2005 News Snippets
Clive Minton reported at the end of October '06 that there has been a huge increase in the banding and flagging of waders over the last three years at Chongming Dao, in the mouth of the Yangtse River near Shanghai, in China. Over 7,000 waders were caught and marked there this year, split almost equally between adults on northward migration in late March to mid-May and, mostly juveniles, on southward migration from late July until early October. Most Chinese-flagged waders seen in Australia up to the present time have been seen in the intensively watched shores of north-west Australia, at Broome, Eighty Mile Beach and right across to Carnarvon. An increasing number are now being seen elsewhere, including Queensland, the Northern Territory, New Zealand and now south-east Australia. Best of all were four Chinese-flagged Sharp-tailed Sandpipers seen in September and October at Cheetham Saltworks (Laverton), Werribee Sewage Farm, and two different birds at Stony Point near Port MacDonnell (South Australia). Overseas sightings in Asia of note include a large number of Red-necked Stints, from eastern Siberia (3), Mongolia (3), Japan (2) mainland China (33) and Surabaya, Indonesia (9). Seven Curlew Sandpipers from Victoria were also seen at this same location in Indonesia. Previously it was thought that most waders make the journey between the northern coasts of Australia and the mainland coasts of Asia in a single flight but it now appears that some of the smaller waders, especially on southward migration, regularly make stopovers in Indonesia.
This same report stated that while each year Sanderling produce a nice crop of flag sightings from the eastern parts of Asia, especially during southward migration, in August this year there were two reports from the Chinese coast and one from Japan.
There have been large numbers of reports of Vic-flagged birds in other parts of Australia indicating stopover locations used towards the end of the southward migration. The Queensland and northern New South Wales coasts are particularly favoured by the larger wader species such as the Eastern Curlew (4 sightings), Bar-tailed Godwit (12), Great Knot (2) and Red Knot (48). The majority of the Red Knot were seen by VWSG member Dave Cropley who spent a month looking for flags at Karumba in the south-east corner of the Gulf of Carpentaria. There the Red Knot was the most numerous species and it would appear that this is a prime arrival area for the Australian and New Zealand Red Knot populations in September. In contrast Vic-flagged medium/small-sized waders mostly tend to be seen in the north-western parts of Australia during southward migration in August/October. This year there have been reports of Ruddy Turnstone (2 near Darwin), Sanderling (2 near Darwin), Curlew Sandpiper (28, mostly at Broome but some at Carnarvon) and Red-necked Stint (11 between Broome and Carnarvon). All these birds making a migratory stopover in north-west Australia are likely then to fly the last 3000 km. of their journey non-stop across the continent to their non-breeding areas in south-east Australia.
By far the largest number of flag sightings received relates to Bar-tailed Godwits and Red Knots which have moved from Victoria to New Zealand. This is because many birds which have spent their first year in Australia subsequently move to become part of the population which spends its non-breeding season in New Zealand. Because both of these species exhibit delayed maturity, with most birds not migrating northwards and breeding until they are at least three years old, these immature birds are present throughout the Austral winter. The avid and highly experienced team of wader watchers in New Zealand reported 72 sightings of Victorian-flagged Bar-tailed Godwits and 166 sightings of Red Knot during the last four months.
The main summer population monitoring program of the VWSG starts in mid-November after the majority of young birds have arrived and the population of most species has become relatively stable. The proportion of juveniles in these captures gives an indication of the breeding success of each species in the previous Arctic summer. We now await with great interest the 2006/07 monitoring season to find out how our birds fared during their breeding in Siberia during the past northern summer. Fieldwork will be intensive from the end of November through till next March (see the timetable on the Calendar/Events page).
We are living in exciting times was Clive Minton's response to some recent (late Sept 06) news! This year's Russian/International expedition to Chukotka, the very north-east part of Siberia, made 22 sightings of colour flagged waders. Until three years ago there had only been two recoveries and no flag sightings linking the waders of this remote part of Siberia with the wader populations present in the non breeding season in Australia and New Zealand.
16 of the flag sightings relate to Red Knot. Six were birds from North Island New Zealand (white flagged) and four were from Victoria (orange flag). These are the known areas to which the rogersi sub-species of the Red Knot migrate. This has already been proved by a Russian banded Red Knot from Chukotka being caught in Victoria two years ago and then subsequent sightings of New Zealand and Victorian flagged Red Knots in Chukotka last year (the New Zealand flagged bird actually at a nest).
But this year's records include three sightings of yellow flagged Red Knot in Chukotka - at two different locations and with some time between each sighting, suggesting that three different birds may have been involved. This is the first time we have had incontrovertible evidence that the rogersi sub-species of the Red Knot occurs in north west Australia also. Previously we had thought that the population there was almost entirely piersmai, which breeds in the New Siberian Islands and northern Yakutia. These three yellow flag sightings suggest that it may be more than just a few stray rogersi which visit NWA.
The Annual General Meeting of the VWSG was held on Saturday September 2, 2006 with a good attendance of regular and occasional members to help repair equipment, attend the AGM and listen to an interesting and significant presentation on wader studies in Korea. A summary of the activities and achievements from 2005/06, as reported in Clive Minton's Introduction to the VWSG Bulletin, appear here.
Breeding success for 2005 has been estimated based on cannon netting data in south-east Australia in 2005/06.
Broadly the results were; Red-necked Stint (poor); Curlew Sandpiper (very good); Bar-tailed Godwit (exceptionally good); Red Knot (very good); Ruddy Turnstone (very good); Sanderling (exceptionally good); Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (very good) and Great Knot (good).