Noosa River estuary shorebird survey, Wednesday, December 19, 2007 (SEQl

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Noosa River estuary shorebird survey, Wednesday, December 19, 2007 (SEQld)
From: Jill Dening <>
Date: Thu, 27 Dec 2007 21:00:16 +1000

Hi Everyone,

It's been a while since I used to post regularly, and I have a bit on which to update you regarding the Noosa estuary on Queensland's Sunshine Coast and its shorebirds.

We undertook 18mths of shorebird and tern surveys for Noosa Council and its North Shore Management Committee, submitting a report earlier in 2007. We reported on what was there, which habitats were more important and what levels of disturbance were occurring. I think our highest migratory tern count on peak passage was 38,500 birds. Migratory shorebirds occur in only moderate numbers, with the most common species being Bar-tailed Godwit, Pacific Golden Plover and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.

Council responded to the report by limiting public access to one sand island in the estuary from September until March annually, so that local shorebirds can breed undisturbed. This is also helpful to migratory birds. Vehicle access is now also barred completely to the northern sandspit where up to 20 4WDs would park at peak times. Vehicles are now obliged to park further up the beach behind the bollards and people must now walk in, and leave their dogs, horses and camels with the cars. Boats may still land on the sandspit.

Council's move to restrict access really surprised us. What moved them to action was not especially the information we imparted, but the pictures we took of birds defending nests and nesting habitat with wheel tracks through it. We are now partway through an unplanned extension of the surveys, which I intend to continue for two years, in order to see if the closures make any difference in the use of the estuary by shorebirds and terns, or difference in bird numbers (not that this would be definitive). I guess I'm driven by curiosity, and can see that if there is a case to show benefit from the closure, it might have wider application than only Noosa.

We surveyed last Wednesday, December 19. We found at least an estimated 2740 migratory terns, made up of White-winged Blacks (WWTE), Littles (LITE)and Commons (COTE). The vast majority were WWTE and COTE, and could have been around half-half. I can't give exact numbers because I count them in 10s as they fly in to roost at night, and though we could separate them to species level, when they came in too quickly it's too hard. And the migratory terns arrived later this year than in previous years.

Also of interest was the presence, for the first time during our surveys, of 2 Beach Stone-Curlew. If anyone has any records of this species in Noosa before, I'd love to hear from you, just out of interest. It's perfect habitat, but we hadn't seen them there.

Of further interest was that I noticed two juvenile Bar-tailed Godwits showing one or two new adult feathers on their mantles. I haven't been sharp enough in previous years to pick up the point at which the juvenile feathers give way to adult feathers.

Cheers all,

Jill Dening


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