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November 6, 2006 Ė 6 PM

First full day on Bruny Island, Tasmania


To my surprise, last night I was able to settle down and get to sleep at 10 oíclock, jetlag or no jetlag.  I slept lightly but pretty well until 6, so maybe I am back on an early schedule.


I had a nice (short) morning walk along the road and picked up another trip bird, the European Goldfinch.  My breakfast was a couple of egg and bacon pies I had picked up at the supermarket yesterday.  They were OK, but had a peculiar taste I wasnít crazy about Ė I think it was the bacon, which is cured with different flavorings than our bacon.  I supplemented the protein allotment with a couple of ounces of the sandwich ham I had gotten.


I got out of here about 8 oíclock, in quest of the Forty-spotted Pardalote, one of the endemics that I didnít really expect to see.   I drove to the northern tip of North Bruny, where the little hummers are supposed to live, and I stopped at half a dozen places or more, but I never could confirm a sighting.  One time I thought I had one, but it turned out to be the much more common Spotted Pardalote.  Now, some of you might be asking, what the hell difference does it make if it was a Spotted Pardalote or a Forty-spotted Pardalote.  The names are certainly similar.  But, they actually look fairly different, especially around the head, and they are different species.  The Forty-spotted Pardalote is kind of a mystical bird to me, for some reason.  I have read references to it many times, and it sort of symbolizes rare Aussie birds to me.  The place I was looking is supposed to be the best place to find them, but I struck out. 


At one point, I was birding along the road, a little south of the prime locations, and a car stopped and the guy driving asked if I was looking for ďthe pardaloteĒ.  I said yes, and he gave me specific directions to a site, a little way back along the road.  It turned out to be one of the places I had already stopped and searched, but he suggested walking up the hill to the fence, so I did that.  It was a nice little hike for this fat old Rambler, but I did it and walked back and forth along the fence, looking up into the trees.  I asked myself several times, what the heck am I doing, walking around on an island off Tasmania, looking for a bird?  I even saw a pardalote there, and odds are in was a Forty-spotted one, due to the location, but I never got a good enough look at its head to make the call.  Oh well, I spent three hours on the quest, and came up empty.  Well, not quite empty, because at Dennes Point I saw some Black-faced Cormorants, another species for my trip list.  I saw other birds, too, but nothing else for my lists.


I have one more place to look for the Forty-spotted Pardalote if I donít see it on Bruny, and I will stop there on Wednesday, if I can find it.  Meanwhile, I have three other endemics that I havenít seen, and I still hope to see two of them here on Bruny before I leave Ė the Dusky Robin and the Strong-billed Honeyeater.  Tomorrow is the day.


So, after the quest for the Forty-spotted Pardalote, I came back here to my chalet and had lunch, which consisted of a roast beef and cheese sandwich, some potato salad, and a delicious Australian Navel Orange.  I like oranges, and this was one of the great ones.


After lunch I headed off to see more of Bruny and take care of four pieces of business.  I needed to get online to post Ramblings22 and do email, I needed to get petrol (this car is a real gas-guzzler, and the tank wasnít really completely full when I got it), I needed to contact the place in Cradle Mountain that I had canceled by email (because I hadnít heard back from them), and I needed to do laundry.  There is a washing machine here, but it is a manual one, not an automatic.  There are two tubs, a washing tub and a spinning tub, and you set the times for each separately.  It is too much for me to try to figure out, and there isnít a dryer or a clothesline, either.


I drove on into Adventure Bay, which I thought was a little town.  Well, it is actually a general store (with gas pumps), a restaurant (which was closed), a trailer park, and some houses.  The restaurant supposedly has internet access, but it was closed.  The other place on the island that offers internet access is closed on Mondays, too.  There is no Laundromat on the island, it seems.  I did get petrol, so that took care of one item, but I had three left to accomplish.


So, I went back to the office of the Morella Island Retreats, the place I am renting my little chalet from.  They also have a little cafť there, which is open for breakfast and lunch.  They have a fabulous view, and the cafť has outdoor tables that have the great view.  By the time I got there about 2:30 PM, the sun was out and it was really beautiful.


