Summary: Small and not very picturesque bird-rich wetland in north Hobart
Date of visit: Feb 11, 2021 [A stop on the Tasmania, Jan-Feb 2021 trip]
Unlike the all-around appeal of Tamar Wetlands in Launceston, one feels that Gould’s Lagoon may be only for the true birder aficionado. It boasts an impressive 103 species, but isn’t the most scenic place in the world by any stretch, and nor is it very large.
The lagoon is named after its 1938 owner Arthur Gould, not to be confused with the famous English ornithologist John Gould for whom many wildlife species are named (the Gouldian Finch is even named in honour of his wife). It lies about 20 minutes north of the Hobart CBD and is easy to find and access, with parking available via Hestercombe Rd.
The lagoon is well set up with some information panels including a map, as well as a metal walkway that leads out to an unusual round bird hide over the water.
The hide has a 360-degree view, although straight out onto the main body of water faces to the east which isn’t ideal for the morning sun.
The first few birds we saw here were Noisy Miner and Pacific Black Duck, then focus quickly shifted to the tall gums as some Musk Lorikeets had alighted there – it was the first (and was to be the only) time I’d see these birds on our Tasmania trip.
Back to the water, where Australasian Shovelers were swimming around quite close, and as these birds are reasonable uncommon in south-east Queensland, we spent a while watching and photographing them.
There was even a Shoveler duckling, which I initially had pegged as a Pacific Black before being pulled up by an eBird reviewer.
Grey and Chestnut Teals were both present as well as plenty of Pacific Black Ducks and Eurasian Coots.
Our morning had become quite overcast and even though it’s only 1km to walk around the entire lagoon, we weren’t sure if we’d do that; the back portion is a straight, narrow grassy path running close alongside busy Main Road.
We opted just for wandering to the northernmost part of the lagoon edge, where there isn’t much of a defined track. The water’s edge and the bushland here is pretty messy. We found an Eastern Rosella, Noisy Miners, a Muscovy Duck and a bevy of Spotted Doves through this section.
It was all a bit uninspiring really. Walking back towards the car park we saw a couple of Masked Lapwings splashing in the shallow water, which was at least something I hadn’t seen before.
One of the adjoining houses has a very large grassy back yard and we counted no fewer than 18 Wood Ducks ambling through it.
A final bird sighting led to a heart-in-mouth moment when some Tasmanian Nativehens rushed across the road in front of a van. Yikes!!
Gould’s Lagoon is fine for a quick stop and sports a decent range of water birds, though there are some introduced and feral species there. It’s not particularly large or scenic and the track around the outside didn’t seem enticing enough to make us want to walk it. Methinks this is a place mainly for keen birders or twitchers, rather than those who like their birding with attractive surroundings or extensive hiking options.
Pluses and minuses:
+ Attracts diverse water birds
+ Bird hide with panoramic view across the lagoon
+ Easy to reach from Hobart
– Quite a small area
– Circuit track around the outside is a bit dodgy
– Not particularly scenic