December 20, 2015: Hobart, Tasmania — You know the game, “pass the parcel,” where a gift is covered in layers of paper and passed around to be gradually unwrapped? Today I felt like a parcel in that game, as I was passed from one birder to another. My mission, to find all of Tasmania’s dozen endemic birds, became a team effort.
From 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. I went for a walk with Mona Loofs-Samorzewski, who led the way up a flank of Mount Wellington. This mountain rises next to Tasmania’s capital city and is crisscrossed by miles of hiking tracks, which must be awesome for anyone living in Hobart. We found a pair of Pink Robins (not endemic, but beautiful and easier to see here than anywhere else) and the endemic Tasmanian Native-Hen, Green Rosella, Yellow Wattlebird, Tasmanian Scrubwren, Tasmanian Thornbill, and Black Currawong. Half the endemics down before breakfast!
At 9, Mona handed me off to Els Wakefield and Nicole Sommer. We got a call from Rob Hamilton, who I would be birding with later in the afternoon, who said that he was at his son’s cricket match with Swift Parrots (not endemic, but another good one) feeding in the trees overhead. Els, Nicole and I stopped by the cricket ground, saw the parrots, and spent the next several hours bouncing from one spot to another, tracking down a Forty-spotted Pardalote and Black-headed, Yellow-throated, and Strong-billed honeyeaters. Ten of twelve endemics down before lunch!
That left just the Dusky Robin and Scrubtit to make a clean sweep. Els and Nicole handed me off to Rob after the cricket match finished, and Rob and I spent the afternoon looking for those two birds.
Rob knew his spots and, even in a rain squall, we found the Scrubtits where he said they’d be. The Dusky Robin was unexpectedly tough but, again, Rob knew a good place and eventually picked one out for the Tassie grand slam: All of Tasmania’s endemic birds in one day!
We had a brilliant bonus this afternoon when Rob mentioned the possibility of finding a bird called a Ground Parrot, which skulks in thick expanses of button grass on Tasmania. It’s not endemic, but it’s hard to see anywhere. We drove a rough road into the highlands above Hobart, parked, and walked into a wet field. In less than 10 minutes, a Ground Parrot flushed practically from under my feet and we had excellent in-flight views before it dove back into the grass.
Grand slam accomplished, I flew out of Hobart this evening after spending less than 24 hours on Tasmania. Onward!
New birds today: 18
Year list: 5908