Wings Wildlife Park

Wings Wildlife Park is located at Gunns Plains near Ulverstone in Tasmania. The family owned park has been in the Wing family for many generations and operates solely on donations and money generated by visitors to the park. There are more than 150 different animals at the wildlife sanctuary and it is the only place in Tasmania where you can see American bison. The park also has the largest collection of Tasmanian wildlife in Australia.

You can buy feed to hand feed the kangaroos and wallabies (highly recommended!) as well as food to feed the fish (they have ponds with trout). They have wildlife presentations throughout the day as well as animal encounter experiences. You can even stay overnight at one of the cottages at the park or stay at their campsite. And their cafe has fantastic restaurant quality meals and quick and easy snack food and include gluten free, vegan and vegetarian options.

A lot of the Australian animals at the park are animals that have been brought in injured or ill and are undergoing recovery or rehabilitation and will be released back into the wild. Sadly, some animals have conditions that will not enable them to survive in the wild and so will spend the rest of their days at the wildlife park.

Here are some of the non Australian animals we saw at the park.

First up were the couple of ostriches, including two albino ones!

One ostrich was happy one moment –

And angry the next!

Some other exotic animals included bison, buffalo, camels and Scottish Highland cattle, but they were happy lazing around at the far end of the paddock.

Now onto the Aussie animals. There were so many animals, I have only decided to include a small number here.

Tasmanian devils are critically endangered because of a deadly facial cancer tumour disease.

There were several quolls there too.

Spotted quoll
Eastern quoll (dark morph)

There were a number of emus there, including this one who seemed to like having his picture taken.

In the nocturnal house we saw sugar gliders, and I filmed this funny little incident between two sugar gliders. I’m sure you’ll get a laugh out of the ending. πŸ˜„ 

We also saw three albino magpies, and after enquiring with one of the keepers there, discovered that albino magpies can’t survive in the wild because they get picked on by the other magpies and end up with injuries and also become malnourished. These birds were brought in to the sanctuary individually in a bad way but now have a better and healthier life. So unfortunately for these three guys, they are permanent residents at the wildlife park.

Below is Edward who liked a scratch on the head.

And these two magpies seemed to be in unison!

There was also a swamp harrier who was interesting to see up so close. I would see these birds fly overhead looking for prey when I used to go walking at the Tamar Island Wetlands.

Make sure when you visit the park to buy some feed for the kangaroos, it was such a fun experience hand feeding them and being able to pat them. They have the grey forester kangaroos as well as wallabies and even some albino ones.

And lastly, they had a number of very cute long nosed potoroos!

Hope you enjoyed my photos of the animals and be sure to visit Wings Wildlife Park if you’re in north west Tassie, you’ll have the best time!

Preston Falls

Preston Falls is located south of Ulverstone, Tasmania just down the road from Wings Wildlife Park (check next week’s post about my visit to the wildlife park! πŸ˜€).

A short and well maintained track leads you through blackwood forest, across Preston Creek, over the top of the waterfall, and around to a lookout.

Steps at the beginning of the track to the waterfall
Blackwoods and tree ferns
The crossing of Preston Creek
Crossing Preston Creek
Crossing over the top of Preston Falls
Preston Falls has a 25 metre drop into a deep ravine

While there, we saw several tiny birds at the top of the trees. I can’t work out what they are, so if you can recognise them from this video, please let me know. I couldn’t get any photos of them as they were too quick, and the video is a bit shaky as it was on zoom and I was looking straight up into the trees.

The confusing thing about this waterfall is its name. It’s signed as Preston Falls but known locally as Delaneys Falls. Sometimes it’s also called Upper Preston Falls. Whatever its name, it’s a nice waterfall and easily accessible, so it’s definitely worth a look if you’re in the area.

The Tasmanian Arboretum

Located at Eugenana, just south of Devonport in Tasmania, is the Tasmanian Arboretum – a vast collection of trees situated in a peaceful and picturesque landscape.

The arboretum site was originally farmland and was turned into a botanical park in 1984, expanding over the years so that it now includes 66 ha (163 acres).

There are over 5,000 trees and more than 1,500 different species, including some endangered ones.

The park is divided into different sections featuring the trees from the different continents of the world and also has a special area dedicated to Tasmanian trees.

There was even a small section devoted to lichen.

You can wander around at your leisure following all the different trails and experience the trees from different countries and enjoy the serenity of the lake.

Looking at the lake from inside the bird hide –

It had been raining a lot in the week before we visited and we discovered lots of colourful mushrooms and toadstools amongst the trees.

There is also a variety of wildlife that can be spotted in the park.

Numerous species of birds have been sighted all year round. We saw black swans, Tasmanian native hens, pacific black ducks, shellducks, little pied cormorant, eurasian coots, blackbirds, forest ravens, green rosellas, superb fairy wrens and several other little birds flitting about in the trees that were hard to identify. Early on we came across this bird running around leaf litter –

That is a bassian thrush and my first sighting of one!

