The anguished twittering of the New Holland honeyeater’s alarm call rang out over the Inala private reserve on Bruny Island as a goshawk swept in and landed on a tree stump
The goshawk, a female mixing russet and grey in its plumage, looked about it menacingly but at this time there would be slim pickings.
The roadkill put out for birds of prey had already been snapped up earlier in the day by the other visitors to the reserve, which included wedge-tailed and sea eagles, brown falcons and white goshawks.
The “raptor restaurant” is a new addition to the reserve on South Bruny Island and it is designed to cater for the growing ranks of bird photographers visiting Bruny.
Inala’s owner and operator, Tonia Cochran, who also runs an international wildlife tourism business from offices on her property, says that in recent years she has seen more and more birdwatchers swinging cameras along with their binoculars.
“Nowadays, with many birders it is not enough to tick off a new bird, you have to take a picture of it,” she said. “This is where this new hide comes into play.”
The hide serves the double purpose of not only allowing photographers to obtain close-up, full-frame shots of usually elusive birds of prey but also enables Inala staff to clear nearby roads of roadkill, which in turn can lure birds like wedge-tailed eagles to their deaths. Inala is also a wildlife rehabilitation centre, and so each roadkill carcass is checked for joeys in pouches so these can be rescued.
When planning the raptor hide, the Inala team trialled a variety of hides which allowed birds to be viewed with minimal impact. A viewing hide with one-way glass was built first, and the photography hide was then added once Dr Cochran was assured the raptors continued to be relaxed and behaved naturally in its presence over several successful years.
The new hide was designed and positioned with consultation from several professional photographers and a local builder – also a birdwatcher – built it after high-calibre, non-reflective photographic glass was sourced from overseas because it was not available in Australia.
While raptors are the focus, the hide also caters for photographers wanting to photograph smaller birds which inhabit the open field in which it is set. Inala has also installed a mossy table and bird bath at eye-level outside the hide where small birds such as robins, wrens and thornbills come and go throughout the day.
The hide was also designed with the comfort of birders in mind. Not only is fresh coffee available but laptop connections and extra space for gear like tripods. The hide is also accessible for wheelchairs.
Bruny had long been a magnet for both national and international birders because it is home to all the 12 Tasmanian endemic species. These can all be seen at Inala including one of the world’s rarest birds, the forty-spotted pardalote which nests on the property.
For visits to the hide contact Inala at firstname.lastname@example.org