Wednesday, April 11, 2007

South Arm--Underated Birding Hot Spot?

My last two articles made me realise the area that I loosely call South Arm, the peninsula at the southern end of the eastern shore of the Derwent River, has as good a list of birds as anywhere in the state. I consider all the area to the south of the Clifton Beach turnoff, to be part of the area mentioned. A rough list produced a total of at least 120 species, which includes a significant number of oceanic and beach washed species. One thing going for it is the variety of habitats, including lagoons, mudflats, woodland, heath and ocean beaches. Can anyone nominate a better total for a similar sized area of Tasmania?
As promised, I've chosen a few of the many images I have taken recently in the heath around Goat Bluff (on the South Arm peninsula).
Many birds are drawn here by the flowering Banksias and Correas, either for the nectar or for the insects that are similarly drawn to the flowers. The most numerous are undoubtedly the Silvereyes, with flocks of 10 to 20 or more, commonly seen. I chose a shot of a Silvereye that shows the chestnut flanks of the Tasmanian sub species. The next most obvious are probably the Crescent Honeyeaters, (female pictured at upper right). At this time of year they move from the higher altitudes and wetter areas, into heath, parks and gardens.
Some species are just passing through, like the Black-headed Honeyeaters (third from top at left). Small flocks regularly pass through, stopping briefly, seemingly to noisily gather the flock together, before flying off to nearby eucalypts, their preferred habitat. The Eastern Spinebill (photo top left), feed almost exclusively on a small, ground cover plant, very prickly, with small bell shaped flowers, the name of which escapes me. Occasionally, if they hear an alarm call from other birds, as many as five or six may briefly gather together in some nearby shrub, a rare sight for a generally solitary bird. Other species seen in the heath included Little Wattlebird, Grey Shrike-thrush, Scarlet and Flame Robin, Green Rosella, Musk Lorikeet, a solitary Tree Martin, Yellow-throated Honeyeater, Golden Whistler, and surprisingly, only the odd New Holland Honeyeater, a species that is normally here in substantial numbers. Lastly, but numerically not least, there were numerous groups of Brown Thornbills (bottom right), and Superb Fairy-wrens (bottom left). Coastal heath is invariably a good area to bird at this time of year, and this venue is no exception.
[NB. A more thorough count of species seen by me in the "South Arm" area suggests a total of 137 species]


Anonymous said...

That's a splendid haul. How did you get the wren to sit still long enough for you to take a photo?

BirdingTas said...

Hi Snail,
I think luck may have played a part. You should see all the shots that didn't make it!