2008 News Snippets
Dec 18, 2008
The BBO has an exciting "house sitting" opportunity. The Broome Bird Observatory is currently looking for volunteers to care-take the facilities from early January to late February 2009 (exact dates to be finalised).
Free air-conditioned accommodation will be provided and the use of the BBO's 4wd vehicle. Please note that dogs are not allowed.
The BBO would be delighted if volunteers would undertake regular scans of shorebird flocks on Roebuck Bay and record engraved leg flags and colour banded birds. Plus some minimal maintenance would also be required.
If you are interested, please contact either
Andrea Spencer on 0417 591 718 / email firstname.lastname@example.org or
Maurice O' Connor on 08 9192 7059 / email email@example.com
October 5, 2008
We recently received an exciting report, supported by good colour photos, of one of our (VWSG) Pied Oystercatchers which has been seen in Qld. This is the first VWSG oystercatcher to be reported from Qld and the 1407 km movement is a record for Australian oystercatchers.
The bird was originally banded as a juvenile on 10th February 1999 on North Spit, adjacent to Werribee Sewage Farm. It was recaptured there a month later and then on two further occasions over the next three years, once at Stockyard Point in Western Port and the other at Roussac's Farm in Corner Inlet.
It was first seen in Qld in December 2006, but was not reported to us at the time. The second sighting was in August this year.
The previous furthest movement of a VWSG Pied Oystercatcher was from Stockyard Point to Ballina in northern NSW (1269 km). This bird has remained in that region and nested there in the last three summers, producing several fledged chicks which have also been flagged and one of which has recently been reported near Sydney. Presumably the bird near Southport in Qld is also now breeding somewhere in that region.
August 18, 2008
Clive presented the 'annual report' to the VWSG AGM last week and the complete edition of the VWSG Bulletin can be seen here.
July 20, 2008
Clive & Roz report that the VWSG had a pretty successful first half-year in 2008. Altogether 3,806 waders and 692 terns were banded in the January to June period. There were good catches of a wide variety of species, especially Ruddy Turnstones due to successful visits to South Australia (156) and King Island (419).
Most notable of all are 122 Pied Oystercatchers and 85 Sooty Oystercatchers - a good increase on our poor catches of both these species last year. Sixty of these Oystercatchers came from the recent successful visit to Corner Inlet between 19th and 22nd June. Since then during another visit (4th - 6th July) a further 72 Oystercatchers have been caught, bringing the year's total to 279 - 170 Pied and 119 Sooty. We've now more than achieved our minimum annual targets for these species of 150 Pied and 50 Sooty. And we have four Oystercatcher fieldwork days still to come in our Program.
Thanks everyone for your input to these good results.
Apr 5, 2008
The Asia Pacific Shorebird Network has made a news alert, via its Coordinator Phil Straw, seeking skilled shorebird observers in South Korea to help with the Saemangeum Shorebird Survey over April/May 2008.
For more information go to the shorebird network site <http://www.shorebirdnetwork.org/080323ssmp.html>
Mar 23, 2008
News from Bai in mainland China:
During the southward migration in 2007, thirty records of flagged shorebirds from 7 species were resighted in mainland China by birdwatchers.
In terms of time, the earliest record was a Bar-tailed Godwit with Northwest Australian leg flag reported on 14th July in Yalujiang.
The latest record was a Dunlin with Alaska leg flag reported in 31st October in Chongming Dongtan. August is the month with the most number of records, 20 records from 5 species were reported, equivalent to 67% of the total number of records.
In terms of species, Bar-tailed Godwit was resighted most often, with 9 records of Northwest Australian leg flag and 3 records of Chongming Dongtan leg flag.
In terms of banding location, birds reported were banded in 5 different places. Fifteen records of 5 species were banded in Northwest Australia, which is more numerous in terms of both species number and abundant compared to other locations.
Mar 23, 2008
We have just received this exciting report of a Black-tailed Godwit banded in Broome in Russia.
Band Number: 072-61957 Leg Flag: Yellow
At : OKHOTSKIY DIST, KUKHTUY R. MOUTH, KHABAROVSK, RUSSIA
Latitude : 59deg 24min 0sec N ; Longitude : 143deg 16min 0sec E between the 01/05/2007 & 31/05/2007
The location on the north-west shores of the Sea of Okhotsk is close to the northern limit of the species' breeding range. The May recovery date suggests that it was still on passage.
