The tern migration is over for another year in Caloundra. On Friday we saw a
total of 22 migrant terns, compared with our peak of almost 42,000. The
major drop off occurred almost to the day for 2002 and 2003, whilst 2001 was
a little earlier.
On Friday we had four Little Terns on the sandbanks, all in breeding
plumage. Barb Dickson saw a small flock of 14 fly in, not land, gather the
four from the sand, and they all flew on north, and were not seen again that
The Commons go first, followed by the White-wing Blacks, followed by the
Littles. I was in Bundaberg (300km north of Caloundra) last week and saw 32
Little Terns, whilst the Caloundra sandbanks were all but bare of them. I
noticed this a couple of years ago when there were Little Terns still in
Maroochydore (only 20km north of Caloundra), and when they had been absent
from Caloundra for a couple of weeks. The migration of the Australian
population may not be particularly speedy in autumn. Perhaps we'll find out
in the future.
It's interesting that as soon as the migrant terns go from here, the gull
population starts to rise sharply. I wonder about that.
Our weekly data collection will continue until the end of June, just to give
us a full three years of numbers to play with. Then, come July, I will be
able to do things like ordinary people, like go on holidays for more than
ten minutes. For three years, I have concentrated on little but terns, and
still I feel I know so little. We will still play with terns, but we will
move on to different questions, and hopefully have more personal
flexibility. In the second half of the year we will produce a report on the
On Friday it was excruciatingly boring during the evening session with no
migrants arriving from the ocean. We amused ourselves watching the local
Peregrine Falcon worrying the thousands of lorikeets above us at Bulcock
Beach as they settled down for the night. I don't think the Peregrine was
serious, because the flight was lazy, and the lorikeets seemed to sense it.
In the past we have seen aggressive attacks and airborne corpses as the
Norfolk pines explode with terrorised lorikeets.
Sunshine Coast, Qld
26º 51' 152º 56'
Ph (07) 5494 0994
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