Do Frigatebirds Form Societies? Some observations from Weipa

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Subject: Do Frigatebirds Form Societies? Some observations from Weipa
From: Laurie Knight <>
Date: Fri, 4 Jun 2010 21:45:28 +1000
A work trip saw me spending a bit over a day in Weipa a couple of weeks ago.

The highlight was watching a fleet of frigatebirds returning to their roosting site from Evans Landing late in the afternoon [after 5pm]. There were literally hundreds of them flying in waves (like WW2 bombers) along a corridor similar to that used by the cargo ships coming to load bauxite. They then proceeded to circle over the bay. This communal behaviour led me to wonder if Frigatebirds had some form of culture ...

While I got the impression that most of the frigatebirds roost near the bauxite plant, the next evening a half a dozen flew over the airport at dusk, heading inland ...

There were of course, not Spotted Whistling Ducks in the area. Rio Tinto has upgraded its sewage treatment system, so the environmental conditions that attracted the SWD to the area no longer exist. I crossed paths with a consulting ecologist who was undertaking surveys in the area. He mentioned that SWD had been seen on a river about 400 km away last year.

The third point of interest for me involved the local landfill. In southern Australia, the 'trash birds' [landfill custodians] are typically corvids, kites, White Ibis and Cattle Egrets. In Weipa [and on Thursday Island] the trash birds were Pied Herons.

Regards, Laurie.

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