Opportunities at Broome Bird Observatory (BBO)- Assistant Wardens and Campground Hosts - see the following:
BBO is seeking enthusiastic, highly motivated and hard working people to join them as Assistant Wardens for the 2008 season, normally March through to October, but shorter periods could be considered. The role involves living at the observatory and working in a small team environment. Duties include: guest management, conducting bird watching tours (coaching provided), office duties and facilities maintenance. Applicants must hold a C class drivers licence and be eligible for an F class endorsement. The BBO has a Special Program status from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and can provide successful overseas applicants with the opportunity to apply for working visas. General terms and conditions include a weekly stipend, food allowance, furnished accommodation, annual leave and a contribution to relocation if applicable. For more information please contact Andrea Spencer by email.
And the BBO is also seeking an enthusiastic couple to host their campground guests / facilities between June and September. Campground hosts are people who love camping and the outdoors and would like to bring their own caravan or tent and set up at the BBO. BBO's hosts welcome visitors and help with allocating a campsite, provide information about the BBO, its facilities and the local fauna and flora. Hosts also assist the BBO team with general maintenance of the Shadehouse and campground facilities and the weekend stall at Broome's famous markets. For more information please contact BBO by email.
Feb 27, 2008
STOP PRESS - South Australian Banded Stilt reported from opposite sides of the continent!
Maureen Christie again reports on the Banded Stilts - "With 250,000 Banded Stilt in the Coorong, and reports of flocks up to 10,000 elsewhere, the chances of seeing any of the 333 Banded Stilt chicks flagged with OY/- in the Coorong in January 2006 would seem remote. But not so. On the 18th February, Danny Rogers saw one of 'our' chicks in 85% breeding plumage at the Avalon Saltworks - just south of the Werribee Sewerage Farm in Victoria. It was in a flock of 2000. This follows on from a series of sightings (Jan, March & Dec 2007) at Cheetham Saltworks, Laverton.
And then today (Feb 23rd) came news of a sighting that I had hardly dared hope for - on 8th February a OY/- Banded Stilt at Yalgorup National Park, WA. (about half way between Mandurah and Bunbury, on the coast) This is the first recorded movement of Banded Stilt from eastern Australia to Western Australia.
Other sightings of interest have been of a Victorian flagged Banded Stilt seen in the Coorong in August last year and two seen in February, 2005. 151 were banded at Werribee in 2000.
And, of course, we have had West Australians visiting us - several yellow flags were seen at Lake Eyre in 2000. And Iain Stewart saw one at Lake George in April 2001.
These were flagged at Lake Ballard after Cyclone Bobby in April 1995.
And so we are slowly building up a picture of Banded Stilt moving throughout Australia, rather than there being a WA flock and an Eastern Australia flock. It is exciting to be so closely involved with extending our knowledge of this beautiful but enigmatic species.
Do keep the flag sightings coming in. It makes all of the work of flagging worth while!
Feb 27, 2008
Clive Minton recently reported on the percentage juvenile monitoring fieldwork program for the 2007/08 season. He said that we now have satisfactory samples of Red-necked Stint, Curlew Sandpiper and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper to have good confidence in the level of juvenile birds in the population this summer. Red-necked Stints (10.7% juveniles) have again had a year of below average breeding success. This is now the fourth consecutive similar year for this species, with 2003 being the last breeding season in which they produced an above-average proportion of young. It is noticeable that everywhere Red-necked Stint populations have declined, to more normal long-term levels, after the huge peaks in the late 1990s and early 2000s when a run of ultra-good breeding seasons occurred.
The most pleasing result in this year's data is the very high breeding success (32.2% juveniles) of Curlew Sandpipers. This is the highest proportion of juveniles since the 1991/92 season and the second highest ever in the 29 years for which we now have data on this species. It also tallies well with the high figure found in north-west Australia during the November 2007 AWSG Expedition. It is most noticeable that Curlew Sandpipers are present in higher numbers this year at many locations. It is particularly pleasing that they have had such good breeding success given that they have experienced such a prolonged and extensive downturn in their population in Australia over the last 20 or more years.
