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. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ“ท๐Ÿ ๐Ÿ–๏ธ

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!

Tassie’s Turbo Chooks

The Tasmanian Native Hen is one of 12 bird species endemic to Tasmania and is commonly referred to as a turbo chook.

The native hen is a flightless rail and commonly seen all over Tasmania with the exception of the south west area. They are frequently seen (and heard!) in grassy areas close to water.

So why are they called a chook? A chook is an Australian colloquialism for hen, and if you watch these birds foraging, they do resemble a chicken as they graze on grass shoots during the day.

And why the term turbo chooks? Although they can’t fly, they can run very fast! This bird has been clocked running at 48 kmph (30 mph)!! When they run, they hold their wings out for balance and are able to make tight turns to avoid a predator. The birds and their chicks are preyed upon by Tasmanian devils, quolls, gulls, kookaburras, ravens, and hawks.

Here’s a video of a native hen taking a bath early one foggy morning.

Native hens have 14 separate calls, ranging from low growls to high pitched calls. I captured one of their calls in this video. Usually, when one bird makes this noise, others join in and they make a very loud raucous which can be heard a long distance away. People often say this call sounds like sawing metal, what do you think?

I often hear many of these birds making this noise at night about a kilometre away!

Native hens live in groups of 5 plus juveniles who stay with the group and help care for the next lot of young until the juveniles are old enough to move away to find another territory, some even stay with the group.

Each group has a territory of about 5 acres (2 hectares) and they fiercely defend it. You can often see fights break out where birds kick and peck each quite violently and the native hens come running from everywhere to watch.

Native hen chicks are black and fluffy. A day after hatching, they are already running along with the parents and starting to feed themselves.

Too cute!

Wedge Tailed Eagle Flyover

Recently I had the wonderful opportunity of watching an endangered wedge tailed eagle fly over my house.

The wedge tailed eagle is Australia’s largest bird of prey and one of the world’s largest eagles with a wingspan up to 2.3 metres.

Apart from their massive size, you can easily identify these birds in flight by their triangular or wedge shaped tail.

While watching this raptor fly overhead, two ravens appeared and started to harass the eagle. They look so small in comparison!

It’s always special to see a wedge tailed eagle. ๐Ÿ™‚

Terek Sandpiper Sighting

We have had a lot of cold and rainy winter weather lately in Tasmania, and recently when there was a break in the rain and the sun came out for a few hours, I decided to get a walk in at Tamar Island Wetlands.

Although it was very cold and the strong wind was on the chilly side, I’m glad I went because I got to see a new bird – a Terek Sandpiper!

Terek Sandpiper

These birds breed in the northern summer in Russia and Finland and then migrate to Australia and Malaysia for the southern summer. They travel between 3,500 and 4,800 km to get to Australia!

The birds start to leave the northern hemisphere in August, with the females departing in early July.

This one that I spotted on 25th July could have been a female or even a first year juvenile that was spending the winter here in Australia.

Unfortunately, this bird was quite a distance away so it was hard to get decent photos or video but I will keep my eyes open next time I go to the Wetlands in case I see it again.

Little Wattlebird

The Little wattlebird is a honeyeater found in south eastern Australia

I am happy to report that I have finally spotted a native bird visiting my native garden that I planted a few months ago back in early autumn!

A Little wattlebird has been feeding on a native shrub, a Bonnie Prince Charlie grevillea.

I think the bird has claimed this plant for itself as it visits regularly!

I even saw it lying next to the plant in the sunshine one afternoon with its wings all spread out. It worried me at first, but then I remembered birds often do this to get rid of mites in their feathers.

One day I even spotted the bird on the fence making alarm calls.

I think a snake had been making its way through neighbouring properties as I first heard someone’s chickens going off, then when they stopped, this wattlebird and a few other birds landed on the fence and trees close by and were making panicky sounds. Have a listen.

Now that we are in spring, here’s hoping more native birds come to check out my garden as the plants come into bloom. ๐Ÿ™‚

Walk To The Top Of Mount William And Bonus Wildlife Sightings

Mount William is in the Mount William National Park and rises 216 metres above sea level. There are 2 walking routes to the summit, a 5 hour return walk and a 1.5 hour walk. We chose the shorter route as we were pressed for time but we still wanted to do the climb while we were in the area.

The track at the beginning felt quite eerie, maybe because the sun was getting lower in the sky as it was a cold winter’s afternoon.

Along the way we saw evidence of wombats but unfortunately didn’t see any, however we did see different types of fungi.

This bright yellow fungus was about an inch big
Although only a tiny few millimetres in size, these bright red fungi were impossible to miss
This almost translucent fungus was about an inch in size

After awhile the path changed and opened up.

The last 30 metres or so of the track became steep and turned into a bit of a rock scramble to get to the summit, but the effort was definitely worth it for the panoramic views.

Here are a few still shots of the view.

