I was informed at work on the 16th that due to working to many contracted hours during the month (yeah I know hard to believe hey) I was to be sent on annual leave for a few days. I happily accepted the deal but then started to panic as I had to organise a birding trip in a very short space of time. Cairns and Lord Howe Island were ruled out pretty quickly so I had to decide between Victoria and Tasmania. A quick message to my brother Chris and before I knew it he had organised leave for himself and pointing me across Bass Strait to the Apple Isle.In one night Chris and I had booked our flights, hire car and accommodation for a 5 night stay, pretty good effort I thought. Funnily enough I never studied or 'crammed' at school but I certainly stayed up late the night before our flight studying the 'Where to find" books and old birding_aus threads, ah priorities.So after three days we were flying into Hobart airport, ticking Tassie Native-hen before the wheels had touched the runway.
Itinerary: 2 nights in Hobart, 1 night in Triabunna, 1 night in Launceston and 1 night in Queenstown. We really enjoyed Hobart and Triabunna (fantastic porterhouse with mushroom sauce), and our accommodation at Queenstown was good, as was the pizza! Launceston is certainly the arse end of Tassie and all inbred jokes have certainly come about after visiting this hole.
We hired a Hyundai i30 which was adequate for our needs although I don't think she appreciated my rally driving (kept forgetting she wasn't my Subaru) and she was completely gutless on the hills....and Tassie has ALOT of hills.
Anyways I'll shut up about the boring stuff and move onto the birds. We saw 83 species during our stay of which 13 were ticks. I managed to find 11/12 endemics within 5hrs which I was pretty chuffed about. Below are my ticks in order of appearance.
Tasmanian Native-hen 20-30 ticked on the airport runway. Very common and seen in most locations around the south-east.
Yellow Wattlebird First seen in the motel carpark in North Hobart. Fairly common around the south east corner especially in suburban Hobart and coastal areas. Resembles Koel in flight.
Yellow-throated Honeyeater First seen at Peter Murrell Reserve. Common through all bushy habitats.
Green Rosella Peter Murrell Reserve. Very common species found in all habitats from Cradle Mountain to the coast, farmland to rainforest.Forty-spotted Pardalote Only 3 birds seen at Peter Murrell Reserve.
Black-headed Honeyeater Peter Murrell Reserve. Another very common species found in various habitats. Listen out for White-naped like calls and behaviour.
Black Currawong First seen south-west of Fern Tree. Not as common as I'd thought. Seen in higher altitudes. Very distinct call.
Strong-billed Honeyeater Only seen at Longley. Looks like Black-chinned, acts like Shrike-tit. My 550th species.Dusky Robin Only saw one bird during the entire trip at Longley, under the Strong-bill tree.
Tasmanian Scrubwren Fern Tree. Very common species found in thicker vegetation. I noticed a fair amount of variation in the plumage which was interesting.
Tasmanian Thornbill Fern Tree. Tassie is full of Brown Thornbills and it took some time before I was confident enough to tick this species.Pink Robin Wielangta State Forest. For me this bird will always be known as the Norma Zeta Robin. The night before my Nan had passed away suddenly which was a huge shock to my brother and I, so when I saw this species and its immense beauty and bright pink outfit (my Nan always wore a pink dressing gown) I knew my 554th species was hers and mine to share. Nan, thank you so much for always encouraging my love of birds.Scrubtit Wielangta State Forest. This was the hardest endemic to find and it was a huge relief to finally see them in the dark gloom of the rainforest. Also seen on the Franklin River walk.
-Only 3 species of raptor: Brown Falcon, White-bellied Sea-eagle and the endangered Tassie Wedge-tailed Eagle.
-Masked Lapwing are extremely common if not abundant. Banded Lapwing seen once near Copping.
-Kelp Gull were seen flying high over Hobart and the surrounding hills. Also seen gathering in ploughed paddocks. Their presents reminded me of Hitchcock's 'The Birds'.
-Scarlet Robin, Forest Raven, Starling and Blackbird were everywhere!
-Cape Barren Geese seen near Port Arthur and Triabunna.
-10+ Hooded Plovers seen at Orford.
-Brush Bronzewing and Grey Currawong at Coles Bay.
-10 Olive Whistlers on the Dove Lake walk at Cradle Mountain.
Tassie is an incredibly beautiful place and our 5 night stay was way to short to take in everything. I can strongly recommend the south-east and the Cradle Mountain/Franklin River areas to any birder wishing for a more leisurely birding trip.