Lady Elliot Island Re-Visited

Last weekend we returned to one of our favourite destinations, Lady Elliot Island at the southern-end of the Great Barrier Reef.

Lady Elliot Island

We travelled up with our old friends Graham & Liz, who live in Jimboomba, south of Brisbane. We arrived at Hervey Bay Airport and caught the 10.40am flight to the Island.

On the Island we were given a brief guided-tour, dropped our luggage off and started birding. The first sense that one gets activated is the smell of Guano (fishy odour) from the many seabirds nesting there.

Great Frigatebird (Fregata minor)

From the resort to the Windward Beach, Terns and Noddies were everywhere, nesting in the pisonia bushes. Frigatebirds (both Lesser and Greater) cruised above above and Reef-Egrets explored the exposed coral.

Brown Booby  (Sula leucogaster)

On the Leeward Beach Roseate and Black-naped Terns were nesting and vigorously protecting their eggs and young, and after hearing a strange corella-like call a Sooty Tern was found nesting amongst the Common Noddies.

Black-naped Tern (Sterna sumatrana)

At high-tide the snorkelling is fantastic and when the tide is lower reef-walking is great fun.

Blue Starfish

There are usually only between 20 and 30 bird-species present on the island but most allow great views.

Crested Tern (Sterna bergii)

In the evenings we were woken by a strange ghost-like noise from behind the tent investigating further we found Wedge-tailed Shearwaters appearing from their burrows and enjoying some nocturnal love-making.

Bridled Tern (Sterna anaethetus)

One of the islands specialities nest near the cabins although we only saw two pairs on this trip. Red-tailed Tropicbird (Phaeton rubricauda) is a fabulous bird with the adults having amazing silky-pink plumage in the breeding-season.

Red-tailed Tropicbird (Phaeton rubricauda)

During November two species of turtles (Green and Loggerhead) come ashore to lay their eggs but despite a nocturnal-search with one of the resident marine-biologists we did not actually see one until the last morning when 3 were found stranded in tidal-pools at the eastern-end of the airstrip. They were waiting for the tide to turn before heading back out to the ocean. However up to twenty tracks were found around the island beaches, so there had probably been successful egg-laying during those evenings.

Green Turtle

Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii)

All to soon the trip was over and we headed back to Brisbane.

Video-Clips of this trip and the birds are available on the VodPod website

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Tom Tarrant is a wildlife enthusiast with a passion for photography, video and (open-source) computing.

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