Sounds of St Helena Island

Whilst on the island a few weeks ago, a pair of sea eagles came to greet us one afternoon.  Paula Peeters, busy sketching the bamboo stand, heard them calling and looked up into one of the hoop pines to see both sitting perched facing each other.  As a devoted bird lover, Paula automatically recorded them calling. Have a listen to her video:

Perched high in the hoop pine next door is their rambling stick nest, which has sat in those branches for many decades. It was once home to a pair of majestic Whistling Kites, but a territorial war ensued many years ago and the Sea Eagles have won out. The height of these aged, graceful pines is the ultimate vantage point for a 360 degree view of the calm blue waters of Moreton Bay, perfect for keeping an eye on their fish hunting grounds.

A pair of grey and white Sea Eagles, at home on a Hoop Pine on a sunny St Helena morning. Photo Belinda Daly. 

These Hoops Pines and a Bunya Pine were planted in a row at the front of the Superintendent’s garden, framing a roadway and creating both a boundary and a formal entrance to the gardens.

Hoop and Bunya Pines framing the Superintendent’s Garden. Photo Belinda Daly.

From a distance, it is these Hoop Pines that give St Helena Island its distinctive and iconic profile.  Two of the Hoop Pines tower above the landscape, making them easily recognisable markers within the landscape. It’s no wonder that the canny birds of prey take advantage of these lofty heights to create their home.

A moody afternoon in Moreton Bay. Photo Belinda Daly

Heritage gardens are remarkable places to be. St Helena Island’s Superintendent’s Garden is no different, being filled with unusual trees and plants not typically seen in your average backyard. Or if they are, they certainly haven’t reached the majestic heights of a tree that has been growing for well over 140 years. Thick, gnarled trunks abound and fruit such as olives, custard apples and mangoes still grow and ripen on the branches, as they have for well over a century.

But the sounds of St Helena Island do not stop there! As mentioned on last week’s post, the Giant Bamboo stand in the Superintendent’s Garden greeted me early in the morning with a musical chorus too:

It’s so nice to hear St Helena Island as well as see it!


St Helena Island’s gardens and natural landscape are featured on the Gardening Australia show at 7:30pm this Friday 3rd August on ABC TV. There’s going to be so much more to hear about the Superintendent’s Garden, as well as distinctive plants that tells us historical stories about their cultivation and use. Make sure you tune in to hear what more Jerry Coleby-Williams, a local living at Wynnum, can tell us. He’s there with Ranger Daley Donnelly and I’m looking forward to see which of St Helena’s heritage plants are featured.

Bamboo and dairy adjusted2

Sea Eagle video and pen and ink drawing of the Bamboo stand and Superintendent’s Dairy by Paula Peeters

2 thoughts on “Sounds of St Helena Island

  1. Lovely post Belinda! We saw a pair of sea eagles flying over Sandgate on Sunday. I wonder if they were the same pair? Not very far from St Helena, as the eagle flies.

    1. Thanks Paula. I imagine their range is quite big, so it would be interesting to see if it’s the same pair. Your recording is terrific and thanks for sharing that with us all. It was a treat for the eyes and ears to have the Sea Eagles there!

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