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.

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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.

Mainland and island sightings – Sept 2015

New sightings have been trickling in throughout September as arriving PIPs spread southwards.

First-of-season birds were sighted early in September at Coquette Point (thanks to Yvonne and Ruth, who had already heard the first coos in August), by mid-month in Townsville (thanks to Jenny, Malcolm, Cecily, Elizabeth) and towards the end of the month near Bowen and at Slade Point (thanks to Terry and friends).
The first PIP breeding activity of the new season was observed in Cairns during the second week of September, with one PIP seen flying with nesting material (thanks Brian).  Later in  month some of the PIPs at Low Isles built nests and began incubation (thanks to Wayne). By the end of the month Cairns had several occupied nests and some unsuccesssful starts (again thanks to Brian).

Final update for September: a pair of PIPs looks to be interested in the same tree that hosted a nest previously (see photo below, thanks to Jenny) although last season was unsuccessful there.

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Film launch : The Coming of the White Birds

A wonderful new film was recently launched! “The Coming of the White Birds” celebrates an amazing half-century of conservation effort on behalf of PIPs at the Brook Islands near Hinchinbrook.

Read about the film and the launch event here

There will be a public screening of the film at the Birdlife Mission Beach PIP count in November – see here for details and please join in if you can.

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Above: Late arriving PIPs fly in towards North Brook Island while counters on the boat keep a running tally of PIP numbers. Photo courtesy of D. Dickson, a longstanding member of the dedicated count team.

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.

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