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A Bird’s Eye View of Great Keppel Island

August 19, 2019 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

Great Keppel Island is a resting place. So is it any wonder that this island paradise has become sanctuary to a diverse array of bird life who not only take time out to rest, feed and breed, but also give us humans a hand to support the ecology, natural heritage, and social and cultural values of the Southern Great Barrier Reef?

Located just 15 kilometres offshore from Yeppoon, 55 kilometres from Rockhampton, 300 kilometres east of Emerald and approximately 600 kilometres north of Brisbane, Great Keppel Island has proudly become home to a number of exotic and native birds, including some that live nowhere else on earth.

Although several blew in on the last gust of wind and decided to make Great Keppel Island home, many are migrants who only visit at certain times of the year…or when their favourite natural tucker is on the menu.

The birds that both visit and live at Great Keppel Island are as varied as the habitats found. Seabirds, wading birds, songbirds, birds of prey, woodland birds and wetland birds can be sighted amongst the mangroves, salt pans, eucalypt open forest, sand dunes and scattered atop of offshore islands and rocks.

With a shake of our tailfeathers, we are thrilled to introduce six of our tweetest locals to avid birdwatchers and twitchers.

  1. Who can? Peli…can

    The Australian pelican can often be found relaxing on sandbanks, rock platforms and reefs, or swimming in lagoons or bays. Dipping their oversized bills into the ocean, the Pelican’s snack of choice is fish. They can often be found sideling up to fishermen returning with a catch, as they well know that there will be a free and effortless feed for them once the fish are cleaned and gutted. The Pelican tribe choosing to roost at Great Keppel Island can be found on the water, along the beach, on the rocky outcrops around headlands, or flying over and on the offshore islands.  Fun fact – this large water bird has been recorded as having the longest bill of any living bird!

  2. Mine…mine…mine

    Catapulting to popularity following the release of ‘Finding Nemo’ the Silver Gull preened it’s grey and white feathers, called his mates, and headed for some nirvana on Great Keppel Island. The widespread seabird is the most common gull found in Australia, particularly near coastal areas. Naturally feeding on worms, fish, insects and crustaceans, this handsome hoverer has also become a successful scavenger – particularly when they hear the rustle of a restaurant fish and chip wrapper! Fun fact – The Silver Gull is very clever. They learn, remember and even pass on behaviours, such as stamping their feet in a group to imitate rainfall and trick earthworms to come to the surface.

  3. Such a gem!

    Check out the wet woodlands, mangroves along Leeke’s Creek and coastal heaths of Great Keppel Island and you might come across the striking Pacific Emerald Dove. Part of the pigeon family, this bright green gem with its red bill is a ground feeding bird that enjoys the seeds and fruits of a wide variety of plants on the Island. They are quite terrestrial, often searching for fruit that has already fallen from trees to save themselves a job!  Fun fact – Although a decent flyer, if disturbed, the Pacific Emerald Dove will frequently choose to walk away from the drama rather than fly.

  4. Noisy Native

    Odds are you will hear this outspoken local before you see it. The Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo is a large gregarious bird that feeds on seeds, nuts, flower blossoms and the larvae of insects. Keep your eyes on the Casuarina trees in front of Great Keppel Island accommodation to catch a glimpse of this extraverted socialite who knows nothing but top volume! The male species has a black body with bright red under tail coverts while the female sports yellow callops on the chest and belly as well as a few yellow highlights on the head. Fun fact – The red-tailed black cockatoo is protected under the Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Wildlife Protection) Act 2001

  5. Hey there! Are you laughing at me?

    The Kookaburra is an Australian icon that is instantly recognisable in both plumage and voice. With its distinctive, cackling call, this chap can be found hanging out near accommodation areas for a bit of human interaction, in the open forest areas behind Fisherman’s Beach, or basically anywhere that there is an appropriate tree.  The Kookaburra is an off-white colour below, faintly barred with shades of brown and a flicker of blue under the wings. It is believed that these loveable larrikins partner with their soulmate for life. Fun fact – The laughing Kookaburra is not really laughing when it makes its familiar call. Their cackle is actually a territorial call to warn other birds or threats to stay away. 

  6. Cuuuuurrrrrleeewwwww!

    Keep an ear out at dusk on Great Keppel Island for the eerie, high-pitched wailing of the Bush Stone-curlew Most active at night, this large, slim, mainly nocturnal, ground-dwelling bird, will scurry about with short runs between two points. If disturbed, the Bush Stone-curlew will freeze to try and make itself invisible or stalk stealthily into the bushland. Feeding on insects, molluscs, frogs, spiders, small lizards and seeds, the Curlew can live for up to 20 years, sometimes more. Fun fact – Bush Stone-curlew parents share the incubation and care for their young. 

Bird-watching is an enjoyable activity for all ages and abilities. Great Keppel Island offers the perfect opportunity to not only view underwater marvels, but with a glance upward to the skies, you can participate in another amazing world. Grab your own nest at Great Keppel Island Hideaway or Great Keppel Island Holiday Village and see how many different bird species you can spot from your perch.

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