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Tasmania Bird Watching

Author: Carl from Pahrump (More Trip Reviews by Carl from Pahrump)
Date of Trip: February 2007

On Jan 31 we went for a morning walk on the beach. We started off thru dense bush where we spotted Great Cormorants roosting in a dead tree. After 20 minutes we came to a sandy beach. There were gulls and terns everywhere. What caught our eye was a dead Fairy Penguin -- they are so small!

We could see seabirds on the offshore rocks. We went rock hopping to get closer to them. We ended up seeing a mob of Australian Gannets and a few Black-faced Cormorants.

On the walk back we noticed masses of Beach Geraniums growing between the rocks on the beach, and scared-up a Spotted Quail-thrush. Back at the cottage we found a large bed of Lion's-Tail that was absolutely stunting. In the afternoon we went into town to continue our shore walk. There were thousands of Silver Gulls and Crested Terns on the offshore rocks with a smattering of huge Pacific Gulls. The highlight of the walk was seeing a Yellow Wattlebird pruning itself in a tree. The wattles looked like long orange-yellow ice-sickles hanging from beneath each eye. We got a fish sampler from a Take-Away place in town for dinner. I thought the fish was good. My wife didn't care for it. It probably would have been better if they had provided tomato ketchup for the chips. After dinner we had a Tasmanian Scrubwren come on the porch.

On Feb 1 we set the alarm clock so we could see the sunrise. When we got up all we could see was clouds. It was 8:30am before the sun burnt thru.

About 9am we went to the Blowhole in downtown Bicheno. It was high tide and the waves were churning thru the rocks.

We walked along the short Governor Island (41.873S 148.312E) foreshore track. It still took a long time when you stop to notice all the birds, butterflies and flowers. January and February are prime butterfly and flower season here. There were hundreds of Bright-eyed Brown Nymphs and Common Brown Butterflies. Along the rocky path we saw Nasturtiums, delicate Geraniums, Ice Plant, Gazannias, Bunny-tail Grass, Bleeding Heart, and White Daisies. In the surf-backwater we saw red and white anemones, Kelp, and a billion barnacles.

We split a fish basket from Rose's Cafe for lunch. The Calamari rings were tender and tasty. The prawns were fresh and fluffy. The fish was fresh and crispy. We didn't know what to make of the scallop -- part of it looked normal enough, but there was the orange part we had never seen before. About 2:30pm we drove to the nearby Douglas-Apsley NP 41.859S 148.192E). The park covers a huge area of mountainous terrain, but only a minuscule part of it is accessible by walking tracks. We walked down to the river where we photographed the Beautiful Firetail and Scarlet Robin. We saw the Forty Spotted Pardalote, Black-headed Honeyeater, and Yellow-throated Honeyeater. On the way back to the car we spotted an Echidna (Hedge-hog) with its nose stuck in the ground (when its nose is in the ground it thinks you can't see it).

On Feb 2 we were on deck to watch the sun free itself from the ocean in a blaze of glory. The ocean was upset and tried to blow the sun out of the sky with strong winds all day. Even so, a Striated Fieldwren came to our porch.

At 7:30am we had found our way to the huge Moulting Lagoon near Coles Bay (42.014S 148.220E). This is the permanent home to 10,000 Black Swans. Some of them must have been blown away today because we only saw about a thousand. The shore here was carpeted in spongy Beaded Glasswort. We walked along Coles Bay near the VC where I got a picture of a Yellow Wattlebird.

From Coles Bay we could see The Hazards Mountain Range forming a backdrop to the bay. We drove into Freycinet NP (pronounced Fary-cen-na 42.127S 148.322E). Then we drove up one of The Hazards and walked down to the photogenic Sleepy Bay. Even though the water was COLD and the wind was howling, 3 young women showed up to go swimming.

When we got back to the car we met Charlie, David and Norman from Richmond, Va. who were biking around Tasmania for 2 weeks. The youngest of the three had just turned 60. They asked if they could ride with us to the Cape Tourville Lighthouse 5Km further up the steep mountain road (they had been told the road was too steep to bike).

It was a squeeze to get 5 people in our 4 door Suzuki, but we managed. There was a boardwalk around the lighthouse that provided great views of the coastline down to the pristine Wineglass Beach. The wind was blowing so hard we had to hold onto our hats even though we had the chinstraps as tight as they would go.

We dropped off our guests and headed to Coles Bay for lunch. We got there at 11:40am, so we sat by the bay for 20 minutes till they started serving food. We got another Fisherman's Basket -- this one came with Oysters on the Half Shell and Pickled Baby Octopus. I ate the head of the Octopus and thought it was good, but the tentacle was chewy. They had good-looking raspberry cheesecake, but we were stuffed.

We saw on the map that Coles Bay had a Bush Reserve, so we investigated - we saw see a Bush Bronzewing for the first time.

We stopped at Friendly Beach on the way out of the park. The wind was a steady 40 to 50 mph. This would be a great place to walk and maybe bird watch, but not today. The only gull we saw was hiding between big rocks for protection. As we were leaving a young woman with boys 4 & 6 came to the beach so the boys could bogie board.

About 2am on Feb 3 a Brush-tailed Possum knocked over the garbage can on our front porch. When I went to investigate - the possum posed for pictures. It wouldn't leave till we brought the can into the house.

We left at 7am to drive the coastal road to St Helens. We saw carnage all along the 75Km route -- dead Tasmanian Devils, Possums, Wallabies, and Wombats. Where are the raptors when you need them? I guess Forest Ravens will have to do.

There is a network of lagoons and beaches that runs from Bicheno to St Helens. We stopped often. Just out of Bicheno we saw 2 Green Rosellas along the road. There were clouds and some wind, but the worst weather stayed behind us

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