Tern migration peak on Sunshine Coast, Qld

To: martin cachard <>, birding-aus <>
Subject: Tern migration peak on Sunshine Coast, Qld
From: Jill Dening <>
Date: Tue, 15 Mar 2011 21:46:24 +1000
Hi Martin,

To explain to those who aren't familiar, the Gull-billed Tern occurs in Australia in two subspecies. The one resident all around the country is Sterna nilotica macrotarsa, while the Asian Sterna nilotica affinis migrates in small numbers every summer from Asia. Mostly they are seen in north-west Australia.

No, I have never seen an affinis here in SEQ. I have never laid eyes on one, but would dearly love to. Now that's a bird I would travel to see. I am very much aware of them (from Danny Rogers' excellent paper), but have actually not seen many macrotarsa Gull-billed Terns in recent times. I put this down to the recent abundant inland conditions. So an affinis would stand out like the proverbial if one were present here. I wonder if an affinis would follow macrotarsa Gullbills inland?

Paul Walbridge reported an affinis in Brisbane a good decade ago, but I don't think there has been another reported since then - around here. I guess it makes sense that if they are going to turn (!) up on the east coast of Australia, Cairns is a likely place for them, being closer to Asia. Half your luck for being able to see them.



Jill Dening
Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

26° 51' 41"S  152° 56' 00"E

On 15/03/2011 7:43 PM, martin cachard wrote:

Hi Jill&  others

I have read about your tern counts Jill with great interest.

Do you have any records in recent times on the Sunshine Coast of afinnis  
Gull-billed Terns amongst the visiting terns you've surveyed?

Myself&  Adam Arnold first noticed them here in Cairns amongst the visiting Aussie 
breeding Gull-bills in very small numbers in October 2007 (3 birds). We have had them 
here in small numbers in summers since, but the most we've had on the Cairns Esplanade 
site at any time is 4 birds. They arrive late October&  have usually gone by early 
March (there are none here at the moment).

Very curious if you get them down there with any regularity....??


Martin Cachard
0428 782 808

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