Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Gull-billed Tern affinis at Stockyard Point

I just had an email asking about how to get to "Stockyard Point" to see the affinis Gull-billed tern. "Stockyard Point" is very confusing because if you look at the maps you will see that "Stockyard Point" is on French Island.

Well, it seems that birders, and maybe others, have a different location and it is right across from the French Island Stockyard Point. On the maps it is called Jam Jerrup Point and you get there via Jam Jerrup off the Bass Highway.  

We went as the tide was coming in and got OK looks. Others went at high tide and got better looks but it seems you have to watch out for quicksand at high tide - keep off any sand where there is standing water. One birder tells off sinking up to his thighs and having to go down on hands and knees to crawl out. The walk from the car park to the point is about 600 metres each way.

From the car park we walked down onto the beach but it does seem that there is an inland track that parallels the beach and starts by the big green water tanks in the car park and might be easier walking but we did not try it.

Terns were coming in to rest and roost on the sandbanks marked at the bottom-left.  The 180 +/- Curlew were on the mud banks at bottom centre of the map but needed a scope to be seen properly. Map thanks to Google Earth.

The affinis tern is the one with the white head and black mark behind the eye. It was noticeably different to the other gulls and terns, even in flight.

affinis Gull-billed Tern.

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