Fraser Shines In The Summer Time


November and December are always fabulous and fun on Fraser Island.  The sub-tropical climate, blue skies, perched lakes rimmed with golden sand, diversity of wildlife and summer wildflowers combine to showcase our island home to best advantage.

Now that's what we call a water tight seal!
And what an interesting few weeks we’ve had.  Regular readers may recall our lost international visitor, Fred the New Zealand Fur Seal, who made a temporary home for himself at the end of our jetty for a couple of weeks before disappearing.  We’re happy to report that Fred was recently spotted living on a houseboat at Rainbow Beach as our friends at the Fraser Coast Chronicle report.

Whilst seals are almost unheard of on Fraser, dingoes are probably our most famous residents and certainly have the ability to polarise people’s opinions.  Not everyone is lucky enough to spot one when they visit Fraser Island, but as we head into summer, the young dingoes are more independent and boisterous and the teenagers practice their hunting skills.

Recently, a bus load of guests who were out with Ranger Hayden on one of our eco-accredited tours of the island, were lucky enough to spot an old male dingo hunting a swamp wallaby on the island’s western beach.  Hayden captured the footage, which we’d love to share with you here (though some readers may find content distressing).



Hayden and his bus load of 33 international passengers from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Korea, Taiwan and the United Kingdom were on the second day of their island tour and were driving just north of The Pinnacles Coloured Sands when Hayden noticed a swamp wallaby in the water.

Ranger Hayden and his new catch phrase
"I said to my passengers: ‘Hey there's a wallaby in the water’... and they all grabbed their cameras and, as you can imagine, there was lots of excited chatter in the bus."

"I knew when we stopped, that it was unusual to see the swamp wallaby on the eastern beach (they're normally found in the swamps on the western side of the island), let alone in the water, so I immediately started scanning the dunes for dingoes and sure enough an old experienced male came bounding out of the dunes... so I leapt for my camera and let it roll."

"Whilst initially there were gasps from some of the girls in the group about watching this scene unfold, I explained that it may not be all that nice to watch, but that it was just nature in action. When we talked about it later that day, everyone said they were glad they had seen the dingo doing what nature intended."

"It's actually not unheard of to hear about this sort of hunting behaviour - where dingoes shepherd their prey to the water's edge to make it easier to catch," Hayden said. "Our fraternity of Fraser Island Tour guides can recall one instance from a long time ago where a similar thing happened - but it is certainly unusual to occur in front of a bus load of passengers."

Dingo and son spotted on tour on Fraser Island
"Add to this the fact that I've been guiding on Fraser Island for a little over six years and have only seen four wallabies in that time - and you'll start to appreciate how rare and exciting this was for me. I have never seen this before and I never expect to see it again," he said.

There’s been a little more animal action closer to the resort, but of the romantic kind!  Romance is literally in the air on Fraser Island during the summer months as our resident male frog population compete with each other to attract a mate for the season.  The bigger the male frog’s throat sac, the louder the frog song and the more attractive the male appears as a would-be suitor.

Summer is also a fantastic time for guests to visit, explore, enjoy the company of friends, fall asleep to frog song and wake to an orchestra of birds.  As we’ve headed out on our guided night walks, the early December skies have been just beautiful to look at and the northern sky has been lit up with both Sirius and Orion’s Belt. Sirius is very prominent as it is the brightest star in the night sky and only 8.6 light years away at that!

We think it’s fair to say we’ve had a cracking start to summer and look forward to sharing more eco adventures next month.  From our family to yours, have a fabulous and safe festive season.

We’re On Track For Some 'Wild' Times This November!


With no significant rainfall since July, the tracks on Fraser Island are fairly dry and challenging for our four-wheel-driving friends… but our animals friends are flourishing in and around the resort on Fraser’s gorgeous western side.  October arrived with a bang, not a whimper in the wildlife stakes -with sightings of Buff-Banded Rails, Turtles, New Zealand Fur Seals, Echidnas and Gliders – in fact it’s fair to say, there have been plenty of wild times in our neck of the woods.

A Buff-Banded Rail put on quite a show for our twitchers
As spring warms up, there is much more light on our Ranger-guided Early Morning Bird Walks and much more bird activity. The pool area has been brimming with bird life, with Blue-faced Honeyeaters, Red-Backed Fairy Wrens and a beautiful bright red male Mistletoe Bird impressing our twitchers.

The Wallum Heath has had its fair share of surprises too – one morning we encountered a rather friendly Buff-Banded Rail (pictured) – who had no qualms going about his daily business in front of us.  It was amazing to be close to a species that is normally timid around people.

We also saw some unusual behaviour in that a Rainbow Bee-Eater had nested in a small tea tree near our purpose-built fire pits in the Wallum.  This particular species normally builds burrows in the sand dunes for its family – so it was quite a surprise to see it so territorial near its new high-rise apartment.

And just when we thought that all of our Sugar Glider mates had gone (we often gliders in autumn and winter, but not so many in spring), we discovered a family in a Eucalyptus tree opposite the Jetty Hut on one of our nightly guided walks.  It’s likely the Gliders are hanging around (not literally) because the trees are blooming later than usual.  Needless to say, they were added to the nightly itinerary - sometimes we could hear them growling at each other; and on nights with clear moons and natural light, guests were blown away by the little cute Glider faces peering down at us from their precarious perches.

During our Junior Eco Ranger walks along Fraser's western beach and Kingfisher Bay's Jetty, we’ve often seen entire schools of fish jumping out of the water – which our Eco Rangers absolutely love.  This behaviour allows the smaller fish to break the signal or electrical impulse that allows predators to track them – and generally happens when there’s a chase going on for life under the waves.

Kiwi visitor, Fred, enjoys some 'time out' on Fraser Island
We have also enjoyed several Echidna sightings, plus, a New Zealand Fur Seal – which Ranger Kirstey has named Fred - has made a resting place for itself at Kingfisher Bay’s barge ramp – and continues to delight departing guests and arrivals from nearby Hervey Bay.

Fraser Island is the northern most limit for these animals and sightings like this one are pretty rare… though its human kiwi counterparts are starting to discover Fraser and all its delights.

To the skies, the Southern Cross has now dipped out of sight and the Scorpion Constellation - after some fantastic viewing - is now on its way down.

What’s around the corner for summer in paradise?  Stay tuned for next month’s Ranger update.

The Ultimate Fraser Island Frog Blog


Ranger Nick reporting here.  Recently the resort team were lucky enough to host Dr Jean-Marc Hero  on Fraser island.  Dr Hero is an ecologist and associate professor from the Environmental Futures Centre (Gold Coast campus of Griffith University) and visited the world’s largest sand island in October to share his considerable expertise in amphibian ecology.

