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!

PIPs spreading south, new nests in Cairns – Sep 2017

We received late updates for August – see details here.

This month PIPs continue to spread south slowly. Rae observed more than 10 new arrivals at Tyto wetlands (1 Sept). In Townsville Jenny spotted a single PIP on 2 Sept, and 3 on 20 Sept. Allan reported 2 PIPs seen at Bucasia on 15 Sept. Max observed 9 PIPs flying south near the Russell River (13 Sept), as well as one at Aloomba (20 Sept). Lisa spotted her first PIP of the season at Airlie Beach on 29 Sept

The first nest of the season was reported by Brian in Cairns (7 Sept). Brian had discovered a total of seven nests by mid-September, although the overall number of PIPs around Cairns was still quite low.

Please keep a lookout for PIPs and please report your observations. Many thanks to all contributors!

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 Count season – more counters needed for Dec and Jan


Pick your own date(s) and download the Guidelines and data sheets here. Any time during December and January is good.

BIG thanks to those who have already counted this season. If you can do a repeat count at the same site, that would be extra good!

Super-helpful if you can email admin [at] pipwatch [dot] net and let us know approximately where/when you plan to count.

Many, many thanks to everyone helping with these counts!

Bird aware online volunteers needed

Automated cameras are being used to monitor Pied/Torresian Imperial-pigeon at remote nest sites without disturbing them. The images need human attention to determine: Which birds are present? Is an adult bird attending the nest? Is the chick being fed? Are predators around?


Can you help? Look for the NestCam expeditions at: http://volunteer.ala.org.au/

After you read the short tutorial you will be ready to start. Each image may take a minute or two, faster with practice. You can start and stop whenever it suits you. With each image you complete, you will make a valuable contribution to research, thank you!