Bird list getting longer

David''s photograph of a gang-gang cockatoo.

I’ve spent most of the last few weeks in Tasmania, which was beautiful, albeit very chilly.

While I was away the Bellarine obviously had a few decent drops of rain. I just hope that the rain hits central NSW soon, as the drought in some areas is so dire.

There was no sign of any drought in Tasmania, especially at Cradle Mountain. I experienced my first visit to Dove Lake on the day we arrived and unfortunately left my ski jacket in my suitcase, which was a critical mistake.

When we left Ulverstone the sun was shining, and by the time we reached the hills it was sleeting and almost snowing. I think I’ll have to plan a trip to Tassie in the summer so that I can revisit Cradle Mountain, although my friend said that it has been known to snow there in December.

I was thrilled to see 10 of the 12 endemic Tasmanian bird species in my brief trip, so my Australian bird list is now just shy of 400 birds.

I saw many Tasmanian native hens, a few new honeyeater species including tawny-crowned, black-faced, strong-billed honeyeaters, a few yellow wattlebirds, Tasmanian scrubwren, Tasmanian thornbill, black currawong, and dusky robin.

I found the book ‘Finding Australian birds- A Field Guide to Birding Locations’ by Tim Dolby and Rohan Clarke just fantastic.

On Bruny Island there was a description in the book as to how to locate a dusky robin, and we parked the car, and I walked a few small steps and there was a dusky robin right in front of me.

Looking for birds is most often not that easy at all, so I was thrilled.

The dusky robin was very similar in size and mannerisms to eastern yellow robins, but lacks the yellow belly. I thought that Bruny Island was the most magnificent place, with the lighthouse, birds, history and scenery all fascinating.

It was great to see many pied and sooty oystercatchers on the beaches. The wedge-tailed eagle is endangered in Tasmania, and I managed to see 12 of these magnificent birds as well as three white-bellied sea-eagles, three brown falcons, an Australian hobby and a nankeen kestrel, so I kept my spotting of a ‘raptor a day’ quest alive.

By far the most common birds that I saw in Tasmania were the introduced starling (that were prolific around farming and urban areas) and the native forest raven that have increased in numbers in Tasmania due to the fact that they eat road kill (there is a lot of that in Tasmania unfortunately).

On the subject of wedge-tailed eagles, I was driving to work on the long weekend (holiday definitely over) and less that 1km from my house, in Banks Road, two wedge-tailed eagles flew only a few metres over my car.

I stopped when it was safe to do so and managed to photograph one of the birds, and noticed that also in the vicinity were a brown falcon and a little eagle. I certainly had my ‘raptor a day’ fill that day, just around the corner from my house, which was amazing.

Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagles differ from the wedge-tailed eagles that occur around this region in that Tasmanian birds (at least in juvenile or immature birds) have a pale or cream colouration on the crown, nape and shoulder, in contrast to the golden-brown or rufous colouration in mainland birds. Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagles are also claimed to be larger in size, and the talons are also larger than the eagles found on the mainland.

In my absence I received some lovely emails from Voice readers.

David, who lives in Woodlands, has had a family of five gang-gang cockatoos in his garden.

I received an email from Geoff, who lives in the vicinity of Blue Waters Lake, and he has had some lovely red-rumped parrots in his garden, and has also seen for the first time in 35 years of living around the lake a few nankeen night herons, perching in the willow trees next to the lake.

I have seen the night herons in the willow tree, and it’s great to hear that they are still around.

I received an email from Kevin, who photographed a crested shrike tit around Connewarre, and a Brolga at Breamlea and a white-plumed honeyeater at Rice Reserve.


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