Dr Jean Marc Hero in action in the wallum
Dr Hero joined myself and the Ranger team at Kingfisher Bay (as part of our Special Guest line up) to share his experiences with frogs of eastern Australia and his knowledge on global amphibian declines. Having conducted fieldwork in Australia, Brazil, Fiji and Nepal, Dr Hero has been on the forefront of research into amphibian declines – including the decline of stream-dwelling frogs in relatively undisturbed habitats (due to disease and climate change) that have been observed around the world - and presented a fascinating talk aptly named ‘Global Amphibian Declines.’

It’s no secret that over the past 30 years frogs have suffered massive declines and extinctions worldwide and that these declines are linked mainly to habitat loss, fungal disease and climate change.

As soon as the Saturday night formalities were over, it was off in to the wallum at the front of the resort, with several guests and rangers in tow for a night nature walk and to see some of our amphibian friends in action.
 Dr Hero had mentioned during his presentation, that frogs have been identified as the vertebrate group at the most risk of extinction - proportionally they have more threatened species than birds, mammals or reptiles.

As we walked through the scrub – with the sound of frog-song in our ears – we reflected on the fact that more than 200 species have been reported extinct (six of these species from Australia alone) since 1979, and a further 2,000+ species have been reported as ‘in decline’… it’s pretty staggering stuff to digest!

Did you know that the way to tell the difference between male and female frogs is to look at their throats? 

A Wallum Rocket Frog on Fraser Island
Males have a dark patch and females are paler in colour. This identification technique also worked a treat on a Cane Toad that Dr Hero found down near our resort helipad. The Cane Toad (Bufo Marinus) – also known as a Marine Toad – is an introduced species that is native to Central and South America and, because of its voracious appetite, was introduced into Australia as a method of agricultural pest control.

Ironically, the Cane Toad is now considered a pest and an invasive species in many of the introduced regions in part because the Cane Toad has poison glands and the tadpoles are highly toxic to most animals – including native predators – when ingested.

Back on the frog trail, Dr Hero told us how frogs share ecosystems by utilising a range of breeding sites ranging from stream to ponds.  Some species actually avoid water altogether and lay their eggs in totally terrestrial environments.

In the coastal wallum habitats of mid-eastern Australia (and on large sandy islands like our own Fraser Island) there are a unique group of ‘acid frogs’ which only breed in the highly acidic waters of these habitats. Despite the cooler spring weather, we were lucky enough to see and / or hear three of Fraser Island’s four Acid frog species - the Cooloola Sedge Frog (Litoria cooloolensis - see below), the Wallum Sedge Frog (Litoria olongburensis) and the Wallum Rocketfrog (Litoria freycineti - pictured above).

The tiny - but loud - Cooloola Sedge Frog on Fraser
I have to say Mother Nature has a sense of humour and our visitors were amazed that such a BIG noise could come from such a tiny throat.

During Jean Marc’s Sunday night presentation, he discussed the amazing biology of amphibians and how so many species co-exist on Fraser Island. Due to a technical glitch, Dr Hero was unable to use all of his sound recordings to show the ways frogs sharing acoustic space - only male frogs call to attract female - by using different frequencies; female frogs have hearing that is finely tuned into the specific frequency of male for the same species… but with so many amphibian friends in and around the resort grounds, we were able to see them in action for ourselves.

We hope you tune in next month to find out what our feathered, furred and frog friends have been up to on Fraser Island. This is Ranger Nick signing off.

Spring Has Sprung On Gorgeous Fraser Island

Ranger Amelia here – back and refreshed from holidays – and with a month’s worth of birdie happenings for you.  Spring is certainly here and Fraser Island’s Weeping Bottle Brush is in full bloom – adding red, yellow and pale greenie-gold splashes of colour into the Wallum heath at the front of Kingfisher Bay Resort.  The Rough-barked Tea Tree and white-flowering Wedding Bush (it’s perfect for spring brides) also add to the kaleidoscope of colours.

Spring has sprung in the wallum at the front of the resort
This month as we've headed out on our early morning bird walks, we’ve welcomed its first new spring arrivals into the Kingfisher Bay fold. Sightings of nestlings are abundant and both the mum and dad birds have been working overtime keeping the kids happy and fed.

When it comes to nesting season, resort real estate – with optional bay views - is super important.

Our Welcome Swallows (easily identified by their metallic blue-black feathers on their breast and belly, with a touch of rust on the forehead, throat and upper breast) have several ‘choice’ locations along B-wing (in the hotel wing) and underneath the Kingfisher Bay Jetty already picked out; some have up to five nestlings in residence.

Our local Grey Shrike Thrush alpha male has been busy serenading his new lady and is about to welcome triplets any day now (We’re pleased to report that mum is doing very well).   These drab coloured birds generally mate and remain together for life and generally inhabit the same areas throughout this time – so they’re a common sight at the resort – we even had one usurp the angel at the top of our Christmas tree in the resort’s foyer last year. Both birds share the nest-building and incubation duties and both care for the young birds.

Have you spotted a bird back home that you’re finding it hard to identify?  Check out Birds in Backyards' online bird finder – it’s a great resource tool.

A Red-backed Ferry Wren is spotted
If chilling out was on the agenda this month, then guests relaxing by the pool would’ve encountered our ‘fire-birds’ or Red-backed Fairy Wrens (pictured right) frolicking in amongst the foliage. Our little male has blushed up; with his back patch and upper tail patch animated red. Shoulders up and tail feathers wagging, he is as vibrant as any disco dancer - bobbing in and out of the bushes and generally showing off to the ladies.

And for all those bird nerds out there – we’re pleased to announce we’ve spotted a Spotless Crake (Portzana tabuensis) in the resort Wallum. With only the one sighted at time of writing, he (or she) now joins our other freshwater denizens, such as our Lewins Rail and Dusky Moorhen, on our ever growing twitcher list.

On the water, eagle-eyed guests have been treated to some amazing displays from our Humpback Whale visitors.  Guests on a recent 2pm ferry from Kingfisher Bay to River Heads were lucky enough to see a mother and calf showing off in the calm waters of the Great Sandy Strait. Check out the pic on our Facebook page.

And some FINtastic news since last month’s blog-  Hervey Bay’s very own patron Humpback Whale,  Nala, was sighted last week with a new calf in tow.  Mum and bub are doing well with amazing daily interaction with guests aboard Quick Cat II - the action takes place a short cruise from Kingfisher Bay.

Having a WHALE of a time in Hervey Bay
Nala is famous for her friendly nature and tail extensions, so she is a researcher’s dream. As of yet, her bub has not been named and suggestions are coming in thick.  If you wish to join in the fun please send in the suggestions to the Fraser Coast Chronicle, who are running a naming competition.  Names have to be good for either boy or girl as we don’t know what we have yet.

As you can probably tell, we absolutely love Spring on Fraser Island… and look forward to bringing you more from our resident furry, feathered and finned friends in next month’s blog.  This is Ranger Amelia signing off for now.

A bundle of joy for our resident blogger...
The Kingfisher Bay Resort team would like to wish Ranger Amelia, and her partner Chris, the very best of luck as their gear up to welcome their own new arrival into the world.  Congratulations guys!

