Saturday, January 21, 2006

Fern Tree Foray

A few days ago I made one of my fairly rare visits to the Fern Tree Glade in the foothills of Mount Wellington. In recent years I've mainly gone there for the benefit of visiting birders, who have requested to see Scubtits, Pink Robins, Tasmanian Thornbills and Ground Thrush (I think properly called White's Thrush, although a field guide calls it Bassian Thrush). An early start on a very still day, I rated my chances of seeing all 4 fairly highly, and I was mindful of Murray Lord's comments (see "Questions Posed") about not reliably seeing Scrubtits there, a statement I agree with. I appeared to be the first arrival and climbed the steps and the first bird I saw and heard was a Scrubtit! To be honest I've never seen them that close to the entrance, but less welcome was the presence of a presumed family of Kookaburras.

As you might expect at this time of year, it's pretty dry and will no doubt get drier. My impression over the years is that the general nature of the area is gradually changing. Many trees and other vegetation falls and is cleared, slowly opening up the gully and I'm not critical of this, it is primarily maintained as a walking track. As I walked deeper into the glade, I became aware of Pink Robins calling and shortly observed my first and then a second, both either females or juveniles. Several Grey Fantails and numerous Silvereyes briefly put in an appearance, and then I heard a Brown Scrubwren. This is a species that, in the past, I've always considered to be sure to see in some numbers, but this day they were either keeping quiet or the numbers have declined. In the canopy, and in the trees towering overhead, I heard Tasmanian Thornbills, several flocks I would guess. I must confess, I only had fleeting glimpses of these thornbills, but I have no doubt that they were Tasmanian.

Only one species to go! Well to cut a long story short, I dipped out. Generally I've found them on the tracks away from the gully, and not among the Tree Ferns. It was cool enough in the reserve to create 'clouds' from expelled breath, and I started to wonder whether this was the reason for a general lack of activity--not much in the way of flying insects--apart from the mossies.

Perhaps we've all relied on this venue to 'dish up' the required species too long. There must be many sites in this general area where these species can be reliably found--any suggestions?


Anonymous said...

Hi Alan,
We've regularly seen three of your four targets just along the early stages of the pipeline track from Neika, heading towards Wellington Falls. There is a fairly dense patch of vegetation just near the beginning, where we've seen the Thornbills, Scrubtit, and Pink Robin. Further along is generally good for Black-headed and Strong-billed Honeyeaters, too, among others. We've never seen the Thrushes there, though we have seen them at the Springs. Some of the other 'vertical climb' tracks on the mountain - through gullies - has also been good for most of these target 4, eg "Myrtle Gully Track."

Happy birding!

Anonymous said...

See today's (Friday) Mercury on Fern Tree Glade.