Views of Cape Barren in the distance on the far left
Views of Bass Strait

My favourite view from the top of Mt William

Here is a picture of Mount William as seen from the road as we headed back.

Just when I thought the day couldn’t get any better, we had a few exciting wildlife sightings on the drive back to St Helens where we were staying.

We took a slow drive along a road called Forester Kangaroo Drive, a road through Mount William National Park that has some cleared land either side of the road for the forester kangaroos.

Although it can be a bit hard to tell the difference at times, I don’t think we saw any forester kangaroos, but we did see a lot of Bennett’s wallabies.

We also kept spying wombats busily munching grass in farmland beside the road. One was close to the road so we did a quick stop in the car so I could get a photo.

Those marks you can see on its body is mange, a skin infection caused by burrowing mites. Wombats are more affected by mange than other mammals in Australia. We did see a number of wombats with similar marks, so it appears that unfortunately there is a localised population there suffering from the disease.

The other wildlife encounter we had was when we saw an endangered wedge tailed eagle fly across the road a bit in front of us and into the trees near the road. Since there were no cars on the road, we pulled over to get a good look. Because it was nearly dark, the lighting wasn’t good and I had to use the zoom on my camera, so my photos are too blurry but I managed to get this video.

I realised I was watching an adult wedge tailed eagle with a juvenile (the lighter coloured bird on the right). I have never seen a juvenile one before, and had only ever seen a few wedge tailed eagles in my life. This was definitely one of those wow moments!

Wedge tailed eagles are critically endangered in Tasmania, with reportedly less than 300 breeding pairs, so every time I see one of these magnificent raptors, it is indeed a very special moment to treasure.

Mount William National Park is a great place to visit for nature walks, hiking, and wildlife, especially birds, and there is a great range of walks that would appeal to everyone. Even the drive getting there is serene. Spare a minute to watch my video below showing the drive along a road lined with large tree ferns and tall gum trees. (Change it to full screen for a better viewing experience!)

This was my favourite day while staying in the north east of Tasmania (we had done the Coblers Rocks walk earlier on the day). I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventures as much as I enjoyed them! ๐Ÿ˜€

Birdlife on the Coblers Rocks Walk

Within Mount William National Park you will find the Coblers Rocks walk, a mostly flat walk of around 6km and taking about 2 hours. We saw quite a lot of birdlife along this walk, including two species I had not seen before.

The first half of the walk is along a trail surrounded by heathland with banksia trees and grass trees.

The banksia trees were in flower and full of little birds, including the superb fairy wrens.ย  We also saw quite a few yellow tailed black cockatoos and they were quite noisy as they flew over us or perched in a tree some distance away.

Grass trees (Xanthorrhoea) also known as yacca, are endemic to Australia and there are 66 different species.ย  The smallest grows to a height of only 1 metre while the tallest can grow to 6 metres. They are very slow growing, so many of the grass trees we saw are extremely old. It has been reported that some grass trees have been estimated to be over 450 years old! These hardy trees thrive in poor soil and flower after bushfire. The flowers form on a spike coming out of the tree and can be up to 4 metres long! They produce nectar which is enjoyed by the birds.

This grass tree looks a bit wind blown

An interesting fact about grass trees is that the old leaves hang down around the tree like a skirt, and the longer the skirt, the longer the time without a bushfire.

 

It was hard not to miss this bright fungi as we walked past! It was about 3 cm in length.

About halfway along the walk we could see the ocean.

It was from here we could see Coblers Rocks and the track then followed the beach back to our starting point.

We could see the shadowy shapes in the distance of Cape Barren and Flinders Island

It was such a pristine and beautiful beach to walk on, we didn’t see another person the entire walk, although there was evidence of some early morning walkers and their dogs. I also spied some interesting wildlife tracks in the sand. Click on any the images below to see them close up. I don’t know what bird or animal made these tracks, although I suspect the second photo shows a kangaroo or pademelon.

Lots of pied cormorants sunning themselves on a rock, with a lone Pacific gull on the far left

There were many shells on the beach, including this colourful one that was barely a centimetre in size!

Birdlife was rife along this beach. We saw a goshawk fly over, as well as some pelicans, lots of silver gulls of course, even black swans swimming in the ocean, but also watched a Pacific gull dive into the water and catch a feed before flying over our heads with what looked like a small fish in its beak.

We loved seeing the pied oystercatchersย walking around the beach.

And even saw some sooty oystercatchers, my first sighting of one!

Another new bird for me were these adorable hooded dotterels.ย  They were fascinating to watch and worked very fast!

There was plenty of activity to watch as we walked along the beach and the landscape was beautiful as well.

This was one of my favourite walks! ๐Ÿ™‚

Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos

Back in June I was walking at Tamar Island Wetlands and spotted a few yellow tailed black cockatoos. They were having a good old go at the branches of a gum tree, probably looking for insect borers that they like to eat.

These beautiful birds are quite large, around 66cm in length. They have a distinct call which makes people look up trying to spot them as they fly over almost in slow motion.