Birds of Heron Island

by Robin Fuller January. 30, 2021 315 views

Francis Blackwood on the HMS Fly discovered the cay in 1843 while looking for shipping channels through the Great Barrier Reef. The ship’s geologist named it Heron Island after the large number of Pacific reef herons there.

Terns, Oystercatchers and Egrets resting on the beach at Heron

Terns, Oystercatchers and Egrets resting on the beach at Heron

A Pacific reef heron, after which Heron Island is named.

A Pacific reef heron, after which Heron Island is named.

The species displays an unusual, non-sexual dimorphism, with some members having entirely white plumage and others - the larger portion - being charcoal-grey.

The species displays an unusual, non-sexual dimorphism, with some members having entirely white plumage and others - the larger portion - being charcoal-grey.

Missed!

Missed!

In December there are about 200,000 birds on the island of which probably the most numerous is the Black noddy tern. As you walk along the beach they fly directly towards you to investigate, only veering off at the last moment.

A Black noddy tern. The gradation from white to back almost looks like the tones have been airbrushed on.

A Black noddy tern. The gradation from white to back almost looks like the tones have been airbrushed on.

Head to wind, a slow and graceful landing to flatter the photographer.

Head to wind, a slow and graceful landing to flatter the photographer.

When a bird lands at a nest colony, there is always a lot of squabbling over territory.

When a bird lands at a nest colony, there is always a lot of squabbling over territory.

The nests of these birds comprise a level platform, often created in the branches of trees using dried leaves covered with bird droppings.

The nests of these birds comprise a level platform, often created in the branches of trees using dried leaves covered with bird droppings.

Only one egg is laid each season. This youngster has fallen from its nest.

Only one egg is laid each season. This youngster has fallen from its nest.

Falling to the gound can be dangerous for a noddy chick due to the rather sinister Pisonia trees - also known as catchbirdtrees, birdcatcher trees or birdlime trees. The Pisonia's seeds are sticky to ensure dispersal on birds between islands but may entangle a bird in the sticky seed heads. Unable to free itself, a bird will starve to death, so enriching the soil within the tree's rootzone.

 This noddy chick has already fallen victim to a tenacious Pisonia seed head - from here it just gets worse.

This noddy chick has already fallen victim to a tenacious Pisonia seed head - from here it just gets worse.

Even adult birds can become victims to the truly horrid Pisonia seed heads. The blurred image is due to the bird's vigorous and fruitless attempts to break free.

Even adult birds can become victims to the truly horrid Pisonia seed heads. The blurred image is due to the bird's vigorous and fruitless attempts to break free.

Best to keep well groomed then.

Best to keep well groomed then.

A Bridled tern.

A Bridled tern.

The Bridled tern has a distinctive swallow tail.

The Bridled tern has a distinctive swallow tail.

Crested terns

Crested terns

A Crested tern flies by so close that it more than fills the picture frame.

A Crested tern flies by so close that it more than fills the picture frame.

A Silver gull making a fuss as gulls seem to do the world over.

A Silver gull making a fuss as gulls seem to do the world over.

A Silver gull sits on its nest with chicks, right at the door to the Resort's restaurant.

A Silver gull sits on its nest with chicks, right at the door to the Resort's restaurant.

A Brown booby on the wreck of the HMAS Protector,

A Brown booby on the wreck of the HMAS Protector,

The Pied oystercatcher looks so similar to the species we have around our European shores.

The Pied oystercatcher looks so similar to the species we have around our European shores.

A Black-tailed godwit. Black- and Bar-tailed godwits travel from places like Siberia, Alaska, Northern Canada and Northern China to spend spring and summer away from the cold winters of the Northern Hemisphere.

A Black-tailed godwit. Black- and Bar-tailed godwits travel from places like Siberia, Alaska, Northern Canada and Northern China to spend spring and summer away from the cold winters of the Northern Hemisphere.

A Wandering tatler wanders past.

A Wandering tatler wanders past.

Pacific golden plover in non-breeding plumage.

Pacific golden plover in non-breeding plumage.

Ruddy turnstone - so like the Turnstones we see on the beach in Sidmouth, England.

Ruddy turnstone - so like the Turnstones we see on the beach in Sidmouth, England.

The buff-banded rail is found throughout much of Australasia and the south-west Pacific.

The buff-banded rail is found throughout much of Australasia and the south-west Pacific.

The Wedge-tailed shearwater is one of the species referred to as muttonbirds, once considered easy meat by mariners. They caught them at night when the birds came ashore to visit their nests - they are barely able to waddle away as their legs and feet are offset to the rear for propulsion in water.

The Wedge-tailed shearwater is one of the species referred to as muttonbirds, once considered easy meat by mariners. They caught them at night when the birds came ashore to visit their nests - they are barely able to waddle away as their legs and feet are offset to the rear for propulsion in water.

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Bob Chappell 5 months, 2 weeks ago

superb set Robin

5 months, 2 weeks ago Edited
Camellia Staab 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Really enjoyed looking at all your captures. Some very interesting species of birds.

5 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Nancy Andrea D 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Gorgeous photos! Thanks for the share, Robin!

5 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
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