March 16, 2015

Graffiti On Gums, Dingo Dating And A Cockatoo Or Two!

FRASER ISLAND: March... it’s that time of year again when Dingo romance fills the air and the annual mating season begins on the world’s largest sand island.  During Autumn, visitors to the island can expect to see Dingoes (Canis dingo) showing dominance, scent marking and protecting their territory on island.  And, as we head towards the Easter holiday peak, we advise would-be visitors to take the time to familiarise themselves with Queensland Parks’ Dingo Safety Tips ahead of their visit to the Great Sandy National Park.

Fraser Dingo  Photo: Paul Forrester
DID YOU KNOW Fraser Island’s Dingo population have significant conservation value because they have rarely bred with domestic or feral dogs?  

Our beautiful Fraser Island Dingoes are very different to domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) in that they only come into season once a year (during Autumn) compared to the domestic dogs ability to come into season at least twice a year.  

Consequently, the population fluctuates throughout the year and numbers peak with dingo pup births from June to August.  The latest Dingo census data suggests the island is home to 25-30 packs – each containing between 3 and 12 animals… although we have to stress that it is possible to visit Fraser and not catch a glimpse of these elusive animals.

OUR TOP TIPS: Both Kingfisher Bay Resort (to the west) and Eurong Beach Resort (on the surf side) are surrounded by Dingo fences.  Please remember to keep gates shut if you’re exiting out onto the beach or into the National Park.  And remember, feeding dingoes disturbs their natural ecological balance - there are hefty fines for those that ignore the rules.

Dingoes on 75-Mile Beach  Photo: Troy Geltch
RANGER FACT: Dingoes have an interesting dominance hierarchy where an alpha male and female take their place at the top of an established pack. This dominant pair is generally the only successful breeders, leaving the subordinate members to assist in rearing the young.  Following mating, a relatively short gestation period of around nine weeks (similar to domestic cats and dogs) takes place, eventuating in the birth of around 4-6 pups.

From one Australian icon to another… a glorious flock of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos (Cacatua galerita - see left) has been enjoying (maybe a little too much) the many species of Eucalypts on island. 

A Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo At Kingfisher Bay 
Close to the resort, you can expect to see the Scribbly Gum (Eucalyptus racemosa - see below), which is easily identifiable by the graffiti-like scribbles from the Scribbly Gum moth larvae tunnelling their way through the bark to feed on the gum underneath; our distinctive Paperbarks (Melalucia alternifolia), which contains the magical anti-bacterial properties of Tea-tree oil found within its leaves; and the simply beautiful Smooth-barked Apple (Angophora costata), which lights up the Eucalpyt forest with its rusty-stained bark and iridescent green leaves.
Scribbly Gum  Pic: GoingFeralOneDayAtATime.Com

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos have been messily feasting on the seeds from our Eucalypt species above as well as berries and nuts from other trees around our front yard  Cockatoos are an Aussie icon, grow to around 48-55 centimetres and can weigh up to a kilo. 

You’ll easily identify these ones by their bright yellow crest and a raucous squawk (follow this link to Birds in Backyards and scroll down to the right hand side) as they fly around the grounds - they are very hard to miss.  Due to their size and rambunctious nature they often make quite the mess whilst they bite off branches and leaves - not because they’re hungry, but to keep their bills from growing too large.

All in all it’s been a great few weeks on island and we’ve had fantastic weather to boot. The team here are looking forward to seeing what April brings and, if you’re headed our way, here’s a sneak preview of what to expect on Anzac Day.

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