Between May and October you could be ‘in the right place at the right time’ and glimpse the tail of a southern right whale rising from the ocean’s surface, before splashing to the depths below. These whales migrate from the Antarctic to the warmer southern Australian coastal waters to give birth and mate. During this season they fast, and feed again on krill, when they return south.
Keep a watch for osprey plunging feet first into the sea to catch fish. Ospreys are coastal raptors that hunt close to the shore – along cliff lines, in sheltered bays and river estuaries. Each year two to four eggs are laid in September - October in a bulky nest constructed of sticks, on the cliff-top close to here.
The osprey is listed as a ‘vulnerable’ species. In spring and summer both eggs and chicks are at threat from inquisitive people. Eggs can die in the cold air if the incubating parent is forced to leave the nest. Once hatched, chicks are less likely to be fed if the parents or nest are disturbed.
There are many other birds which frequent this area, keep an eye out for the rock parrot, ruddy turnstone, sooty oystercatcher, australasian gannet, hooded plover and the crested tern.
Here are some of the other animals you may also encounter on Kangaroo Island:
Kangaroo Island kangaroo
This kangaroo is smaller, darker and longer furred than its closest mainland relative. During the day they often rest under vegetation, coming out to graze in the early morning and late afternoon. Spot one in this park or at these alternative locations:
- At Black Swamp at Flinders Chase National Park
- At Grassdale in Kelly Hill Conservation Park. Park at the gate on the South Coast Road and follow the 2 km track to an open area near an old cottage.
- Lathami Conservation Park and surrounding paddocks. Enter the park through the double gates around 3 km south east of the Stokes Bay Café along the North Coast Road.
- On the Hog Bay Road from Prospect Hill to Baudin Beach. Take care when parking. Ensure your car is completely off the road when parked.
These wallabies are nocturnal and are best seen at dawn and dusk. During the day Tammar wallabies rest in dense, low vegetation. They move through tunnels in the vegetation from their daytime shelters to grassed areas to feed in the evening. Spot one in this park or at these alternative locations:
- At Grassdale in Flinders Chase National Park. Park at the gate on the South Coast Road and follow the 2 km track to an open area near an old cottage.
- Around the campsites and down towards the jetty at Vivonne Bay.
- Along the D’Estrees Bay Road up to Wheatons Beach in Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park.
- In the township at Nepean Bay, via Western Cove Road.
- In Baudin Conservation Park. Access to the carpark is along Frenchmans Terrace and south along Binneys Track.
Echidnas are found across Kangaroo Island in all types of habitat. Short-beaked echidnas are generally solitary, but during the breeding season from May–September male echidnas form trains behind females. Echidnas can be seen throughout Kangaroo Island, across all types of habitat.
The Australian sea-lion is one of the rarest seals in the world. Seal Bay Conservation Park is home to the world’s third largest breeding colony.
Spot one in this park or at these alternative locations: Seal Bay Conservation Park on a guided tour.
Long-nosed fur seals
Long-nosed fur seals live along rocky shores around Kangaroo Island where they rest and breed in colonies.
Spot one in this park or at these alternative locations: Admirals Arch in Flinders Chase National Park.
Glossy black-cockatoos feed during the day returning to their nests at dusk. Spot one in this park or at these alternative locations:
Koalas were not on Kangaroo Island at the time of European settlement. In the 1920s conservationists released 18 koalas in Flinders Chase National Park to save their declining mainland population. The population quickly established and their numbers rapidly increased and koalas moved across the island. Koalas spends most of the day resting in a tree fork, usually climbing into the canopy around dusk to feed. Look for their ball-shape high in the canopy, or as they move between branches. Spot one in this park or at these alternative locations:
- Grassdale in Kelly Hill Conservation Park. Park at the gate on the South Coast Road and follow the 2 km track to an open area near an old cottage.
- The Heritage Walk that starts at the Flinders Chase National Park Visitor Centre.
- The scenic walking trail along Cygnet River at Duck Lagoon, accessed via Kookaburra Road.
Heath goannas are active during the day and are often seen basking in the sun. Spot one here or at these alternative locations
Cape Barren goose
Cape Barren geese can be seen on Kangaroo Island from autumn through to early spring. Spot one in this park or at these alternative locations:
- The grassy areas near the entrance of Flinders Chase National Park, where they breed.
There has been 29 different types of whales recorded in South Australia. The most common are the southern right whale, humpback whale, sperm whale, blue whale and orca whale (killer whale). Of these you are most likely to spot a southern right whale along the South Australian coast.
Southern right whale
Every year, between May to October, southern right whales gather along the southern coastline of Australia to mate and calve, before returning to sub-Antarctic waters to feed.
The southern right whale is a large whale which can grow up to 17.5 metres and weigh over 80 tons. The vast majority of southern right whales are black in colour with distinctive white patterns on their heads that are calluses formed by small crustaceans known as 'whale lice'. The patterns are visible at birth and are unique to each whale allowing researchers to identify individual whales.