The Birds And The Bees And The Flowers And The Trees

FRASER ISLAND:  March and April is a stunning time to visit Fraser Island – the climate is temperate, autumn birds are returning to our shores and, with the change of season, the many Paperbarks and Eucalypt trees around the resort flower and fill the air with a sweet aroma.

A Slender Skimmer is skillfully snapped in the resort grounds
Most insects will be making last ditch mating attempts before the cooler weather overcomes them; Damselflies and Dragonflies are prolific and, if you look in the dead grass tree stalks in the wallum, you’ll likely find our blue Carpenter Bees (Xylocopa) busily burrowing away.

If you’re staying at Kingfisher Bay Resort at this time of the year, one of the first birds that you will hear in the morning at the moment is the Eastern Yellow Robin (Eopsaltria australis - pictured below).  These small to medium sized birds are inquisitive and confident with humans.  The Eastern Yellow is easily identified by its grey coloured back and beautiful yellow underparts with both sexes similar in plumage colour and pattern.  
You'll easily spot an Eastern Yellow Robin

Whilst they might be a lovely little bird to look at and photograph, they never still for long – darting from perch to perch in search of spiders, small insects and other arthropods.  This species has a good distribution across Eastern Australia, and will often make Woodland and Banksia heaths their habitat so, on Fraser Island, we see them Wallum and along the road to the resort’s jetty (where one side of the road is Wallum and the other Eucalyptus Woodland).

DID YOU KNOW? An arthropod is a small invertebrate animal (insect, arachnid or spider) with an external skeleton, segmented body and six or more jointed appendages.  They are found on land, in trees, in fresh water, salt water and even underground and experts estimate that they account for more than 80% of all known, living animal species.

The autumn aroma of sweet smelling flowers not only attracts human visitors to our resort grounds, but also visitors of the featured variety.  The Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haemotodus) is a favourite with our international resort guests and is easily spotted with its bright red beak; colourful blue head and belly; green wings, tail and back; and yellow/orange breast. Their Latin name ‘haemotodus’ means ‘bloody’ and refers to their vibrant red colouring.  ‘Tricolgossus’ refers to their brush tipped tongue, which is most useful as they lick and scrape the nectar off Fraser Island’s flowers.

Their calls can be heard loud and clear across the island in the early morning and late afternoon, although the Lorikeets choose not to live on Fraser. Each day they fly across the Great Sandy Strait and feed on wild flowers, before descending back to the palm trees of Scarness and Pialba (in nearby Hervey Bay) to roost.

Note the wedge-shaped tail
As always, our birds of prey haven’t disappointed us.  During the month of March we’ve seen both Brahminy Kites (Haliastur indus) and Whistling Kites (Haliastur sphenurus - pictured left) soaring above the western beach and dunes on our way to the Dundonga Creek Mangrove colony.

 We’ve also spotted a few juvenile White-bellied Sea Eagles (Haliaeetus leucogaster) whose mottled colouring looks exactly the same as the Whistling Kite to an untrained eye. All three of these raptors are known to inhabit estuarine areas, though Sea Eagles and Brahminy Kites enjoy coastal areas and islands.

For those eager birders reading this blog, there is a method to distinguish these birds when they have their mottled juvenile colours or when you can’t quite make out the colouring in adults.

The first thing to do is look at their tail – the Brahminy Kite has a short tail, the Whistling Kite has a much longer and sometimes wedge-shaped tail and the White-bellied Sea Eagle has a large, fan-shaped tail.  These beautiful birds of pery can also be identified by their call - the Brahminy Kite has a high-pitched, drawn out call; the White-bellied Sea Eagle produces more of a goose-honking sound and the Whistling Kite has an unmistakeable and beautiful high pitched ascending whistle.

Well that’s certainly given us something to tweet about – until next time, happy twitching wherever you are! And if you've got any Fraser Island bird pics that you'd like to share on Instagram - just tag them #kingfisherbay and we'll happily share or post on our Facebook site.