Black Currawong by Rob Hynson
Our King and Flinders Islands tour started with a majestic flight from Essendon airport aboard Sharp Airlines over the Bass Strait onwards to King island. After landing on King island we took the short drive to our accommodation in Currie, en route we spotted our first major target for the trip, a resplendent male Common Pheasant, one of several introduced bird species with self-sustaining populations on the island and therefore tickable for Australian listers. Eurasian Skylarks serenaded us on our short drive to our accommodation and a Yellow Wattlebird greeted us upon our arrival, our first true Tasmanian endemic.
Blotched Blue-tongue Lizard by Rob Hynson
After a scrumptious breakfast we headed to the south west of the island to Seal Rocks State Reserve. Travel was slow due to all the wonderful birds we saw while driving, flocks of European Goldfinch were spotted along the country roads along with Wild Turkeys, an introduced species from America. A couple of quick coastal stops produced some stunning views of Shy Albatross feeding around a fishing boat with many Short-tailed Shearwaters feeding in the distance. White-fronted Chats were spied feeding on the rocky shoreline and a Nankeen Kestrel darted by, these two islands being the only reliable location for this species in Tasmania. Onwards to the Seal Rocks Reserve we first visited an ancient calcified forest, an eerie and dramatic setting and a must-see for any visitor to King Island. On this walk we saw several Tasmanian Thornbills and heard Tasmanian Scrubwrens which frustratingly could not be spied.
A post-lunch drive took us to the centre of the island to Pegarah Forest where we had some fantastic woodland birding. Yellow-throated, Strong-billed and Black-headed Honeyeaters were all seen easily and at a nearby pond an assortment of other birds came down to bathe and drink including a very smart female Satin Flycatcher. As dusk approached many Bennett’s Wallabies came out to feed and they would be constant companions for the remainder of our trip. After dinner we headed to a penguin colony in Grassy Harbour where many Little Penguins were returning from their foraging trips out at sea to feed their hungry chicks, a spectacular way to finish the day.
Flame Robin by Rob Hynson
Hooded Plover by Rob Hynson
Our third day saw us exploring the north of the island in search of new species. En route north we spotted our first Indian Peafowl, a handsome male glistening green and blue in the morning sunlight. A stop at Shag Lagoon produced many waterfowl including many Australian Shelduck, Black Swans, Cape Barren Goose and the major highlight of 2 Latham’s Snipe. A beach stop to view the Shannon wreck was very productive, the walk out to the beach producing magnificent views of a Musk Duck and Black Currawong while out on the beach itself we had a pair of Hooded Plovers scurrying along the beach while a Fairy Tern flew close over our heads.
After a quick lunch at Cape Wickham, the tallest lighthouse in Australia, we headed to Martha Lavinia Lake where more Tasmanian Scrubwrens were heard and several Grey Fantails were seen; the Tasmanian subspecies is remarkably dark compared to the birds in Sydney. On the drive back to our motel a Blotched Bluetongue Lizard was spotted sunning itself on the road, a quick turnaround and we were back with this splendid animal which was remarkably confiding and many photos were snapped. After helping our new friend off the road to safety we headed to Pegarah Forest to the waterhole we had visited the day before. The afternoon shift was in full swing with many more birds coming to drink and bathe including a male Satin Flycatcher, a Black-headed Honeyeater, Tasmanian Thornbills and a family party of 5 Strong-billed Honeyeaters.
Indian Peafowl by Rob Hynson
Australian Pipit by Rob Hynson
On our fourth day we travelled from King to Flinders Island. We said farewell to the beautiful King Island and headed to Launceston on mainland Tasmania for our connecting flight to Flinders Island. While in Launceston we went to the QVM Art Gallery for an afternoon of culture before heading to Flinders Island. Continuing the cultured theme for the day, we set off to an art gallery and museum where we had wonderful views of our first Green Rosella for the trip. Within minutes of leaving the airport in our van we were treated to spectacular views of two adult White-bellied Sea-Eagles engaged in courtship display with locked talons and aerobatics. Further along, the drive back to our accommodation produced the big three, Common Pheasant, Indian Peafowl and Wild Turkey, a great start to our stay on Flinders Island.
Satin Flycatcher by Rob Hynson
An action-packed day started with some wader watching at Long Point where both Sooty and Pied Oystercatchers and Little and Great Egrets were seen well with the highlight being an Eastern Curlew, a rare species from Siberia spending the off season on Flinders Island. Onwards and upwards to Walkers Lookout with incredible views across the island. A drive down through the woodlands from the lookout produced some fine birds including both Golden and Olive Whistlers, Tasmanian Thornbills and more wonderful views of Green Rosellas. A short stretch of road in the middle of the island gave some wonderful raptor sightings with many cooperative Brown Falcons, Nankeen Kestrels and Swamp Harriers giving great roadside views. Reptile highlights included another Blotched Bluetongue and a stunning Tiger snake both sunning themselves on the road. The afternoon was spent at several wetlands and wader spots where huge numbers of Cape Barren Geese were seen along with our only Caspian Tern of the trip, a wonderful way to end our final full day on Flinders.
Wild Turkey by Rob Hynson
A farewell walk around the village of Lady Barron produced prolonged scope views of several Beautiful Firetails along with a family group of Dusky Robins feeding dependent young. Our last bit of birding on the way to the airport produced a sprightly family of Flame Robins on a roadside fence alongside many large flocks of Cape Barren Geese.
A wonderful time was had by all on this Follow That Bird tour, a big thanks to everyone who made the tour so enjoyable!
By Rob Hynson bird guiding for FTB
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