Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The End of the Road


After several days of drying out and sunshine, we decided to try going south again. This time we made it all the way. Along the way we found some fun things to see.

One of the interesting things about Tasmania this time of year, especially near the southern end, is that the sun is never very high in the sky. This means that you get that shadow-inducing morning/afternoon kind of light pretty much all day long. This, combined with the cooler temperatures means that some mountains are simply fog-covered all day.

The Silvereye was out feeding on cattails (or something like them) in a marshy patch near the road.


Near Dover we found a Whitefaced Egret, a bird we've seen before but these are my first photos. This is certainly a bird (as is the Silvereye) that is not found in the US. This fellow is beginning to show his breeding plumage with the color on his breast and the narrow feather on his back.


South of Ida Bay, where the narrow gauge tourist train is located, we loose the tarred road and drive through a forest, mostly along the shore as we head south.


Cockle Creek is at the end of the line, the southern most point in Tasmania that can be reached by road. Here we found a old friend, the Sacred Kingfisher. He is an unusual winter sight in Tasmania.

This image is also a first for me. Because kingfishers like to sit on limb and watch the water for lunch swimming by, it is easy to find one simply sitting still. This is the first HDR image of an animal I've ever made. I think it turned out quite well.


At the end of the road, a place called Cockle Creek, is a car park and statue of a Whale to honor the whalers who visited and, eventually, settled near here. on the short walk from the car park to the lookout and statue, we found a Pademelon hiding in some dead ferns beside the walking track. I did not want to harass the critter so getting a good photo is not possible. At least in this one, you can see his/her face and ears. These are one of the smallest macropods and are related to the wallabies and kangaroos. He looks very similar with very triangular, pointy face.


At our final destination is the lookout point and a lifesize statue of a baby Right Whale. To be clear, we are not at the southern end of Tasmania yet. To go farther south requires walking. In fact, the southern coast where you stand to look across the ocean at (ignoring the curvature of the earth and the water content of the air) Antarctica is a 2 or 2.5 hour walk from here. Even if we had wanted to take on this trek, it was too late in the day. We'd have arrived back here in the dark and then had a fun drive home along unlit roads filled with Pademelons and Australian drivers.


As you can see, at this lookout we are mostly looking west/northwest toward the setting sun (it was about 2:30 or so in the afternoon).


Spying a really large "sea gull", closer inspection revealed that we had seen our first Campbells Albatross. Not as big as the wandering variety famous from poetry, but still a pretty big bird. Too bad there is not a gull in the frame for scale. He is definitely bigger.


Next is a view of Cockle Creek as it flows into the bay.


On the way back to our abode, we stopped for a picture of the Pied Oystercatcher. We've seen him before, but it is always good to see an old friend.


Our trip to this southern point took us to about 43.6 degrees south of the equator. Portland, ME is a bit farther from the equator than this and so is Salem OR. It just feels different to be on this not-very-large island at the edge of the Antarctic Ocean. Also realise that only the South Island of New Zealand and the southern end of Chile and Argentina extend farther south. There is nothing to stop the wind and weather circling the globe at this latitude, hence the name the "Roaring Forties". Cockle Creek is farther from Cairns, QLD than it is from Antarctica. Australia is a big place.