July 23, 2012

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.