We're Jam-packed On The Hervey Bay Humpback Highway


There is nothing more awe inspiring than watching a 40-tonne creature cavort and play like a puppy out in the calm waters on the lee side of Fraser Island… except when several others decide to join in the game.

Blistering Barnacles... now that's up close and personal!
Each year thousands of Southern Humpbacks leave the rich feeding grounds of Antarctica in May and make the annual 5,000 kilometre journey to the breeding grounds in the warm waters of The Whitsundays.  They spend a short time here where some of the females give birth and others mate.  The lifecycle of these whales then brings them into the Fraser Coast - on their southern migration - which has helped the region become Australia’s top whale watching destination.

Between August and October, the protected waters between Fraser Island and Hervey Bay offer safe sanctuary for mothers with calves; adolescent whales gaining strength for the long swim south and for adults wanting a bit of wallowing mid migration.   The whales are revered in this region as tourists flock in droves to admire these giants of the deep.  The whales are naturally curious and show little wariness of humans while they rest and play in Great Sandy Strait – which is a far cry from their early history of European exploitation.

Did you know? Whale Watching cruises leave daily from Kingfisher Bay Resort with our partners Jill and Skipper Brian Perry – who pioneered whale watching in the region using a spotter plane and toilet rolls to show where the  whales were!

While you won’t see Melville’s legendary Moby Dick in the calm waters off Hervey Bay, you may come across Nala, Roxanne, Cupid, Caesar, Merlin, Phantom, Venus and Raoul – who are just some of the whales who’ve frequented the Fraser Coast in recent years and may make a cameo appearance again this season.

Their natural curiosity makes them a hit with the crowds
Humpback Whales are naturally curious about objects in their environment and many are easily identifiable as individuals because of the markings on their fins and bodies – and none is more famous than ‘Migaloo the White Whale’, who was spotted in Queensland waters earlier this year.

This inquisitiveness and their socialising behaviour has helped them become the mainstay of whale watching tourism in many locations around the world since the 1980s.  And Hervey Bay is no exception, offering some of the best viewing this side of the east coast from August through till the end of October.

According to the Oceania Institute, Humpback Whales often show their tails before diving under the water and each has markings that make it unique. By taking photographs researchers can monitor the movements of individuals - with more than 1000 whales have been identified this way.

Hervey Bay’s patron whale, Nala – who bucks the naming convention and was named after a character in the Lion King - was first seen in the Bay in 1992, has visited on and off since 1997 with a succession of calves.  She hasn’t been spotted this season, but Skipper Brian Perry says it’s still early days.  

Who is watching whom? Who cares!
At the moment when you head out on Quick Cat ll (pictured left) it’s the Humpback babies that are stealing the show. Weighting well over a tonne at birth, they are as excited to see the world as any toddler – and a boatload of funny-looking happy-waving tourists is almost irresistible.

Quick Cat ll’s custom designed platform of large upper and lower decks give uncrowded viewing; that coupled with special features such as the hydrophone and underwater viewing allows you to really get up close and personal with all the ‘behave-because-mums-getting-grey-hair’ action.

As well as trying the patience of Mum, these big babies are also learning the lessons of life. After all school is in - and every young Humpback Whale needs to learn the full repertoire of behaviour from breaching to lunging, spy-hopping, pectoral and tail slapping . And the only way the Humpback bubs learn is by watching the adults at play or cavorting with Hervey Bay locals including Dugongs, Turtles and our lovable Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins, who have also been making an appearance on the morning tours.

Dive into the your Humpback adventures before the season ends on Oct 31 and if you book a Fraser + Whales package at Kingfisher Bay Resort you'll receive a THIRD NIGHT FREE OR follow us on Facebook from the comfort of your lounge chair!   This is Ranger Amelia signing off and heading out for a spot of whale watching myself.

Fraser’s Flockstars Put On A Spectacular August Concert!


No matter where you are in the world, we think it’s marvellous to wake up to the magic of birdsong – and with 354 different species of birds recorded on Fraser Island, you never know quite what warbling awaits of a morning.
These guys command a lot of attention
Kingfisher Bay Resort’s hotel wings, villas and houses were built to integrate with the natural environment.  During construction, plants were taken from the build site; were propagated in our onsite nurseries; and replanted back in and around the property – to attract natural birdlife.

So, if you are not a morning person and don’t wish to give up the comfort of your cosy room and join us on our early morning bird walks, you can still indulge in a spot bird watching from the comfort of your balcony (coffee in hand of course).

Birdsong starts in stages. The first layer is the territory song. A good example of this is in our Laughing Kookaburras – the world’s largest Kingfishers (see left).  Renowned as ‘Laughing Jacks’ in cultural folklore, the laugh is actually a verbal territory display, warning foolish rivals out of the family territory.

Ranger Fact: According to an Aboriginal legend, the Kookaburra’s laugh is actually a signal for the sky people to light the great fire in the sky that illuminate and warms the earth.

Kookaburras are family-oriented birds.  A group usually consist of one dominant breeding couple, other adult non-breeding birds, and immature birds from previous broods and juveniles .The adult non-breeding birds can be male or female, but not necessarily related to the dominant pair. They co-exist in a strict hierarchy and all pitch in to help with incubation, babysitting, feeding, teaching the chicks and defending territory.

If you’re in and around Kingfisher Bay - either as a resort or tour guest or on a day trip from Hervey Bay - the best place to spot our Kookaburra family is down at The Sand Bar – just a short stroll from the resort main Centre Complex or Jetty Hut - where they command plenty of attention from our guests and provide great photo opportunities.  They’re part of the Kingfisher family, and you may also spot their feathered relatives - the Azure and Forest Kingfishers flitting in and around the Wallum Heath at the front of the resort.

The next to rise in the mornings are the nectar feeders. As the saying goes the early bird will get the worm – but in this case it’s the honey. Honeyeaters are prolific around Kingfisher Bay Resort and on Fraser Island.  Already this month, we’ve spotted White-eared Honeyeaters, Noisy Friarbirds, White Throated Honeyeaters and Blue-faced Honeyeaters. 

One of the more rare sightings – for the twitchers amongst us - has been a pair of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos sighted along the Northern Lookout track.  Although not strictly nectar feeders, Cockatoos and Parrots are always up early to stake out the best feeding spots.

As the sun rises, our insect residents are the next to rise and add their song to the morning chorus.  Rufous Whistlers, Varied Trillers and Eastern Yellow Robins are frequent guests in and around the resort. And considering your food needs to warm up to be caught, it is logical for these feathered hunters to indulge in a sleep-in.

Morning are fabulous for bird watching on beautiful Fraser Island, so please stay tuned for more of our adventures or, better yet, come and join us on one of our Ranger-guided walks or talks on Fraser.  This is Ranger Amelia heading off to go and sing with the birds.

July: Winter Nights On Fraser Are Star-Studded Events


On winter, our days on Fraser Island are long, sunny and we’ve been enjoying temperatures up to 21 degrees.  Our evenings are slightly cooler (as the sand doesn’t tend to hold the sun’s heat for long after sunset), so we’ve been bringing out our beanies for our Ranger-guided night walks, where conditions have been perfect for a spot of stargazing.  

