Thursday, March 5, 2020

Tasmania Day 14 - Northern Tasmania

It goes without saying that we slept in again today and didn't leave Roosters Rest until 9:30 AM.  It's a tough life isn't it?

The plan was to head to Warrawee Forest Reserve to do a little hiking and look for more platypus.  However, both Sheila and Google maps couldn't find the place so we drove around a lot until I just decided to head down a road on a hunch and found it no problem.  So much for technology.

Warrawee has great facilities and is a popular mountain biking area but they have a main paved trail that goes about 5 km along a river.  It's a really nice track and should be good for a night walk so we planned to return later that night.

Warrawee Forest Reserve

Platypus river

Warrawee Trail

Little Pied Cormorant:
Little Pied Cormorant

The walk was very relaxing but we didn't see a lot of wildlife.  That changed when we returned to the parking lot and Karen found what she thought was one snake.  But, as we examined the snake we realized that there were two tails.  It was actually two snakes mating.  I took a few pictures to try to ID them but since we knew they were venomous no matter what they were we didn't get too close:

Mating Lowland Copperheads

It wasn't until they uncoupled and I got a shot of the head of one that we were able to positively identify them as lowland copperheads:

One of the most venomous snakes in Australia

What a cool event to witness.  It's only the 2nd time we have seen snakes mating.

As we drove out of the parking lot I cruised slowly along the river and we were able to see two different platypus but they were too far away for pictures.

We had lunch in Latrobe at Belly's Bar and Grill which was very nice.  There was some great people watching in the grill today including a couple that was sipping champagne and appeared to be celebrating something.  The woman was dressed up a bit and was in full makeup. The man was wearing flip flops, dirty shorts, and a white tank top.  It was quite the juxtaposition.  I was secretly hoping that he would hold his pinky out while sipping his champagne but that didn't happen.

It was during this lunch that I overheard some people talking about the coronavirus and hoarding at grocery stores.  We had been without internet for much of the trip and even when we had it I make it a point not to do anything on my phone except check email.  Back at Roosters Rest that night though, I did read the news to get caught up on all the craziness in the world.  It was depressing and I decided not to say anything to Karen since there was nothing we could do about any of it anyway.

After lunch, we returned to Warrawee to look for snakes again since we now had a new mission which was to find a tiger snake that would enable us to complete seeing all three species.  But, no luck.  However, we did notice a sheep carcass in a nearby field and decided that we needed to stake that out tonight to see if anything comes to it.  We also scouted a place called Pitcairn Bush Reserve to be sure we found it OK since we also planned a night walk there and didn't want to be searching for it in the dark.  Sheila had proven to be less than reliable. I had read online that someone spotted a southern brown bandicoot at Pitcairn which is how it got on my radar.

With our after dark plans all set, we decided to spend the rest of our daylight hours at Narawntapu NP.  When we got there the eastern grey kangaroos had moved on and were in an entirely different field, but we still found them.


Eastern Greys

While they looked very graceful as they bound across the grassland:

In motion...

They don't look graceful at all when they lie down:
Sitting a bit awkwardly

It was interesting that they always knew where we were and would easily spot us from great distances.

Watching us

There were some wallabies around as well:
Another head popping up

Where's Wallaby?!
Where's Wallaby?

We decided to leave Narawntapu before dark and enjoyed another nice meal at Belly's in Latrobe.  My seafood fettuccine was especially good.

We had a double night walk planned tonight and started it back at Warrawee with a carcass stakeout.  A nice dinner followed by a carcass stakeout.  I sure know how to treat a lady don't I?

Nothing came to the carcass so after close to an hour of waiting we decided to head out for a spotlight walk.  Warrawee was alive at night.


We saw 6 additional brushies and 3 ring-tailed possums along the walk.  But, we also encountered a few other critters.  I heard some movement in a nearby bush and went to investigate.  But, we couldn't figure out what the animal was since it was not behaving like anything we had heard before. It wouldn't run but we would hear a loud thump every now and again.  Finally, we got enough of a look to figure out that it was a potoroo and there were two of them.  Instead of bolting like a pademelon would, they would just dart a few feet away and thump which I guess was a warning sign.

Right at the end of the hike, I saw something dart from one tree to another and was able to get some light on it and figure out that it was a sugar glider:
Sugar Glider

Sugar Glider

Hopping on soapbox: While the sugar glider is native to mainland Australia, it is an invasive species on Tasmania and is a notorious bird egg eater so we weren't that excited to see it here.  While we love animals, we don't love seeing them where the don't belong and have no issues with efforts to get rid of non-native species.  As cat lovers, that is hard to say but feral cats don't belong in Tasmania (or mainland Australia for that matter) and need to be remove since they are killing so many native species there. Hopping off soapbox.

Next it was off to Pitcairn which is a patch of forest in a residential area.  So, it was a bit weird hearing barking dogs and even partying people (this was before the whole social distancing thing started).  They even had little markers with maps on them every now and then which was nice.

Pitcairn Bushland Reserve (great night walks)

We quickly forgot about the noises coming from the houses nearby because Pitcairn was alive with eye shine.  It seemed that everywhere we looked there were eyes looking back at us from the trees. It was literally like a scary Halloween painting in there except it wasn't scary at all, it was really cool.  We soon lost count after 15 brushies and 10 ringtails.

Ring-tailed Possum

So, we decided to just concentrate our search to the ground since bandicoots were the real goal of the walk.  We wound around the trails for a while but didn't have any luck with bandicoots.  We would have stayed longer but we actually needed to get up "early" the next day and didn't want to make it too long of a night.

However, the day was capped off nicely when Karen spotted an eastern barred bandicoot frolicking on the grass as we drove home.  While Latrobe doesn't really get much press we found it to be a great base to explore Narawtapu, Warrawee and Pitcairn.  We could have easily spent another day in this area.

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