Gull-billed Terns in Caloundra, SEQ

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Gull-billed Terns in Caloundra, SEQ
From: Jill Dening <>
Date: Sat, 24 Sep 2011 08:27:27 +1000
Hi All,

Yesterday I went paddling in Caloundra with Barb Dickson, with the objective of nailing all the birds on a full tide. We started at 4pm and started paddling back just after sunset before 6pm. We did get a surprise - a large number of Gull-billed Terns. Unfortunately we had no lights and had to paddle back in the last light of the day, whilst Crested Terns were still arriving from the sea.

Below is the list of all birds seen. We were trying to assess the Crested Tern population at present, having seen more than 1000 on the Maroochy sandbanks at 10am on Thursday, suggesting there would be more in the evening there. In Caloundra we counted 300 birds arriving, but there would have been more by the time they had all arrived.

Gull-billed Terns arrived from south in the passage, as did the Crested Terns. All birds arrived from south to their roost because the wind was a nor-nor-easterly. However, the Cresteds were arriving from the sea, and the Gullbills were arriving from further down the passage (which roughly lies north-south, and is 30km long). The Gullbills arrived in smallish groups of 5-40 over a couple of hours until they totalled 247. This is a very large number for our region. They were in all kinds of plumages. If we had been working from the shoreline, we would have had little hope of picking them out, but as we were near their roost, we saw it all. I just wonder if we have missed this in past years, or if this is truly unusual. We have never stayed on the water so late before.

Survey_Date     Location_Name   Common_Name     Sum Of Number_Seen      
23-Sep-11       Sandbank 1      Australian Pelican      10      
23-Sep-11       Sandbank 1      Bar-tailed Godwit       31      
23-Sep-11       Sandbank 1      Caspian Tern    3       
23-Sep-11       Sandbank 1      Crested Tern    300     
23-Sep-11       Sandbank 1      Curlew Sandpiper        24      
23-Sep-11       Sandbank 1      Eastern Curlew  38      
23-Sep-11       Sandbank 1      Little Egret    1       
23-Sep-11       Sandbank 1      Gull-billed Tern        247     
23-Sep-11       Sandbank 1      White Ibis      54      
23-Sep-11       Sandbank 1      Little Black Cormorant  20      
23-Sep-11       Sandbank 1      Osprey  1       
23-Sep-11       Sandbank 1      Pacific Golden Plover   3       
23-Sep-11       Sandbank 1      Pied Cormorant  3       
23-Sep-11       Sandbank 1      Pied Oystercatcher      1       
23-Sep-11       Sandbank 1      Silver Gull     65      
23-Sep-11       Sandbank 1      Whiskered Tern  2       (in breeding plumage)
23-Sep-11       Sandbank 1      Whimbrel        107     
23-Sep-11       Sandbank 1      Whistling Kite  1       
23-Sep-11       Sandbank 1      White-faced Heron       2       913


Jill Dening
Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

26° 51' 41"S  152° 56' 00"E

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