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!

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.


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 ā€œComing of the White Birdsā€ 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.

Iā€™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.