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Wednesday, November 8, 2006 – 6:30PM

Westerway, Tasmania


And still it goes on.  How many of you faithful readers could still be slogging through all this stuff every day?  Not very many, methinks, but still I go on.  Remember, this is written as much for myself as for you.  Some of you know I have kept a journal for the last 50 years, and these Ramblings will be part of that journal.  Sorry about all the mundane housekeeping stuff, but it can’t all be excitement and adventures, you know.


So, last night it blew and it rained.  The wind howled around my little chalet all night, but I slept well in my warm bed upstairs.  The temperature in the room was 56 degrees in the morning, but the warm quilt on the bed was up to it, and I was warm and comfy.


I was up by about 6:45 this morning, and I soon decided to catch the 8:25 ferry (which I mistakenly thought was 8:35), rather than the 10:00 one.  There were whitecaps out on the water, and I was worried about getting seasick on the crossing, but that was a foolish worry as it turned out, as so many of my worries are.  It was only a 15 minute crossing, and it wasn’t really rough at all.


There was a place I wanted to stop after crossing the channel, the Peter Murrell Reserve.  It was my last chance at the Forty-spotted Pardalote, and there were reportedly Strong-billed Honeyeaters there as well.  It was still quite windy when I got there, but the rain had turned into intermittent very light sprinkles.  I got out and looked around, and very quickly got onto a little bird sitting high in a White Gum tree, in plain view, but quite high up, and into a bright cloudy sky.  I got a good look at it, and it was definitely a pardalote, but all three pardalotes live in this area.  I couldn’t see anything that eliminated it as a Forty-spotted Pardalote, but I couldn’t really make the identification, either.  Then I heard it calling.  I could tell it was this bird calling because of the way it moved its head and the direction of the call.  Now, I have made a big deal about how bad I am at Aussie bird calls, but I have learned the various calls of the Striated Pardalote, and this was nothing like any of those.  The call was a low pitch, two note, and soft call.  I read about the calls of all three species in a couple of books and on the information sign at the reserve, and the call I heard was definitely that of the Forty-spotted Pardalote.  So, I “called” the bird and added it to my lists, partly on the basis of its call – maybe that shows progress for me as a birder.  I have a CD of Tasmanian bird calls, but the radio in my rented car is broken.  Tonight I listened to the calls of all three species on the computer, and what I heard was the Forty-spotted Pardalote.  So, I finally got my nemesis bird, endemic number 10 of 12, and another lifer.  Of the two that are left, the Scrubtit and the Strong-billed Honeyeater, I still hope to see the honeyeater, but don’t really expect to see the Scrubtit.  When I am back in Hobart on Friday and Saturday, I think I might go back up to Mount Wellington, where I could theoretically see either one of them (or both???).  I think the Strong-billed Honeyeater is much more likely, though.


So, I ended up spending an hour or an hour and a half at the Peter Murrell Reserve.  It was windy all the time and sprinkling part of the time, and I didn’t see anything else remarkable, although there were birds around.  At one point, a couple of pardalotes were right over my head at a low elevation, but when I got the glasses on one of them, it was only a Spotted Pardalote.  As I gave up and hit the road, the rain started again in earnest.


The other thing I wanted to do today was to find a place to get online, so I could upload Ramblings25 and Photos17.  I could have found places in some of the small towns I was going to go through, but it turned out that there is no way to bypass downtown Hobart when going from the south of Hobart to the north of Hobart, or at least, no way that I could see.  Since I had to go right through downtown Hobart anyway, I detoured three blocks and went to the internet café that I had tried to go to on Sunday, when it wasn’t open yet.


I found my way there, through the maze of one-way streets, and found a place to park my car nearby.  It turned out that they had a very fast internet connection, and I got Ramblings25 and Photos17 uploaded very quickly.  Christina came online while I was there, and we had a long Instant Message chat, which was very satisfying for me.  Well, it lasted about ten minutes, but that is the longest I have been able to hold her attention so far.  That isn’t really fair, as I have generally been the one who has had to go when we have chatted, but this one was probably the longest chat we have had so far.


