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In Pursuit of Prions part 3

In Pursuit of Prions (Part 3) Tasmania

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As we disembarked the ship in Hobart yesterday's stormy conditions were a distant memory as we were bathed in glorious sunshine and barely a whisper of a breeze. As we left the quayside we were entertained by some nesting Welcome Swallows and some Tree Martins.

We soon arranged a hire car and headed inland to the big tree country of Mt Field National Park.As we headed out of Hobart a White-bellied Sea Eagle crossed our bow. We stopped briefly at the Derwent River near Granton to observe Australian Pelicans, 100's of Black Swans and flock of Hoary Grebes. They were all a bit too far away on for reasonable photographs so we presses on and about an hour later made the visitor centre near Russell Falls.

Superb Fairy-wrens and Grey Fantails were twittering and flitting around the car park area but the arrival of a couple of coach parties encouraged us to start from another car park and as transferred locations we glimpsed a Tasmanian Pademelon ( a small species of Wallaby) at the edge of the track.

We selected the Lady Barron Falls track and a short distance in a Grey Shrike Thrush posed momentarily before scooting for cover. A disturbance in the fallen leaves alerted us to a recently fledged Bassian Thrush but it to soon melted into the shadows allowing only a meagre record shot of the encounter.

The brilliant sunshine and deep shadows were playing havoc with the camera settings. A pair of parrots scooted past and settled in dense vegetation over a small stream. They were nearly impossible to photograph and even a bit of fill in flash produced nothing much better than a Rolf Harris-like "can you tell what it is yet?" image. For the record they were Green Rosella's

The tall gum tree around us were neck-breakingly high and most of the small passerines that flicked around were were simply to high up to discern. A bit of pishing and squeaking brought one or two a little closer. A beautiful Pink Robin checked us out. By keeping my finger on the shutter I managed a single passable record shot in the shady conditions.

A hawk appeared briefly overhead in the canopy breaks but the sightings were too brief to put a name to it and with a crick in our necks and with respects duly paid to Lady Barron and her falls we headed down to to Russel Falls.

A small group of botanists were making their way to the same destination admiring the huge Tree Ferns as they went. A movement in the undergrowth had caught our eye and it resolved into another Tasmanian Pademelon. A short while later we found another and this time I managed a couple of shots of this delightful little marsupial before is bounded gently off into the dense forest.

In the early afternoon we were just thinking about heading back towards the Derwent River area when a chap larted us to the fact that earlier in the day he had seen a Duck-billed Platypus in a nearby creek. Now we were not going to pas up that opportunity so we headed towards the creek, disturbing a Bennet's Wallaby on the way. We searched diligently but our luck seemed to be out. On the point of giving up I turned for the final time and their momentarily on the surface was the platypus. A called Adele over but she only saw the splash as it dived. A few minutes later we both found it in another section of the creek and I had less than 2 seconds to rip of a few frames. A fine finale to a few hours in a small corner of Tasmania.

En route back to the ship we spotted Tasmanian Native Hen and Purple Swamp Hens but time was short and all too soon we were back at the dock preparing for the next leg of our trip and two days on the Tasman Sea heading for New Zealand. Surely now I'd see my first Prions, wouldn't I?

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