Curlews of the Whitsundays
Bush Stone Curlew
Two types of curlews are found in the Whitsundays. The one most often seen is the Bush Stone Curlew often sighted on the Islands and have been known to hang around the resorts looking for handouts. Generally a nocturnal bird that sleeps mostly during the day and tends to hunt at night with an early start around dusk. The huge eyes are a give away that this bird likes to hunt in the dark.
They feed on insects, spiders, small frogs and reptiles. Laying just two eggs in a nest on the ground the local Goannas are always on the hunt for the delicacy of fresh curlew eggs. The birds walk boldly with pride and their heads held high, a good flyer that only takes to the air in emergencies.
The wailing sound the Curlew makes is haunting and eerie , but at the same time it is distinctive and not unpleasant sound to listen to. A famous Australia Author Peter Watt has penned an excellent book Titled Cry of The Curlew. A beautiful fictional book that comes highly recommended as excellent reading.
If walking ashore at dusk and you sight a curlew, please tell the boat crew as these wonderful birds though still common on the islands are fast falling victim to predators on the mainland. Look out for the beautiful golden eyes.
Beach Stone Curlew
Living just above the hight tide mark you can found nests of the beach stone Curlew. An island bird that rarely takes flight. When anchored close to shore on vessels in the Whitsundays you may often a wailing call as the curlew hunts for Crabs on the beach. As a ground nesting bird these beautiful creatures are very endangered. the national Parks of the Whitsundays are generally free of many introduced predators. therefore they are safe from foxes, wild cats and dogs. Young chicks are not safe from the local Eagle and Osprey population unfortunately.
But there great eye sight and good camouflage helps then stay out of trouble. All visitors to the islands are requested repect the fact the birds are an endangered species and they should be disturbed as little as possible.
The beach stone curlew is easily recognized by its long legs and large yellow bill, their heads have a bold black and white pattern.