The island’s indigenous Butchulla Tribe have a vibrant cultural history with the stars, and since Australian Aboriginal culture is the oldest continuous culture in the world; it is possible that the Australian Aboriginal people were amongst of the world's oldest astronomers.

Many of our resort guests are used to the city lights and big smoke where only the biggest and brightest stars can be seen, so Kingfisher Bay’s clear skies - peppered with stars - are somewhat of a novelty.  We love the surprise on people’s faces when they find out just how many constellations are out there and learn of the rich culture that surrounds them.  
  
One of the most iconic and recognised Australian constellations is, of course, our Southern Cross or ‘The Crux’ as it is also known. Its name is symbolic with the Eureka Stockade; it has been written into the lyrics of ‘Advance Australia Fair’ (this song, by Scottish-born composer Peter Dodds McCormick, was first performed in 1878, but not officially adopted as the Australian National Anthem until 1984); and it is also the name of the victory song for the Australian National Cricket – ‘Under the Southern Cross I Stand’.

Traditionally, Aboriginal culture marks 'The Crux' and the Coalsack Nebula as the head of an Emu in the Sky (see right). Tribes would use the rise and fall of The Crux to mark the start of hunting seasons and gathering. One southern tribe also used The Crux to indicate the harvesting season for Emu eggs!

 Unlike our Northern Hemisphere counterparts, The Crux is visible year round in our night sky so it has been adopted in the colonial age as a national symbol by several southern nations. The brightest stars of The Crux appear on the flags of Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Samoa.

Just near The Crux is another well-known bright constellation ‘Centaurus’ containing Alpha and Beta Centauri – it’s one of the largest constellations; it was among the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century astronomer, Ptolemy; and remains one of the 88 modern constellations.

 As the name suggests, it is named after the centaur - Centaurus - whom legend says was the first person to group stars into constellations and teach others to read them.  Another explanation of the constellation is that Centaurus put a picture of himself in the sky to guide his sailor friends, the Argonauts.

A little closer to home, Aboriginal tribal legends from the south east coast see the Southern Cross as a stingray swimming across the sky with two sharks – the pointer stars Alpha and Beta Centauri – in hot pursuit.

Contemporary astronomers now know that Alpha Centauri is our closest neighbouring star system and is the nearest star to the Sun. Because of this, we can see Alpha Centauri during the brightest full moon!   Here’s a Ranger tip for you: We think the best place to observe this constellation is sitting on Fraser Island’s gorgeous western beach (directly in front of Kingfisher Bay Resort) with white sand and water tickling your toes.

Stay tuned for more Ranger Adventures next month as we see what our feathered friends have been up too.  And, if like me, you’re a mad keen astronomer, join astronomer, Noeleen Lowndes for 'International Observe The Moon Night' with us on September 22.  Until next month – happy star gazing – from Amelia and the Ranger Team.

July: Welcome to Fraser Island 'International' Airport

Fraser Island is the place to be in June and July for guests of the human and humpback variety, but it's also the place of choice for avian travellers looking to escape the winter cold down south.


Home to roost!  Ranger Nick lends a shoulder!
Amongst the first arrivals at Kingfisher Bay Resort, we’ve seen have been the Southern Welcome Swallows with their metallic blue-black outer feathers and light grey breast.  Although we have these aerial acrobats all year round, our regular flock migrates further north during winter, leaving space for the southern flocks to come and enjoy some of our famous Fraser Island winter sunshine.

These feathered jet-setters weigh less than a mouse and have travelled from as far away as Victoria and some, like this little guy roosting on Ranger Nick (pictured), need a little TLC before they can head out and explore the island.

Barn Swallows are also intermingled within the flock and are similar in size and appearance to the Welcome Swallows - eagled eyed birders will know to look for the black breast band and white underparts.  These little fellows are our international travellers, flying as many as 600 miles a day from southern China and Europe to come and enjoy the sand, sea and sub-tropics in the winter time.

That’s no mean feat for such a petite bird and it’s why sailors held these small birds in such high regard. In fact, sailors would traditionally have a swallow tattooed on their chest after completing 5,000 sea miles; and a second one on the other side after completing 10,000 sea miles.  This tradition was not only a sign of luck, but also meant that they would always be able to find their way home.

One of our most elusive interstate travellers is our Grey-backed Silvereye. As the name suggests, these birds have a conspicuous ring of white feathers circling around their eyes. At the moment they have been spotted flocking with our Red-backed Fairy Wrens in the Wallum just in front of the resort. Traveling at mostly at night and feeding during the day they have come up from as far away as Tasmania for a winter break.

With more international and interstate visitors appearing every day, we’re sure to have some cracking mornings on our ranger-guided bird walks… and who knows we may just spot the 355th species of bird on Fraser Island.

Happy Twitchin’ from Ranger Amelia and the Kingfisher Bay team.

June: Leopards And Tigers Have Been Spotted On Fraser!


Note the distinctive rippling of the aptly named Tiger Squid
Marine life by night can be an amazing and with the waters of the Great Sandy Strait lapping at the Kingfisher Bay’s western beach (on the lee side of Fraser Island), we’ve got ourselves some prime real estate for spotting passing wildlife.

As night falls on Fraser Island, some of our more reclusive marine locals, like the Pencil and Tiger Squid, (pictured right - pic courtesy of flickriver.com) swim into the limelight.  As their names suggest,  Pencil Squid are long and thin; whilst the ‘Tigers’ are fatter and display a striking striped pattern across their backs.

Technically Squids are Molluscs but, unlike other Molluscs, they belong to a subgroup of Cephalopods that also includes Octopus and Cuttlefish.  Basically it means they’ve got an ink sac and they don’t have external shells.  What we find fascinating about these little creatures is the way they communicate.  They have the ability to rapidly change their colour from hunting mode (that’s one where they completely blend into the surrounding environment) to brilliant red (which signals alarm) – this inadvertently happens when our Resort Ranger’s spotlight surprises them on our guided night walks. 

Interestingly, some species of squid can also change their texture to blend in with the surrounding environment!

Closer to the shoreline, graceful Rays are often seen gliding in amongst the shallows. We’ve spotted several species over the past month, including the Leopard Ray.  These Rays differ from the regular estuary species as they have a pattern of white rosettes spread over a brown or black background.  Their dapples mimic the camouflage of their namesake – Leopards - as they glide majestically over the white sands of the bay.

The end of the Mullet run on Fraser Island has also heralded the appearance of our local pod of Indo-Pacific Humpbacks Dolphins – just around the time guests head to Kingfisher’s famous Jetty Hut for sunset drinks and a platter (FYI sunset is around 1705 at the moment). 

