Another round of VERY BIG THANKS to everyone who helped with coast counts!
If you can, please plan ahead for the 2020 season. If you missed the Birdlife NQ target date, it’s fine to choose any other date(s) that suits you right through November, December and January.
Our online map of results now shows the coast count totals for the past seven PIP/TIP seasons. You can see the details here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Green Island counters Gerry and Carolyn reported their highest count on 16 January with a total of 10,925 PIPs, then a substantial decrease to 3,821 on 21 February.
At Low Isles the count teams reported exceptionally high numbers for both months: 35,243 for January and 35,848 for February.
Have you seen any PIPs returning after their winter break?
When you spot PIPs returning to your area, please put in your report here.
Low Isles already has a few newly-arrived PIPs this season. From 14 to 17 August they were sighted each day from the island anchorage by Julia. Ten to twenty birds were seen flying in towards Low-Woody during the late afternoons and leaving each morning soon after sunrise.
At Coquette Point (Innisfail area) the first PIP of the season was heard (but not seen) on 15 August, thanks to Yvonne and Ruth.
In Cairns the first PIP sighting – a single bird – was reported on 20 August, thanks to Brian.
Update 30 Aug: There were more a few more reports for Cairns the past week (last week of August). Kylie and Chris each reported a single PIP (thanks to both) while Brian saw 9 PIPs, the first group reported on the mainland this season (thanks again Brian).
As yet there have been no sightings south of Cairns. Please keep an eye out for new arrivals in your area!
Wayne and Jenni’s photo says it all!
In case anyone’s browser does not show the image above: Just before Christmas the count team at Low Isles recorded 22,141 incoming PIPs.
Many thanks to all the great volunteers and more thanks Low Isles Caretakers Wayne and Jenni. They organise regular counts throughout the PIP breeding season, as well as year-round care for the Low Isles environment and infrastructure. See their facebook page ‘ Low Isles Lighthouse’ for more lovely photos.
The November PIP count at Low Isles recorded a total of 16,152 PIPs flying in from 4PM until dark.
The Low Isles PIPs have delayed their nest building this season. Local PIP watchers have been speculating that the birds might be waiting for rain. It has been VERY dry so far. Hopefully the birds will soon get started on their normal breeding activity.
Many thanks to this month’s team of volunteer counters (above), the wonderful Low Isles Caretakers Wayne and Jenni, and the Wavedancer crew and Quicksilver Cruises who provided transport for the count team.
The weather was perfect for pigeon counting at Low Isles on 11 October when 12,600 incoming PIPs were recorded between 4PM and dark. The birds were roosting on the island overnight but very few had commenced nests.
Many thanks yet again to Low Isles Caretakers Wayne and Jenni, who organise the monthly PIP counts and so much more! More thanks to this month’s count team: Grant, Lachie, Peta, Andy, Louise, Jasmine, Julia, Noela, Annji, Inger, Brian, all local volunteers, and Carl who came all the way from Rhode Island to help with PIP counts and research.
During the first week of August a small group of PIPs was sighted flying past Cape Weymouth (thanks Brian) and one PIP spotted at Low Isles (thanks Jenni). During the second week a solitary PIP was seen on two occasions at Wonga (thanks Gary) and two PIPs were spotted flying past Cairns Esplanade (thanks Graham!).
The earliest sightings could perhaps have been stragglers that remained in Queensland over winter (after the majority had migrated to PNG for their short winter break) but a ‘new season’ was clearly under way during the second half of August.
More PIPs were spotted in and around Cairns and a few at Green Island during the third week of August (thanks Gerry, Carolyn, Brian and Graham) although there were only small numbers and widely scattered observations.
The first report for Townsville came in right at the end of the month (thanks Jenny) but as yet none further south.
When you see your first PIPs of the season, please put in a report here.
The majority of PIPs left during February and March this year, making for an early end to the PIP breeding season.
A few birds were still around during the first two weeks of April. There were occasional observations from Port Douglas, Cairns and Townsville as well as Low Isles and Green Island.
Last report for this season (thanks Graham!) was a lone PIP seen flying over Banksia Street in Mooroobool on May 6.
PIPS are not normally solitary creatures and survival prospects would be poor for birds left behind after the flocks departed. But – just-maybe – some individuals might be lucky and survive until the flocks return next season… good luck PIP stragglers!