King Island is an island in Bass Strait between Tasmania and mainland Australia. It is part of the state of Tasmania, and experiences some of the wildest seas due the shallow nature of the strait (which was once joined Tasmania to the mainland when seas were much lower) and the strong winds that pass through it. A large energy wave forms much larger waves and turbulent seas in shallower water. Almost every part of the island coast has had major shipwrecks and loss of life during the sail, steamship and clipper ages. I was there five years ago this month, just before a major storm hit, the wind howled all night and day long.
The wild seas through tons of Bull Kelp up onto the beaches around the island, and each day Kelp Gatherers take their trailors out to gather it and hang it to dry at the kelp processing plant on the island. Most of the worlds Bull Kelp comes from the island. It is used in fertilisers, stock food, many liquid drinks such as chocolate milk to keep it in suspension. I even saw a car body that had been made from Bull Kelp, in experimentation phase as a plastic replacement.
King Island is famous not only for Bull Kelp but for its Cheeze and its beef, The cattle graze on this special merlot grass, which spread over the island as a result of ship wrecks. It is thought to have come from the mattresses of the cargo on the ships. King Island beef and cheeze is of the highest quality and sought after. I loved the free cheeze tasting in this huge cool room, where I decided after tasting them all, their smoked chedder was my favourite, and I still buy it from time to time.
I was just starting into birding, this was my second holiday where I started to get interested in birds. My first bird was the Crested Tern which is also quite common where I live, but here was a huge colony on the coast near my accommodation. It takes a lot of bird droppings to make these rocks so white, the remaining white is the hundreds of birds themselves.
They were a noisy bunch, and wild weather did not put them off at all, they just kept flying and fishing even in rough surf.
It was here I saw my first Pied Oystercatcher. I may have seen these birds before, but never noticed them, now I was becoming a ‘birder’ so I was noticing each bird and appreciating it in a way I had never done before. I came mainly to see the Fairy Penguins, but I did not get to do this as the weather was so rough.
The Pied Oystercatcher was the only bird on this sign that I saw while I was there.
The King Island Wallaby is increasing in numbers every year as it has no predator. Tasmania Primary industry is working with University of Tasmania on considering a project to farm and market for wallaby meat to Asia.
One little passerine that I did manage to quickly get a shot of before it flew off was this White-fronted Chat, which I have not seen since anywhere else.
But my prize photo for the trip was this Brush Bronzewing which I took from the window of the hire car, as I poked my camera through a clearing in the bush.
I had several birding surprises on the island, my first was the sighting of these Wild Turkey crossing the road.
It was interesting to see a bird I thought domesticated, actually wild.
My second surprise was to find a number of wild Indian Peafowl roaming the island, obviously introduced, possibly escaped shipwreck.
The this Common Pheasant appeared on side the road, another surprise, again possibly from shipwrecks.
My last surprising bird event was the sighting of the Australian Black Swan on the island. This bird has spread its habitation now all over Australia. It started off in Western Australia, but in recent years has bred well all over the country, as my previous blogs have highlighted.
I admired these dense forests of what appeared to be very tall Teatree throughout the island.
The most interesting natural feature of the island was this Calcified Forest which I explored in Lavinia Nature Reserve on King Island. If you enlarge the sign you can read about how it formed. This part of the island is known for high density of nasty Tiger Snakes, thankfully it was cool day and I saw none, though I was cautious. It was like being on another planet, seeing acres of these strange shapes. My favourite one is the first one, which I always see in it two lovers in their old age standing hand in hand together.
To close I share some of the amazing sunsets I saw at King Island, the colors were amazing. There was cloud most of the time i was there, so it added to show.
“From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.” – Psalm 113:3
My Bird of the Week: The Crested Tern
The Crested Tern is a common shorebird found all around the coast and islands of Australia mainly on beaches, but also in rivers and lagoons. Immature terns have mottled brown covering. Non-breeding Crested Terns have a white spotted black cap, whereas those in breeding have a full black crest. It is a delight to watch these birds vertical dive at great speed and go into and under the water soon emerging with fish in mouth.
Check out my Home Page which has recently been updated, and has reasons why Birdwatching is good for a healthy for 2016.
Check out my Birdbook page and view my book video. You will not be disappointed with this book, I am selling copies almost daily, and many come back to buy more. It is a very unique book.
Check out my new Intelligent Design page where you can view a 22 minute teaching video for children which is used for teaching aspects of science with a Creationist viewpoint, using birds as the prime example.