Locals refer to Karragarra Island simply as 'Karra', and of the four inhabited islands in the southern Bay, it is the least developed. In fact, Karra's one-hundred-and-sixty residents haven't even built a shop or convenience store in their community, choosing instead to get supplies via ferry from the neighbouring islands. These islands - Macleay, Lamb and Russell - are only separated from Karra and each other by narrow tidal channels, so realistically, this method of shopping is no more burdensome to the people of Karra than it is for city-dwellers to catch a bus down the road. The journey is a lot more scenic however!
The first bird I saw upon arrival was that guardian of the mudflats, the Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles). After it alerted the entire island as to my early-morning presence, I moved on into the coastal woodland along the northern Esplanade.
|Australasian Figbird (Sphecotheres vieilloti)|
Unlike the lapwing, the bush birds on Karragarra seem to be very at ease among people. The average age of Karra's human residents is sixty, so maybe generations of these birds have lived un-harassed by children and un-disturbed by bulldozers. I also didn't see any cats in the gardens along the Esplanade, and the few dogs on the island were securely contained in their yards. As a result, I was fortunate to have good views of otherwise 'flighty' birds like Bar-shouldered Doves (Geopelia humeralis) and Pale-headed Rosellas (Platycercus adscitus). It was a treat especially to see a family group of the latter species perched out in the open on an aerial wire.
The coastal forest on the island is dominated by Grey Ironbark (Eucalyptus siderophloia), Forest Red Gum (E. tereticornis) and Bribie Island Pine (Callitris columellaris). Mixed among these in the thicker sections are Swamp Box (Lophostemon suaveolens), Umbrella Cheese Tree (Glochidion sumatranum) and Soap Tree (Alphitonia excelsia) specimens. In these shady parts, you may hear the lovely 'ting-ting' calls of the Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis) and the harsh raspings of the Leaden Flycatcher (Myiagra rubecula).
Aware that I might miss the favourable tide conditions, I hurried to the East Road conservation area to check out the mudflats. There were no waders along the mangrove fringe, but plenty of crabs! I was particularly entranced by the waving claws and mysterious displays of the Orange-clawed Fiddler Crabs (Uca coarctata) lining the channel.
|Orange-clawed Fiddler Crabs|
Having missed out on wading birds (or so I thought - I was about to see a very interesting one), I headed back across the island, noticing a sharp rise in the humidity and cloud cover. Looking up into the sky, I saw a flock of about forty White-throated Needletails (Hirundapus caudactus) making the most of such conditions to feast on airborne insects. By the time I made it back to the swimming beach, the clouds and swifts had dissipated but the terribly humid conditions remained.
|Karragarra Island swimming beach|
|Brown Honeyeater (Lichmera indistincta)|
The most numerous birds on the island were undoubtedly the honeyeaters, especially the Noisy Friarbird (Philemon corniculatus). Flowering eucalypts not dominated by this species were instead utilised by its equally aggressive relation, the Blue-faced Honeyeater (Entomyzon cyanotis). Lurking nearby in the dense mangrove foliage were Eastern Koels (Eudynamys orientalis), large migratory cuckoos that parasitise the nests of both these birds. Nature has a way of maintaining a perfect balance!
My birding highlight for the day was not to be seen in the treetops however, but on the ground. The southern Moreton Bay Islands are a particularly good place to see a wader that has evolved to forego the seashores in favour of the woods - the Bush Stone-Curlew (Burhinus grallarius). Normally these wonderful birds struggle to live in suburbia because of the pet conflict and traffic issues such a thing entails. Yet on the Bay Islands, where traffic is non-existent and people seem to be responsible animal-owners for the most part, these birds frequent home gardens as though they were stone statues come to life! Seeing a family group that included a young bird nearing adulthood was a delight, and offered a great opportunity to see why this species is sometimes called a 'Thick-Knee'!
|Bush Stone-Curlew, INSET: Juvenile bird|
If you are still hankering for more birds, please check out 'Wild Bird Wednesday', a collection of birding blogs from all around the world. Should the thought of Moreton Bay island life (both human and otherwise) appeal to you, I encourage you to head over to 'Macleay Island House Coondooroopa Cove' on Facebook and like it to receive updates. Thank you for following 'Wild Brisbane' this year as well!