11/21/12: I'm back in NYC and only now able to start going through my Tasmania tour photos to review, edit when necessary, and post on my blog! The tour was great.
Our delightful and knowledgeable leader Dion Hobcroft drove our small group around the whole island of Tasmania, taking us to specific areas where we could find particular birds (some of which are now on the threatened list so we were very lucky to see them). Dion, a lifelong ornithologist, also taught us much about the local towns, the various flora and fauna, and the history of the different regions as well so we were always learning something.
Birds were our main focus but we also got to see lots of other fabulous creatures like Echidnas, Wallabys, Platypuses, Red-bellied Pademelons, Wombats, Possums, Tiger Snakes, lizards, and Tasmanian Devils! I have photos of nearly all these animals to show in future posts but for now I'll start with what we saw on day one.
We were lucky to see some Musk Lorikeets as soon as we stepped out of Hobart International Airport. Apparently, it's one of the only areas in Tasmania where you can still see these birds:
We checked into our hotel then immediately set out on a drive to the summit of Mount Wellington (which overlooks Hobart):
Tasman Bridge as seen from the mountain (it spans the Derwent River):
Mountain summit stones:
We drove off the mountain and to a nearby area to officially start our birding!
Dion used handheld bird call playback equipment to entice some of the birds to come near. It worked like a charm. He used it sparingly though while seeking specific birds so as not to cause too much a disturbance. In many cases, the birds we saw were ones we came upon by chance.
Waterworks Reserve was our next location.
Australian Wood Ducks:
The male guarded his family:
Juvenile Kelp Gull in flight:
Listening intently to the call:
Superb Fairy Wren:
Female Superb Fairy Wren nearby:
Pacific Black Duck:
Mount Wellington in the distance:
More Australian Wood Ducks:
A Striated Pardalote taking a fecal sac from its nest (built in the side of the reservoir's stone wall):
White Duck milling about:
Next stop was Peter Murrell Reserves. One of the first raptors I got to see was a Swamp Harrier getting dive-bombed (reminded me of home and Bobby and Rosie Hawks' dealings with their own dive-bombers):
As you can see it was a pretty cloudy day at this point which made birding and photography a bit challenging.
New Holland Honeyeater:
Pacific Black Duck:
... and friends:
Tasmanian Native Hen (or Turbo Chooks to some cheeky locals):
Eating Green Rosella:
More Turbo Chooks:
Part of the path we were walking on:
More Yellow-throated Honeyeaters:
Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike:
This bird sat very still as we walked right underneath it on our path:
We left Peter Murrell Reserves and started making our way back to town for dinner. We stopped at a pond along the way and spotted some good birds.
Chestnut Teals on the left and a Dusky Moorhen on the right:
Pacific Black Ducks:
The pond from a distance:
There were other birds seen on the first day but I don't have photos of them to share either because I didn't see them (yet the other birders did) or my photos of them were too blurry to bother working with.
I was feeling a bit guilty today for sitting at home working on this post instead of heading right to Washington Square Park to visit Bobby and Rosie Hawk to see if they were around.
As I was working on this post I happened to look out my window at a building undergoing construction across the street when I noticed the familiar hunched shape of a Red-Tailed Hawk!
It was a juvenile!
I had never seen a Hawk sit on that building before so I was pretty excited to see it. It helped assuage my guilt over not visiting Bob and Rosie. :)
I took these photos while shooting through my closed windows.
The Hawk picked its talons clean and wiped its beak after sitting for a while:
It then flew away just as these Tasmania pictures completed uploading into this post's draft:
What great luck and a 'welcome back' of sorts (as I like to fancy it) from the city Red-tailed Hawks I enjoy so much.
I'll continue to post my Tasmania trip photos as I resume birding for Red-tails so you'll see a peppering of both Australia and Hawk posts in the near future.