Little Terns, Queensland

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Little Terns, Queensland
From: Jill Dening <>
Date: Tue, 10 Apr 2001 08:17:17 +1000
Hello everyone,

I'm just resubscribing after several weeks off the list (because of lack of time), and I confess it's because I need help.

We are short on eyes along the Queensland coast, and with Easter coming, some of you might be taking a break along the coast. If so, read on, and take your scopes with you to look for Little Terns

Interesting things have been happening in recent weeks. For instance, last week we picked up six flagged terns (4 Littles, 1 Common, 1 Caspian). Our observations on the Caloundra (SEQLD) sandbanks have established for the first time that the endangered south-east Australian population of the Little Tern (LITE) disperses northwards after breeding (so far only from the NSW colonies) and reaches Caloundra. Here are some facts:

  • about 90% of LITE currently present are in breeding plumage
  • all flagged terns sighted in recent weeks have been in non-breeding plumage
  • no juveniles or immatures have been seen
  • once a flagged bird is seen, it is not seen again - they are on the move, possibly north from Caloundra.

I would therefore ask you to especially target non-breeding LITE, and look for colour flags. If you don't have the optics to get the exact combination, please just let me know what you saw, where and when.

If you have a scope, the combination can identify the bird down to the individual. You will probably find two coloured flags on the left leg, and a coloured flag over a metal band on the right leg. Get the plumage as well (breeding or non-breeding).

Many thanks if you are prepared to take the trouble. The trouble with breaking new ground is that one ends up asking more questions, and we need your help.

Cheers, and Happy Easter terning,

Jill Dening
Sunshine Coast, Qld
26º 51'        152º 56'

Ph (07) 5494 0994
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