Getting back to our roots

Although this trip has its origins in birding, through the information that Susie from Tasmanian Odyssey and Tonya from Inala on Bruny shared with us at the British Birdwatching Fair, its scope has grown to include a range of other topics including other wildlife, history, vegetation and landscape.  Although we are always on the lookout for birds, since leaving Bruny Island they have rarely been centre stage.  A morning’s visit to the Tamar Island Wetland Reserve is therefore a welcome opportunity to get back to our roots.

The reserve lies on the outskirts of Launceston, Tassie’s second city, and protects around 60 hectares of lagoons, mudflats and islands.  There is an excellent, modern visitor centre, and a series of paths and boardwalks giving birders access to and views of a range of habitats.

Our first notable sighting however is not a bird, but rather a pademelon and her joey.  Something I had not understood before coming to Tassie is that as the joey begins to mature it leaves the pouch to explore its surroundings and forage for food, but returns when feeling threatened.  Walking to a bird hide we get good views of this mother pademelon:


Then we spot a joey, out of the pouch, some distance from mum.  It sees us, panics, and dashes for the safety of the pouch and dives in, executing a manoeuvre not unlike an Olympic swimmer doing a tumble-turn at the end of a length.  It all happens too fast for Julie to photograph, but you get the general idea.

In the same part of the reserve as the pademelon is this White-faced Heron.  This is the commonest heron species in Tassie.  We’ve already seen several on our travels, mostly at a distance or flying away from us at speed so it’s good to be able to enjoy this individual which proved very confiding:


To be fair, with the exception of a Grassbird we don’t see any species here that we haven’t seen elsewhere in Tasmania, but it’s nice just to spend time doing some relaxed birding.  As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, the twitcher’s mentality of constantly chasing rarities is not one we embrace, so for us it’s a pleasure to re-acquaint ourselves with old friends such as the Black Swan.  We’ve seen lots of these wherever there’s a decent patch of water, including – to our surprise – many on the sea.  I particularly like this photo, which reveals the white primary feathers that are often invisible when the bird is at rest:


Another bird we enjoy at the Tamar Island Wetland Reserve is the Chestnut Teal.  They are common in Tasmania and we’ve seen a few already, but this one came close enough for a decent photo.  This is a male, and can be distinguished by his distinctive green head and chestnut body plumage:


Welcome Swallows are another species we’ve seen at various locations in Tasmania, skimming low of water and fields in their endless hunt for insects.  There are a number of birds with nests under the bridge that connects two of the islands that make up the reserve, and these two youngsters are content to sit on a bridge strut to be photographed:


Welcome Swallows are migratory, and leave for mainland Australia at the end of the summer.  We are therefore here at just the right time to enjoy them.  We also enjoyed, while walking the reserve, the sound of skylarks.  They are the same species that we get in the UK, and were presumably introduced by homesick colonists who wanted a reminder of the Old Country.  And what better reminder than a skylark belting out his beautiful song, a gift for anyone with the ears and good sense to stop a while and listen.

Talking of old friends, we once again enjoyed watching the Superb Fairy Wren while walking around the reserve.  What a fabulous bird the male is in his summer breeding plumage:


[30 November]

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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