Moreton Bay Birds

Bird watching is one of the most popular things to do in Redlands of a weekend. Almost all visitors to North Stradbroke Island arrive by ferry and a good variety of birds can be seen on Moreton Bay during the crossing. These include the pied cormorant (Phalacrocorax varius) and the smaller little pied cormorant (P. melanoleucos), which can be seen perched on the navigation guides or fishing.

Moreton Bay Migratory Birds

Pelicans (Pelecanus conspicillatus); black swan (Cygnus atratus) which often occurs in a large loose flock of 200 or more out from Cleveland; the well known silver gull (Larus novae- hollandiae) with red legs and bill; crested tern (Sterna bergii) which is about the same size as a silver gull but with black cap and yellow bill; little tern (Sterna albifrons) which is much smaller than the crested tern, and perhaps the caspian tern (Hydroprogne caspia), the largest of our terns, with a large red bill and black cap. 

Four raptors may often be seen on Moreton Bay or along the edges of North Stradbroke Island. These are the brahminy kite (Haliastur indus), with rich reddish-brown back and wings and contrasting white head; white- bellied sea-eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster), grey above, white below and often seen soaring with broad upswept wings; whistling kite (Haliastur sphenurus), rather dingy looking and characterized by a loud whistling call: Òpee-oar-wh-wh-wh-wh-wh-wh-whÓ; and the osprey (Pandion haliaetus), with white head, dark eyestripe and brown back and tail, perhaps diving into the water to capture a fish or maybe eating a fish whilst perched. 

At low tide mixed flocks of waders feed on the sand and mud banks north of Dunwich and at high tide they congregate on exposed sand spits. Migratory waders are usually seen in their drab brown and grey non- breeding plumages during our summer months. The largest of these is the eastern curlew (Numenius madagascariensis) with a very long down- curved bill. The whimbrel (N. phaeopus) is smaller than the curlew and its down-curved bill is proportionally shorter. The bar-tailed godwit (Limosa Lapponica) is similar in size to the whimbrel but has an almost straight bill which is slightly up-turned.

Moreton Island Birds

Smaller waders include the lesser golden plover (Pluvialis dominica), plumpish, with a short bill, grey-brown with yellowish speckles; greenshank (Tringa nebularia) greyish above, white under, greenish legs and a long, thin bill; and the black and white black- winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus) with very long, thin, pink legs. Several species of birds are usually found only in mangroves or in adjacent areas.

These include the striated or mangrove heron (Butorides striatus), a squat-crouching grey or brown heron; mangrove kingfisher (Halicyon chloris), blue-green on back with a white breast and heavy black bill; mangrove warbler or gerygone (Gerygone levigaster), a very small bird with a brown back, white underpants, white eyebrow and red eye, (its mournful call is heard more often than the bird is seen); and the mangrove honeyeater (Lichenostomus versicolor), a medium-sized honeyeater with a series of strong melodious calls.  

Larger species which are likely to be seen on the beaches, in swamps or in open grass-lands include the familiar masked plover or lapwing (Vanellus miles) with black cap, yellow face wattles and a raucous call; sacred or white ibis (Threskiornis aethiopica), a white ibis with a black head; straw-necked ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis), a black and white ibis with yellow plumes; Royal spoonbill (Platalea regia), white, with black spatulate bill; and white-faced heron (Andea novae-hollandiae), a blue- grey heron with a white face. The familiar gannet (Morus serrator) can usually be seen from Point Lookout, especially in winter, while the wedge-tailed shearwater or muttonbird (Puffinus pacificus), which has a small breeding colony at Point Lookout, can be seen during the summer banking and gliding close to the waves.

Stradbroke Island Birdwatching

Many other sea-birds have been recorded off Point Lookout, including albatrosses, petrels, shearwaters, frigatebirds, boobies, skuas and terns. Nectar-eating species are a conspicuous part of the avifauna of North Stradbroke Island. Most conspicuous are the well-known rainbow lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) and the scaly-breasted lorikeet (T. chlorolepidotus) which congregate in noisy, colourful flocks when the banksias and eucalypts are in flower.

Many honeyeaters are conspicuous in the forests and heaths, including the noisy friarbird or leatherhead (Philemon corniculatus), which is characterized by a bare black head and upright knob on bill and is made conspicuous by its loud, harsh but pleasant calls; little wattlebird (Anthochaera chrysoptera), with an untidy streaked appearance and a raucous, chuckling series of calls, is often found in banksias; the familiar noisy miner or mickey (Manorina melanocephala), a grey-brown and yellow honeyeater forming sociable, aggressive flocks; white-cheeked honeyeater (Phylidonyris nigra), a distinctive-black and white bird often found in the banksia heathlands; brown honeyeater (Lichmera indistincta), a small olive-brown bird without distinctive markings but with a rich, varied call; and the scarlet honeyeater (Myzomela sarguinolenta), a tiny bird, dull brown if female, but having a brilliant scarlet head and back if male.  

Other well distributed and common birds are the kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae); rainbow bee-eater (Merops ornatus), a beautiful iridescent blue-green and bronze bird which nests in a tunnel dug in the ground; dollar-bird (Eurystomus orientalis) (summer), a dumpy, dark blue-green bird with white, round patches on the wings seen in flight; the familiar black-faced cuckoo-shrike or blue jay (Coracina novaehollandiae), a blue- grey bird with black face and throat and a characteristic habit of shuffling its wings on alighting; rufous whistler (Pachycephala rufiventris), the male easily recognized by grey back, and black breast band separating the white throat from the rufous breast and belly; figbird (Sphecotheres viridis), a stocky species, brown above and streaked below if female, and with red skin around the eye if male, often found in sociable flocks feeding on figs or other fruiting trees; spangled drongo (Dicrurus hottentotus), glossy black with a characteristic fish tail and red eye. 

Finally mention should be made of the familiar black and white birds which are so common throughout much of eastern Australia; willie wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys); magpie-lark or pee-wee (Grallina cyanoleuca); pied butcher bird (Cracticus nigrogularis); Australian magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen); pied currawong (Strepera graculina); and the all- black torresian crow (Corvius orru). The birds listed are but a small fraction of the 260 species which have been recorded for North Stradbroke Island but some species are vagrants and are unlikely to be seen.

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