Day 4: Tasmania birding tour - Cradle Mountain, Strahan, Burnie

On day four we woke up at our Cradle Mountain lodge. It was early morning and the fog was lifting from the pond on site:



Our main birding for the day was done in the areas of Strahan (where we flushed a Ground Parrot) and Burnie (where we saw delightful Little Penguins at night).

We headed out on the road shortly after breakfast.

I couldn't help but take snaps of some of the scenery we passed while inside our van:



We took a driving break and snapped photos of Cradle Mountain from afar:




On the road again:



A Swamp Harrier flying in the distance:


We parked on a quiet road in Strahan before searching for Ground Parrots. As described, "The Ground Parrot is one of only three ground-dwelling parrots in the world, the others being the extremely rare Night Parrot and New Zealand's highly endangered Kakapo. When disturbed, it flies swiftly just above the ground before dropping back into the vegetation again."

Our trusty van:


Heath for as far as you could see:


The very shy Southern Emu Wren flitted about the heath and peeked at us as it tried to discover where the other Emu Wren's voice it was hearing was coming from (Dion's bird call equipment):



Great Cormorants flying overhead:


It was time for us to find some Ground Parrots. Dion had us fan out about a meter apart and walk in a straight line across the heath. It was quite a workout since our feet would get tangled in the thick plants. At times the heath reached our knees or thighs and there was a lot of ground to cover.

We finally scared up one Ground Parrot:



The Parrot was in the air for maybe four or five seconds before it found cover. We were satisfied with that one sighting so the whole venture was worth it.

Since we were in such a nice spot, we did a little birding before returning to the van.

Striated Fieldwren:




Beautiful Firetail:




Another Southern Emu Wren:





Silver Eye:



More sights:








Some pretty neat trees:


Mine:



We returned to our Cradle Mountain lodge to have a rest before heading out again for our evening visit to Brunie where the Little Penguins were.

There was a little Echidna foraging on one of the lodge's lawns:


We learned that Echidnas' hind feet have claws specially suited for reaching the skin under their thick fur and spines for grooming and scratching (as well as being good for digging).


The Echidna found some ants to eat.


It was so engrossed in its foraging, it didn't pay attention to its precarious perch so...


... oh noooo! It took a little tumble:



But the drop was shallow so the Echidna righted itself quickly and went back to eating:





A good scratch:



Oh no, another tumble!




The last tumble was absolutely silly because it was caused by the Echidna's losing its balance while scratching.

It crossed the foot path to find a new area to forage in:









Our break at the lodge was soon over so it was back out on the road.

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo:



We reached Burnie and ate dinner before going to Parsonage Point (the western end of West Beach). It is at Parsonage Point where the Little Penguin Observation Centre is.

Because the Little Penguins' burrows were built so close to the town and development, well-wishers built a protective fence around them and even built safer burrows for them to nest in.

Local volunteers take visitors to the edge of the fence and point out the chicks that come out of the burrows at night, the mothers that stay with the chicks, and the males that come ashore to feed their families.

So as not to bother the penguins with the bright white light from their flashlights, the volunteers utilize red cellophane to cover their lights and point the lights on the Penguins for only a couple of seconds at a time. They ask that visitors not use flash if they take photographs. I was only too happy to oblige and took photos the moments flashlights illuminated the birds.

A mother:



I switched over to monochrome setting to take black and white photos.

Burnie across the water:



Two chicks peeking out from their man-made burrow:


Mom preening a chick:







A second chick appeared:


Siblings:



Chick going in and out of the burrow:





Mom exercising a little:


One of the males walked from the water to near a burrow after several minutes:



It was getting late and we had at least an hour's drive back to the lodge so we left before we saw any feeding but that was OK, it was such a treat to see these beautiful and adorable birds up close. 

The volunteers were so nice and obviously love the Penguins and enjoy sharing their knowledge with visitors.

There were lots of mammals seen crossing or foraging alongside the road during the ride back to the lodge including Tasmanian Devils, Wombats, European Rabbits, Red-bellied Pademelons, and Bennet's Wallabies.