Maria Island is identified as being an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International and is purportedly one of the best places in Tasmania for viewing forest birds. I can't say that this was my experience during the 3 days I spent on the island, but the weather may have played a hand in this as it was pretty windy, cold and frequently wet. It is, however, the best place I visited for viewing mammals.
In 2012, Tasmanian Devils were introduced to the island in the hope of providing a disease-free "banker" population that was quarantined from the mainland populations being ravaged by Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD). The introduction was a resounding success and the population rapidly multiplied to such an extent that contraception measures had to be taken. Although this is good news for the Tasmanian Devil, it has come at a cost to the native bird populations, with ground nesting species being particularly susceptible to this fierce predator.
I had a very close encounter with a Tasmanian Devil one night when I went to the toilet block to brush my teeth before going to bed. I entered the building to find a Devil nosing around in one of the cubicles!
Wombats are very common on Maria Island and could be seen at any time of the day, particularly in the grassy areas around the penitentiary and camping areas.
Wombats have rearward-facing pouch openings. Due to their short legs, when the young start to get reasonably large, such as the one above, the pouch becomes stretched to such an extent that it drags along the ground and having a front-facing pouch would be highly impractical as it would be constantly catching on objects when the mother moved forward.
All three of the large macropods found in Tasmania are common and easily viewed on Maria Island, although only the Rufous-bellied Pademelon is native to the island. The other two (Bennett's Wallaby and Eastern Grey Kangaroo) were introduced in the 1960's.
Rufous-bellied Pademelon, which is sometimes also known as Tasmanian Pademelon, is the smallest and shyest of the three and usually doesn't stray far from the forest edges. It is endemic to Tasmania.
It was usually easiest to see in the evenings after the day-trippers had left to return to the mainland.
At the other end of the size spectrum lies the Eastern Grey Kangaroo. With adult males standing almost 2m (6ft 6in) tall they are the second largest extant marsupial in the world with only the Red Kangaroo surpassing them in size.
Eastern Grey Kangaroos on Tasmania are known as Forester Kangaroos and It was long proposed that they were an endemic subspecies. Recent genetic studies, however, have found no significant differences between kangaroos on Tasmania and mainland Australia and the subspecific status of the Tasmanian Eastern Greys is not valid.
Bennett's Wallaby is the nominate race of Red-necked Wallaby and has a darker pelt and less contrasting rufous neck and shoulders than the races found in southeastern Australia which are probably more familiar to most people.
The Southern Blue Tongue is a very large, slow-moving skink with a body length (excluding tail) of up to 30cm (1ft). It is common throughout most of Tasmania.
Ray Wilson owns the copyright of all images on this site.
They may not be used or copied in any form without prior written permission.