Birds of Noosa River 2018-01-05T10:23:28+00:00

Project Description

This project is run by volunteers and supported by Noosa Council as part of the Volunteer River Ranger Project.

Noosa North Shore River Mouth Closure in 2007 to Protect Shore Birds

It is believed that up to 40,000 migratory birds from as far away as Alaska and Asia, representing 43 species call Noosa home at any one time.


Telescope installed at Noosa Spit in 2008 by NICA thanks to funding from SEQ Catchments.

Disturbances which lead to frequent ‘lifting’ (taking flight) can lead to a reduction in their ability to undertake their long and arduous journey back or to breed successfully.

To help protect the shore birds the area of beach between 1st and 3rd cuttings on Noosa North Shore was closed to vehicles, horses and dogs in May 2007.  Since then the migratory birds have taken advantage of the ‘do not disturb’ signs and come home to roost.

The closure of the river mouth was recommended by the Noosa North Shore Working Group in 2007 after a 15 month scientific study of bird species at the estuary.  This is the only way that we will continue to enjoy the fantastic sight of hundreds of birds in full flight as the sun rises or listen to their calls as they feed and settle down to roost at sunset.

Noosa Shorebird Report – November 2014 – By Jill Dening

On Thursday we surveyed the Noosa estuary for shorebirds.  The end of October and into November is the time when we are most likely to be surprised with unusual sightings (for Noosa), and we weren’t disappointed.  We had barely begun when we found a lone Whiskered Tern, with only two other sightings of this species since we began working in the estuary in 2005.

It was lovely to see very young shorebirds beginning to arrive from the northern hemisphere.  Ten of the nineteen Bar-tailed Godwits were juvenile, which means that they were born in July, raised through August, migrating through September/October, and arriving in the Noosa estuary at the end of October, or perhaps earlier.  It’s no mean feat that the juveniles fly to Australia in groups, independently of their parents, which migrate earlier.  There were also a few visible juvenile Pacific Golden Plovers among the mainly adult flock.  Other treats for us were two Ruddy Turnstones and a single Curlew Sandpiper.

Noosa River Birds

Volunteers doing a regular bird count on the sand island at the Noosa Estuary.

When we began work in the estuary, Sharp-tailed Sandpipers were a very common sight during the summer.  Then suddenly they stopped coming at the end of 2009.  Since then, the only Sharpie sightings have been during the spring migration:  Once in 2010, twice in 2012, and once in 2013.  On Thursday we had a mere six which compares rather poorly with the 70 we saw in 2005.  (We are only there once a month, so we could miss some movements.)

Sadly, most species of shorebirds in the EastAsian/Australasian Flyway are suffering astonishing population crashes.  It’s thought that the main problem is in the Yellow Sea, a small, shallow sea with vast intertidal mudflats, where the birds fatten up on both their northwards and southwards journeys.  It’s like a bottleneck.  After spending a few weeks fattening up in the Yellow Sea, birds spread all across the Arctic to breed.  Same happens after breeding, on the way south for the Australian and New Zealand summer.  Massive land reclamation of the Yellow Sea by China and two Koreas is causing the feeding grounds to contract, so that the birds can’t make it safely through the bottleneck.  We just have to face reality, and that is that we will see extinctions during our lifetime.  International talking has yielded nothing.

On the home front, the Crested Terns are getting ready to breed.  Many, if not all, will breed on Cook Island, just offshore of the mouth of the Tweed River at the NSW border.  Soon the only Crested Terns left in Noosa will be sexually immature birds.  Then, come late January, the adults will start drifting back with their gawky babies, and the cycle continues.  We love observing the cycle.  Every month yields something different for those of us who go out there every month, so we are never bored.

For further information on this report please contact Jill Dening on (07) 5494 099

Download Noosa Shorebirds Poster

Download List of Noosa’s Shorebirds – By Allen Briggs



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