I did however get photographs of the birds on the wing that confirmed that they were indeed Endangered Little terns Sterna albifrons when they later commenced feeding behaviour at the mouth of the creek.
They are small fast birds and hard to photograph from a distance. Please note I did not wish to disturb them or threaten any nests by walking too closely to the area where I saw them.
However my primary goal on the 25th was not to photograph birds and the weather was turning bad so I left.
When I returned to this location on 29 November 2011 I was delighted to see even more of these endangered Little terns Sterna albifrons squatting in the dune and exhibiting what could be described as nesting/courting behaviour. Please note that the Birds in the photographs below exhibit the yellow beak, yellow legs and strongly defined facial plumage of breeding birds. Immediately below is an image of a Little tern I took on the 29th that was sitting amongst the timber etc on the southern section of the Cowley Beach dune.
Common name: Little tern
Scientific name: Sternula albifrons
Conservation status This species is listed as Endangered in Queensland (Nature Conservation Act 1992) and is ranked as a high priority under the Department of Environment and Resource Management ‘Back on Track’ Species Prioritisation Framework.
I have witnessed this species nesting at Coquette Point where recently that colony has been under threat from unregulated beach traffic and off leash dogs http://www.missionbeachcassowaries.com/9/post/2011/11/news-from-coquette-point28.html and it would appear that this is a regional issue.
As Little terns are an Endangered species in Queensland I naturally believe that local (CCRC) and State (DERM) government bodies have a responsibility to ensure that these Little terns can nest without disturbance from vehicles on the Cowley beach southern dune where they appear to be nesting. I strongly request that CCRC and DERM take action to COMPLETELY STOP Dune/Beach driving at the South of the Cowley Beach Boat ramp at least until this nesting activity ceases. Continued disturbance by car and quad bike drivers will most probably deter nesting or damage existing nests.
I look forward to your prompt attention to this threat to this Endangered bird species and hope to hear from you in the very near future
As a further matter of concern I photographed many wader species using this area on both days that would also be impacted by this vehicular disturbance. I have included images below taken on 29 November 2011 at Cowley Beach Spit in the same area as the terns. Undoubtedly many of these would be Commonwealth listed migratory waders (apart from the red capped plover below which I only included as they nest on this dune at Cowley Beach too).
Regards and thank you for giving this matter your urgent and diligent attention