Friday, February 18, 2011

What a Wonderful World!

Jill Dening from the Sunshine Coast has been up this way for a couple of days so of course we went out to Inskip Point yesterday afternoon for a Tern count. Terns feed out at sea and although some of them come in during the day for a rest on the sandbanks, most stay out at sea all day and only come in at evening time. To count them you have to be prepared to stay down on the shoreline from before sunset until about 45 minutes after. By this time it is so dark that it is not really possible to see and count the late comers.
Crested Terns are here all year round but their numbers are down right now because many of them are on off-shore islands where they breed. There are only a very few Caspian Terns here. The migratory terns are here right now in great numbers. The most numerous are the Common Terns, then fewer numbers of Little Terns and even fewer White-winged Black Terns.
Of course there were also numbers of shorebirds using the same roosting place. (More about them in the next post.) These Godwits were in silhouette as we walked onto the Point.
All photos enlarge when clicked on.
We soon saw flocks of Terns coming down the channel between Fraser island and Inskip Point where we were standing.
There was a bank of cloud to the west and it gave spectacular views of the terns when they flew in at a height.
The darker it got the more terns came in. I was quite happy to stand beside Jill and record numbers and species as she called them out to me - although she also made good use of a couple of 'counters' - one in each hand to record the two main species - 'Commons' and 'Littles'. She counted in excess of 5,000 terns last night. Jill says that all I need is LOTS more practice! Hmmm! Maybe I need to set up a schedule of Tern Counts with a few friends that don't mind just standing or sitting out at Inskip Point while the sun goes down.
This is what you watch on an evening like last night! It was close to a full moon last night.
Looking in the opposite direction the sun slowly set. What a beautiful world!


  1. Your sky (and tern) photos are absolutely amazing! You say you watch them in the evening when coming in for the roost. How early do you have to get up in the morning to see them leave?

  2. Hi Hilke, I'm glad you liked the sky and the terns. Terns are off out to sea before the sun gets up! I don't really know how long before and I don't know of anyone that tries to count them at that time of day. I have never found big numbers however early I get down there. We were down there soon after sunrise this morning and most of the terns had gone for the day.

  3. G'day Mick,
    Nice experience and great shots. One word I didn't like - 5000. Goodness, we have a good Tern day down here when we see fifty!
    Loved the BF H'eater by the way.

  4. Hi Gouldiae, We always have good numbers of Crested Terns up here (i.e. in the 100's). However it's the migratory terns that make up the huge numbers. I don't know if you have them down your way or not.

  5. Lovely birds to see. The migration of the Artic Tern is amazing.

  6. Thanks for commenting Constantwalker. I think Terns are especially beautiful in flight and large numbers in flight at the same time are amazing.

  7. what a wonderful world indeed - lovely photos Mick

  8. Hi Mick
    Fantastic images, especially the sky shots.

  9. Thanks Denis, but once again the photos just don't match the reality! I wish I knew what else to do to capture the sense of space as well as colour.

  10. What a wonderful world, indeed!