Two dolphin calves have been born this season to our regular pod. We’ve also spotted three to four adults of mixed ages entrenched in the group alongside old ‘Whitey’ - a large adult that displays the unique bleaching that comes with old age in dolphins. Usually shy and reclusive - unlike their Indo-Pacific Bottlenose counterparts - we have found our Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin mates are more than happy to add their own unique magic to the Fraser Island sunset experience.

Until later this month, this is Ranger Amelia signing off (and heading out for a guided canoe paddle to Dundonga Creek mangrove colony).

Spangled Drongos, Willie Wagtails And Much More This May

What a great month for birders on Fraser.  In addition to our resort guests, the Kingfisher Bay team were chuffed to welcome members of the Hervey Bay Bird Watching Club back to gorgeous Fraser Island.

During May, the flush of new plant growth in the Wallum set the stage for some of our most colourful and quirky feathered friends to perform.  Leading our May flock star line-up, was the treetop aerobatics of the elegant Spangled Drongos – they put on quite a show as they feasted amongst our Swamp Mahogany trees.

Sam the Eagle? No, it's a Noisy Friar Bird.  Pic by A Leishman
These sleek, noisy birds are easily identified by their blood red eyes, glossy black plumage, with iridescent blue-green spots (or spangles) and long forked, fish-like tail.

Our male Scarlet Honeyeaters (they’re a vivid scarlet red and black bird with whitish underparts) didn’t disappoint – amusing us with their clown-like antics in the scrub.

Did you know that both male and female Scarlet Honeyeaters make a ‘chiew chiew’ sounding contact call?

Scarlet Honeyeaters feed mainly on nectar and sometimes on fruit and insects and tend to feed in the upper levels of the canopy and forage in flowers and foliage.  Unfortunately, they’re normally evicted from feeding grounds by other more aggressive honeyeasters - like our resident Noisy Friarbirds (see photo above) – who also added their deep, honking call to Fraser Island’s morning May chorus.

Visibility around the lakes has been brilliant and our Azure Kingfishers have been regulars, alongside our resident Dusky Moorhen, which we saw gliding in the more reclusive wetland pockets. One of our winter tourists, the Grey Fantail, has also been keeping watch on resort happenings, seen often in the company of the more domestic Willie Wagtail in and around the resort’s Sand Bar bistro.

Beach side, we’ve seen some impressive aerial action with the reappearance of paired behaviour from our Brahminy Kites. These medium-sized raptors usually search for prey from around 20 to 50 metres above the water, before executing steep dives to catch their meal. Talk about extreme fishing!

The colourful cameos are set to continue into June, so stay tuned for more from Kingfisher Bay Resort’s avian family. Until then, this is Ranger Amelia signing off.

May: Of Monotremes, Marine Reptiles, Mammals and Mars!

Hi there Tree Huggers and friends of Fraser.  This month has been a sad one for me as my time on Fraser Island has drawn to a close and I’ve been getting ready to move on to colder climes and the lure of a season in the snow.  But I leave you in good hands with Rangers Nick, Jermaine and Amelia, together with snap-happy Lachie in the Jetty Hut, looking after all things ‘eco’ on Fraser till our new Head Ranger comes on board.
That's me with our Short-beaked Echidna, Rex

Over the past month we’ve been lucky enough to see one of Fraser Island’s most elusive mammals going about its business in and around Kingfisher Bay.  This creature we speak of is mostly nocturnal, or crepuscular, (meaning active at dusk); has an average body temperature of 31-32 degrees Celsius; likes to feed on termites and ants; and has spines.

If you haven’t already guessed, it’s an Echidna or the Short-beaked Echidna to be precise! Actually known as Monotremes, these spiny, slow-moving cuties are egg laying mammals and are rarely seen within the resort grounds or on Fraser. 

You may recall the baby Squirrel Glider we blogged about last month (http://kingfisherbayresort.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/our-nectar-loving-nocturnal-animals.html), well, we were also lucky enough to care for an Echidna earlier this year (that’s me and our friend, Rex, pictured above).  The young echidna was found in the middle of one of Fraser Island’s 4WD tracks and was brought in to us by some conscientious drivers. There were no visible signs of injury, so we took some time to assess his condition.

We’re pleased to report that after some rest, water and a good dose of love from the team, he was fighting fit and ready to be released back into the bush.  But this month’s rare sighting begs the question - could the Echidna we spotted be our spiny friend all grown up? We can only hope!

And in stark contrast from continually spotting our ground dwellers, guests on our guided night walks also lifted their eyes to the skies to take in the beautifully clear May nights.

The stars look simply stunning at this time of year on World Heritage-listed Fraser and, as our guests will testify, the resort’s famous jetty provided a perfect viewing platform. During May, the Southern Cross - which disappears below the horizon in summer -  was high in the sky and visible for all to see and point us south. Jupiter has now dipped below the horizon, and Orion’s Belt is doing the same. And as the month progresses, more new beautiful stars and planets will appear. As I write this in early June, Saturn is now coming up through the sky, as are the red-orange hues of Mars.

Below us, the stars were beautifully reflected in the calm waters of the Great Sandy Strait during May... until schools of skittish baitfish broke the surface as they swam and leapt in pursuit of food. Our Green Sea Turtle regular made regular appearances during May and again into June – in fact several nights this month, this gorgeous marine reptile popped its head above the surface to take a deep breath, before nestling in under its favourite rock for good night’s sleep.

It’s been a fab month on May and as I hooroo you for the last time, tree huggers, I wish you all the best, Ranger Kat.  And from all your friends on Fraser, Ranger Kat - we hope you have a fab time following your dream.  You will be missed :(

The Flockstars Of Fraser Return In April...


April saw our Melaleuca blossom in and around Kingfisher Bay Resort and bought with it a change in the birdlife we spotted on Fraser.

With such a bounty of food available in and around the Wallum – an area that’s just a stone’s throw from the resort’s centre complex that is characterised by floristically-rich shrubland and heathland on deep, nutrient-poor acidic sandy soils - there was certainly no shortage of nectar feeders in our midst.

As the month progressed, flocks of Rainbow Lorikeets started arriving  from the mainland and congregating on the western side of Fraser Island.  This literal ‘tide’ of colour peppered the greenery surrounding the resort.

The more elusive upper canopy nectar feeders such as Dusky Honeyeaters and Scarlet Honeyeaters were also easily spotted feeding in the Wallum.  And in other Honeyeater news, our resident White-cheeked Honeyeaters started their second nesting cycle. With the freshly fledged ‘teenagers’ adding their boisterous behaviour to the mix, taking a wander through the Wallum has certainly been filled with excitement and colour.

A rare up close cameo of one of our Buff-banded Rails provided an early morning treat for our eagle-eyed bird watchers. Whilst sharp-eyed beach walkers have been fortunate to catch the splash of aquamarine as our resplendent Sacred Kingfishers surveyed the dunes.

Closer to home, our resident Kookaburra family (see above - pic by the very talented Lachie in the Jetty Hut) kept our guests amused down at the Sand Bar bistro and The Jetty Hut.  These cheeky, and very social, Kookaburras are best known for their unmistakable call, which sounds uncannily like loud, echoing human laughter – good-natured, but rather hysterical, cackling.  

