Michaelmas Cay a large, stable coral sand island, having a grassy area over 200 metres long permanently out of the water and able to withstand cyclones (hurricanes) and very strong winds with rough seas it is little wonder why it is such a popular nesting and breeding location.
Seastar Cruises began operating to Michaelmas and the Great Barrier Reef in 1956. During this time the 4 boats that have cruised under the name Seastar have all enjoyed a first-rate reputation with ornithologists worldwide.
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|Greater Frigatebird||< 20 sighted||High in the sky or sitting on driftwood on the cay|
|Lesser Frigatebird||< 20 sighted||High in the sky or sitting on driftwood on the cay|
|Silver Gull||< 100 sighted||Stalking chicks on the beach or staying by boats|
|Common Noddy||1000's sighted||On the beach and flying low over water|
|Black Noddy||<100 sighted||On the beach amongst Common Noddies|
|Brown Booby||50-200 sighted||On the beach and flying at sea|
|Sooty Tern||1000's sighted||On the beach and flying over water|
|Black –naped tern||< 100 sighted||Near peak of cay and on Glass Bottom Boat|
|Ruddy Turnstone||< 20 sighted||Near water’s edge on beach|
|Little Tern||< 50 sighted||At end of island and on Glass Bottom Boat|
|Crested Tern||1000's sighted||On the beach and flying over water|
|Lesser Crested Tern||1000's sighted||On the beach and flying over water|
|Bridled Tern||100's sighted||On marker floats and flying over water|
|Gull-billed Tern||< 20 sighted||Flying at sea|
|Caspian Tern||< 50 sighted||On opposite side of island|
|White-tailed Tropicbird||< 3 sighted||Flying high over cay|
|Roseate Tern||< 20 sighted||On opposite side of island|
|Masked Booby||< 5 sighted||On the beach near grass or on Glass Bottom Boat|
|Red-footed Booby||< 10 sighted||On end of island or on surface vessels off cay|
|Long-tailed Jaeger||1 sighted||Flying over cay|
|Curlew Sandpiper||< 5 sighted||On opposite side of island|
|Reef Heron||1 sighted||On beach near grass line|
|Reef Egret||1 sighted||On beach near grass line|
|Southern Giant Petrel||1 sighted||Swimming at the back of Seastar|
|Pomarine Jaeger||1 sighted||Swooping down and attacking terns on island|
|Shearwater||< 3 sighted||Flying over water
Those species that were observed on the opposite side of the island were viewed from the Seastar tender on a special circumnavigation of the island (weather and tides permitting) and those observed on top of the Glass Bottom Boat at Hastings Reef were noticed resting there when the Seastar arrived.
Island grasses consist of hairy spinifex, sea purslane and stalky grass.
The cay is a major nesting island. Most commonly the breeding species observed are sooty terns, crested terns, lesser crested terns and common noddies. Occasionally silver gulls, ruddy turnstones, bridled terns, black-naped terns and roseate terns nest, while recently brown boobies have also been observed nesting. Nesting occurs all through the year with the sooty terns breeding every 8½ months and the others annually.
We work alongside many birding societies around Australia and worldwide. Seastar provides them the opportunity of having close encounters with the birds in this beautiful sanctuary and our knowledgeable staff is always willing to share their knowledge about these amazing creatures.
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