Birds, Birds, Birds at Lady Elliot Island on the Barrier Reef

BeeBear has regaled her friends with tales of Lady Elliot Island, her journey there, her explorations of the island, the corals she saw in the lagoon, and whether she saw turtles. But her bird friends at home especially want to know if she saw tropical birds.

She certainly did! Lady Elliot Island is paradise for twitchers (bird spotters.) On this coral quay which is so small that the air-strip cuts right across it (see picture above) there are thousands of birds. They come for the nesting season and peak around November.

It’s high density living here. Birds that usually nest on the ground get squeezed out by the earliest arrivals of the season and so take to the trees instead. They are all over every branch of every tree.

The birds in the picture above were in the trees three metres from our veranda. You can simply sit on your cabin veranda with a camera and take pictures of domestic life among the birds.

Birds that prefer trees have to find themselves a place on the ground. It’s all about high demand for premium real estate.

Everyone is making a racket. ‘Mummy, where are you, I’m hungry!’,
‘Harold, you’ve been ages. It’s your turn to mind your kid’,
‘Steady on, Mabel, I only just got back’,
‘You stayed out at sea deliberately, didn’t you, leaving me stuck here with this squawker’,
‘I did not, Mabel, you’ve no idea how far I had to go for fish ‘,
‘ Hah! A likely story’,
‘Its true. I blame those trawlers’,
‘Oi, you lot, get off my branch’,
‘Your branch? Hah! It so is not.’
‘It is, it is. Me and Narelle got it first, so get lost’.
‘ You did not, you great big liars, we got it first,’
‘You pinched it!’
‘ You get over here, mate, and try saying that, go on, go on.’
‘ Mummeee, Daddeeeeee! Where’s my fooooood!’

Screeches, calls, warnings, quarrels. On, and on, all night it goes. The resort even provides ear plugs so that guests can sleep at night.

Birds soar everywhere. Outgoing- traffic of the parents leaving chicks to find food in the ocean crosses through incoming traffic of food-laden parents in what looks like an air-traffic controller’s worst nightmare.

The birds are all protected from humans these days, of course, and completely at ease with people. They perch all over the cabin verandas and some venture hopefully toward the diners in the restaurant. They even raise their young right next to the walkways and buildings, including the most unusual bird you see below.

This is the rare Red-tailed Tropic Bird. It’s one of the world’s oldest and most elusive birds. Read more about them here and here. We had the most wonderful good fortune to see a young one and only hundred metres from our cabin.

Just look at this Red-tailed Tropicbird chick hunkered into its ground-nest waiting for its ocean going parents. It was enormous. It was bigger than a full grown chicken. . ‘Food”, it cried, ‘Gimmee foooooood!’ Of course, we didn’t- no feeding of the birds on Lady Elliot Island. But we did wonder how the parents could ever bring back enough food to satisfy this big lad. Both of them were out at sea trying to do just that.

In the next post, fellow Baffled Ones and Gentlebears, we bring you even more birds and more chicks.

You are at Baffled Bear Books, brought to you by Mark, guardian and blundering typist for Mawson Bear, Ponderer of Baffling Things and one of this bright world’s few published bears. Mawson is writer bear of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In and of She Ran Away From Love.