Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tazzie! (Epic Aussie Roadtrip Part something#)

This is probably extreme birding at its best and worst. On one hand I was excited to be visiting the famous island of Tasmania, with all its unique flora & fauna, NZ-esque scenes, and cool temps. On the other-hand. We were flying to and from Hobart (from Sydney) in a span of 3 days, meaning... this trip was about getting the birds and getting out. Not the greatest way of seeing the country but how else can one do it if you only have 35 days for the whole shabang?

The night before we flew out of Syndey, I should also mention that we stopped in at Royal National Park and instantly heard calling SOOTY OWL at an apparently traditional spot. It didn't seem to be bothered by all the street-racers that were having some sort of a spontaneous convention nearby. We also heard a few OWLET-NJs and BOOBOOKS but alas no Powerful Owls.

And now to Tazzay:

Jukka and I with our Nissa Micra--served us well for our two days of twitching and camping.

Despite calling this post "Tazzie," we spent virtually all of our time on Bruny Island. A gorgeous gem of an island  not too far from Hobart, Tasmania's capital. Why? Because all of Tasmania's 12 endemic birds are here. For the less perceptive in the crowd, this is a photo of the Bruny Island ferry.
Here's a little taste of the tall eucalypt forests on Bruny. To have all 12 endemics you can imagine that the island is quite diverse. This is the road over Mt Mangana where we were trying for things like SCRUBTIT. By late afternoon, I think we had all of the endemics bagged, but still wanted better looks at a few things plus there were several other non-endemic things that are quite cool any day, any where.
Such as the WHITE-CAPPED (SHY) ALBATROSSES passing by off Cape Bruny, alongside the thousands of SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATERS.
I think this is a view from the Cape Bruny Lighthouse, looking north toward the LH-keeper buildings and a picturesque bay. We're pretty close to the extreme southern tip of Tasmania. Nothing but water between us and Antarctica.
The middle of Bruny narrows to a narrow (yes narrow) "Neck" of sand-dunes. There is decent-sized SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATER colony here as well as a FAIRY PENGUIN (Little Blue) colony as well... so this seemed like a good place to soak in the sunset and wait for the mommy n daddy seabirds to come home.
Here we met an American all-birder family (currently living in Jakarta). Not often you see a Mom/Dad/Daughter/Son unit with equal keen-ness and equally-expensive optics but there ya go. This turned out to be a memorable evening with hundreds of Short-tailed Shears circling our heads, calling, as dusk fell; then crash-landing to the hillside before scuttling into their burrows. The penguins also performed well, marching up the beach in tightly-packed squadrons of clumsiness. Just another one of those bird spectacles that everyone should see at least once!
Pertti scans for penguinos as I try and remember the name of the guitarist from "Rush."

More impressive Bruny Island forest. This area reminded me of the giant gum trees in SW Western Australia.
Big Tree
Me touching one of the largest Tree Ferns I've ever set-eyes on.
We ferried back in the afternoon of our second Tassie day, then explored the Hobart area (which I don't seem to have any photos of). Man, this blog is running on fumes! Okay... ummmm... how about some bird shots?
This is a PINK ROBIN. Most of the world's Oink Robins breed on Tasmania, then winter in SE Australia. Since we weren't planning on sticking around until winter, it was decided that we better find one of these things on Bruny. Mission = Success [Photo Jukka Jantunen]
To prove that we saw at least one of the true endemic birds, here is one of Jukka's photos of the TASMANIAN NATIVE-HEN. This is back on the mainland at a place where we were trying to find 40-spotted pardalotes.
Met a local man there who complained about the hot 26-degree weather.
I wonder what he thought when it got up to 40 a month later?
I apologize for being so brief, but it was a long time ago, I'm lazy, I'm sick, and I'm just trying to get this thing done! In summary, Tasmania is a truly amazing place that deserves a a month or more to properly explore (not 2 days). Even Bruny Island, where we spent most of our time, could easily warrant a week of hiking and relaxing. I hope to return some day to this part of the world, and hopefully Tasmanian Devils will still be around somewhere (they're currently crashing due to some kind of face-tumor epidemic)---alright squeezed in a natural history fact in the end there. We left the island state with a whopping 82 species in 2ish days.

Up Next: We fly back to Sydney and start NEW SOUTH WALES Chapter Dos! (2)

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