You can also spot pademelons, Bennetts wallabies, possums, potoroos, bettongs, and occasionally a Tasmanian devil and echidna.

Bennetts Wallaby

However the park is well known for its regular sightings of platypus which can be seen any time of day!

We missed seeing the autumn colours on display at the park when we went, but it’s such a big place to explore and will beckon me for future visits I’m sure.

Bar Tailed Godwits – The Bird That Started It All

Bar tailed godwits are a large wader who arrive in Australia in August each year after having traveled from the northern hemisphere. They settle along the east coast of Australia and can be seen at coastal estuaries, beaches and mudflats.

They will leave Australia during April and May to return to their breeding grounds in Alaska and Scandinavia. The bar tailed godwit undertakes the longest non stop migration of any bird, taking 7 or more days to fly without a stop over and their wings are flapping constantly, 24 hours a day!

Here are some interesting facts about bar tailed godwits –

  • They can live for 30 years
  • They eat aquatic insects, molluscs, worms, and berries
  • Their top flight speed is about 60km/h
  • They are social birds and are often seen hanging out with other shorebirds
  • A group of bar tailed godwits is called an omniscience, a pantheon, or a prayer

These birds are special to me because my very first sighting of a bar tailed godwit is what got me into birdwatching many years ago. At the age of 14, I was on holidays with my family at Jervis Bay on the south coast of New South Wales, and one day I spied some strange looking birds feeding along the beach at low tide. I remember asking my Dad what they were and he told me he thought they were a godwit. I remember thinking it was a funny name for a bird and thought he was joking, as my Dad often enjoyed tricking me with things like that. So for the time we were there on holidays, I borrowed my Dad’s binoculars and spent ages watching these birds from the beach front house we were staying in. For Christmas that year, my Dad bought me a small paperback book on identifying Australian birds (and therefore proved that my Dad was telling the truth about them being a godwit!) and also my very own pair of binoculars (which I still have today!). And that’s where it all began 40 years ago!

Boat Harbour

Located 30 minutes drive west of Burnie in Tasmania, Boat Harbour is a locality with a population of about 400 people.

A beautiful and unspoilt beach, Boat Harbour is well known for its powder white sand, clear blue water and rocky headland.

First settled by Europeans in the 1830s, the town was originally called Jacob’s Boat Harbour, named after Captain John Jacob who regularly sailed along the north coast for the Van Dieman Land Company.

For a good nature walk, head left of the main beach and behind the toilet block you will find a trail that goes out to the point and back, giving you great views of the coast. We spotted cormorants, gulls and a new holland honeyeater.

There is an excellent lookout spot just as you come into the village, giving you clear views over Boat Harbour and out to the ocean, it’s definitely worth a stop. And the fish and chips are good at the cafe on the beach too!

Platypus at Warrawee Forest Reserve

Warrawee Forest Reserve is located at Latrobe, Tasmania. There you can go camping, walking, picnicking, kayaking, spot flora and fauna and enjoy the mountain bike trails.

We followed the bush walking track alongside the river that starts at the right hand side of the car park and walked down to the bridge and back.

The walking path was quite overgrown but manageable.

The walking track along the river

Some of the gum trees were incredibly tall!

We could hear lots of different birds around us and sometimes caught a glimpse of a bird on a tree branch before it flew off. We spotted blue wrens, fantails, a pink robin, and some pacific black ducks swimming in the river.

At one point we saw two white faced herons fly over the river side by side making a racket, and then shortly after we came upon them on the opposite side of the river, in the progress of what appeared to be a courtship ritual. It was fascinating to watch for several minutes until they went their separate ways.

And I managed to get a quick photo of a bird I had never seen before, a spotted pardelote!

And finally, we were pleasantly surprised to be able to catch glimpses of two platypus in the river! Here is a compilation of some footage. When you get to 0.18 in the video, watch closely around the top right and you will see the platypus foraging in the water, he can be difficult to see.

So if you want to spot a platypus in the wild, visit Warrawee Forest Reserve and you are sure to see one, just look for the bubbles!

Grey Goshawk Sighting

The grey goshawk is native to Australia and is an endangered bird in Tasmania and I have only seen one once before, so it was quite a surprise to me to sight another one recently just across the road from my house!

The bird had landed in a gum tree and was being harassed by some magpies and seagulls, so it only stayed a short while then took off, the smaller birds in noisy pursuit.

On mainland Australia, this bird has a grey colouring, but here in Tasmania it is a white morph.

The grey goshawk is the only pure white raptor in the world and it’s also known as the most beautiful bird of prey in the world. I can’t argue with that!

Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos

After some time off to move house to north west Tasmania, start a new job and settle into my new surroundings, I’m back in the blogging zone. πŸ˜ƒπŸ“·πŸ πŸ–οΈ

And one of the first birds I saw from my new home was several yellow tailed black cockatoos, having a snack in a banksia tree!

These birds were a joy to watch, even if they did decimate the tree of flowers and left remnants on the ground below!