I’VE been an unabashed promoter of Bruny Island in the years I have been writing the “On the wing” column and now I’m delighted to learn that it has been named in a top-10 list of Australia’s most “revered” birdwatching sites.
The list was compiled by Australian Birdlife magazine after it asked its 8000 readers to name their favourite birding locations.
Bruny Island ranked among Kakadu in the Northern Territory and Lamington National Park in Queensland as bird hotspots. Broome in Western Australia and Alice Springs were merely given an honourable mention.
It’s not just me, of course, promoting birding on Bruny Island and the wider wonders of the twin islands themselves.
Tours of Australia for international birders – which can cost $13,000 per punter – have Bruny on their itinerary, chiefly because all 12 of Tasmania’s endemic species can easily be found there. These include one of the world’s rarest birds, the forty-spotted pardalote.
Bruny is also the place to see shorebirds that are threatened on the mainland, the hooded plover among them. This species can even be seen on the beach of Bruny’s main tourist centre, Adventure Bay.
Bruny’s reputation as a top birding location has also been enhanced by the biennial Bruny Bird Festival, which is taking place again in October and is already attracting bookings from across the globe. The festival, which embraces bird walks and talks and art and photographic exhibitions, is the biggest bird fair in Australia.
Birdwatching tourism is a booming business internationally, its growth the result of increasing interest in the environment, conservation and, of course, birds worldwide.
The figures are staggering. In Britain, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has more than one million members (it’s the biggest conservation organisation in Europe) and there are an estimated 25 million “twitchers” in the Untied States, where sales of optical equipment like telescopes and binoculars to birders outstrips those to hunters.
The birding hotspot survey in Australian Birdlife followed on from a review of a book, Best 100 Birdwatching Sites in Australia, late last year, which also mentioned Bruny along with King Island, Mt Field National Park and the regular seabird cruises off Eaglehawk Neck on the Tasman Peninsula.
Not surprisingly, in the latest survey most birders immediately answered “my backyard” before listing other sites. My backyard in Hobart’s Waterworks Valley is special to me, too. I have seen more than 60 species there, including most of our endemics but I can never resist the urge to catch the ferry to Bruny.
Increasingly each year I receive requests from birdwatchers on the mainland and overseas – and their hosts in Tasmania – to provide advice on where to spot our species found nowhere else on earth.
As I tell visitors, an ideal birdwatching trip to southern Tasmania would start at the Waterworks Reserve, before a drive up Mt Wellington to find some alpine species like black currawongs, and to take in the view, of course .Then it would be a short drive to the Inverawe Native Gardens at Margate, before catching the ferry to Bruny for a few days there.
The full list of Australian Birdlife readers’ favourite birding sites are: My backward; Mount Lewis, Julatten, Queensland; Werribee wetlands, Victoria; Yellow Water, Kakadu; Capertree Valley, New South Wales; Fogg Dam, Northern Territory; Lamington, Queensland; Bowra Station, Cunnamulla, Queensland; Bruny Island; Lord Howe Island; and Cheyne’s Beach, Western Australia.