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King & Flinders Islands Trip Report
E&MKing18 - 1
Elizabeth & Margaret King Island
Day 1 Tues 23 January 2021
Transiting from House Sparrow heaven- Tullamarine Airport to Essendon we all flew with a window seat to Kingie (only in Australia!) where 3 Indian Peafowl greeted us not far from the airport on the drive to Sea Breeze Motel. The female had 4 chicks in tow and she stayed with them, close to us, while the males vanished. From the van we saw Goldfinches, Common Starlings and a Caspian Tern in the distance dove into a pond. Just a little down the road another pond had Shoveller, Wood Duck, Grey Teal and a Dusky Moorhen. Silver Gull, 3 Little Pied Cormorants, and Silvereyes called.

After dinner we drove to Currie Harbour almost running over a Red-bellied Pademelon and a couple of juvenile Forest Ravens surprised us so close to town. Tasmanian Silvereyes with pinky-brown flanks warmed my heart: it was lovely to be out of the heat in this fresh maritime island weather.

Back at Sea Breeze four Wild Turkeys on the hillside finished Day 1 off nicely, only pipped by a Red-necked/Bennett’s Wallaby quietly sitting below the noisy turkeys.

Pink and blue sunset on this endless day finished at 9.30pm!

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White-fronted Chat King Island
Day 2 Wed 24 January
Off to breakfast early at Ellie’s then out along the road to Millers Bay but had to stop often for Tasmanian Brown Thornbill, Yellow Wattlebird, New Holland Honeyeater and Forest Ravens. The Red-necked Wallabies were gorgeous and prolific. We spotted our first White-fronted Chat and a gorgeous Brush Bronzewing long before the Bay.

Eurasian Songlarks taunted us becoming Australian Pipits repeatedly until a single bird sat on the fence giving long detailed views.

Black-faced Cormorants looked snowy white in the early morning light and quite numerously clumped. Whereas Little Pied Cormorants were few and a long way between. A lone Pacific Gull gave great views along a coastline I think we all wanted to paint. It really is gorgeous and has a quiet calm especially near the plaque for the ship Cataraqui where it’s grounding resulted in many lost lives. Sadly on their last night before their final destination Melbourne. Crested Terns sailed past and a flock of White-fronted Chats was a pleasure to watch on the lichened rocks.

Back to the main-drag (a dirt track) where multiple Swamp Harriers pale, or shaggy brown kept slowly soaring by.

A Nankeen Kestrel sat beside two ‘shags’ with with neatly folded wing tips glowing in the light. Gosh it was a really nice day! Which continued throughout our tour. So lucky.

A sweet flotilla of Chestnut Teal floated in a rockpool.
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Golden-headed Cisticola by Margaret Crane
At Calcified Forest Ann spotted the first of a plethora of Dusky Robins which were well photographed. The strikingly unusual “forest” is well worth the walk and we languished looking for albatross that proved just too far away.

We halted at a large pond to scope Musk Duck, Hoary-headed Grebes, Black Swan and a couple of Blue-billed Ducks that were out of reach of the scope for a conclusive ID.

On to Pegarah Forest which was jumping with birds: Yellow-throated Honeyeater loomed as we left the vehicle and Strong-billed Honeyeater foraged in and out of the bark, living up to its colloquial name of Bark Bird. Striated Pardalote and Tasmanian Thornbill appeared but not in the numbers expected and Olive Whistler was absent during our 1.5 hour stay. Conditions were much drier than my boggy September recce with completely different birds in abundance therefore. Dusky Robins dominated as did New Holland Honeyeaters.

No one was keen on looking for Morepork but a good dinner at Wild Harvest inspired Little Penguin viewing with clusters all along the edges of the road and Ray Martin starred as chief photographer of the up-close-and-personal individuals. He’s a keen birder whom we welcome to the brotherhood.

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Pacific Gull King Island
Day 3 Thurs 25 January
After another early breakfast we headed north stopping at Loorana for an abundance of Golden-headed Cisticolas glowing high up on the wires over the cumbungi. Shag Lagoon had some special additions- Pink-eared Duck, Black-fronted Dotterel, 4 Latham Snipes calmly feeding in the open; such a pleasure to watch, a couple of Cape Barren Geese, our first, and the now usual accompaniment of Black Swans, lots of Chestnut Teal and Greys, Hoary-headed Grebes and a new flock of Australasian Coots with ugly juveniles.