Kookaburras are carnivorous and eat lizards, snakes, insects, mice, other small birds – they’ll also try to snatch tidbits from the plates of unwary diners – though we definitely try to discourage that.

For the fisherfolk amongst us, the past month saw an astounding start to the annual Mullet run. Locals will always know best and our resident Whistling Kites have been up early to beat the fisherman.  Closer to shore another regular, our White-faced Heron, was spotted busy patrolling the shallows; standing near motionless for extended periods before deploying a swift and effective strike.    

With the blossoming bounty expected to continue, we’re expecting plenty more avian antics to amuse over the coming weeks and into May, so stay tuned. 

Our Nectar Loving Nightlife…


Hi there welcome to our April wrap up from gorgeous Fraser Island.  With the weather cooling in the sub-tropics (but most definitely not on the same scale as our friends in the southern states), many of the Eucalyptus and Paperbark trees in and around Kingfisher Bay Resort’s grounds have started flowering.

The nectar from these flowers fills the night air with a deliciously sweet aroma - attracting an array of nocturnal feeders to a flowery feast. One such species is the Grey-headed Flying Fox, which has been known to travel up to 70 kilometres of an evening in search of food plants.

As well as feeding on nectar, this species also eats fruit and pollen - making them an important means of seed dispersal and pollination for many indigenous tree species.  It's fair to say that guests on our night walks have been enthralled by their antics.

Another nectar loving nocturnal is the Sugar Glider. These cute and furry marsupials are particularly active during the autumn months, again due to the abundance of flowers on which they feed. They are also actively seeking out as much food as possible as they need to increase their body mass before winter. Due to their dainty size it can be quite difficult keeping warm in cooler weather but gliders combat this by living in colonies with up to 15 individuals living together in one tree hollow!

Recently, the Ranger team at Kingfisher Bay came across a baby Sugar Glider, which was found lying under a tree on Fraser after a stormy night (see above pic of Ranger Kelly and our little mate taken by our very own canoe-guide guru, Lachie from the Jetty Hut).  Ranger Kat, and her partner Nikko, nursed it for a day and then handed it over to some carers to supervise its re-release.  Because gliders are colony nesters, they must be released in groups with other gliders, otherwise they won’t survive.  The hard-working and dedicated team of wildlife carers, that the resort collaborates with, hold on to Sugar Gliders until they have at least six to release together – so we’re confident our furry friend is happy and healthy with his new family.

The Eucalypt woodland that fringes the resort is also home to many small nocturnal animals – and we often spot them on our guided night walks. Grassland Melomys and Bandicoots, both sighted on numerous occasions during our night walks, make their homes amongst the understorey vegetation including one of the island’s most ‘eye catching’ plants - the Fox Tail Sedge – so named because its bushy foliage that looks like a fox’s tail – albeit a green on. These vibrant green plants and their fluffy ‘tail-like’ foliage provide our furry friends with cover and protection from their predators during the day.

If you’re headed our way, we’d love to see you on one of our fantastic guided walks – they’re all jam packed with information on Fraser Island’s fabulous flora and the animals that rely on them.

Until next time, hooroo tree huggers!

Change of Species; Change of Season: Goodbye Curlews And Welcome Woodswallows…


Last month the bird watching in and around Fraser Island’s western side was wonderful - with dozens of species being recorded by our Kingfisher Bay Resort ranger team and our guests on our morning guided walks.

As autumn began, we’ve started to experience some changes in the types of birds spotted around the resort.

In March, many Eastern Curlews (see above left) start their long journey back to their breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere. These impressive waders will not grace Fraser Island’s shores again until August, when they make their triumphant return.

As one bird flies the coop, so to speak, another species takes their place… and we’ve spotted White Breasted Woodswallows, which have been migrating up our way, from the southern parts of their range, to experience a milder winter. Dozens of these handsome birds can be seen on autumn and winter mornings perched along tree branches basking together in the warm morning sun.

While migratory birds provide us with seasonal variation, so too do our precious resident species through their feeding and breeding cycles. Red-backed Fairy-wrens were spied nesting amongst a Midyim thicket (an Australian bush tucker plant that produces small, white flower and blue-grey spotted fruit which ripen about now) right next to the resort’s main pool! The vibrant male showed no qualms parading his mating plumage, while the demure female stayed well hidden along with the pair’s well concealed nest.

March saw our resident Rainbow Lorikeets congregating in the freshly flowering Eucalyptus Robusta that fringe our Wallum wetlands. Flocks of these highly decorated and rambunctious parrots are often accompanied by a few of their green headed relatives, the Scaly-breasted Lorikeets.   Next time a flock of screeching ‘Lories’ flies over, keep your eyes peeled for the odd ones out!

Until next month, keep on Twitchin’!

Autumn Marches Onto Fraser Island

The start of autumn is a magical time of year here on Fraser Island. This change of season, in particular, is one of the most noticeable for us as the southerly breezes roll in and whisks some traces of summer away. Lucky for us – autumn is fabulous on Fraser Island with gorgeous sunshine-filled days.

During the wetter summer months the influx of fresh water flowing out of the Mary River system into the Great Sandy Strait (a double-ended sand estuary that borders the Hervey Bay mainland and Fraser Island’s western shore) encourages a change in the types of marine life in the waters alongside our jetty.

The Great Sandy Strait itself consists of intertidal sand and mud flats; extended seagrass beds – which provide food for the local dugong population; mangrove forests; salt flats and saltmarshes as well as coastal wallum swamps and freshwater Melaleuca wetlands.

Patterned fens (networks of peat that are devoid of trees) have been recorded in the Great Sandy Strait – these are rare in Australia and have not been recorded in subtropical regions of the world.

Our Great Sandy Strait watery wonderland is an exceptionally important feeding ground with in excess of 20,000 migratory shorebirds, 17 species of shorebirds, waterfowl and other seabirds along with dolphins, sea turtles, crustaceans and oysters enjoying this habitat.

Last month, Banana prawns could be seen jumping about in the clear waters under the jetty with their tails fanned and legs flailing. They’re easy to spot as their large eyes reflect red in our spotlight’s beam.

The nights are gloriously clear in autumn and perfect for gazing at the amazing night sky above Fraser – which adds a fabulous element to our Ranger-guided night walks. As the Southern Cross follows its track through our skies - at this time of year it is perfectly positioned above the resort when looking backwards from our jetty.

The constellations actually have different meanings for different people. Close to the Southern Cross is a dark cloud of interstellar dust, called the Coalsack by astronomers. To many Aboriginal tribes it represents the head of the emu in the sky. The emu's body stretches down to the left dominating the southern Milky Way.

The onset of autumn also marks the beginning of dingo mating season. During this time dingoes tend to be more active as they search for mates. It also means that they tend to howl more at night.

