Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tinderbox, Still Worth a Visit

Late last week, I had occasion to visit Kingston, and not wishing to waste the opportunity to go birding, I left early and planned a side excursion to Tinderbox. Once, a few decades ago, Tinderbox was synonymous with Forty-spotted Pardalote. Since then, the area has been developed, largely with low density housing,and birders wishing to see 40 spots, have usually visited the nearby Peter Murrell reserve. Not dressed for birding, I reasoned that I could bird from the open area adjacent to the WW2 gun battery site, and I wasn't disappointed.
I arrived around 8am, on a beautiful still day, marred only by the smoke haze from Forestry burns that have covered SE Tasmania for several days. Initially I sat in the car listening, birding is often more about listening than looking, but apart from several guttural calls from a nearby Yellow Wattlebird, not much stirred. I wandered down towards the light overlooking the mouth of the Derwent River. I picked out calling Crescent Honeyeaters, the "tok-tok"call of a Yellow-throated Honeyeater, and a group of Black-headed Honeyeaters, feeding in the canopy of nearby Blue Gums. I heard, then saw, the first of many Spotted Pardalote, several chasing one another. I should mention here that, unlike last Autumn/Winter, when they were numerous, I haven't sighted a single Striated Pardalote since mid March. Walking towards the edge of the woodland, I stopped to watch and photograph, a passing Eastern Spinebill (bottom photo), one of several, mostly feeding on the red flowers of a small prostrate plant, that I should know the name of, but don't! Several small flocks of Little Wattlebirds passed overhead, as did a Peregrine Falcon, causing the whole woodland to fall into silence. I walked back up the hill towards the road. Here I watched the antics of a flock of New Holland Honeyeaters, mostly defending feeding rights to certain trees, chasing off other New Hollands, or any other birds that trespassed. Then, with much noisy chattering, they would all cluster close together in a huddle, before noisily breaking up to return to their territory, quite comical at times. It was while watching the honeyeaters that I heard the contact call of the Forty-spotted Pardalote, and saw the first of several, this one being chased out of a euc viminalis by one the honeyeaters. Despite that, the 40 spots were pretty determined, and shortly returned, and I spent the next 20 minutes watching them. As with the Spotted Pardalotes, there was a lot of chasing going on, which I assume is related to pairing. Although feeding mostly amongst the outer foliage of their chosen eucalypts, and often hard to watch, I did manage a few shots of them (not brilliant!), including one showing 2 birds (image on the right), something of a first for me! I must say that I had little expectation of seeing any 40 spots, let alone photographing them, so that was a bonus.
So perhaps Tinderbox is still worth a visit, at least at this time of year. As a sequel to this, I stopped about a kilometre down the road towards Blackman's Bay, to talk to an old friend, and saw yet more 40 spots, so there appears to be a good few about.


Snail said...

Great luck with the forty-spotteds! Nice pics too.

BirdingTas said...

Hi Snail,
Yes, luck must have been on my side that morning, because I've spent a lot longer in the Peter Murrell reserve without managing a single shot. In the end if you want shots, you have to put the time and effort in--great time of year to be in the field. Not looking forward to Winter, a definite sign that I'm getting old!

Elaine said...

It was great luck to find this site with all my favourite birding spots and more. A cold wind was blowing at Tinderbox when I arrived just after dawn on Monday. The crows were pestering a grey goshawk - the first that I'd seen at Pearson's Point. Later in the day, the trees were alive with pardalotes! Congratulations to all who contribute to this site!

BirdingTas said...

Thanks for your comments, Elaine. Everyone keeps telling me about their sightings of Grey Goshawks, but apart from a recent, fairly distant, view of one at the nearby Peter Murrell Reserve, I've missed out badly. One of these days!

Penny said...

A drive from Cygnet through to Huonville usually gives you a sighting of one of three pairs of grey goshawks that I know of in the area. A roadside stall on the northern side of Cygnet marks the first site,and the G Goshawk is often on the power lines above the road. The second family are seen on the Cygnet side of the Duggans Quarry sitting in the shaded area of young silver wattles. The third Pair are townies, and often you can pick one flying above the streets of Huonville and hunting on the outskirts. They all seem quite accustomed to people, until you pull out the camera!

BirdingTas said...

Hi Penny,
Thanks for the information on the Grey Goshawks, I'll certainly look out for them. I know they're around, and people have told me of having them in their gardens, even shown me photographs, but they seem to have eluded me. Something to look forward to, one day!