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Autumn News - April 2014

Birds of King Island (BOKI) - AUTUMN NEWS

[as published in KI Courier Wednesday 30.4.2014]

scarlet honeyeater.png

[Photo courtesy Margaret Bennett]

We are delighted to report the first sighting of a Scarlet Honeyeater

for KI and Tasmania. Lizzie Cambra had no idea that her bird rescue

operation, from the jaws of a friend’s cat in a Lymwood garden, would

result in the most southerly recorded sighting of the Scarlet Honeyeater in Australia!

This summer we also had the first official recordings of Dusky

Woodswallows breeding on the island with a number of people

observing and photographing them in the Bootlace Forest.

Autumn migration activities include the departure of the Swamp Harrier, the large white-rumped hawk that breeds here in the summer and returns to the mainland in winter. Currently, migrating through KI are a number of small birds such as Flame Robins, Silvereyes and Grey Fantails. You may notice more of them around than usual while we host both those travelling from Tasmania to the mainland to overwinter, as well as those that stay and live here. Cuckoos such as the Fantailed and Pallid Cuckoos have mainly gone, but some young birds and perhaps a few adults, seem to stay and overwinter so it’s worth keeping an eye out for these.

Internationally migrating shorebirds such as the Ruddy Turnstone are also departing this month with some sporting shiny new orange leg flags that were successfully attached by the Victorian Wader Study Group when they were here in March. However, first year birds (last years’ juveniles) will stay and overwinter. Soon to arrive are Double-banded Plovers. Many of these birds over-winter here having spent the spring/summer breeding in the Southern Alps, New Zealand. It will be getting pretty darn cold up in ‘them there mountains’ by now so they will be arriving on our beaches and wetlands such as Yellow-Rock and around Flanagan’s Lake any time now.

The first 2014 OBP survey was conducted this weekend at Sea Elephant with no birds seen although there is a report of an accidental sighting of two birds on Ridges Road. There will be another outing on Sunday 4th May at 6.30am at Sea Elephant Estuary. Anyone interested in joining this search should contact KI Field Nats or KINRMG for more details.


* Birds have hollow bones; one of several special adaptations they have to make them light and help them fly.

* The Short-tailed Shearwater (Muttonbird) can dive to 10meters for food and take flight straight up from the dive. They can live to over 40 years old.

* Although standing only 35cm tall, the Little (Fairy) Penguin can dive to 30meters to feed and it’s big cousin, the Emperor Penguin will regularly get down to 400 meters for a meal!!

* The Superb (blue) Fairy-wren was recently voted Australia’s favorite bird and also considered by ornithologists as one of the most promiscuous birds in the world!

* The Orange-bellied Parrot (OBP) is now the rarest bird in the world!

To find out more about our incredible bird life, please visit or stay in touch at

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