Opportunistic gulls wheel above a seal devouring an Atlantic Salmon right in front of Abel’s Cabin this week. The seal had acquired the fish from a graball net set off the point opposite the cottage. The fisherman came home empty handed. Seals are regular visitors to the Channel, attracted by the salmon fish farms.
Bruny Island is without doubt one of the country’s best bird watching places.
In the area around the cottage (I live 1km away) I have recorded all 12 Tasmanian endemic birds, the ones that exist nowhere else in the world.
I have however not photographed them all to the extent that I am prepared to include them below. Some are very small and elusive and beyond the capabilities of my limited lens collection.
In summer we are visited by the endangered Swift parrots who, along with the Dusky Wood Swallows visit Bruny to breed. There are only 2000 Swifties left and their numbers are dwindling quickly for a variety of reasons including habitat destruction caused by forestry.
Almost daily sea eagles soar along the water’s edge, currently three of them that I suspect are a breeding pair, and last year’s offspring. I have seen them swoop on fish in the shallow waters in front of Abel’s Cabin and occasionally alight on one of the big trees to wait their opportunities.
Most of the images below were made within 1km of Abel’s Cabin, and while some of the birds are seasonal, you can’t help but be visited by some during your stay.
If you click the first image you will be rewarded with a bigger slideshow and words.
Forty-Spotted Pardalote: Endemic to Tasmania and an endangered species. This is a chick, one of a pair raised at Adventure Bay in 2014. They bred at the same time as the Duskies and Goldfinches seen below.
Superb Fairy-wrens: You can’t miss these friendly jewels that often look in your window in the mornings and spend their days combing the front lawn.
The males colour-up like this around September.They often travel with what appear to be 4-5 females, but some are uncoloured juvenile males.
A couple of chicks from the 2014 season.
Yellow-rumped Thornbill: These pretty birds often travel with the fairy-wrens. Regular AC visitors.
Scarlet Robin: A very common, breathtaking sight around Lunawanna. Gregarious.
New Holland Honeyeater: One of the area’s most populous birds. They are chirpy and have a bolshy attitude, as you see from the next image.
There seems to be several families living near our birdbath and the arguing and carry-on is a hoot. I think a pair is nesting in a shrub at the front of the cottage.
Dusky Robin: One of the Tasmanian endemics and one of my favourite birds. This one is a constant companion in the vegie gardens.
Dusky Woodswallows: The next 7 images are a selection of hundreds I took of these duskies that raised three chicks near our house.
The duskies, with their beautiful blue beaks, are summer visitors to Bruny Island.
They are brilliant flyers, catching most of their food on the wing.
The adults spend months feeding the chicks with big flying insects. They chose to nest where a branch snapped off in a storm a few months before.
It took about 6 weeks of intensive feeding to get the chicks to this stage. Feathers seemed to appear overnight.
I was desperate to record the fledging, and this was nearly it. But they chose the early hours of NY Day and I missed it.
The fledglings hung around the area for months, still demanding food from the ever-working parents.
European Goldfinch: A pair of these introduced birds raised four chicks in the tiniest nest right near our back door.
Tucked away under leaves it made for difficult photography.
Within weeks it was standing room only.
One day I found the nest empty, but then saw this little fellow getting the courage to take flight.
He glanced at me, then at the sky above, and then he was gone!
Beautiful Firetails: Often seen accompanying wrens and thornbills on the lawn. Close-up they are stunningly painted birds.
Green Rosella: Endemic to Tasmania, these slow-moving gregarious birds are regular visitors. They become more colourful as they age, so this one must be quite old.
From bird to bird the colouring can be quite different.
Grey Shrike Thrush: Regular visitors who like to help themselves to dog biscuits. A complex, melodic and very loud call.
Yellow-throated Honeyeater: This is a Tasmanian endemic bird that is common the island over, but I have found it very elusive despite hearing its distinctive call often. This young bird called in for a summer swim.
Yellow-throated honeyeaterI have been ‘hunting’ the elusive bird with my lens for several years. This is the best so far. Stay tuned…
White-bellied Sea Eagle: We see these magestic birds most days. A family of three patrol the beaches and fish in the shallow waters right out front of Abel’s Cabin.
White-bellied Sea Eagle: Sometimes they land in the dead tree right out front and it’s then you appreciate the huge wingspan. This one was at Cemetery Beach, just up the road.
Grey Goshawk: Another bird of prey. Despite its name it is all white, the only white raptor in the world. You have to be lucky to encounter one of these.
Wedgie-tailed Eagle: Plentiful throughout Bruny Island. A few kilometres before Alonnah I often see a pair hunting in the paddocks. This is one of them.
Great Egret: Fishing in the shallows near Abel’s Cabin. Deadly accurate at catching flounder.
Pacific Gull: Australia’s biggest gull. It has a lookalike, the kelp gull, that has the red tip only on the lower beak. Very common.
Pied Oystercatcher: I’ve seen hundreds of these birds and never seen one eating an oyster. Common around AC. There is a rarer black oystercatcher that you may see.
Sooty Oystercatcher: And here’s one now!
Masked Lapwing: This is one crazy bird. Loud call. May swoop in mating season. Often raises vulnerable chicks on road verges. Member of the plover family.
Hooded Plover: If you go out to Cloudy Bay you may see these birds nesting on the beach. Have been seen at Lunawanna and often on the beach at Adventure Bay.
White-faced Heron: Often seen fishing in the shallow waters near AC.
Black-Headed Honeyeater: Another of Tasmania’s endemics. You’ll find them in flowering trees.
Native Hen: Beep beep. Should be called the road-runner. Can be seen in paddocks often chasing each other at neck-breaking speed. Endemic to Tassie. Very noisy in breeding season.
Swift Parrot: An endangered species. Visits Tasmania in Spring-Summer from south-east Australian states to breed. Arrives in August. Smaller than the rosella. Flies at great speed, loudly calling. A disappearing treasure.
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo: Common and raucous resident that will often be seen in the pine trees tearing apart cones. Live for 40 years.
Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo: The first pic I took with my new 300mm lens. One of a group that regularly visits Cemetery Beach, just up the road 1km.
Fan-tailed Cuckoo: Along with its relative the Palid Cuckoo the persistent call of this bird could drive you mad! Likes to visit Tasmania from the mainland to lay its eggs in other birds’ nests. Sad sight: tiny birds feeding huge cuckoo chicks.
Yellow Wattlebird Another of the Tassie endemics. Australia’s biggest wattlebird, it’s common but a bit elusive. Throaty call, like somebody throwing-up!
All images © Kim Murray