Yet again Sharp-tailed Sandpipers had above average breeding success (19.9% juveniles). This is the fifth year out of the last six that they have done so. Their numbers are now well and truly established at much higher levels than were present in the decade up to the 2002/03 season.
The VWSG have also caught a reasonable sample of Bar-tailed Godwits and these are showing an exceptionally high proportion of juveniles (56.5%). Whilst a part of this may be caused by sampling effects the result is certainly an indication that 2007 was a very good year of breeding success for the baueri subspecies of Bar-tailed Godwit which breeds in Alaska and spends the non-breeding season in eastern Australia and New Zealand.
Unfortunately we've not yet managed to get anywhere near catching a useable sample of Red Knot. This can normally only be done in Corner Inlet or at Swan Island, Queenscliff, because elsewhere in Victoria Red Knot numbers are small and ephemeral. There may be a chance of getting some Red Knot at Queenscliff over the Easter weekend, if the birds have not already departed on northward migration, but it will be technically just after our monitoring season closes on March 20th. So there is a danger we will unfortunately miss out on this species this year. Gaps in long-term data series are undesirable because they make interpretation of the results and correlation with causal factors more difficult.
We've only had single samples so far of Ruddy Turnstone and Sanderling. Both suggest that 2007 was a reasonable breeding year and much better than the almost complete washout for these two species in 2006.
Overall so far it seems that 2007 was a good, or above average, breeding year for most wader species in the parts of the Arctic from which waders come to spend the non-breeding season in south-eastern Australia. Only Red-necked Stint seems to have fared rather poorly.
Feb 20, 2008
Maureen Christie from the SE of South Australia reports on the the recent (Feb '08) wader count for the Coorong where reports suggested that there were few waders about, and so it was with low expectations that they all headed out on Saturday morning. But excitement filled the air when Glen Hill's boat returned as Glen, Inka, Pam and Janet had seen a HUGE flock of Banded Stilt on the western shore. They were packed tightly together, feeding. Inka and Glen made a determined effort to count them and estimated that there were 250,000!!!!!!! This is more than the estimated Australian population!!!
So, lots of questions to be answered. Is this a mixed flock of birds from the west and from the east? Has there been a successful breeding event that we don't know about? Are there any Banded Stilt anywhere else?
And so we are asking everyone who sees any Banded Stilt to not only make an estimate of how many there are, but to also check their legs! The colour of their legs is important. Pink means an adult. Grey means a juvenile. A single yellow flag means it was banded at Lake Ballard in Western Australia. OY/- means that it is one of the chicks banded in the Coorong in 2006. Please let Maureen know if you see Banded Stilt around.
An exhibition by Charles Page Documentary Photographer titled "Flight to the Death: Reclamation of the Saemangeum" centres around the reclamation of the Saemangeum tidal flats in South Korea. The reclamation project proposes to convert 40,100 ha of tidal-flats supporting an estimated 400,000 shorebirds a year into a wasteland, awaiting conversion into rice-fields or golf-courses, industrial complexes or "nature parks". These flats are crucial to the successful migration of many species of Australian shorebirds, as they make their journey to the breeding grounds in Russia and Alaska - see <http://www.birdskorea.org/saemref.asp">
Charles Page's practice as a documentary photographer spans over forty years. He has travelled extensively having photographed in over 60 countries. During that time he has undertaken commissioned work for local and state galleries, local, state and national governments, the International Red Cross and the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions.
The exhibition is supported by the The Australasian Wader Studies Group (AWSG), a special interest group of Birds Australia. The group is dedicated to studying waders (shorebirds) throughout the East-Asian Australasian Flyway. The AWSG teamed up with Birds Korea in 2005 to conduct a 3 year study of the impact of this massive reclamation. This will be completed by mid 2008. All of the information gathered during this study will be presented as part of the forthcoming Ramsar meeting in South Korea late in 2008. Charles Page's exhibition complements this study and proceeds of all sales of his artwork will be donated to the AWSG.
Location: Gallery 15 @ 15W - 15 William Street, Melbourne (cnr Flinders Lane)
Exhibition Dates: 12th February - 4th March
Open: 8am - 6pm weekdays
The Birds Korea Newsletter can be viewed at <http://www.birdskorea.org/BK-Startpage.shtml>where the Saemangeum Report can also be downloaded.