Trip report - Tasmania

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Subject: Trip report - Tasmania
From: "Carl Weber" <>
Date: Fri, 22 Oct 2010 16:47:57 +1100
Hi All,


I live in Sydney and returned last week from a week in Tasmania.  The trip
was mainly visiting tourist venues with my wife, daughter and baby grandson.
There was some birding on the side, as I was very keen to see the 12
Tasmanian endemics, and to that end had taken note of some great recent
reports on birdingAus.


Day 1

We arrived at around noon and went Mt Wellington. It was a clear sunny day,
but with a cold wind, which became a gale on the summit. The views were
tremendous. My first bird was a male flame robin - a good solid start I
thought; then the first of several forest ravens.  A picnic spot about
halfway down the mountain yielded black currawong at close range. It was
quite exciting at the time, but we were to see this endemic again in a
number of places.  Although it was getting late, I started on the Fern Glade
Walk with high hopes - 11 of the 12 endemics had been seen here in the past,
I think someone saw them all on one visit.  The harsh reality for us was
that a 30 minute walk up the increasingly steep track yielded only grey
fantail. (Is this a record?) 


Day 2

We drove to Mount Field National Park, about one hour from Hobart. The
weather was cold and showery. At Westerway, a village about 15 km from Mount
Field, we saw  a pair of tame Tasmanian native-hens feeding on the roadside
(endemic no. 2). 

At Mount Field, we did the magnificent Russell Falls Walk, then proceeded to
the Tall Trees Walk, in intermittent sunshine.  There weren't many birds
about at all, and I started to get that empty "Fern Glade Track" feeling
back. Eventually, a bit of movement in the undergrowth caught my eye, so I
stepped off the track and waited.  First a pair of Tasmanian thornbills
hopped into view, then, on cue, a scrubtit came out for a look - great views
at close range (endemics no. 3 and 4).  We saw one more scrubtit half an
hour later, together with a pink robin.  At the Tall Trees circuit, we had a
stroke of luck and spied a dusky robin (endemic no. 5).  Whilst lunching at
a picnic table near the Information Centre, a pair of black-headed
honeyeaters flew into a nearby eucalypt (endemic no. 6). After lunch, we
drove in the rain up to Lake Dobson, where the rain changed into
near-horizontal snow - beautiful alpine scenery, but no birds. That night,
we stayed at Hamilton, with very large house sparrows.


Day 3 

We drove from Hamilton to Queenstown and then to Cradle Mountain. On short
walks into the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, we saw a lone
blue-winged parrot (a tick for this Sydneysider) and our first
yellow-throated honeyeaters, calling and very active in eucalypts  (endemic
no. 7).  


Day 4

We stayed at Cradle Mountain. It had snowed the day before and snow was
still on the ground. It was cold and wet on both days. There were few birds,
apart from the occasional Tasmanian thornbill, black currawong, and a lone
yellow-throated honeyeater. 


Day 5 & 6

We drove to warmer, drier weather at Coles Bay. During lunch in a park at
Longford, we saw yellow wattlebird and green rosella (endemics no. 8 and 9);
also noteworthy for s were some European goldfinch.  Yellow wattlebirds and
green rosella were relatively easy to find once we reached Coles Bay. We
looked for hooded plover along beaches around Coles Bay but dipped.  We also
dipped on crescent honeyeater, here and throughout our trip. On the famous
Wineglass Bay Track in Freycinet National Park, we saw our first (and last)
Tasmanian scrubwren (endemic no.10).  We also saw green rosella, Tasmanian
thornbill, yellow-throated honeyeater, and black currawong.


Day 7 & 8 

We drove from Coles Bay to Hobart. A one hour visit to the Three Thumbs
Lookout in Weilangta State Forest proved very fruitful: our 2nd dusky robin,
this time a pair, flame robin, a flock of green rosella, Tasmanian
thornbill, and three magnificent swift parrots. I could see why they were
named swift, more so than when watching them feeding on eucalyptus blossom
back home in Sydney.  We stopped for an hour at Meehan Range Conservation
Park in search of strong-billed honeyeater, but dipped. Did see scarlet
robin, which gave us 4 robin species for our trip. After booking into our
Hobart accommodation, I went to Peter Murrell Reserve in search of
forty-spotted pardalote, and arrived at 4 pm in the rain and wind. I did
hear forty spotted pardalotes calling faintly, but it was too dark to see
into the high canopy. Returned the next morning for an hour, and over the
two visits I did see most of the other endemics: yellow wattlebird, black
currawong, Tasmanian native-hen, black-headed honeyeater, green rosella.  I
also got poor views of the other two pardalotes: spotted and striated.  With
respect to access, I found that access via Huntingfield Ave on the west side
was more convenient than the Scarborough Ave access; a track leads to a
parking area next to a dam.



To summarise, we saw 10 of the 12 endemics and a few other good birds
besides.  I feel that inclement weather robbed me of the forty spot. In John
Tongue's excellent article on forty spots at Peter Murrell Reserve, he said
that he took his great pics on a sunny morning with no wind.  I understand
that locals still talk about that special Hobart day in 2005 when there was
sunshine and no wind.


Yours in birding,


Carl Weber.  


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