Where are the terns? SEQld

To: Jill Dening <>, birding-aus <>
Subject: Where are the terns? SEQld
From: Peter Kyne <>
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2007 22:05:36 +1000
Hi Jill,

I spent three days on Moreton Bay assisting a researcher with some fieldwork between Monday 22nd and Friday 26th October. We were operating north of Peel Island, along the western side of Moreton Island and around St Helena and Mud Islands. On all days there were good numbers of both Little and Common Terns to be seen feeding on the bay, usually in smallish parties of 5-20 birds. I would say over the course of the 3 days several hundred birds were seen, but certainly nothing representing the thousands. Littles outnumbered Commons probably 2 to 1.

Where there are often small numbers of these species at the small Dunwich high tide roost here on North Stradbroke Island, I have encountered only a single Common Tern using the roost since the birds arrived back in the region.

On Saturday 3rd November, our carload of Lesserlegs twitchers saw small numbers of both species at Woody Head off the Iluka Road and at Flat Rock outside Ballina in northern NSW. But, only in the tens.

Cheers, Pete Kyne
Dunwich, North Stradbroke Island

At 10:30 AM 11/13/2007 +1000, Jill Dening wrote:
Hi Everyone,

Yesterday I did a survey of the Noosa estuary on high tide, low tide and then an evening session waiting for terns to come to roost for the night. Whilst I haven't yet brought the data together, I assure you there was nothing of great interest to report, except............

where are the migratory terns?

Yesterday we saw not a single Little, Common or White-winged Black Tern in Noosa. On last month's Noosa survey we saw a small flock of Commons - maybe 20. A check of my database for our three-year Caloundra sandbanks project showed them all present at this time of year. The Noosa habitat is similar to Caloundra, is not far away, and so far has shown itself to be a significant site for migratory terns. It's got me perplexed.

Last week I was in northern NSW and saw small numbers of Commons and Littles. I haven't been to Caloundra in a while, and have no idea what is happening elsewhere in SEQld. Has anyone seen any Commons, Littles and White-winged Blacks around SEQld this season? If so, in what kinds of numbers?

And is there anyone lurking on the list, who knows anything about fish movement as it could pertain to terns? This is a glaring gap in my understanding of tern movements. I'm of the feeling that it's all about bait fish movements. (Yes, I know there are other variables, but I can't get past this fish business, because I shouldn't have let myself remain ignorant for so long.) No need to bore the list with this subject, so a private answer is probably best.

I wonder if La Nina has anything to do with it. Water temperatures. I wish my mind didn't ask so many questions all the time.



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Peter M. Kyne

PhD Candidate
Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology
University of Queensland
St Lucia 4072 QLD
Ph: (07) 3365 2720 or 3365 2944
Fax: (07) 3365 1299


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