Tasmanian Trip Report

To: "'Tim Dolby'" <>, <>
Subject: Tasmanian Trip Report
From: "Carl Weber" <>
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2013 13:58:04 +1100
Hi Tim,

You clearly had a great trip - and have documented it with a really great
trip report. I found the information on forty-spotted pardalote on Bruny of
particular interest. However, you do seem to have missed Cradle Mountain;
hope your mother wrote you a note. Presumably, you did tour both the Cascade
Brewery and Cadbury's factory, but didn't mention them. Also, I sincerely
hope that you tried pink eyes, preferably bought from a roadside stall.

Please tell us exactly what YOU said to the lady who mistook you and your
wife for German tourists.  

Best wishes,

Carl Weber

PS I, too, love Tasmania - because I got to tick Blue-winged Parrot on the
Franklin River Nature Trail, something that I couldn't manage on at least
six birding trips to Victoria from my home in Sydney.

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Tim Dolby
Sent: Wednesday, 13 February 2013 10:19 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

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 bad!

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

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

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 Creek 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

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

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 flower.

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

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 thing.

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

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

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

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

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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