PIP/TIP arrivals in Torres Strait and Cairns – Aug 2017

Many thanks to keen-eyed watchers…

The first report of the season was from the Torres Strait islands, where Jon observed 3 PIPs flying past Muralug / Prince of Wales Island on August 5. He noted that their return coincided with the ripening of wongai fruits. The wongai (Manilkara kauki) is a traditional “bush tucker” food for Indigenous people and one of many native tree species that PIPs feed on.

Almost 2 weeks later, the first mainland reports came in. On 18 August, Gerry spotted a single PIP in the urban centre of Cairns. Two days later, on the morning of 20 August, Patrick saw a group of 4 and Brian recorded three single birds and a group of 4 at various places in North Cairns. That evening Brian spotted a flock of 15 near the Esplanade. Sally’s first sighting at Edge Hill was the biggest flock so far: on the evening of 23 August, she observed a group of 20 roosting in tall trees, with more PIPs still flying in to join them.

There have probably been more early sightings, but no other reports submitted as yet.

Please keep an eye out and report your observations when you see the first PIPs/TIPs in your area this season.

Updated end of August

Although we only heard about this later, there was a very early sighting near Cairns: On 3 August, Golo saw 4 PIPs at Kewarra Beach.

And we’ve just received news of the first PIPs south of Cairns: 3 PIPs at Aloomba on 29 August, reported by Max.

Updated early September

Thanks to Russell and Yvonne, we received news of additional PIP arrivals south of Cairns during August: At Coquette Point two were spotted on 15 August, a flock of 14 flew past on 25 August, and one PIP was sighted on 28 August.

PIP island counts 2016-17

This is a preliminary report to keep PIPwatchers up to date with island counts. Count totals might need to be updated after data quality checking has been completed.

North Brook Island
Very grateful thanks to Emma for arranging the logistics and coordinating staff and volunteers for monitoring PIPs and seabirds. PIP totals were: October 19023; November 22336; December 19881
Unfortunately there was no count in January. A February count was scheduled but this has been postponed.

Green Island
Huge thanks to Gerry and Carolyn who continued their dedicated effort and conducted a count each month this season: October 4134; November 7642; December 5392; January 3481; February 1375.

Low Isles
Very grateful thanks to Caretakers Wayne and Jenni and their count volunteers this season. We look forward to reporting count results when they are received.

Coast counting concluded for 2015 season

Many thanks to everyone who counted PIPs during the 2015 season! The real value of this data series INCREASES with every additional season, so please plan ahead for the 2016 season if you can.

Experienced counters might like to go straight to the count_guidelines_and_data_sheets

count_guidelines_and_data_sheets here.

Read on below if you’d like to know what’s involved

We need more help cover as many places as possible. Any time in November, December and January is great. If you can do mid-November that is extra good.

Easy to do: choose your own site on the coast (anywhere from Gladstone to Cape York) and watch from 4 to 6 pm on any afternoon.

PIPs/TIPs are easy birds to identify, and you only need to count those that fly out to sea from the coast.

Just one count at your chosen site is fine, more are extra good! The aim is to cover as much of Queensland’s “PIP-coastline” as possible, and it would be ideal if you can ask friends to count at other sites near yours. Follow-up counts add value. If you have time to count more than once that will be hugely appreciated.

Get details and data sheets HERE.

If you want to ask additional questions please contact Julia Hazel.


PIP/TIP evening at Port Douglas on 2 December

Low Isles Preservation Society (LIPS) will host an evening in Port Douglas to focus on Far North Queensland’s “Flying Superstars” a.k.a Torres Strait Pigeons / Pied Imperial Pigeons.

When: Wednesday 2 December, starting 7 PM
Where: The Clink Theatre, Port Douglas

There will be a screening of a new documentary “Coming of the White Birds”, about the conservation effort started 50 years ago, when Torres Strait Pigeons were almost wiped out at some of their breeding colonies. The film will be followed by an update about the pigeons at Low Isles, recent counts, research and monitoring.

This will be an informal evening with time for discussion and catching up with friends of Low Isles and its wonderful wildlife. All welcome.

Mission Beach PIP/TIP count results

The latest Birdlife NQ count of PIPs/TIPs flying out from the mainland in the Mission Beach area was conducted on 21 November 2015 with wonderful help from 20 volunteers.

For the four long-term sites, the grand total was 3,736. This is the highest total since 2009, a most welcome result. Of concern, there was possibly some overlap in sightings (see below).

Site totals were: Garners Beach 1122, Bingil Bay 742, Wongaling 468, South Mission Beach 1404.

Special thanks to three energetic volunteers who travelled the extra distance to count at Kurramine. This site, a more recent addition to the count program, was missed last year due to insufficient participants.

The Kurramine team reported a total of 1325 birds flying SE (potentially toward the Brook Islands) but some of these birds were thought to have crossed the coast further north. Thus the latest Kurramine total is not directly comparable with prior counts of birds observed to fly out across the coast.

The Kurramine counters also recorded an additional 3015 birds, all flying well out over the sea (not crossing the coast) and heading northwards, a remarkable observation.

The Community for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation (C4) group very kindly allowed us to use their conference room at Mission Beach for a meeting before the count. We began with a screening of the new documentary film “Coming of the White Birds” that was enjoyed by additional visitors as well as count volunteers. The movie was followed by interesting discussions and suggestions for future improvements in communicating with new counters.

Another need for improvement is in the definition of site boundaries, to avoid possible double counting that could occur if the same birds were seen concurrently from two adjacent sites, in cases where both sites have keen-sighted observers and binocular users. It seems this could possibly occur between South Mission Beach and Wongaling, and between Garners and Kurramine. We aim to clarify between-site boundaries for next year.

I’m sorry we have no pictures for this report as yet. However, two kind photographers have offered to send contributions. I will add photos when received.

Once again, many thanks indeed to all particpants!

Julia Hazel

PIP count & film 21 November Mission Beach

Starting 1.30pm at C4 Centre, Mission Beach, includes a film screening: “The Coming of the White Birds” (read more here) and information session for count volunteers. Everyone is welcome. Participating as a counter is optional. All help will be much appreciated. Please see below to register.

Following the briefing, all counters disperse to their allocated sites and watch from 4 pm to dusk, counting any pigeons flying out from the shoreline towards island roosting sites.

After the count there is an informal get-together over dinner. Most counters stay overnight and of course Mission Beach offers plenty of accommodation options.

If you can help with counting, please register with Trish.