Serious Birding

We first decided to visit Tasmania after listening to a lecture at the British Birdwatching Fair (aka The Birdfair) which is held annually at Rutland Water. The lecturer was Dr. Tonia Cochran, who has devoted much of her adult life to the protection of Tasmania’s wild places and birds, particularly the Forty-spotted Pardolote.  Tonia has created a private reserve by acquiring 1,500 acres of prime habitat, which she has protected in perpetuity through the Land for Wildlife scheme.  She uses her reserve (Inala), which is on Bruny Island off the east coast of Tasmania, as the base for specialised birding tours around the island, and also further afield in Australia.

Given that Tonia was instrumental in our visiting Tasmania in the first place it was entirely appropriate that we should spend three days at Inala. She allocated us our own naturalist guide, the quietly spoken and utterly brilliant Andrew, under whose guidance we toured the Inala Reserve and the length and breadth of Bruny in search of birds and other wildlife too.

In case you’re wondering, birding with a professional guide isn’t a doddle. Andrew made us work for our birds, squeezing under fallen trees in the rainforest …


… hauling ourselves up steep, scrub covered slopes in the hot sun, squelching through bogs and craning our necks to see tiny birds doing their best to keep themselves hidden high in the forest canopy. The days were long too: birding/animal watching began at 6:30am and didn’t end until around 10.00pm, with only short R&R breaks along the way.

But it was worth it. Andrew introduced us to 70 species of bird, including all twelve Tasmanian endemics (that is, birds found nowhere else in the world except Tasmania).  We couldn’t have hoped to find, let alone identify, even half this number without the help of an expert with good local knowledge.  Amongst the birds we were pleased to see were the rare Swift Parrot …


… the White-fronted Chat.  Archers fans please note that these were seen at Brookfield Farm …


… and the White-bellied Sea Eagle:

We were pleased to see several mammals too, particularly on night drives. However the star of the show was seen in the daytime.  The rare white morph of the Bennett’s Wallaby is almost impossible to see anywhere except Bruny, and is difficult to find there too without local knowledge.  Look carefully and you will see a joey (baby wallaby) in mum’s pouch, but the joey isn’t white:


What a brilliant three days we spent on Bruny. It’s great to be with experts who are passionate about their subject, and who want to share their knowledge with others.  Tonia’s conservation work is inspirational, and Andrew was a patient guide and teacher for two British birders who were way out of their depth when confronted with so many birds that were totally unfamiliar.  Thank you both.

Author: Platypus Man

"Platypus" is a red herring: I'm English, although my blogging career began in my record of a 2016 road trip to Tasmania. Other blogs followed covering road trips in Newfoundland (2017), the Yellowstone area of the USA (2018) and New Zealand (2019). My current project is "Now I'm 64" , a weekly blog covering UK travel and wildlife, along with bits of history, social commentary and moans about the injustice of aging. I can guarantee a few laughs, and also the occasional rant. Some of it's even quite well written!

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