Caloundra sandbanks, SEQld, 21/3/02

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Caloundra sandbanks, SEQld, 21/3/02
From: jilldening <>
Date: Sat, 23 Mar 2002 12:13:24 +1100
Hi All,

The following is a rundown of the birds seen on the Caloundra sankbanks on
Thursday, March 21. Total terns around 26,000. Weather was fine, but the
afternoon was atypical, in that Common Terns were absent during most of the
afternoon survey, arriving in their thousands from the sea with White-winged
Black Terns from 4.30 onwards. This gave us ample opportunity to peruse the
relatively small flock of under 3000 terns for flags. Little Terns (about
1200 this day) have a very frustrating habit of being a bit too laid back
for our convenience, and when at rest spend their time sitting on their leg
flags. Our patience was rewarded with three flagged birds, two from the
southern breeding population, and one from the northern population. (I
almost wrote "trans-equatorial population", but pulled myself up sharply,
because we still don't really know if the Gulf of Carpentaria breeding
population migrates, and if so, to where.)

The proportion of Little Terns in breeding plumage has been climbing week by
week, and this week it dropped, as I had expected/hoped, suggesting that the
southern breeders are now making up a greater proportion of the Caloundra
population as they pass through to wherever they spend the Australian
winter. This is evidenced by the flagged birds we are now picking up.

We had a chance to enjoy the White-winged Blacks during the leisurely
afternoon survey ( about 1500 at that stage). They are a mottley crew at the
present, changing their mostly pale grey plumage to mostly black. One bird
showed almost solid black head, breast and back, and some already have pink
legs, though most are still black. They can be picked easily on the wing
now, with a splash of black on the underwing. They acquire the black on the
underwing prior to the torso.

Juvenile Crested Terns are starting to look a bit less like pied babies, and
are starting to acquire their first immature plumage.

We didn't get a chance to examine the Commons, but I have noticed that the
odd one is showing a solid black breeding cap. Although moult is still
underway for terns, I now see very few outer primaries lying on the sand, as
was the case a few weeks back. Note in the figures below that the
overwhelming majority of the unidentified terns are Commons, but we are
unable to get solid numbers of species breakups.



Caspian Tern    1
CommonTern    50
Crested Tern    62
Gull-billed Tern    3
Little Tern    1182
White-winged Tern    1496
Silver Gull    408
Terns unidentified    23520
Eastern Curlew    19
Whimbrel    62
Bar-tailed Godwit    138
Curlew Sandpiper    36
Common Greenshank    3
Red-necked Stint    6
Grey-tailed Tattler    22
Greater Sand Plover    18
Lesser Sand Plover    25
Red-capped Plover    41
Pacific Golden Plover    85
Plover spp unidentified    7
Waders, other    1 (actually a Striated Heron, for which I omitted to
provide a category)
Australian Pelican    1
Little Pied Cormorant    11
Pied Cormorant    9
Little Black Cormorant    6
Jill Dening
Sunshine Coast, Qld
26º 51'     152º 56'
Ph (07) 5494 0994

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