This March we were lucky enough to hear distant howling as we stood on the Jetty during one night walk; the beautifully eerie sound reminding us of the evolutionary link that these special canines share with wolves. As we approach Easter, we take this opportunity to remind all guests to not feed native animals on Fraser Island and to please be dingo safe when in the Great Sandy National park. http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/parks/fraser/dingo-safe.html

Until next month, hooroo from the team here at Kingfisher Bay!

A February Chorus Line - Fraser Island style

The end of our summer wet season has given Fraser Island a refreshing new lease of life… amphibian life that is!

Throughout the Wallum heath and Paperbark forest – just a stone’s throw from Kingfisher Bay Resort’s Centre Complex - our charismatic amphibians filled the air with a chorus of calls.

Each night, guests and Rangers alike listened intently for the sounds of the Wallum Rocketfrog with its fast ‘quacking’ or ‘yapping’, the Striped Rocketfrog’s intermittent ‘chirping’, the shy Cooloola Sedgefrog with its ‘reek… pip pip’ and the Wallum Sedgefrog’s ‘creek… crick’.

Occasionally, Green Tree frogs (picture courtesy of Grant Webster's photostream on Flickr) would also join in the Fraser Island choir.

Did you know that frogs are the only Amphibian native to Australia. Toads are frogs, but there are no true toads native to Australia! Cane Toads – including the ones found on Fraser Island - are actually introduced pests.

One February night, as we strolled through the Wallum with our guests in tow, a rustling in the undergrowth caught our attention. What could it be? As we waited and watched in silence the creature started to emerge… it was a Bandicoot!

These endearing nocturnal marsupials spend their nights digging for insects and plant roots under the sand. They also have one of the shortest gestation periods of any mammal in the world – it’s only twelve days from conception to birth! After birth, the joey climbs through the mother’s fur into the pouch where it feeds on milk until it’s developed enough to emerge.

The waters of Great Sandy Strait, on the lee side of Fraser Island, were alive with all manner of creatures over the past month – and all clearly visible - whether sailing on the Shayla Cruise, paddling on a Jetty Hut canoe, or up close on one of our Ranger Guided night walks.

Over the past month we’re spotted Blue Spotted Rays, Logger Head Turtles, Barramundi, Squid, Mud Crabs and Solider Crabs to name a few. For guests headed our way, the Jetty is a great spot to see our marine life in full glory – as is the journey from River Heads to Kingfisher Bay Resort - so keep your eyes peeled.

The Milky Way, containing over 200 billion stars, provided an impressive back drop as we searched the tree tops for Sugar Gliders, Tawny Frogmouths and the many Microbats that frequent the island.

We look forward to seeing what March brings and to showing you all that's wild and wonderful on gorgeous Fraser Island.

A Tale of Flycatchers, Oystercatchers, Honeyeaters and More!

As we’ve bid farewell to February and the last heady days of summer, we’ve enjoyed some fabulous bird watching on Fraser Island and in and around Kingfisher Bay Resort’s Centre Complex.

A Pandanus tree, alongside the resort’s main swimming pool, is now home to a new family of Blue-faced Honeyeaters (pictured right). The mating pair is regularly spotted – their vivid sky-blue faces in sharp contrast to the green palm-like leaves - on our morning walks as they tend to their chicks.

Did You Know that the Blue-faced Honeyeater is the quintessential early bird and is often heard calling thirty minutes before the sun rises!

Another bird that we spotted nesting around the resort this month is the Leaden Flycatcher, whose nest was spotted high in a beach-side paperbark tree. Male and female Leaden Flycatchers are dimorphic, which means that their colouring and markings are so different that they look like two different species! In this case, males have dark heads and white breasts, whilst females have a blue head and distinctive orange breast feathers.

As they say – one good ‘tern’ deserves another and down on the beach this month, Crested Terns have made way for the Gull-billed Terns. These similarly sized birds are differentiated from each other by beak colour - the Gull-billed terns have a jet black beak and their crested relatives sport a vibrantly yellow beak.

Pied Oystercatchers also made a cameo appearance on the beach this month. These large black and white birds sport bright orange legs and bills. Their bill is extremely strong to allow them to feed on bivalve molluscs like pipis and oysters. They use their strong bills to cut open the muscles that hold the bivalve’s two shell halves together, allowing them to eat the soft body inside. We’ve enjoyed many a morning watching them in action.

This February an old favourite has once again brightened our morning bird walks - Eastern Whipbirds - which failed to make any appearances last month - have returned to Kingfisher Bay’s grounds - their loud whip-cracking calls make them easy to locate in the Wallum undergrowth. This month we watched as a pair busily scratched around in the leaf litter in search of insects and other invertebrates.

The coming of Autumn will no doubt bring about changes in the types of birds we see around Fraser Island - particularly our migratory species so stay tuned!

Fraser Island's Slipperiest Characters Steal The Show In Jan!

Those balmy mid-summer nights we’ve experienced over the last few weeks have provided us with almost perfect conditions for spotting our native nocturnal wildlife in and around Kingfisher Bay Resort.

Over the last month, our Wallum heath has teamed with amphibian and reptile life – and all the usual frog species were spotted. However, we have to say that it was our beautiful snake species that stole the show this month.

We know that they’re not everyone’s cup-of-tea, but snakes are vital in maintaining functioning ecosystems and their amazing physiology and lifestyle must surely earn them an honourable mention?

The good news is that we don’t often encounter snakes on our guided night walks (much to the disappointment of the resort’s Rangers) and the most common ones we see are our shy, docile, non-venomous Pythons.

The wonderfully graceful Carpet Python can sense temperature differences of 1/30th of a degree using sensory pits in their lower and sometimes upper lips. They also exhibit a style of parental care that is unique amongst Australian snakes - the attentive (and ever patient) female coils around her eggs to guard them until they hatch.

Some of the smaller Pythonidae counterparts that Rangers spotted this month include the pleasantly named Children’s Python (pictured above, image courtesy of tinypythons.com) - named after its discoverer rather than its affinity to children. A Bandy Bandy was also seen, despite their very reclusive nature. They are not pythons and instead burrow underground feeding exclusively on other snake species!

Our skies were filled with a familiar sound this month as our Grey-headed Flying Fox – who occasionally like to grace us with their presence – returned to Fraser Island. The arrival of these protected creatures is unmistakable as they take to the trees and bicker with each other over blossoms and fruit.

While the marine life viewing from the Jetty was amazing as always, one January night our attention was diverted from the delights of the Great Sandy Strait and we were lucky enough to see one of Fraser Island’s most well-known icons meandering down the beach. That’s right a purebred Dingo was spotted looking for food on Fraser’s western beach!

At this time of year they tend to be more active at night in an attempt to avoid the warm summer sun. Much to the delight of our night walkers, this captivating canine stayed around for a while, sniffing the air, the sand and everything in between, before continuing on his path north, disappearing into the night.

Hooroo until next time!

We're Just Wild About Our Waders...

Hot on the heels of our Quail report, comes the latest bird wrap up from the Kingfisher Bay Resort Ranger team.

