2009 News Snippets
Sept 21, 2009
Another successful AGM was held on Saturday September 12, 2009 when all nets had heir annual maintenance check, with holes repaired, ropes rebound and a new net was also made (or nearly so). Following the work, the AGM was held and President Clive gave his report esentially referring to the comprehensive Bulletin; that reports on all VWSG activities for the year past. Many informative and interesting presentations were also given with a somewhat bleak message about reduced wader numbers throughout the Flyway that is most likely due to impacts at stopover locations as the major cause (eg reduced tidal feeding grounds at Saemanguem in the Yellow Sea).The message about the need for good scientific data that drives the VWSG was clear in any attempts to counter the loss of habitat of the waders.
August 6, 2009
Further news has come from Clive Minton that summarises some of the overseas flag sightings over the past season, breeding success (or lack of it) derived from the VWSG banding results and some species numbers caught this year can be made available.
June 3, 2009
Some good news from Clive Minton who is part of a team working at Delaware Bay on the north -east coast of America monitoring waders as they move through on migration. While not Victorian waders it is an interesting read.
To see the story from back in 1997 that Clive is referring to in his report go to this website for an article by Don Crockett http://www.virtualbirder.com/vbirder/realbirds/dbhsc/index.html
VWSG members visited King Island between 26th March to 2nd April 2009 and their story is summarised here.
A total of 827 Ruddy Turnstone were counted just prior to migration in March 2009, slightly less than in 2008 but considerably more than the 400-500 seen in November 2008 and February 2009.
No juveniles were caught during the visit indicating that Ruddy Turnstones had a poor Arctic breeding season in 2008. About 44% of birds caught already carried bands. Most of these birds were caught at the site where they were banded indicating a high degree of site faithfulness between years. As in previous years there were quite marked differences in the proportion of each sex in the catches at different locations.
Weight gain was not as high in previous years. This could result in birds departing up to two weeks late on migration, which could prejudice their breeding success in the Arctic this year.
Information on flag sightings are beginning to build a picture of Ruddy Turnstone migration from King Island. Sighting locations include Taiwan, Japan, China, South Korea and New Zealand.
Whilst not directly related to Victorian waders, VWSG members were strongly represented on a banding expedition to Darwin late last year and we got a note from Chung-Yu Chiang from the Taiwan Wader Study Group that they saw a Greater Sandplover with Darwin leg flags (yellow over blue flags on right tibia) in the last week of March at Han Pao (Chang Hwa County). This is the first Darwin banded bird seen on the flyway. This shows the value of the leg flagging in showing what route birds are taking on the northern migration.
Roz Jessop reported the following update on activities (from Sept last year to March 09) in the recent edition of the Vic Babbler:
Since our last report in September we have been busy studying Crested Terns at Mud Island, the Nobbies and Corner Inlet and catching shorebirds at a variety of locations to monitor last years breeding success in the Arctic. On the 21st September we caught a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper near Yallock Creek in Western Port. This is the earliest a juvenile of this species has been recorded in Victoria. Unfortunately it was not an indication that Curlew Sandpipers had a good breeding season with the proportion of juveniles only 4.4% this year so far which is low in comparison to other years. Red-necked Stint and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper also seem to have had a poor year as do most high Arctic breeding waders. However, a high proportion of juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit (average 31.9%) was found in catches made at Rhyll and Queenscliff, indicating an above average breeding season. The sub-species of Bar-tailed Godwit that comes to eastern Australia and New Zealand (baueri) nest in the eastern end of the breeding range of this species – eastern Siberia and Alaska whereas those that visit north-west Western Australia (menzbieri) breed further west in Yakutia. Information collected on the recent Australasian Wader Studies Group expedition to NW WA shows that the Yakutia sub-species had a very poor breeding season. We need to collect more information on Sanderling and Ruddy Turnstone before some indication of their breeding success can be obtained.
Sixteen Caspian Tern chicks and just over 800 Crested Tern chicks were banded during three visits to Mud Islands. This indicates that the number of birds nesting remains at a slightly lower level than some years ago when the Phillip Island colony did not exist. Friends of Mud Island continue to support these birds by clearing their nesting area of weeds each year.
The total population of Crested Terns nesting at the Nobbies is estimated at 3000. So far about 2,500 chicks have been banded. This is a similar number of birds to previous years.
Unfortunately the Crested Tern colony in Corner Inlet was mostly washed out by high tides just before Christmas. Only 13 chicks were banded this year.
A flock of about 50,000 Banded Stilt have been reported from the Coorong in mid-January. The birds are being monitored but no reports of breeding as yet.
Feb 21, 2009
Some recent results of our most recent fieldwork have come in from Clive Minton.
CORNER INLET 5th TO 9th FEBRUARY
This turned out to be a resounding success in spite of weather problems, including the Black Saturday fires reaching up to the outskirts of Yarram and preventing us from having any boat support on the 8th and 9th as the Parks Victoria rangers, and Susan Taylor, were called away to the fires.
Overall we caught 1013 birds in four catches. Two of these catches were of Bar-tailed Godwits (BTGs) - 73 on east Clonmel on the 7th and 106 at Barry Beach on the 9th. The former contained a bird carrying an engraved leg flag (green) from Queensland and the latter a bird which is now at least 19 1/2 years old. Juvenile BTG numbers were low in the first catch - made from the centre of a large congregation of 7000 birds - but there were 44% juveniles in the second catch which was also made from the centre of a large flock (1500 birds). Overall the figures confirm data from elsewhere which show that it was a very good breeding season for our population of Bar-tailed Godwits, which breed in Alaska, in 2008.
The other main catches in Corner Inlet were Red-necked Stints - 570 at West Box Bank on the 7th and 232 at Barry Beach on the 8th. Contrary to our Red-necked Stint data earlier in the season there was a good percentage of juveniles (29% and 17% respectively). The former may have been partly caused by the catch being on the edge of a very large (8000) roosting flock - we have some evidence showing juveniles tend to segregate towards the edges of such flocks. But it is also possible that there has been some further movement of juveniles into the region in the latter part of our sampling season.
The West Box Bank catch contained a useful 26 Curlew Sandpipers.
WESTERN PORT 13th TO 15th FEBRUARY
The first three tides were spent at the GMH Drain salt marsh site on the eastern side of Western Port near The Gurdies. This is a favourite Curlew Sandpiper location and sure enough more than 1000 were present. Our attempts to catch were thwarted however by wind conditions, which greatly affect tide height on the very flat muddy shore in front of the salt marsh.
The nets for Sunday morning had been set at Yallock Creek. On our arrival at dawn it was immediately apparent that there was a nice group of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers in and around the catching area. We decided to concentrate on these and not twinkle birds from the other farm. After one or two brief lift-offs the flock settled in front of one of the nets and we got a marvellous catch of 119 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers (and 75 Red-necked Stints, 9 Curlew Sandpipers and 1 Red-capped Plover). There was only one juvenile Sharpie, confirming that it was a very poor breeding season in 2008 for this species (the first really bad outcome for several years). Red-necked Stints however had a much higher proportion of juveniles than on our earlier samples at Yallock Creek this season, again suggesting a possible late influx of young birds.