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Where Have All The Birds Gone?

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In the last FINIA newsletter, FIDO’s John Sinclair raised concerns about the apparent diminishing number of birds on Fraser Island.  He points to the evidence provided by a group of bird watchers who recorded 65 species of birds in a trip across the island in a 24-hour period in November 1968.  John said that over five days at Easter on the island this year he managed to see or hear only 20 species through the bush and on the beach.

John asked the question: where have the island’s birds gone? Without being too smart, I could say … to the Anderson bird baths at Eurong.

John wrote that in 1968, white-cheeked and brown honeyeaters were commonly seen, but absent in Easter this year.

These are two of the honeyeaters which are regular visitors at our bird baths along with Lewin’s, dusky, blue-faced and white-nape honeyeaters.  Seasonally, they are joined by scarlet honeyeaters and once, after heavy weather, a mangrove honey eater out of its habitat came for a brief visit.

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Without taking into account the birds on the beach or across the island, we have identified 61 species around our property … admittedly, though not all in one day.

We have regular feathered visitors all year round, like the eastern yellow robin, the grey fantail, and the grey and little shrike-thrushes.  Many others fly in at different tree flowering times and seasons or are just passing through, like the doves, three species of cuckoo, the satin and leaden flycatchers, the bush curlew and the red-backed wren.

Perhaps, to make a fairer comparison with the sightings in 1968, we would have to engage a similar sized group of bird watchers in a November with similar conditions who can range across similar terrain.  It would be valuable, as John suggests, to set up and maintain a database with assistance from the many bird watchers who live on or visit the island.

In the meantime, we will continue to spend quality time sitting on our verandah and enjoying the activity at the bird baths.

Article and photos submitted by David Anderson, Fraser Island Association

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