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From here to there, and back again

Bribie Island May 13 2023: On World Migratory Bird Day we celebrate Bribie's avian peregrinators*... our local birds that travel. Whether they're moving for food or love (or both), many of the birds we find on Bribie are here for just part of the year.

*peregrinate – to wander, travel

While many species travel within the Moreton Bay region from season to season, others fly from here to the desert lakes of Central Australia to breed. A surprising number fly to Bribie from the rainforests of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia during the breeding season, while others chase an endless summer, leaving our tidal flats in April to breed on the Arctic tundra, returning in the Spring.

Lets meet just a few of Bribie's long-distance travellers:

From Bribie to the Arctic and back again (22,000km round trip)

Far-Eastern Curlew Critically Endangered on the IUCN Redlist, Far-eastern Curlews are under extreme pressure, running the gauntlet of the East Asian - Australasian Flyway between the Arctic and the greater Bribie area. Arriving in spring, they feed up and recover on our tidal flats at low tide, and rest at a small number of internationally significant roosting sites like Kakadu Beach, Toorbul and Buckley's Hole. As the largest and heaviest of the waders, they need to stop and refuel in parts of Asia on their way, and their feeding areas are being impacted by development. Here in Moreton Bay too, even their Ramsar-listed sites such as Toondah Harbour are threatened, and they are subject to regular human-preventable disturbances such as off-leash dogs on their feeding flats and roosting beaches. Photographed on Bribie by © Chris Burns

Bar-tailed Godwit It's roughly 11,000 km from their breeding grounds to Bribie, and Bar-tailed Godwits will do the trip in around 9 days. In fact, a five-month-old godwit holds the world record for the longest non-stop migratory flight – Alaska to Tasmania – 13,560km in 11 days! Photographed on Bribie by © May Britton

Grey-tailed Tattler Their northward flight path takes these birds from Moreton Bay via the islands around Japan, where they briefly stop before continuing on to their nesting sites on stoney river beds in the mountains of Siberia. Photographed at Godwin Beach by © Darren Jew

From Bribie to PNG, Indonesia, and back again (5,000km round trip)

Sacred Kingfisher Like a surprising number of Bribie's woodland birds, after breeding here over the summer, Sacred Kingfishers head to Papua New Guinea and Indonesia to over-winter. Sacred kingfishers on Bribie rely mostly on old growth trees for nesting hollows – every mature tree cleared on Bribie takes away a potential nesting site. Photographed on Bribie by © Barry Lee

Spangled Drongo Renowned mimics arriving in late spring from PNG, Spangled Drongos visit Bribie and breed in southern Queensland in a cup-shaped nest high in a tree They produce 3-5 young each year, and fly them north to PNG by the end of summer. Photographed on Bribie by © Frank Oostenbroek

From Bribie to the Central Australian Lakes, and back again (2,400km round trip)

Australian Pelican Has anyone ever seen a baby pelican on Bribie? That'll be a no... because they breed way out west on the desert lakes of central Australia after flood events! When conditions are right many (but not all) disappear from the Bribie Bridge light poles and head west to breed. We see them again when the desert inevitably dries out, and they return to spend their non-breeding times here on the coast. Photographed on Bribie by © Darren Jew and on Bribie Bridge by © Deirdre Reynolds

Caspian Tern We usually think of terns as "seabirds", but Caspian Terns also don't mind freshwater fish in their diet too. The Caspian Terns we see here on Bribie breed in scattered colonies around inland lakes in the centre of the continent when conditions are right. Caspian Terns are a single species in their genus, and the largest of all the terns. Photographed on Bribie by © Chris Burns

BIEPA encourages the community to help protect, care for, and restore Bribie's natural habitats, so all life flourishes. Bribie and the surrounding shoreline, Pumicestone Passage and Moreton Bay are all listed by the IUCN as Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance, and BIEPA calls on all levels of government to respect both Ramsar, and the CMS (Convention on Migratory Species), to which Australia are signatories.


  • Consider the ways you might help reduce human-preventable disturbances such as off-leash dogs in public, and report any illegal harvesting of shellfish (bird and fish food) from tidal flats. Encourage neighbours to keep their cats contained within their property.

  • Advocate for the retention of all remaining intact native habitat on Bribie and for the restriction of encroachment of the urban footprint into nature. Formally Object to developments that encroach on our remaining nature.

  • Work towards increasing your property's backyard biodiversity by planning and planting a Bribie-centric native garden that encourages and supports the web of life.

  • Learn more about migratory species: Head to the movies and watch "Flyways"

  • Introduce the kids to shorebirds via the Wing Threads program.

  • Join the BIEPA Securing Shorebirds Team!


Come and meet our Securing Shorebird Project team at a special Migratory Bird Day themed BIEPA Market Stall at Brennan Park, Bongaree on Sunday May 14

Take part in the Walk for Toondah, and join with the bayside community to send an unambiguous message that Ramsar sites must be respected. Toorbul and Donnybrook Seniors Club are hosting a Shorebird Talkfest In the park with the murals near the Wooden Boat festivities at Toorbul on Saturday May 20 from 10:00am to 1:00pm.

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Unknown member
May 14, 2023

Wonderful info...I am sharing it with friends .

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