Lady Elliot Island

Lady Elliot Island

A brief birding trip

by

Tom & Marie Tarrant

 

During November we hosted a couple of visiting birders from Wollongong who had just spent a few days on Lady Elliot Island, at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. Graham Barwell & Rebecca Albury told their stories of nesting Red-tailed Tropicbirds, Roseate and Bridled Tern and this was enough to convince us that we should travel to the place at the earliest opportunity and catch these wonderful birds before the breeding season was over and they had disappeared back into the vastness of the Pacific Ocean.

The Island has a resort and is accessible by air from Coolangatta, Brisbane, Hervey Bay or Bundaberg, we chose to drive to Hervey Bay and take a flight and stop for one night only as the price was rather expensive for an extended stay.

The were only four other visitors on the flight which took only 30 mins. Soon we were circling the tiny island in beautiful weather conditions, and as we landed we were surprised to see flocks of birds. On disembarking I was delighted to see thousands of nesting Black and Common Noddies and amazed at Bridled Terns with chicks and eggs outside every building in the resort!

 

Welcome to Lady Elliot Island

Bridled Tern

 

We were escorted to our tented-cabin and were advised that there were no outdoor locks as theft had never been a problem on the island. We briefly had time for some excellent lunch and then it was time for some serious digiscoping!

Sadly during our short trip we didn't have time for much other activity like snorkelling or diving but will certainly consider allowing extra time on future excursions as the reef looked incredibly exciting and beautiful.

Lady Elliot Island is not very large and it is quite feasible to walk completely around it in an hour or two. It is hard to conceive that until twenty years ago the it was completely stripped of vegetation although now through the efforts of voluntary re-planting at least one third is covered with She-oak and Pisonia trees. These are heavily-utilized by Black Noddies and care must be taken to wear a hat when walking underneath to avoid unwanted projectiles. During December the sun can be very harsh and so sunscreen is highly recommended.

The following gallery shows some of the images that I 'digiscoped' (using a Leica APO Televid 77 & Nikon Coolpix 990) during the afternoon and following morning.

To allay any doubts,  all images of breeding-species were digiscoped well away from the recommended distance requested by the resort staff.

 

west beach

East beach pisonias

West beach

East beach pisonias

 

Adult Black Noddies hiding from the 'kids'

Crested Tern colony

Adult Black Noddies hiding from the 'kids'

Crested Tern colony

 

Larger version of the images below can be viewed by 'clicking' on them

 

Buff-banded Rail

Black Noddy

Buff-banded Rail sunning

Black Noddy

 

Bridled Tern

Common Noddies

Bridled Tern

Common Noddies

 

Crested Tern

Eastern Reef-Egret

Crested Tern

Eastern Reef-Egret

 

Red-tailed Tropicbird

Red-tailed Tropicbird chick

Red-tailed Tropicbird

Red-tailed Tropicbird chick

 

Great Frigatebird

Lesser Frigatebird

Great Frigatebird

Lesser Frigatebird

 

Pacific Golden-Plover

Roseate Tern

Pacific Golden-Plover

Roseate Tern

 

Roseate Tern

Juvenile Roseate Tern

Roseate Tern

Juvenile Roseate Tern

 

Roseate Tern

Sooty Oystercatcher

non-breeding plumage Roseate Tern

Sooty Oystercatcher

 

Black-naped Tern

Black-naped Tern

Black-naped Tern

Black-naped Tern

 

Ruddy Turnstone

Wandering Tattler

 

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