Woke up the next day knowing I just needed the Dusky Robin, the Strong Billed Honeyeater and the Black Currawong. Now, I heard the Currawong yesterday but I wanted to see it, anyone can hear it. So on my plan today was to start the day down low and work myself up high with as little hiking as I can do to save my legs. That was the plan….a well laid out plan.
So….I started in the Truganini Reserve which is down low….real low……. I failed to find my Dusky Robin once more, but found a Gray Fantail instead; a bird I saw on the mainland. Now, this bird, well….not the exact same one but, this fantail haunted me the entire day as I saw these in every spot I went. Gray Fantails, Brown Thornbirds and Fairy Wrens….tons of those birds but still no Dusky Robin. So….on I moved from this Reserve to Hobart Waterworks; which is a park like setting surrounded by their water, all damned up. Driving down, or I should say ‘up’ as you start low and work yourself high….I winded thru one way streets and into narrow ones that only allowed one car to pass at a time. I pulled up to the gate and parked outside.
There….in a bush, movement…….. yes, movement….. But this was a park and as I went back to the car to grab the camera, a lady jogger went by and with it the bird. Hmmmmm. So, I moved in slowly. I crept and in fact I would have crawled in if I could have seen this Dusky Robin as this bird eluded me often. Nothing…… No robin. I pivoted to return to my car and there on a sign was the Dusky Robin itself. I had about a quarter of a second to look at him as he looked at me and was gone…. But that was enough. I knew exactly what this bird looked like. Now, most non-birders would say, ‘okay, you had a quarter of a second and you are going to ID that bird, come on mate”….. But you know, a birder has to trust their instinct of what they saw and I knew what to look for and I knew it was around here, so viola….number 10 out of 12. By the way, that was my first and only visual of that bird but I counted it, as weak as it might seem.
So, …Robin in toe and I am down to two more birds. Took the car and returned to Mount Wellington and started to drive up the 1,100 meters. On the way, as I knew I would….I came across the Black Currawong which is about as close as one can get to a Raven without being one. With the exception of a bit of white on the base of it’s tail, it looks like a Raven, although not quite as roman nosed I would say, and the beak was longer and meaner looking. Well, birds are mean down here you know. Number 11, crossed off out of 12. My hunt was now down to one, the Strong Billed Honeyeater.
The game was on….I had the most of the day left and it was just me and the honeyeater. I had several spots in mind such as (A) back to Fern Tree gully, or (B)Truganani Reserve OR (C)up to Neika….OR as my research stated, (D) to Morphetts Road where a concrete water tank is located on the outside of the road and an abandoned school house on the other side.
Well throughout the course of the day, options A, B and C were all nots……so that left me with option D, the concrete/school house. I pulled up, got out of the car….met a local chap who was out for a walk on the road telling me he ‘walks’ to keep in shape, although he was in ‘anything but’….and pulled out camera and bino’s and started to walk Morphetts Road. Probably took a solid hour but eventually I saw a bird high up in the trees as this day was not a good weather day with wind blowing, rain….. But way up there, I took a snap. I had no idea if this was number 12 on the list or I remained penciled in still at number 11 on my apostles. I wouldn’t know until I made it back to the computer and pulled up the image and took shadows out of the photo, pulled out the color etc and attempted to ID what was now, just a black blog on film.
In the meantime on the way home….I found the Black Faced Cormorant, the Great Cormorant, and the Australian Pied Oyster along with a Kelp Seagull and a Lesser Crested Tern. So…even if the Strong Billed was still eluding me, I grabbed four more new birds.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, or I should say my hotel room. Now, this room was interesting as it has an open bath concept. The bathroom was open….and I mean open to the room. So it was a good thing I wasn’t bunking up with any of my buddies on this trip. Well, I downloaded the image and took out shadows, added color etc…. Pretty weak but I could tell a pattern existed, so I took out my Australia guide and the only pattern this matched up to was the very one I was attempting to find, the Strong Billed Honeyeater….viola….Apostle Number 12 was found. Now, in the old days of birding as I remember looking at a Peterson Guide my dad had, birding was done not by color but by pattern. Well, I just met my dad’s generation as this bird was ID’d by pattern.
Tasmania…….12 apostles sought…..12 found. Not bad for a non-religious gent.
PS…my last day before my flight left, I returned to Truganani Refuge and must have found 3-4 of the Strong Billed Honeyeaters…it goes to show you that ‘gone today’; ‘here tomorrow’ is a pretty fair statement in birding….