Finding Peter Murrell Reserve, fun with ID for the Tasmanian Thornbill a

Subject: Finding Peter Murrell Reserve, fun with ID for the Tasmanian Thornbill and big savings on car hire insurance and Perth and SW WA
From: Patrick Scully <>
Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2012 20:14:42 +1000
Hello fellow birders,
I've been meaning to send a post for a couple of weeks about a recent trip
to Hobart in February, a trip to Perth in March, and to alert others to the
big savings on car hire insurance.  Firstly, as birders we often hire cars,
so any way to save some money is a big bonus for us.  Last year Deb and I
and baby went to FNQ for 3 weeks and I was staggered by the insurance I was
expected to pay  for a cheap car. I was quoted around $450 for a Hyundai
Getz. I phoned RACV and luckily discovered that members are able to get a
car hire excess insurance. How it works is if you say hire a Getz and it is
with Thrifty (which is owned by RACV) the excess is $2000. The total you
pay is $52, for a 3 day period or a 3 month period. If you have an
accident, you have to pay the $2000 up front and then it is refunded 100
percent by RACV and there is no issue with losing no-claim bonus. For us we
hire with Avis and the excess is $3000 so the premium is higher at $75. The
reason being that Thrifty will not attach a baby seat in the car. God only
knows why.

Now for Tasmania. I had been greatly looking forward to my trip to Tasmania
and hoping to pick up all the 12 endemics. I had picked brains, Paul and
Ruth Dodd's Andrew Stafford and others and searched out info on the Net. I
had downloaded all the good stuff I could find, mostly from the local
expert John Tongue but unfortunately they were left at home. Luckily I
found on the Net an excellent report for Lindsay and Keith Fisher. It had
photos and cover page, references etc and luckily I wrote down all the
directions for how to find Peter Murrell Reserve, the birds they had found
and a couple of other hot spots, such as the Fern Glade walk.
Finding the Antarctic building at Kingston is another  matter. Kingston is
unbelievable close to Hobart and we made a wrong turn at Kingston and ended
up at Kingston beach where our toddler had great delight running along. We
eventually found the back of PMR and then found the newish roundabout and
from there Lindsay and Keith's instructions were superb. It seems so
unlikely to have this great  reserve nestled in amongst an industrial
estate. Perhaps John Tongue could give an explanation on the best way
coming for Hobart as it seems there is a new bypass of Kingston. I
remembered the frustration of the ex-pat guide in the BIggest Twitch also
having a few issues finding PMR at Kingston.
Apart from the seeing the Forty-spotted Pardalot which I had some doubts
about getting onto, one of the big thrills was seeing the Yellow
Wattlebird. Living in Melbourne, we see the Red Wattlebird every day and
having seen pictures of the Yellow Wattlebird in field guides, I had wanted
to see one for ages. But seeing one I couldn't believe the size. I had
returned to PMR in the early morning hoping to see most of the species
mentioned by Lindsay and Keith Fisher when I looked up into the tall trees
and spotted a huge silhouette of what I wasn't quite sure.  Looking through
the bins and hearing the call, sure enough it was a Yellow Wattlebird.  I
managed to get some close views a bit later and the wattles are quite
bizarre.  Another  beaut and somewhat controversial bird was the Tasmanian
Thornbill.  I decided to copy Keith and Lindsay and went to the Fern Glade
walk. Having read up on the TT and keeping in mind to look out for the
"white underpants" a delightful bird alighted on a fallen tree truck at eye
level. The gizz of the bird seemed new to me, my first thoughts were of a
rufous colouring on the head and neck and whitish breast and fluffed up
appearance. I could not see the "white underpants" so decide it must be a
Brown Thornbill. When I got back to Melbourne I discovered some really
interesting stuff on the Net trying to ID the differences between Brown and
Tasmanian Thornbill. Alan Fletcher's blog is very illuminating.  He has
photos side by side of both Brown and Tasmanian Thornbills and a lot of
helpful ID tips such as habitat etc.  Both of his photos of the TT were
exactly what I had seen and I think John Tongue's comment was that in the
dark forest it can be hard to make out some of the Id features. For the
Black Currawong,  Andrew Stafford was right when he said that it can be
difficult to see on Mt Wellington (but we did see the "Clinker" race of
Grey Currawong at PMR).  As it was a beautiful clear day, Deb and I decided
while bub was having a nap to drive to the top of Mt Wellington, and what a
drive, it is a bit scary to be honest.  The view from the top was just
fantastic.  But no Black Currawong to be seen.  And lucky for us as just
like with Keith and Lindsay, where I had to check the date of their travel
as they mentioned snow, the weather turned extremely cold the next day and
Mt Wellington was covered in cloud for the remainder of our trip. If Ed
Williams is reading this, you were so right about the Tasmanian Native Hen,
they are everywhere.
And now to Perth and South-West Western Australia. I was fortunate to go
out birding with Sue Abbotts and her friend Claire.  Sue was out to help me
to add a couple of endemics to my list  We went to Bungendore Park, where
to start with it was very quiet.  Both Sue and Clare stated that West
Australians don't look for bush birds at that time of year and I can see
why, when later in the year the bush is bursting with song.  Sue managed to
spot a Western White -naped Honeyeater but I didn't get onto it.  A
highlight for all of us was when a  Square-tailed Kite flew low over the
trees overhead.  Later we had good views of a Rufous Treecreeper.  Then we
got onto a Western Gerygone with excellent views and then Sue heard the
sound of one of my target birds, the Western Thornbill and we managed to
get great views.  On the way out out we heard Western White-naped HE
calling but couldn't see one ( This proved invaluable as at Sue and
Claire's suggestion I drove to Boranup Forest near Margaret River  and saw
a number of them). When we stopped for morning tea at a spot near the
Wungong Reservoir, Claire looked up and spotted a Balck-capped Varied
Sittella. I was overjoyed as this one a bogy bird for me.  At Sue's
suggestion I changed my travel plans and stayed with Deb and Bubs at
Busselton. Sue suggested a good spot called Ambergate Reserve only a ten
minute drive  from there.  I wondered through the bush and it was very
quiet although I had good views of Western Gerygone and enjoyed watching
one hover on mid-air and the lovely tail pattern which is excellently
portrayed In Morcombe's field guide. I was thinking of calling it quits
when I suddenly spotted several Elegant Parrots in a dead tree. I was on a
real birding high heading back for breakfast.  Another highlight was seeing
 a family group of Carnaby's Black-Cockatoos on a daily basis while staying
at Bunker Bay.
Happy Birding,
Patrick Scully

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