January 19, 2015

It's Turtlely Awesome Visiting Fraser Island In Summer

QUEENSLAND: Whilst Mon Repos, near Bundaberg, supports the largest concentration of nesting marine turtle on the Eastern Australian mainland, the annual turtle season is also a wonderful time to visit Fraser Island, Hervey Bay and the surrounding coastal areas.

We’re certainly happy to be seeing a lot of sea turtles - Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) and the endangered Loggerhead Turtles (Caretta caretta) - near the resort as they head off to lay their eggs on the northern end of Fraser (at the Sandy Cape turtle rookery) and at various spots along 75-Mile Beach on the island’s eastern side.

An early Christmas present for @funfitwellness
With this month's blog, we’re also paying homage to the super-talented Instagrammers who flood the site with gorgeous island pics on a daily basis.  Once such contributor, @funfitwellness, was lucky enough to spot this beautiful Loggerhead at the crack of dawn on Fraser’s 75-Mile Beach on Christmas morning and shared this gorgeous shot on Instagram.  Now that’s what we call a cracker of a Christmas surprise!

What you may not know is that a female Loggerhead Turtle, like the one pictured, can lay around 125 ping pong ball-sized eggs per clutch – and this is after an exhausting journey up the beach to the sand dunes to dig out a nest above the high tide line with their back flippers.

The mother will then cover the nest up to prevent predators – like Fraser’s dingoes and goanna populations - from raiding them.  On Fraser Island, mating usually starts in late October with the majority of baby turtles emerging between February and March.

JUST A REMINDER to all visitors that four-wheel-drives are prohibited on the beach between South Ngkala Rocks and the Sandy Cape Lighthouse between 6pm and 6am from 15 November until 31 March annually as this beach is an important nesting area for our visiting marine turtles.

@darcnett -  harmless Blue Buttons on the eastern beach
Within the resort grounds, our Smooth-barked Apple trees (Angophora costata) have shed their old grey bark to reveal a fresh pink-orange coat and are in full bloom - this gorgeous display is perfect for our Instagrammers and photographers who flock to Fraser to capture awesome nature shots – like Rob Annesley who visited us last year... we’re sure you’ll agree his photos are amazing.  If you’re visiting our shores, be sure to tag your photographs with #fraserisland and #kingfisherbay (or #frasertours if you’re taking a Beauty Spots off-road island tour with us) as we’ll happily feature on our social sites - as we did recently with @darcnett's gorgeous jellyfish shot pictured right.

Around 354 different species of bird have been recorded on Fraser Island and, as Rangers, we are often asked if there are any Kingfishers around Kingfisher Bay Resort.  The answer is an emphatic yes!  In fact, we have several types of Kingfishers here including The Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae), Azure Kingfisher (Alcedo azurea), Forest Kingfisher (Todiramphus macleayii) and Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus).

@Louisehak spots a cheeky Kookaburra in the trees
Undoubtedly, the most recognisable Kingfisher is The Laughing Kookaburra - whose loud call resembles a staccato-like cackle (kook-kook-kook-ka-ka-ka).  They are the largest Kingfisher in the area and are the most frequently seen (and heard) – particularly in the trees around our Sand Bar restaurant.

Other Kingfisher species on island are much smaller and we sometimes glimpse our turquoise and white coloured Sacred Kingfishers around the mangroves and paperbark forests where they spend time catching crustaceans, reptiles, insects and sometimes even fish.

Azure Kingfishers have darker blue features with a splash of vibrant orange underneath, and are more often seen around the Wallum heathlands as they search for shrimp and other dainties. In contrast, our Forest Kingfishers have striking blue and white plumage and a large white spot on the bill and, as the name suggests, can be found in open sclerophyll forests, near mangroves or our mirror lakes.

Porter @bryce_mcnickle snaps a pic of our baby guest
As the sun dips on Fraser, probably the most commonly seen nocturnal bird we see is the Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides). Often mistaken for an owl, the Tawny Frogmouth is a species more closely related to the Nightjars and feeds mainly on insects, slugs, worms and snails. Their silver-grey mottled feathers provide excellent camouflage against the bark of trees and, when threatened, Frogmouths often extend their body out and raise their head so as to look as much like a branch as possible.

RANGER FACT: Juvenile Tawny Frogmouths are often found on the ground when they are learning to fly under the watchful eyes of their parents. Always seek the advice of an accredited wildlife carer before handling/removing.

Recently, Nick from our housekeeping team spotted a tiny Frogmouth begging for food on the roadside near our villas and let the Rangers know. It had fallen from its nest in a nearby tree and was still much too young to fly.  With no nest or parents in sight and, after consulting a wildlife carer, I fostered and nursed the baby until it could be passed on to a wildlife centre for rehabilitation – it was super hard not to become attached to that needy little ball of feathers pictured above.

@cathyfinchphotograhy's stunning Sundew on Fraser
From the beaches to the forests, there is plenty of wildlife to see on Fraser Island and one habitat - our wallum heathland – is just a stone’s throw from our resort Centre Complex and hotel wings. The wallum really is full of weird and wonderful animals and all perfectly adapted to the harsh conditions as the soils are very low in nutrients.

One plant has a particularly brutal adaptation that enables it to get the nutrients it needs to survive.  Spoon-leaf Sundews (Drosera spatulata) are insectivorous plants that trap unsuspecting insects using a sticky substance known as mucilage.

The Spoon-leaf Sundew appears pink due to the thousands of pink-tipped ‘tentacles’ protruding from the leaf.  Insects looking for a sweet treat step onto the leaves of the Sundew, only to become stuck in the mucilage and eventually die. The insect is then slowly wrapped up by the leaves near the stem and digested.

This is just another day in a world ruled by survival of the fittest!  As you can see, we’ve had a fabulous Christmas, some wonderful weather and an eventful month here on Fraser… and we look forward to seeing what February brings our way. Until next time, this is Ranger Bec signing off for the team.