Oct 2018: Vale Margaret Thorsborne, Conservation Champion

We are mourning the passing of Margaret Thorsborne, an extraordinarily dedicated and courageous champion for the protection of Torres Strait Pigeons (PIPs/TIPs) and other vulnerable species and their habitat.

You can read more here.

Pigeon counts at North Brook Island were started in 1965 by Margaret Thorsborne and her late husband Arthur. For the next fifty years Margaret continued counting, and campaigned tirelessly to keep these counts going. In this 2015 picture, Margaret is counting with friend and scientific advisor Dr John Winter. Photo courtesy of Bryony Barnett.

Aug 2018: Have you sighted your first PIPs/TIPs this season?

PIPs/TIPs usually return to Queensland coastal areas during August and September, spreading gradually south. Timing has been variable in different seasons, and at different locations, so we are seeking everyone’s help to document their behaviour.

Update: first sightings south of Cairns
Thanks to Rae, who heard a single PIP at Tyto Wetlands on 15 August, earlier than usual for Tyto.
Thanks to Pam, who saw a single PIP at Hermit Park in Townsville on 17 August, also a surprisingly early arrival for that area.

First reports of the season!
A few early arrivals were sighted in Palm Beach and Cairns during the week 4 to 10 Aug. Thank you Sally for the first report to PIPwatch this season, and thanks also to the editors of Cairns Birders newsletter who published information from other observers.
On 16 August three PIPs were spotted at Yorkeys Knob Esplanade, thank to Laura.
On 20 August one PIP sighted at Centenary Lakes, thanks to Brian.

Please keep a lookout and please report YOUR sightings!

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.

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.


Dec/ Jan observations needed – can you help?

The current season seems to a tough one for PIPs. Many have delayed starting nesting, some early nests were abandoned and some flocks seemed to be relocating. However overall information is scanty and more observers are needed please!

Extra coast counts during November and January will be especially helpful. And it’s easy to do.

The coast count guidelines have been updated. Please see count details for the current season.