Aaron, Gerry and Carolyn recently completed their fifth PIP count of the season for Green Island.
On 9 October 7,136 PIPs were counted in the evening flight.
On 27 October two independent counts were of 6,370 and 6,416 PIPs. The slight dip in numbers was considered too small to be of significance.
It was great to receive two independent PIP reports from the Mackay area.
Fay reported seeing two PIPs at Blacks Beach on October 18. She had already heard the first pigeons of the season in early October, about the same time as she has done in previous years.
Ed observed 5 PIPs flying south, low over littoral rainforest to the near south of Hay Point on October 24. Later that day Ed discovered feathered remains of a PIP that he suspected might have been the result of a Goshawk kill.
Historic reports exist of PIP nesting in the Mackay-Whitsunday area but no recent information so all sightings are helpful. It will also most valuable if boating people can keep a lookout for PIPs flying to or from islands where they might be nesting.
Bad weather caused cancellation of the planned first count of the season at North Brook Island. Hopefully the next scheduled count will be able to proceed mid November.
With no counts yet this season, there is much uncertainty and concern about PIPs in the Hinchinbrook area. Last season (2011-12) PIP numbers at North Brook were extremely low, apparently due to the devastation of nesting and foraging habitat caused by Tropical Cyclone Yasi. It remains to be seen whether there will be any evidence of recovery this season.
A count on 17 Jan 2013 has been scheduled to replace the missed mid-October count.
The October count at Low Isles reported 24,025 PIPs, a surprisingly high number early in the breeding season. The count was conducted by Low Isles Caretakers Wayne and Jenni assisted by volunteers from Low Isles Preservation Society.
For years PIP nests were only infrequently spotted in Cairns, although the birds are commonly seen flying and foraging around the city each summer. Then during the summer of 2011-12 Brian and friends reported an unusual flurry of PIP nesting in the city rather late in the season. The same keen PIP team has started monitoring the Esplanade and part of the CBD again this year. The first six PIP nests in Cairns were reported at the end of September and several more were discovered during the first week of October thanks to Brian, Phil and Yu.
In Townsville the first PIP nest of the season was spotted by Jenny who sent in the photo above.
On 6 October Robyn and Beth reported they observed a PIP high up under the canopy of a flowering Poplar Gum in Western Lions Park at Heatley. The single bird was calling but no partner was observed. A bird, thought to be a Little Friar bird started harassing the PIP which shifted position but remained in the tree.
Beth and Robin plan to continue to monitor as they had been seeing PIPs in the park and the nearly Heatley State School grounds for about two weeks, but had not observed any mating or nesting behaviour as yet. Last year they noted a pair did nest in the Western Lions Park, above the BBQ area but they did not see any evidence of fledglings.
Has anyone seen PIPs starting to build nests anywhere else? Many more PIPwatchers are needed!