May 21, 2014

May: We're Farewelling Our Frequent Flyers And Targeting The Tailor

One of the things we love most about living and working on Fraser Island is that we never know what we’re going to spot as when go about our daily duties and, yes, we all still get excited when unexpected things pop up.  At this time of the year, we say goodbye to our Eastern Curlews (Numenius madagascariensis) and other shorebirds... and hello to the semi-nomadic and autumn/winter migrant species who, as part of their migratory pattern, use the island as a home base during the cooler months.

Australasian Fig Birds. Photo: rwsboa2011.blogspot.com
More than 354 different species of bird have been recorded on Fraser Island including the rarely seen Eastern Ground Parrot (Pezoporus wallicus) and the Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua - whose breeding season is about to start on island).

Ranger Luke was also super excited to spot an Australasian Figbird (Sphecotheres vieilloti - pictured) in the resort grounds recently.

DID YOU KNOW May 10 was World Migratory Bird Day?  Each year more than 5 million shorebirds migrate from Australia to breed in the Arctic?  That’s a 30,000km return journey! That a lot of frequent flyer miles.

In early May, we also welcomed competitors from the Australian Fishing Championships who were on island (and in Hervey Bay) to film recreational fishing segments for their show, which is expected to screen later this year to audiences of more than 330M people around the world.

Richard S gets up close and personal with SPIKE
Grey skies meant we postponed filming on the Great Sandy Strait by a day and headed to the eastern side to throw a line in.  Enroute to our secret fishing hole, Hobie Fishing World Champion, Richard Somerton, from Team Hobie, was lucky enough to spot one of the island’s resident echidnas on the eastern beach. Short-beaked Echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus - pictured right) are rarely spotted on island, but this friendly fella was happy enough to pose for pics and became a social media sensation on our Instagram and Facebook pages.

RANGER FACT: The Short-beaked Echidna has few natural enemies, but may be killed by cars, dogs, foxes and occasionally goannas may take the young.
The first Humpback of the season is spotted from Fraser!

On the western side of the island, teenage dingoes (Canis dingocheck out last month’s blog as the Aussie dingo was given its own species status) have been spotted exploring the intertidal zone.  Breeding takes place between April and June and, as we head towards winter, females will give birth – after a relatively short gestation period - and we start to see pups spring up around the island.

At the moment, resort guests landing Mackerel (a common name applied to a number of different species of pelagic fish, mostly, but not exclusively, from the family Scombridae) and Tailor (pomatomus saltatrix - winter marks the start of the tailor run on the eastern beaches) ) from Kingfisher Bay’s jetty or those that choose to head across island for a great sandy adventure are spotting our migrating Humpback Whale holidaymakers (Megaptera novaeangliae) on their annual migration north to the warmer breeding areas in the Whitsundays.

The first of the Humpbacks were spotted a week ago off Bondi at the beginning of May – which is early – but it was an absolute surprise to see them in the Great Sandy Strait as we headed out on our guided canoe paddles to Dundonga Creek earlier this week.  You can follow all the Humpback action during the season on our dedicated Facebook page or website.

Glider antics in the night sky. Photo: hoothollow.com
As dusk falls on Fraser Island, our resident Sugar Gliders (Petaurus breviceps) - the most common of all the glider species in Australia - come out to play and they've been anything but shy in the night sky.  Be sure to listen for the distinctive YIP YIP YIP cry - on our guided night walks (or, for our villa/hotel guests, from your balconies).

But not all of Fraser Island’s animals are nocturnal and a very friendly Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) has been wowing arriving and departing guests from his hangout near our boat ramp.

As you can see, it’s been a big month of wildlife spotting on island and here's another fabulous spot!  Online travel website, The Escape Lounge, has listed Kingfisher Bay and our fabulous Junior Eco Ranger program, in their Top 5 Fabulous Family getaways blog…  and we’re chuffed. Call us biased, but if you haven’t had a chance to enrol your children in the program when you’re visiting Kingfisher Bay, make sure you do – it’s the best classroom in the world!

Catch you next time, Tree Huggers.