Roseate Tern Research

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Roseate Tern Research
From: Laurie&Leanne Knight <>
Date: Tue, 07 May 2002 22:24:55 +1000
I had the pleasure of watching a peregrine perch on top of the building across
the street from my workplace this afternoon.

While I am not sure that this news item has all its fcats straight, it may be be
of interest to some ...

Bird research takes a tern for the better

A team of researchers led by the QPWS has solved one of the world's great
wildlife mysteries - a remote Queensland reef area is the summer feeding ground
of a "lost" population of roseate terns.

Roseate terns migrate from their breeding grounds in Japan and China every year
to miss the northern winter, but their destination had always been unknown.

Researchers now believe the entire Asian population of roseate terns, apart from
first-year birds, flies to the Swain Reefs, 250km north-east of Rockhampton, for
its annual migration.

Almost 25,000 birds were counted on six small coral cays during the seven-day
survey in January. About 1150 were caught in a small cannon net, then banded and
fitted with white leg flags.

QPWS Principal Conservation Officer Paul O'Neill, who led the research team on
the 12-hour sea journey from Gladstone to the reef, said 19 of the captured
birds were carrying Japanese leg bands. Another had been banded in Taiwan.

"This is a record total number of foreign-banded birds to be captured in
Australia in such a short time," Paul said.

"This discovery is of special significance as the roseate tern is not yet
included in the schedule of species covered under the Japan or China-Australia
Migratory Bird Agreements," he said.

"The agreements draw attention to the value of breeding, roosting and feeding
grounds for migratory bird species, and ensure they are considered in any
planning or environmental strategies."

Paul paid tribute to the research team that accompanied him to the Swain Reefs.

"Without them it would have been impossible," he said.

They included Dr Clive Minton, chairman of the Victorian Wader Study Group and a
leading authority on cannon netting techniques, Chris Hassell from the Broome
Bird Observatory, Anna Lashko from James Cook University, QPWS Senior Technical
Officer Rebecca White, QPWS Ranger Dave Devney and Ken Bichel, skipper of the
marine parks vessel, the Tamaru.
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