At Yellow Rock a Black Currawong flew across in perfect light from the well vegetated sand hill and later as we walked for the view to the beach another 2 birds perched in the stunted trees giving ideal comparison of the bill of Black Currawong and Forest Raven.

Moving past Lake Flannigan a Musk Duck was in the distance among the mass of Black Swans as we passed on towards the tallest lighthouse in Australia where I had previously seen Hooded Plovers.

Pennys Lagoon was gorgeous but the flies pestered the patrons during the Olive Whistler viewing, yet some saw the Tasmanian Scrubwren bobbing around the bush. Further south Sea Elephant is a really lovely estuary with all the regulars plus Common Greenshank, Sooty and Pied Oystercatchers. Back home to Currie township and a good dinner at Oleanda Restaurant.

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Dusky Robin King Island
Day 4 Australia Day Fri 26 January
A leisurely start with breakfast at the airport and four Little Black Cormorants flew over.

Launceston Regional Gallery/Museum entertained and informed us between flights. Really worth a visit.

On arrival at Flinders Island we headed north to the Short-tailed Shearwater Platform at the end of Emita Point. The curve of the bay and the granite hills enhanced the heathland experience but not wanting to stay until 9.30pm sunset for the birds to come home we departed for Lady Baron. Cape Barren Geese in large numbers accompanied by flocks of Australian Shelduck enlivened the journey as did the towering lichen-covered granite of Stresleki NP.

Day 5 Sat 27 January
Driving out from Lady Baron along the Coast Road Petrifaction Bay got the juices flowing with Green Rosellas and Tasmanian Thornbills showing very well. The Bay was at high tide and dotted with Black Swans, Pacific Black Ducks and Masked Lapwings peacefully perch on high points.

Pacific Gulls began their elegant lift-off technique from roadkill, sharing with Forest Ravens. A curious food source for perhaps seditary gulls….

Breakfast at the Providore cafe in Whitemark was excellent and we were soon off to Long Point looking for waders but the tide was too high, still, plenty of other birds to look at through the well appointed bird hide. We doubled back to Mount Leventhorpe where Yellow-throated Honeyeaters fed, a Flame Robin was seen to much excitement and an Olive Whistler called and whizzed past, seen by some.

SootyOystercatchersFlinders18 - 1
Sooty Oystercatchers Flinders Island
The view from the top was clouded in but watching the cloud moving with the air movement was fabulous. All very beautiful.

We ground to a halt as Elizabeth asked what that slim bird was…4 Banded Lapwings, yehhhh! Good work E!

Headed to Trousers Point in Strezleki NP for picnic lunch and chased some probable Banded Lapwings along the glorious beach before finding Beautiful Firetails deep in the Casurina/Melalucca forest.

The coastline walk had more fabulous lichen coloured rocks and flat calm seas beyond the heath. Not ideal for seabirding but certainly good for the heart.

A quick ice-cream at the General Store at Lady Baron preluded Cameron Inlet a spectacular waterway brimming with lots of regularly seen species including Musk Ducks and a flock of 100 Red-necked Stints with a token Red-capped Plover. Quite a sight.

Another dinner of perfect scallops at the Tavern ended a day of delights except for the Southern Boobook/Tasmania Morpork heard calling by everyone except the guide who was sound asleep at 9.30pm. Previously I had seen this bird here, spotlight by my phone light right outside the Tavern calling to another bird on the other side of the building. Looked like a Morepork to me.

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Flinders Island
Day 6 Sun 28 January
Late start! Birded along the coast up to breakie and then a scan at Bluff Point where we added our final species for the tour – Little Egret, spotted by the ever-helpful Brian Downer. Great trip thanks to Ann, Elizabeth, Margaret, Brian and the lovely Alan Mathew.

By Janene Luff guiding for FTB

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Photos of Variegated Fairy-wren and Little Tern courtesy of Neil Fifer