And the bush has friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him, In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended, And at night the wonderous glory of the everlasting stars.

Banjo Paterson (1889)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tasmania - Melaleuca & Strahan

We were looking forward to our landing at Melaleuca - main mission, to see Orange-bellied Parrot. Notice I didn't say our flight, as both Liz and myself hate flying in small hot 'buzz boxes', especially after a flight many years ago where the guy in front was throwing up for the whole two hour flight!

Our plane to Melaleuca - us, and about eight keen hikers heading there to start the 5 day overland walk back towards Hobart.

Co-pilot Liz, smiling but probably not too happy to be in a small hot plane.

Me, yeah, I can see myself as a pilot. Captain Richard

We have landed and I'm keen to start looking for the Orange-bellied Parrot (OBP).
Due to forecasted afternoon thunderstorms back in Hobart our full day trip has been cut to a half day, leaving us only about 2 hour to find the OBPs.

Our target.

A scope in a must for birders at Melaleuca, as the OBPs are best seen in trees, often a fair way off across swampy sensitive heath.

A volunteer kindly takes us to the new hide (basically a small tent) with the new feeder table. After an hour, no luck, but we do see the Beautiful Firetails feeding.

Looks like a good area for Ground Parrot and Striated Fieldwren, but we are so low on time and still no OBPs. We did have excellent close views of a Fieldwren, right at the airstrip just before leaving.

The old hide, not in use now due to Starlings and Currawongs (and some selfish photographers) disturbing the OBPs at the feeding table.

Sadly leaving Melaleuca, but also very happy we saw a Orange-bellied Parrot just before the flight, mainly thanks again to the volunteers there. As this beautiful parrot appears to be heading towards extinction shortly if nothing is done, please support the project to save it at Save the Orange-bellied Parrot on facebook.

The hour long flight back to Hobart has some stunning scenery.

This is one of my favourite photos from the holiday - commercial Atlantic Salmon fisheries. The big Salmon burgers in Tasmania are fantastic!

Next day we headed towards Strahan, with a quick stop at Mount Field National Park to look for Scrubtits. Again no luck, but we did stop at the lovely little mountain town of Westerway.

A less lovely town was Queenstown, an old mining town where years of toxic chemicals falling on the hills have destroyed most of the vegetation. The small river running through the centre of the town was bright orange, the river rocks also covered with an orange paste!

Once forest, now the top soil has blown away and it's mostly just rock. A clean up and revegetation project is in place, so hopefully there's a bright future for Queenstown, but it's going to be hard work for many decades.

The afternoon storms gather over Queenstown, but we are heading west towards Strahan.

Strahan turns out to be a beautiful little coastal town and the stormy morning finds us wandering around the wet swampy heath looking for Ground Parrots. A beam of light appears, is that where they are? After a couple soggy hours, we finally get good views of 2 pairs of Ground Parrots flying close to us.

Hogarth Falls near the People's Park at Strahan. Still looking for Scrubtit.

This is my favourite photo of the holidays, the docks at Strahan. Wonderful soft morning light just moments before it disappeared and the heavens opened up.

Now it was time to head towards Cradle Mountain, an area a visiting birder said he saw Scrubtits, those damned elusive little Scrubtits.

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