaleuca squarosa) and 
Coast Beard-heath (Leucopogon parviflorus), sometimes known Native Currant. 
Tasmanian Christmas Bell (Blandfordia punicea) were also here. Nice to catch up 
with them again.

It was great to start the trip by revisiting Fern Glade in Burnie. The first 
thing I noticed was how good my memory of the place was. For some reason, I 
remembered every corner, every tree and every bird. This was most likely 
because it was the first place I ever went birding in Tasmania, and there was a 
potential for a new (endemic) bird around every corner. As a result my mind was 
in that "ultra-aware birder-birdwatching" mind state, and consequently every 
memory came flooding back - including that Platypus over there. What a perfect 
way to start my trip to Tasmania.

Jetty Beach on Bruny Island is a fabulous bush campsite where the most common 
bird is Dusky Robin. It was fabulous just sit and watch these gorgeous birds 
movie around, finding food to feed their young. On opposite sides of the island 
Bicheno and Strahan are both stunning, and I could go on.

I'm always surprised how many birders think that when visiting Tasmania it’s a 
race to see how quickly you can see the endemics. This may be missing the 
point. Dare I say, Tasmanian's a great place to spend with family and friends. 
From a birdwatching viewpoint, visiting Tasmania is all about its habitats - 
its coastal birds, its heathland birds, its woodland birds and its cool 
temperate rainforest birds. So, from Platypus and Bergmann's rule, to 
Bumblebees and the laws of aerodynamics, Tasmania has a lot to offer. Basically 
it's an island of colours, orange, green and blues. Visiting Tasmania is about 
visiting its 'wild places'.  And eating cherries.


Tim Dolby

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