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A Report from

Birds and Mammals Tasmania, 6-14 December 2008,

Duan Biggs

Steve Heath, a friend from Oxford, UK and myself embarked on a 9 day trip to Tasmania. The objective of the trip was to find all the endemics, and as many other specials and interesting mammals as possible, whilst enjoying the islands splendid scenery. This trip report lists the key highlights at the different sites.

Mt Wellington, Hobart

From the airport we stocked up with supplies and headed straight for Mt Wellington on the western outskirts of Hobart. Our introduction to Tasmanian birding was at the famous Fern Glade Track. Here we had: Tasmanian Thornbill and Tasmanian Scrubwren (both common throughout Tasmania), Black Currawong (also common throughout the island), the ubiquitous Grey Fantail and Superb Fairy Wren. After Fern Glade we made our way to the top of Mt Wellington in the crisp evening air. What a view! Near the top we added Crescent Honeyeater and  Forest Raven (very Australian Raven-like if you ask me and common throughout Tasmania). Blackbird and Goldfinch (both common throughout Tasmania) made Steve feel at home. We drove to and camped at the pleasant Snug caravan park campsite for the night.

Bruny Island

We left Snug for the very full 0930 ferry on Saturday 7 December. We had Black-faced Cormorant on the way over. This species is common throughout the coastal areas we visited. We arrived on the island, grabbed a cup of coffee and started birding as we drove along the main road. Our first stop was at (BRUIS1) 43 10.557 S and 147 22.836 E on North Bruny Island. Here, we had a lovely look at Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, picked up on our first flock of Swift Parrots, and added Striated Pardalote to our list. Our next stop was at (BRISL2) 43 11.882 S and 147 23.176 E at a roadside homestead with a big yard. Here, we had Scarlet Robin (male in full plumage), a group of Blue-winged Parrot, Black-headed Honeyeater, Fan-tailed Cuckoo and Green Rosella (fairly common throughout Tasmania). Our next stop was at Inala, where we had Forty-spotted Pardalote in the tall tees along the creek behind the Inala cottage. It took an hour or so to finally get a visual on a group of calling birds. Also seen around the cottages and in the area  were Spotted Pardalote, Dusky Robin, Strong-billed Honeyeater, Scarlet and Flame Robin, Black-headed Honeyeater, Yellow-throated Honeyeater (at cottage in the forest) and White-winged Triller. We then took to the impressive road to the Cloudy Bay lookout. Here we had more Dusky Robins, Brown Falcon and our first Tasmanian Native Hens. We also saw a few groups of Yellow-rumped Thornbill, a species fairly common on Bruny. Dusk was spent at the Short-tailed Shearwater spot (on the neck between N and S Bruny) – what a spectacle these birds are! The Little Penguins were of course a delight as well.

Our birding on the 8th of December started well. We took the L629 out of Adventure Bay and at the first homestead on the left hand side of the road we added Beautiful Firetail and a flying Brush Bronzewing to our list. Also here was Grey Shrike Thrush. At the picnic site and Mavista Nature Walk we finally found Scrubtit between tree ferns about 500m from the start of the trail. Also here were Crescent and Black-headed Honeyeaters.

Our next stop was the lighthouse at Cape Bruny. Here we had White-faced Heron, Scarlet Robin, Common Bronzewing, Greenfinch and a single White-fronted Chat, on the lawn, on the lighthouse side of the main homestead. Our drive back to Adventure Bay was marked by further sightings of Brush Bronzewing (perched on the road this time), Yellow-throated Honeyeater (Steve missed the earlier one and was relieved) and Tasmanian Native Hen.  We made our way back to the ferry and about 3km before the ferry, where there is a dam on the right, we stopped. Here we picked up on a Pallid Cuckoo after hearing it call as well as Chestnut Teal. The crossing delivered Sooty and Pied Oystercatcher (both common throughout Tasmanian coasts) and Black-faced Cormorant. We returned to the lovely campsite at the Snug caravan park.

Mt Field National Park

An early start on the 9th had us heading for Mt Field (after our flight to the south-west was cancelled). On the way we had Hoary-headed Grebe at a roadside dam. At Mt Field, we took the Russel Falls walk on which we found 3 Pink Robins and had exquisite views of Platypus in the creek.


Onto Strahan, adding Musk Duck to our lists on the way. We embarked on an evening outing into the buttongrass moorlands around the Strahan airfield. Here we had Latham’s Snipe and Red-capped Plover. We ultimately had 3 Ground Parrots calling in the grasslands beyond the southern end of the runway, but did not get to see any. We returned the next morning, also without luck. The next morning did deliver Striated Heathwren and Shining Bronze Cuckoo. At night in the Caravan Park in Strahan, we had Southern Boobook.

Cradle Mountain

After one night in Strahan, we stopped over at Cradle Mountain on our way to Narawntapu National Park, dubbed a good place to view Common Wombat and have a chance at Tasmanian Devil. The highlight at Cradle Mountain, in addition to the scenery, were definitely the Common Wombats, best seen from the boardwalk  into the heathlands about 2km before the main viewpoint at the end of the road. We had about 8 Wombats here in the beautiful evening light.

Narawntapu National Park

From Cradle Mountain, it was on to Narawntapu. We had Australian Shelduck on the way, as well a chance to photograph beautiful Tasmanian poppy fields in the evening light. We arrived at Narawntapu at about 8pm and Common Wombats and Tasmanian Pademelons were everywhere, interspersed with Bennet’s Kangaroo. We pitched camp, had dinner and embarked on a night drive. Our drive added Tasmanian Devil (on the road back out of the park) which caused much excitement. Also seen on the road back out of the park was Tawny Frogmouth. Our next morning at Narawntapu delivered Little Wattlebird, White-bellied Sea Eagle and Gull-billed Tern. From here, we headed for Coles Bay on the west coast stopping at the St Helens Conservation area. At St Helens, we had enormous flocks of Shearwaters out to see, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo and Caspian Tern.

Coles Bay and Freycinet National Park

We were up at dawn in the Big4 Caravan Park in Coles Bay on December 12 and embarked on the walk to the wineglass bay viewpoint. In the parking lot of the viewpoint, we had a stunning male Spotted Quail Thrush, on our way down. A search for Hooded Plover at the Friendly Beaches proved unsuccessful. To the airport it was to drop Steve off for his flight back to Brisbane.

Tasman Peninsula and Port Arthur

It was time for a bit of history and I made my way to Port Arthur, at the southern end of the impressive Tasman Peninsula. I did keep my bins close at hand and had a flock of Musk Lorikeets on the gravel road that follows the shoreline between Sorell and Dunnaly. I spent two nights in the Port Arthur Caravan Park and the highlights were:

Peregrine Falcon – at Port Arthur historical site
Brush Bronzewing – seemingly tame in the caravan park
Beautiful Firetail – Around the buildings at the coal mine walk
Yellow Wattlebird – common
Southern Brown Bandicoot – common and tame at night in the caravan park.
Australian Gannet – Great Views on the Cape Hauy walk.

Duan Biggs

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