Tuesday, October 13, 2015

King Island

King Island and a rough idea of where I drove on the island. Map thanks to Google Earth

King Island lies about halfway between Victoria and Tasmania and for Australian birders it has two major draws. First, it has a number of races of Tasmanian birds that are endemic to the island and for those of us who care about such things they need to be found and seen. Second, on King Island there are three introduced species that are hard or impossible to find anywhere else in Australia and if one keeps an Australian life list they, at some point, need to go to King Island.
View of the bright green pastures of the island

The fishing harbour at Currie

Common Pheasant. They may just be an introduced bird but they are very beautiful

Both the pheasant and peacock were very shy and hard to get near but very common. All three introduced species could easily be found in one day.

Apart from birds King Island is also known for organically grown and produced beef and cheese. I tried to find a place to have dinner that served King Island beef but the two places I found that may have served it both closed before 6 pm. Maybe the Golf Club served local beef but I didn't try there. Local cheese can be purchased at very good prices when their shop is open, between 10 am and 4:30 pm, which is not good when one is dashing all over the island looking for birds. Ah well, I am sure most tourists find the time OK and not many birders go to the island so, no complaint. 

Wild Turkey. Again, very beautiful with the iridescent colouring on the feathers

Two Tom Turkeys showing off to the females

I stayed at the Island Breeze Motel which was really nice and has beautiful views from every room. One interesting thing I found though was, while everyone is very friendly and giving the discrete "two-finger-lifted-from-the-steering wheel-outback-style-wave" to other drivers is almost mandatory, if you ask directions to birding sites like parks and reserves many locals have no idea where they are. I highly recommend getting all your information sorted before you go.
There are literally thousands of Wallabies on the island and care needs to be taken when driving

Indian Peacock
Indian Peahens

For birders in the future Greylag Geese have also been free ranging and self supporting on the island for many years and will possibly, one day, be added to the Australian list, as have the other introduced species on the island. It will require a BARC submission of course, and someone willing to prepare one. The last BARC submission for the Greylag Geese on Norfolk Island failed to pass by one vote.
Bull Kelp, Durvillaea potatorum, drying on racks. The kelp is collected by locals from the rocks on the west coast of the island and delivered for processing into a huge range of products from food thickeners, dentistry products, paper coating, toys, explosives, ceramics and more.

The old King Island Dairy factory

West coast beach

Black Currawong, race parvior

Crested Tern

Olive Whistler
Young Elephant Seal "hauled out" on a beach near Currie.

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