(Apologies if you receive this more than once - some people are on a couple
The next tern identification day on the Caloundra sandbanks is on Saturday
morning, 8th February from 8am until noon. Please let me know early if you
would like to join us. There is no charge.
Also on that afternoon is a Qld Wader Study Group wader identification day
at Toorbul, in the southern Pumicestone Passage. It is feasible to go from
one to the other, which is what I plan to do. Wader id days are an
opportunity for birders without a scope to look through someone else's, or
to test them all with a view to buying your own. Experienced wader watchers
will be there to help people with the tricky id of waders. There is no need
to be a member - this is one of the ways we gain new members.
We had the second tern id day on Saturday, 25th Jan, with 16 participants
plus 5 (thanks, loyal crew) of us to help people sort out the different
terns. Whilst it was successful, I made a mistake in accepting too many
participants. I did so on the premise that five were second-timers, and
wouldn't require as much help. What I didn't take account of was the time it
takes to get so many people out there in relays in a small tinnie. On our
last ride to the sandbanks, all terns lifted, and everyone had to be
relocated to a nearby sandbank. What a pain in the ****. Thanks to Ken
McKeown and Judy Caughley for taking over the boat driving, leaving me free
to attend to people.
There were no problems after that. We had a marvellous lesson when two
Crested Terns stood side by side. One was a classic yellow-billed
individual, whilst the other, which attracted much interest, had an orangey
bill. It was a wonderful opportunity to show that an orange bill is not
sufficient evidence to identify a Lesser Crested Tern. The two birds were
much the same size. I have seen many Crested Terns with orange bills, but
not of such a deep orange as to make them Lesser Cresteds, nor small enough.
A Lesser Crested Tern is noticeably smaller than a Crested. In this instance
we had two birds standing closely together to make the point that there is a
great deal of variation in the colour of the bills of Crested Terns. All we
needed to complete the lesson was a third bird - a Lesser Crested Tern.
Apart from the above, we also saw Common Terns, White-winged Blacks and
Littles. The Littles are moving steadily into breeding plumage for their
trip north. The Commons have a long way to go (with plumage change), as have
the White-wings. No sign yet of southern-breeding Little Terns.
February is peak population time for terns here. Last year we reached
42,000, but have only reached 27,000 so far this year.
For the next session on Feb 8, I will cut off at 12 participants. I already
have 5 on the list.
Sunshine Coast, Qld
26º 51' 152º 56'
Ph (07) 5494 0994
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