Second day of the Apostle hunt…
Now, with four of my endemically related apostles out of the way, I had the task of getting the other 8. So, first up was a return in the morning hours to Peter Murrell Refuge as I figured I might be able to pull in two more endemics in this one locale. Now, the ‘coup de gra’ of all birding in Tasmania is to locate and ID the Forty Spotted Pardalote. Real tough as these guys are way up in the trees and these Eucalyptus trees go up ‘forever’ so I am going to come down with a new physical malady …Pardalote Neck, ….akin to the Warbler Neck syndrome we get here in Jersey. Now, I looked…I really did….. but I think it was just too early for these guys to come out, even though their neighboring Striated Pardalote were out in full bloom this morning. You see, I had to blame it on something and figured it was too cold to show their spots. The other bird I was after was the Dusty Robin, which is about the size of a sparrow,, perhaps less. I missed out on this one too although I did find the Scarlet Robin which is also found on the mainland. So a good find but no endemics yet.
I was looking for a horse paddock, which someone implied during my research was a great place to find the Dusky Robin. But, I couldn’t find the horse paddock. I asked some folks but no one knew of any paddock around here so I was left with a clue to their location but no location. I ended my time at Peter Murrell with no robin.
Now, they have a lot of down-right mean birds here who don’t play with other birds well. Not raptors but a Grey Shrike Thrush, a Black Faced- Shrike and that ever present and noisy Laughing Kookaburra. I was just settling in taking a shot of the Kookaburra when my eyes caught sight of movement far up in the Eucalyptus trees. It was into the sun and my bino’s did little good but I think I spotted some spots, in fact I know I did. I took out my lens, upped the exposure to give the bird a bit of color against the backdrop of the bright day and grabbed a few shots. I would have to photo-shop it later on to determine if indeed I found the Forty Spotted. Sure, not a great visual but a visual and I did see the spots via binos’….fair enough I thought.
After a quick stop at KFC for chicken…..I drove 30 minutes to Fern Tree. It looked like a village on the map but essentially it was just a tavern and a few homes. I’ll take the tavern anytime.
Now, this was a rough go of it….this was a gully that eventually made its way up to Mount Wellington which is 1,100 meters high I believe. And I was going to walk up this rocky creviced path? Really? My body was already dead tired from hiking Peter Murrell and I had this steep climb ahead of me. I kept swearing at myself for doing too much research which gave on to the fact that this will not be easy. The less I knew, perhaps the better in this case. Many of the endemics I was after were wrens and scrubtits etc…nah, not easy. So I made my way up the path, and yes, ‘up’ it was….. I decided to just stand and wait and sure enough I was well re-warded. Brown birds…two of them. I grabbed my camera and upped the ISO to 6000 to grab a shot of what looked like the Scrubtit as I could see a few white spots on the shoulder as ID marks. A young couple, totally bohemian in nature managed to stand right where I was photographing, afterwards as they passed they told me that ‘those were pretty small birds’…. The key word being ‘were’….hey thanks guys. Thanks for getting in the way. So, I waited another 10 minutes before the spooked brown jobbies returned. I aimed, pressed the shutter and what?....my card is all full. You got to be kidding….. I had no choice but to trudge back down to the car to grab another memory disk card. On the way down, I followed a brown little snake about 3 feet, which seems to be the standard size for snakes down here. Let’s see, in the rocks, on a path…with a brown snake ahead of me that has a triangular head. Hmmmmm, I will give it a bit of room and not attempt to overlap it. About 20 meters following it, the snake veered off to the side. I stopped, jumped up and down a bit and a bit more for good measure, peered a bit….and then walked real fast.
Back on the path with my new card, I started climbing…… my research told me it was a climb. Yes, it was…. Along the way I managed to nail down another endemic, the Tasmanian Thornbill. Now, it differs from the brown Thornbill by having more ‘white on the rump’ and yes, this one had white…as I saw the Brown Thornbill back at Peter Murrell and carefully spent the previous night attempting to convince myself thru photoshop that it was Tasmanian Thornbill, but unless I photo-shopped in more white, it was to remain a Brown Thornbill. So…now, two more endemics to add to my five of the previous day, bringing me to seven so far.
Not bad…..on I trudged…. I came to a nice even spot about 30 minutes into the hike and took a rest. I saw a bird, snapped it….Oh yeah! That has to be a Strong Billed Honeyeater. Well, I thought so and chalked up 8, but that didn’t last long as the more I looked at it with my bino’s, the more it wasn’t what I thought it was. …8 minus 1, now equals 7 endemics.
On…on and more on…..but down I looked to stare into foliage and movement I saw…This time I just grabbed my bino’s and took a gander. Yeah mate…. Right on, a Tasmanian Scrub Wren which closely matches the Scrub Tit but no white spots and darker. So…back up to 8 now. Not bad….8 apostles out of 12. It quickly went away but sometimes it pay just to look with the eyes and bino’s and forget trying to get that photo ID. Trust yourself….trust your instinct.
Walking further on…viola….a Green Rosella just appeared. Gorgeous parrot-like bird. I was told this should be an easy find as many times it is low in the trees and is not brown attempting to camouflage itself with the dirt and leaves. Okay….9/12 apostles. First full day----gone.