After that, I headed north, to my Platypus riverside cottage that I linked to in my last Ramblings.  I stopped on the way at a Woolies (Woolworth supermarket) and stocked up with some Campbells Chunky Roast Chicken & Vegetables soup for dinner, and other necessities.  Breakfast provisions are included in my rent here at the Platypus cottage.  They turned out to be eggs and bacon and bread for toast.  I am looking forward to scrambling up a mess of eggs (four) and bacon tomorrow morning, with lots of hot, buttered toast, in the electric frying pan here.


So, when I got here, I called the number they provided, from the phone booth just down the street, and Jimmy came over to bring me the key.  He isn’t the owner, he just provides key service.  I don’t know where the owners live – the ownership of the place has changed since I first booked it, many months ago.  I’m not sure how I am supposed to pay for it, but I think I gave them my credit card number, so I presume they will put through a charge on the card.


I got here about two o’clock, and I hadn’t had my humble lunch yet, so I sat out on the deck by the river and had my self-made ham and cheese sandwich and potato chips, while keeping an eye out for the supposed resident platypus in the river.  No platypus, but I sure enjoyed the pleasant place to eat my lunch and the sound of the river.


After lunch, I drove on up the road to Mount Field National Park.  I was a bit put off by the A$20 entrance fee for 24 hours access, but I paid up and went on into the park.  I got a bird list, and there wasn’t really anything there I was likely to see that I needed for my lists, so I mostly just enjoyed the scenery.  I took the 15 minute walk to Russell Falls, which was a beautiful double waterfall, although it was hard to see it all because of trees, and the sun was right above it, so it was also very difficult to get pictures of it.  The rainforest was very peaceful, with very little bird life, as rainforests always have been, in my very limited Aussie experience.  I did take a number of closeup shots of another Tasmanian Native-hen, and even a few shots of a Black Currawong.  It will be interesting to see how those come out – taking pictures of black birds is always hard, and I couldn’t really get very close to a currawong.


I came back to my cottage about 5 o’clock.  There was a “wildlife preserve” (actually a small private zoo type place) where I could have seen some Tassie animals that I won’t be able to see in the wild, but I passed on it.  Maybe it was the appearance of the place (see Photos18).


Back here by the river, I changed my routine and had Bundy on the rocks, rather than mixed with orange-mango juice.  I had the juice, but there was a fairly full, decent size ice tray in the freezer, so I had plenty of ice for a change.  It was incredibly peaceful and relaxing down by the river, and I again watched for the platypus, but again came up empty.  The guest book has comments from previous guests, and about a quarter of them say they saw the platypus.  I can’t help but wonder if it is all a big hype, though.  Just my suspicious, skeptical nature, I know.  Maybe I will see it later tonight or in the morning.


While I was having my Bundy rum on the rocks by the river, I experimented with taking self-portraits, with the river in the background.  I will presumably include one or two of those in Photos18, for your viewing pleasure.


Eventually, I came in to watch the 6 o’clock news, to see how the American elections came out.  They had a brief story, saying that the Dems had gained control of the House, but the Repubs had barely held on to control of the Senate.  I don’t suppose it will make much difference, but maybe it will signal the end of the Republicans’ greedy grab for more money for the rich.  If so, then that is progress, in my mind.  No more tax cuts favoring the rich, and the inheritance tax isn’t likely to be abolished now.  I don’t see how it will make any difference with respect to Iraq, though, and that is the other big issue in people’s minds.  I imagine things will go on pretty much the same.


So, that is my story for today.  One more bird for my lists, and it was number 10 of 12 of the endemics of Tasmania (unless I have lost count, somehow, which is certainly possible).  Not many more species I can see here in Tasmania for my trip list, but I’ll see if I can get one or two more in the next couple or three days.


It really feels like the trip is winding down now.  After tonight, I have two nights in Hobart, and then it is back to Melbourne for six nights.  I’ll be in the same place for the last five nights of my stay, which is the longest I will have been anywhere.  But, that is for next week.  Tomorrow I think I will just head back to Hobart, although I might decide to go back to the national park again and look around some more.  The A$20 I paid today is good for 24 hours, as I understand it.


I probably won’t post this until tomorrow afternoon or evening, and I might very well add to it before that.  We shall see.  I think this trip is now about 35 days old.  Five weeks.  Amazing!


Barry still downunder