Queensland PIP Count Overview

North Brook Island
In 1965 Arthur and Margaret Thorsborne started counting the afternoon return flight of PIPs to North Brook Island. These counts have continued every year up to 2015 (Thorsborne et al. 1985, Winter et al. 2011) with ongoing support of Queensland Government agencies responsible for Parks and Wildlife. Their Cardwell office has been leading North Brook Island monitoring, assisted by seasoned volunteers.

Green Island
In 1981 a PIP survey by Parks and Wildlife personnel included two consecutive evening counts (Atherton and Greeves 1985). Intermittent counts by Rangers at Green Island continued up to the 2012/13 season with assistance from regular volunteers. Subsequently Green Island counts have depended entirely on dedicated volunteers.

Low Isles
The first formal counts were conducted by Francis Crome in 1971 & 1972 (Crome 1975). Intermittent counts were subsequently conducted by government agency personnel, with regular counts from 1993 to the present involving volunteers from Low Isles Protection Society.

From the 2012/13 season onwards Low Isles Caretakers (appointed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) have been coordinating monthly counts with volunteers from Low Isles Preservation Society.

Far Northern Islands
PIP counts were made by government agency personnel at several islands north of Cooktown during marine patrols in the 1980s (Winter and King 1988, King 1990) but subsequently discontinued. A proposal for recommencement of northern PIP counts was submitted to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Queensland Government agencies responsible for Parks and Wildlife (Winter, Hazel and Cornelius 2012) but the proposal was unsuccessful.

Counts at some northern islands were undertaken during Nov-Dec 2008 during a private expedition by Nigel Brothers and Catherine Bone (Brothers and Bone 2012).

We are very keen to hear from boating people, cruising yachties and other travellers who could do a PIP count at any of the remote northern islands. Please contact julia.hazel@jcu.edu.au if you can help.

Whitsunday Islands
PIPs were counted during the 1980s at East and West Double Cone Island (Walker 1986), and at East Repulse and Irving Islet (Winter and King 1988). Decades ago several islands from Holbourne Island south were known to have small PIP nesting colonies (Winter and King 1988). No subsequent counts have been reported. We are seeking help from anyone willing to report on PIPs in the Whitsunday area – please contact julia.hazel@jcu.edu.au if you can help.

Miscellaneous island counts
Frankland Islands: Information from the 1980s indicated that these islands, particularly Normanby Island, supported a large number of roosting and/or nesting PIPs. According to anecdotal reports over later decades, that colony declined and possibly ceased.

A private expedition observed large numbers of PIPs at Normanby Island during September 2012. Nests were not sighted. It remains uncertain whether a nesting colony has become re-established. Any new information will be much appreciated. Please contact julia.hazel@jcu.edu.au if you can help.

Coast counts including Mission Beach
These counts record PIPs leaving the mainland coast during the afternoon, when they return to roosting and nesting sites on offshore islands. Supported by members of Birds Australia and Birdlife Australia, a series of annual counts began in 2007 at four sites in the Mission Beach area. Since then, coverage has gradually been extended with the help of local volunteers. Many more count volunteers are needed. If you are interested, please consider helping with this citizen-science project.