Oh yes, on the way back there, I stopped on the beach at Adventure Bay, and managed to find a Hooded Plover, another trip bird for me.  I had walked a long way on the beach in Augusta, Western Australia, in an attempt to see these little beauties, but had not seen any.  They are pretty uncommon, and I had hopes of seeing one here, but had not counted on it at all.  I got some excellent pictures of the little darling.  And, then after that, I saw a couple of White-bellied Sea-Eagles cruising along overhead, quite low.  I stopped as soon as I could and went back, but couldnít see them when I got out of the car.  It was another trip bird, though, one I thought I would have seen by now, but hadnít.  That made four trip birds for the day Ė not bad at all.


Anyway, back at the office of Morella Island Retreats, I again prevailed on them to let me use their office phone line to check email and upload Ramblings22.  I hadnít heard back from the Cradle Mountain place by email, so I also used their phone to call and be sure my cancellation had been received.  It had, they just hadnít gotten around to acknowledging it, after three days.  So, I had taken care of three of my four jobs, and I decided I could get off the island without doing laundry, and I will just have to find someplace to do it when I get back to civilization.


Bruny Island is a really great place for birds, and also just for enjoying the great outdoors.  It is interesting that it has so little accommodation.  There are no motels.  There is one trailer park and a couple of campgrounds, and some self-catering holiday places like Iím renting, and that is it.


So, after taking care of my business, I drove around to some of the other places I wanted to see on Bruny.  I didnít see any more interesting birds, but I did see some more parts of the island.  I stopped a number of places, but the birds werenít showing themselves very much this afternoon.  One of the things I did was drive over the Mt. Mangana road, a steep and narrow dirt road that goes through some rainforest.  It was nerve-wracking, worrying about meeting a car coming at me in an inconvenient spot, but I only met two cars, and both were at convenient places, fortunately.  I stopped several times, but didnít see any birds of interest.


I committed to staying here at Angelís Retreat another night, then I am planning on heading a little way north to a place near Mount Field National Park.  After that, I have two open nights, and I have to decide at some point where I am going to stay those two nights and what Iíll do those days.  I feel like finding a place with a phone in my room, so I can get some internet time.  I have noticed that I feel more alone and borderline homesick when I am deprived of my internet access.  It is really necessary to my emotional well-being to feel like I am in touch with home.   Today I was able to chat with Christina by Instant Message, and that really helps.


So, that is the report of my day.  Iíll see if I can post this tomorrow.  I have some pictures, too, and Iíll see if I can process them tonight, and if the internet place that is supposed to be open tomorrow has a high speed connection, or even a decent dial up one, Iíll try to get Photos16 up.  The other thing I want to do tomorrow is get all the way down to the south end of South Bruny, just to see the whole island.  There are some good birds to look for down there, too. 


Signing off now,


Barry Downunder


PS Ė A couple of random comments.


First, the Masked Lapwing is a common bird over much of Australia, and there are more of them here than I have seen in any other place I have been.  They are a goofy looking bird, in my opinion, but you can judge for yourselves.  Today I had a chance to take pictures of them from the car, and I did so, mainly just so you could see them, too.  What do you think, are they goofy looking, or not?  They will be in Photos16, if and when it gets up.


Second, it is really nice to not have flies or mosquitoes to worry about.  I donít have to use sunscreen, either.  It is actually a little cold outside now (7:20 PM), even for me, but during the day, I am very comfortable in short sleeves and long pants.  If I were going to live in Australia, I would seriously consider Tassie.


PPS Ė Tuesday Morning


It rained during the night, although it doesnít show much, as the ground soaked it right up.  It is sunny with clouds this morning, and quite windy.  The wind will make the birding difficult, but I still want to go to the southern tip of the island for sightseeing purposes.  If I see any birds that will just be a bonus.


I was looking forward to taking pictures of the full moon in the darkness of Bruny Island, away from city lights, but I had forgotten about clouds.  It has been cloudy each night Iíve been here, so far.  Oh well, thatís how it goes sometimes.


Since I wrote the above, it has started raining again.  It looks like it is going to be a showery, blustery spring day.  Now Iím glad that I saw all those endemics on my first afternoon here, as the birding might not be too good today.  A lot of the roads here are dirt/gravel, and if it rains much, Iíll be glad I have a four wheel drive car.  I love rain, when I can sit inside and look out at it and hear it on the roof.