The first surveys of the Great Sandy Strait (GSS) region were completed by Peter Driscoll and published in Driscoll, P.V. (1993). QWSG has continued extensive surveys of the region since February 1995, and in total (including those completed by Peter), 18 surveys have been undertaken.
Timing for the most recent survey, held on 21-23 February this year, clashed with optimal dates selected for the count programme, which resulted in having to choose a weekend with a slightly higher tide than would have been preferred. Thankfully, weather conditions during most of the survey period were favourable with dry and warm days, but a moderate to strong south-easterly wind on the last day was uncomfortable for those in boats. Most sites were counted during Friday and Saturday, but a few were done on Sunday when there was some rain and stronger winds.
No aerial count was conducted during this survey. In total, 59 sites were listed for counting by land and boat. Of the 59 sites, only 49 were surveyed. Another site that had not been counted for 15 years was visited, bringing the total number of counts to 50.
The total counts from the February survey were 20,161 migratory and 809 resident waders. The bar-tailed godwit count was 10,990, representing nearly 55% of the total migratory species counted. The next largest counts were whimbrel (1,846) and red-necked stint (1,793), followed by far eastern curlew (1,590). Of these four species, three (bar-tailed godwit, whimbrel and far eastern curlew), are in internationally significant numbers. The percentage of the flyway population for these species is bar-tailed godwit (3.3%), whimbrel (2.8%) and far eastern curlew (4.5%) (Hansen, B.D. et al.). Other birds counted during the survey comprised of waterbirds (1,301), raptors (35), seabirds (2), silver gull (135) and terns (1,286) made up of 6 species and, of those, 641 were greater crested tern.
|SPECIES||Jan 2005||Oct 2009||Jan 2012||Dec 2013||Oct 2014||Feb 2016||Jan 2018||Feb 2020|
|Pacific Golden Plover||24||129||239||213||134||196||373||138|
|Lesser Sand Plover||2345||624||2099||489||824||408||291||1109|
|Greater Sand Plover||414||310||1019||33||286||15||808||396|
|Far Eastern Curlew||2279||1865||3110||1301||1275||1417||1219||1590|
|Total migratory waders||20805||25421||31764||19797||23009||20097||19430||20161|
|Total resident waders||598||571||1302||1607||620||904||1369||809|
|Total migratory species||18||22||20||20||20||22||20||19|
|Total resident species||7||9||8||10||8||7||8||8|
|Unidentified Small Wader||3||0||820||0||0||0||0||0|
|Unidentified Medium Wader||0||25||615||0||0||0||0||0|
|Total roost sites counted||25||51||48||54||48||35||59||50|
|Aerial count conducted||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No|
A flagged bird was reported from Moon Creek west entrance on Fraser Island during the survey period – a red-necked stint with black flag over yellow flag on the right tibia. The bird was flagged on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia.
No breeding records were reported.
Extracts of higher wader counts from the survey are listed below:
- Red-capped plover: Garnet’s Lagoon No. 1 Hervey Bay (115), Inskip Pt. (105)
- Lesser sand plover: Cooloola (422), Gables’s Pt. Rocks, Hervey Bay (286)
- Greater sand plover: O’Regan’s Creek westside, Hervey Bay (160), Pt. Vernon, Hervey Bay (147)
- Bar-tailed godwit: Inskip Pt. (2,800), Moon Pt. Fraser Island (1,570), Maaroom (1,580), Boonooroo Site 1 (1,447)
- Whimbrel: Puthoo Creek, Moon Pt. Fraser Island (315), Toowoora Creek, Stewart Island (244)
- Far eastern curlew: Mangrove Pt. south claypan, Hervey Bay (386), Moon Pt. Fraser Island (230)
- Marsh sandpiper: Maaroom (34)
- Common greenshank: Tuan (52)
- Grey-tailed tattler: mangroves West Carlo Island, Tin Can Bay (490)
- Great knot: Maaroom (620)
- Red knot: Maaroom (20)
- Red-necked stint: Boonooroo Site 1 (797).
Other species of interest observed on Fraser Island were four beach stone-curlew – Inskip Pt, six double-banded plover – Garnet’s Lagoon No. 1, Hervey Bay, two Asian dowitcher – Inskip Pt, five black-tailed godwit – Maaroom, one brown noddy – Pelican Banks, Fraser Island and one black noddy – Inskip Pt.
QWSG sincerely thanks Kristy Murray, John Schwarzrock, and Natalie Kastner from Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Environment and Science (DES), for their assistance in organising and supplying vessels on Friday and Saturday to cover sites on Fraser Island and others within the GSS. QWSG also sincerely thanks the following people for allowing survey teams onto or through their property to conduct the counts. Their cooperation is very much appreciated: Garnet Bengsten – the owner of Garnet’s Lagoons at River Heads, Hervey Bay, Lindsay & Noela Titmarsh – owners of Tandora on the Mary River, Maryborough, Jim and Jane Woods – owners of Woojari at Tinnanbar (access to Kauri Creek roost) and Len and Colleen Crossley – caretakers of Woojari at Tinnanbar during the owner’s absence.
Special thanks to the counters for their assistance, without them these surveys would not be possible. QWSG Members: John Bell, Rhianna Boyle, Donald & Lesley Bradley, Deirdre Chrzescijanski, Ken Cowell, Peter Driscoll, David Edwards, Cecile Espigole, Micha Jackson, Rob Kernot, John Knight, Amelia Nielsen, Kelvin Nielsen, Will Price, Peter Rothlisberg, Marilyn Sweetnam, Floss Wainwright, Dez Wells and Brad Woodworth. Birdwatchers of Hervey Bay Members: Jane Barnes, Alice Ekin, Frank Ekin, Bill Gauld, Evan Goodall, Kay Humphrey and Peter Tierney. Queensland Parks and Wildlife (DES) staff: Troy Broome, Rene Burgess, Natalie Kastner, Noah Poole and John Schwarzrock. Other helpers: Coryn Dennett and Peter Mansell.
Article submitted by Linda Cross, Queensland Wader Study Group