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.