With summer in full swing, the days are long and the birds are plentiful here on Fraser Island. And, with the impatient sun peaking over the horizon at around 5:30am, it is definitely the very early bird that’s been getting the worm.

January was a month for Waders, and most of the ‘exciting birding’ was happening on Kingfisher Bay’s western beach, overlooking the Great Sandy Strait.

Eastern Curlews are regular visitors to Fraser Island and easily identified by the eerie territorial calls they let out of a night time – “cuur-lee, cuur-lee!” In daylight however, these birds are not at all menacing and live an amazing migratory life - flying thousands of kilometres along the East Asian Australasian Flyway from Russia and China each year to feed on our shores.

Another impressive wader that’s been gracing our shoreline of late is the Beach Stone-Curlew – another species known for its wailing call. This large-beaked wader stands up to 65 centimetres and is a striking presence on Fraser Island’s western shore. The species is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (QLD), so we take extra care when we’re exploring the beautiful beach environment in front of the resort, on our guided walks, not to disturb their habitat.

Other waders sighted this month included the shy and petite Whimbrel, the striking White-faced Heron, slender and graceful Little Egrets and our furtive Striated Herons.

Other environments around the resort also provided some great sightings over the past month.

Red-browed Finches filled the Wallum and main road with their sweet cheeping calls as they spent their mornings foraging on the ground for seeds and insects. These diminutive birds are identified by their steely grey and olive green plumage, with splashes of fiery red on their rump and above their eyes.

The start of a new year also heralds the start of Midyim berry season. Midyim bushes are prolific around the resort and, from January to about April each year, produce an abundance of small and very tasty fruits. Mistletoebirds are big fans of these bushes and this month bird watchers were lucky enough to witness male Mistletoebirds gorging on these fruits. Our Resort Rangers also love to forage for the delicious Midyim during our guided Bush Tucker walks and new faces are most welcome!

What a great start to 2012… let’s see what February brings.
Hooroo from Ranger Kat

All Hail The Holy Grail Of Quails...

December was, as always, a bird watcher’s delight here on beautiful Fraser Island. Kingfisher Bay Resort guests disembarked the ferry to friendly greetings by our aerobatic Welcome Swallows – who dipped and dived through the air chasing down a bug-gy meal.

The Welcome Swallows’ muddy nests – filled with fluffy fledglings – were easily spotted from under the resort’s Jetty on the western side of Fraser… and were a definite highlight on our early morning bird walks.

Walking through the Wallum Heathland – just a stone’s throw from the resort’s Centre Complex - always excites our Ranger team and the Twitchers who come and stay with us. There are no manicured lawns and rose gardens here at Kingfisher Bay and when the resort was built, the landscaping was designed to mirror the native vegetation and ensure the protection of the gene pool.

Many thousands of plants were removed prior to construction and held in an on-site nursery for replanting later. A further 150,000 plants were raised from seeds and cuttings. The success of the revegetation in the area can be judged by the abundance of wildflowers and native wildlife nesting and feeding in the bush around the resort.

This month, we were pleased to see plenty of Bar Shouldered Doves going about their daily business. These uniquely marked doves – adults have a blue-grey head neck and upper breast with a distinctive reddish-bronze patch on the hind neck with dark barring - have a unique feeding habit. Once the young hatches, both parents feed them with a source of milk known as Crop Milk. After about a week the young chick is weened onto an adult diet of seeds.

Our fabulous White Cheeked Honeyeaters were all aflutter as them flitted from blossom to blossom on the Swamp Banskias in the resort grounds – they were too engrossed to spare a thought about our cameras and curiosity. The White Cheeked Honeyeaters’ busy feeding behaviour along with the Brown Honeyeater and the Blue Faced Honeyeater helps to pollinate our local plant life.

However, the word on everyone’s lips this month was ‘Quail’. A few lucky twitchers were treated to several sightings of the super-shy Brown Quail (pictured above; image courtesy of Wikipedia) - a bird very rarely seen around the resort grounds. Though the holy grail of quails; the Black Breasted Button Quail eluded us for the year, we remain hopeful we’ll spot our BBBQ courting pair in the coming months. The species is listed as vulnerable in Queensland due to habitat loss and exotic species and Fraser Island is one of the few safe havens left for this ground dwelling bird. Fingers crossed for 2012!

With December coming to an end, we look forward to a bird watching bonanza in 2012 - may it bring some feathered surprises with it. This is Ranger Kelly sighing off until next month.

December's Been A Magical Month of Marine Magic

Kingfisher Bay Resort’s Jetty has been a popular hangout with fisher folk after the ‘catch of the day’ and with resort guests wandering down to watch mango-coloured sunsets over the Great Sandy Strait. And with December’s the gorgeous weather – it was also popular feature on our Ranger-guided night walk trail.

The jetty’s infrastructure creates the perfect platform for viewing the intertidal zone – or the seafloor exposed by the low tide - and the creatures that normally lurk beneath the surface. Our guests continue to be fascinated by the moving wave of hundreds upon hundreds of Solider Crabs and Ghost Crabs swarming the area looking for food.

These animals are prime examples of the many organisms that have adapted to this extreme environment. Whilst it’s great for fishermen and the guests that paddle the water’s edge; for marine creatures it represents a combination of voluminous nutrients from the sea, saline and fresh water from Dundonga Creek, and harsh sunlight conditions during tidal changes.

Guests delighted when we spotted Bottlenose Dolphins (file picture - see above) on numerous occasions. Working as a team, they glided through the water in rings, flipping fish out of the air and catching them swiftly in their mouth. It was magical to be just a stone’s throw from the resort, but so close to the action and we hope to see them continue their fun in the coming months.

Other marine life capturing our attention included some particularly large Stingrays, Loggerhead Sea Turtles - which can also be spotted on our guided creek canoe paddles – and ruby-coloured Squid. Deep sea squid are generally this dark red colour because the red wavelength doesn’t penetrate into the deep sea, making them nearly invisible.

Around the rest of the resort, scattered December rain brought our Wallum area to life with a number of species of frogs competing with one another for the loudest croak. The fresh water lakes around Kingfisher’s grounds are naturally acidic and create a special habitat for a lot of these vulnerable acid frog species such as the Wallum Rocket Frogs and Striped Rocket Frog – which are often spotted from the boardwalks. Large Green Tree Frogs and the comparatively smaller Cooloola Sedge Frog were also heard within the chorus.

Spotting our nocturnal flighty friends - the Tawny Frogmouths - requires keen eyes. These gorgeous non-raptorial birds are masters of disguise and are able to perfectly mimic a part of a tree branch.

Birdy Fact:
Did you know that many Aussies refer to the Tawny Frogmouth by the colloquial name of Mopoke?


While Tawny Frogmouths are often confused with Owls, they are actually more closely related to the Nightjars. Their feet are quite weak, mostly used for perching and they lack the curved talons of Owls.

Keep your eyes peeled for Ranger Kelly’s December bird wrap up – it’s coming soon.