Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tasmania, South



We made an early start at Peter Murrell Reserve, accessing it from Huntingfield Avenue, Kingston, via a track beside the Vodaphone call centre. Immediately beside the cark park in a stand of white gum (Eucalyptus viminalis) we heard Forty Spotted Pardalotes calling, but they were too high and the light too dim for us to distinguish them from the Striated Pardalotes that were also calling. A photo was out of the question so we wandered on to the dam where there were Australasian Grebe, Pacific Black Ducks, Chestnut Teal and Maned (or Australian Wood) Ducks. I don’t know if it was love or war, but the male was repeatedly attacking the other bird. Lots of Tasmanian Native Hens at the edges of the dam, Yellow and Little Wattlebirds in the trees, Welcome Swallows and Superb Fairywrens. A group of Yellow-throated Honeyeaters foraged in the trees alongside the second dam, the path was higher up the hill, so the birds in the top of the trees were conveniently at eye level.


Continuing south on the Channel Highway as the rain started to fall, we pulled in at the Bruny d'Entrecasteaux monument at Gordon, where several of the Tasmanian race of the Dusky Woodswallow sat about in the rain, looking as miserable as we felt.


A large group of Silver Gulls and Great Crested Tern were fishing at the edge of the channel, so we tested the waterproof qualities of the cameras and filled a card with mainly shots of sea and sky, but sufficient successful captures to make the soaking worthwhile.


It was a very pretty drive, with English gardens, apple orchards and stone cottages on one side of the road and the channel on the other with Bruny Island on the horizon. We did stop at Ninepin Point Marine Reserve, and walked down to the water, and paused again at Randalls Bay where we caught a glimpse of birds in the roadside trees. They didn’t hang around, so nor did we.


We detoured to have a look at the Arve River creek walk, and if the weather held, a glimpse of Hartz Mountain National Park. The Look-in Lookout was wonderfully unexpected, a pull off on the left of the road where you could peer into the forest – should be more of them. The Arve River Picnic Ground was the start and end of a ten minute loop walk, absolutely amazing .


Hartz Mountain brought our first sightings of the Black Currawong, but there was snow on the ground and the rain felt like sleet. We reflected on the changes in habitat we had driven through in a single day, and the incredible alpine plants that now surrounded us – from the comfort of the car.

The rain finally started to clear around Kingston, so we turned south again heading for the Inverawe Native Gardens at Margate. Cups of tea with Tasmanian cheddar and biscuits restored us sufficiently and we wandered up and down the paths of the gardens with pleasure. Ninety-one species of birds have been seen at the gardens including all twelve endemics, and we saw a good number in the short time we were there, although conditions were less than perfect for birding. Green Rosellas gathered in the trees, New Holland Honeyeaters zipped through the Grevilleas, Eurasian Blackbirds picked through the mulch, and a Laughing Kookaburra failed to be amused. We also saw White-faced Heron, Great Egret, Welcome Swallows, and Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike.





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