Heron Island is a protected habitat for a stunning variety of wildlife. An amazing array of animal life can be discovered throughout the year. You soon sense that you are very much a guest of the natural environment, you’re here to be part of it, to enjoy it and to learn from it.
January is the peak breeding season for sea birds, so they are very active this time of year. Up to 100,000 can be on the island, particularly Black Noddy Terns, Wedge Tailed Shearwater (Mutton Birds) and Eastern Reef Egrets. Female turtles are laying eggs and turtle hatchlings can be seen making their way to the sea.
Wedge-tailed Shearwater (Mutton Bird) chicks hatching in February. The island birdlife remains active with up to approximately 100,000 birds on the island. Female turtles are still laying eggs and hatchlings continue to emerge from their nests.
Some birds show breeding plumage during March as they return to their Arctic nesting grounds. Birds still nesting include the Buff-banded Rail and the Black Noddy Tern. Female turtles are at the end of the nesting season.
Young Wedge Tailed Shearwater birds (Puffinus pacificus) leave their burrows and adult Shearwaters begin to leave the island.
The last of the turtle hatchlings can be seen emerging from their nests. Young Wedgetailed Shearwaters are still learning to fly in preparation to leave the island by the end of the month.
Humpback Whales’ northern migration begins in June. They are often seen passing through waters around the Island, and the Jetty is a great spot for Whale Watching. An average Humpback weighs 40 tonnes and measures 16 metres.
Humpback Whales are frequently sighted in the Capricornia Bunker region in July, and the Jetty is a great spot for Whale Watching. Eastern Reef Egrets start building their nests.
August is warming up to spring. There is more general activity on the reef and the island. Humpback Whales can be sighted in the waters around the island.
Humpback Whales are active during September, breaching regularly. Whales begin heading south to the Antarctic with their calves. Northern Hemisphere migratory birds, such as Ruddy Turnstones and Eastern Golden Plovers arrive back on the island.
Black Noddies return from other feeding grounds and Island throughout the Pacific and join the few thousand that stay on the island year round to feed in the surrounding waters. They join the resident Silver Eyes, Buff Banded Rails, Silver Gulls and Egrets that will nest from October through to March. Wedge Tailed Shearwaters are also returning to the island. Turtle mating may be observed in the surrounding waters.
Turtle egg laying begins in November. Wedge Tailed Shearwaters can be seen digging and repairing nesting burrows at night. Black Noddy Tern eggs can be seen in the nest. The annual synchronised mass spawning of corals usually occurs during this month.
Bird life is extremely active in December with approximately 100,000 birds on the island. Numerous black Noddy chicks can be seen and Wedge Tailed Shearwaters are laying eggs and hatchlings begin emerging from the sand. Coral spawning may occur if this did not occur in November.