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Thursday, November 09, 2006 Ė 7:30 PM

Hobart, Tasmania


Well, here I am with a phone in my room again, so I might as well write up today and put up Ramblings27.  Not much to report, but there were one or two high points of the day.  I have some more photos, too, although nothing very exciting this time, Iím afraid.  Iíll be posting Photos18 tonight, if the internet connection is fast enough.


It got plenty cold in the Platypus Playground cottage last night.  It was 56 degrees in my bedroom this morning, but I was warm enough under the covers.  The main heat in the place is the fireplace insert shown in the picture of the living room.  The fire was all laid, and I finally got it going, with a struggle.  I loaded it up when I went to bed and turned down the air, as instructed, but I donít know how much actual heat it provided.  There was also a small electric heater in the kitchen, which I ran all night, too.  Anyway, heat wasnít a problem for me, and I was comfortable.  In the winter, it might be a different story, as the house is very poorly insulated, with large gaps around the doors.


I never did see the platypus.  Too bad.  Maybe next time.  I enjoyed my eggs and  bacon breakfast, with buttered toast.  The bacon was really more like ham than our bacon, and I cut off most of the fat and cut it up into bite sized pieces, which I cooked into the scrambled eggs.  A great start to the day.


I decided not to go back to Mt. Field National Park.  It wasnít all that great as far as scenery was concerned, and there werenít any new birds I was going to see there.  So, I headed down the road back to Hobart.  It was a pretty drive, and not very long, maybe an hour, tops.  I had read that Mallards (the most common duck we have at home) are found on the upper reaches of the Derwent River, and I was driving along the Derwent, on my way back to Hobart.  I found a park I had seen on the way to Westerway, and I stopped to take a look.  Mallards were introduced to Australia, and there arenít a lot of them around.  They hybridize with the native Pacific Black Ducks, making all kinds of weird looking mixes.


So, when I drove into the park, the first bird I saw was a duck, and darned if it wasnít a male Mallard!  I looked around the park some more, and saw a lot of ugly mixed breed partial Mallards, but the first one I saw looked pretty pure-blood, having all the proper markings.  At any rate, I counted the Mallard, giving me another trip bird.


Next I drove through central Hobart, and located my motel, where I was booked in for my last two nights in Tassie.  It was too early to check in, but at least I knew where it was.  Hobart is such a small city that it is easy to drive through it, even on a weekday.  It is also a very attractive city to my eyes, with all the water around it and all the green.  See Photos18 for pictures.


I had decided to go back up onto Mount Wellington, the first place I went last Sunday.  I had been seriously intimidated by the narrowness of the road and all the traffic, but I was now used to this car, and I hoped there would be less traffic on a Thursday than there had been on a nice spring Sunday.  As it turned out, I was right on both counts, and the narrowness of the road was only a minor factor.  The traffic was about 20% of what it had been on Sunday.


Fern Tree was my first stop, just as it had been on Sunday.  It is supposed to be the best place to see the Scrubtit, an endemic bird I had pretty much given up on, but decided to make one last try for it.  First I got a hot meat pie at the local general store and cafť.  It was steak and green peppercorns, and it was excellent.  The peppercorns gave it a nice spiciness, and everything else about it was great.  They didnít have any caramel slices, but I got a French Vanilla slice that was almost as good.  Vanilla filling between two layers of pastry, with frosting on top, and I think there was some whipped cream in it somewhere, too.


After my lunch, I walked the trails through the rainforest, looking for the Scrubtit.  One time I had a brief glimpse of a brown bird on a tree trunk, but it flew down into the undergrowth before I could get the binoculars on it.  That was the only bird I saw in 45 minutes in the rainforest, other than a couple of Black Currawongs.  That is very consistent with my past experiences birding in rainforests.  Very tough to see any birds.


So, I again gave up on the Scrubtit and headed up the narrow road to The Springs, on the way to the top of Mount Wellington.  I was looking for the Strong-billed Honeyeater this time.  One of my correspondents had seen them on a trail from The Springs, so I was looking.  I think I found the place he had seen them, but there was no sign today.  I spent another 45 minutes looking, but saw very little.  I saw a couple of Yellow-throated Honeyeaters, but I had seen them before.  I was sitting on a bench at the edge of the forest, just about ready to give it up and leave, when I saw a couple of honeyeaters chasing each other, or one of them chasing the other.  That is very common honeyeater behavior, and usually both of them are the same species.  I got the binoculars on one of them, and it was another Yellow-throated.  I kind of lost interest, but just for the practice, I kept watching, and when I could, I got the binoculars on the other one, and it was a Strong-billed Honeyeater!  I was amazed.  As it turned out, there were two of the Strong-billed ones, and the Yellow-throated guy was chasing them from tree to tree.  I got several great looks at them.  So, there was endemic number 11 of 12, thus exceeding my original goal of seeing 10 of the 12.  That made my day, and I gave up birding and drove back to my new motel.


Motel Mayfair on Cavell (the street it is on) is an interesting place.  The office is in an old mansion, from the 1800ís, and it was changed into a motel by adding a couple of wings out front in the 1960ís.  My room is quite large, with a twin bed and a queen bed.  It has a little refrigerator and a microwave, but no dishes or utensils, other than a couple of cups and saucers for making tea or coffee.  It has a phone, with a dataport, no less, so Iím back online in my room!  That is exciting for me, in itself.  The little refrigerator had a medium sized ice tray in it, but it was empty.  It was only about 3:00 when I checked in, though, so I filled it and cranked the refrigerator to its coldest, and I had ice for my drinks tonight.  The place also has a guest laundry, and I have now done my washing, which will last me for the rest of the trip.  Despite its age, my room is clean and comfortable, so this is a winner, I think.  The location isnít perfect, as it is on a hillside, so walking involves uphill one way or the other.  But, there is a bar about a block away that serves some light meals until 8 PM, and about three short blocks away there is a good looking pizza and pasta restaurant that does a lot of takeaway business.  There is a mini-market across the street from the restaurant, too.


Tonight I am going to have my can of soup, heated in the microwave in the tea cups they provide, along with some crackers and cheese.  With the mixed nuts I have been eating with my drinkies, I should be fine.  I have some Tim-Tams left, too.  Tomorrow I would like to get something from the pizza and pasta place and bring it back here, but there are other possibilities, too.


Iím not sure what Iím going to do tomorrow.  There are a couple or three birding places I could check out, but I donít know if there are actually any additional birds I might see at any of them.  Another choice would be to do a sightseeing day and visit the Tasman Peninsula.  That is where the original settlement here in Tasmania was.  It was a penal colony at first, and the remains of the prisons and other buildings are still there.  It would be a historical day, as well as interesting scenery, and even the possibility of some birds, though probably not anything new.  Weíll see how I feel in the morning.  I am not in a mood to go rushing around, and I would like it to be a relaxing day, whatever I do.  I might just walk around the city.  Hobart looks very interesting as a small city, and maybe Iíll just check it out.  I have some tourist booklets, and I will look at them tonight.


Iíll go ahead and post this to the website, now, and also try to get Photos18 up.


What a life!


Barry Downunder, in the city