Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lady Elliot Island

While my son was out here on holiday we took a trip out to Lady Elliot Island. This island is a coral cay on the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. It has an eco rating of 6 out of 7 - where 7 is no public access.
We first drove to Harvey Bay which is about an hour and a half from where I live. We then took a plane out to Lady Eliot Island - this was about a 40 minute trip. The first part of the plane trip was the only part that I really didn't like! There were strong and gusty winds and the little plane really jumped and skidded across the air until we reached a sufficient height to be out of reach of the winds which were so strong close to the ground. This is a photo of a similar plane on the landing strip at the island.

The next three photos were taken out the window of the plane and show the island from east to west. The landing strip goes right across the middle of the island.


Everything done on the island has as little impact as possible and is as sustainable as possible. This photo shows the very impressive array of solar electricity panels.

There are a number of activities organized for guests on the island. We decided we wanted to go on a reef trip in the glass bottom boat with the option of then snorkeling from the boat. The boat trip was fantastic - although rough! As soon as we started moving around the reef there were mantra rays and green turtles popping up all around us! We were told this does not happen often - so we were lucky! In the end I "chickened out" of snorkeling - but my son went in and thoroughly enjoyed himself. He said that close in to the reef it was just like swimming in an aquarium! This is a photo of the boat taken later in the day when it was tied up just off the reef. (Sorry there are no other photos taken from the boat but I would not risk my dslr with the wind and the kind of sea that was running by that time. I estimated the swells to be up to a meter and a half by the time we came in.)

 The wind was strong and strengthened all day. By the time we came in from the boat trip all snorkeling off the island was cancelled and as the tide was low in the middle of the day there was no snorkeling in the lagoon either.  There was a guided reef tour in the afternoon and later I watched the lagoon begin to fill with water.

For me, a large part of the excitement of the day were the numbers and varieties of birds that are on the island. Everything on the island is protected so the birds are not at all afraid and wander around almost under your feet at times. The first birds we saw as we got off the plane were Noddies. They were everywhere! Large numbers of them were nesting in trees and we watched birds bringing in further nesting material and presenting it to the bird sitting on the nest. Noddies are very difficult to ID but I have been told that these tree nesting birds are Black (or White-capped) Noddies (Anous minutus).  
These ones were sitting at the end of the runway and didn't even disturb when our plane turned very close to them as we flew out in the afternoon.
A tree full of nests!


There were also large numbers of Terns wandering around among the resort buildings - but when I went to photograph them in the afternoon most of them had disappeared! This is a Sooty Tern. (Sterna fuscata)

Other birds that were running around everywhere were the  Buff-banded Rails. (Rallus philippensis). Everyone was warned that the doors into the dining room must be kept closed at all time or else the Rails came in and hopped up on the tables and made a terrible mess! This one had been having a good preen and was moving around without sleeking its feathers down. This gave great views of the colors and patterns on its wings.

One of the staff told me that there were Red-tailed Tropicbirds (Phaethon rubricauda) nesting beside one of the buildings. They were under some trees and immediately below the veranda of the building. There were a number of adults sitting on nests - one juvenile already getting some feathers - and one tiny ball of fluff tucked close in beside an adult.

 

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.



28 comments:

  1. wow, the nesting birds are great! what a cool place to visit!

    ReplyDelete
  2. What awesome captures, Mick!! It looks as though you and your son had a terrific trip! Your birds are so beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing with us!! Have a great week!

    ReplyDelete
  3. That was a really interesting post. And your photos are wonderful. You must have wonderful memories of that day!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow that must be real scary, although the plane is already bigger than what i saw on the airports here which go to the islands. How magnificent for birding, i wonder what the energy for the islands are used for. I envy your group wading on the shallow waters. I love escapades like that.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What an adventure! You got some terrific shots! I have been to Hervey Bay, is that the same place?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Gorgeous shots - love that tree of nests!

    ReplyDelete
  7. beautiful shots -all of them! My favorites are the boat in rough water, and the tree full of nests - thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  8. How fantastic to be able to visit such an amazing island. The picture of the boat made me feel sea sick just looking at it!

    ReplyDelete
  9. What a wonderful opportunity!
    Great shots of birds which I suspect you don't normally get a chance at! I would be hard-pressed to leave such a paradise.

    Hope you are having a great visit with your son, Mick.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great island to be with such nice birds.

    ReplyDelete
  11. you show some seriously good sea \ shore birds here, very very envious! as for the plane trip, that's just rubbing it in...lol

    Great post

    ReplyDelete
  12. That tree full of nests is amazing ...and all the bird photos are great . I guess the storm that was coming made the sea life more active...that happens with birds around here, we can always tell when it's going to rain hard. I thought I would enjoy snorkeling, but when I had a chance to, I found out that I didn't (claustrophobia or something). I'd rather look at birds.

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a great trip, except for the plane ride! The scenery is beautiful and the birds are all awesome. Wonderful photos, Mick!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I think the trip was worth all the rough plane trip. What a great place and gorgeous birds. I would have loved it. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. An extraordinary opportunity in spite of the initial rough plane ride. Love the patterns and tones on the rail's feathers.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Whoosh these are incredible image shares!! That water so choppy would have frightened me, as I cannot swim and am terrified of water. Glad you made it to take these wonderful sightings!

    ReplyDelete
  17. oh my; you deserved those fantastic bird photos after enduring the boat trek Mick! Love the Red-tailed Tropicbirds!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Nice photos. The tree full of nests looks great.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Awesome...I'm totally intrigued by the buff banded rail!!!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Wow! That place goes on my wish list! Those are marvelous shots.

    ReplyDelete
  21. What a fabulous trip and experience Mick.The bumpy plane ride, the strip landing and then the birds - I lived it all. Great pictures - bet you dropped a lens size there.

    ReplyDelete
  22. What a lovely trip with so many wonderful birds!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Interesting post. I love the view from the plane. Neat looking birds. that tree full of nests is awesome. and strange. MB

    ReplyDelete
  24. Beautiful pictures, the view from the plane is sublime.
    Birds are also perfect.
    Greetings Irma

    ReplyDelete
  25. What a marvelous place! You documented the journey very nicely!

    ReplyDelete
  26. An extravaganza of tree nests. It was worth the trip!

    ReplyDelete
  27. What a great set of pictures - the tropic bird is one of the birds in your part of the world I would most like to see! They even look remarkable sat on the ground!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

    PS: sorry for slow reply - I have been out of phone / internet range for most of the week - rather nice if the truth be told!

    ReplyDelete