2014 News Snippets
November 22, 2014
When the VWSG team were recently in SA retrieving geolocators from Ruddy Turnstone, they had an exciting find of a Semipalmated Plover, initially found by local Maureen Christie. It took some detective work, several trips to inspect the details and efforts to capture usable photos to confirm it wasn't a Ringed Plover or any other similar species. Finally, a photo by Bob Green showed the characterstic partial webbing (hence the name) on the foot of the bird in question. This is only the sixth sighting of this species in Australia and the first since 2010. Bob's photo was the clincher to the identification.
October 2, 2014
The AWSG held their bi-annual shorebird conference in Darwin on Sept 20/21, which produced many interesting papers. Following one of the presentations about loss of shorebird habitat as China and Korea reclaimed their mudflats for development, someone suggested that maybe shorebird conservationists could purchase and conserve some mudflats. However, a response made that very difficult as apparently the Chinese will only sell the mudflats if there is a Development Application as well. This means you can't buy a mudflat and do nothing with it as mudflats are a source of revenue for the Chinese Government and very precious as developable land. The only way is for the Chinese government to decide to preserve some bits for shorebirds. That process is being worked on by the AWSG and the EAAF Partnership, among others, and is one of the uses made of the VWSG data.
It seems amazing that an egg can be taken from a nest in Russia, transported to Slimbridge in the UK where it is hatched and the chick reared. The young bid is then released back into the wild from where the nest was. That the bird can then migrate, mature and breed itself is such wonderful news.
This isn't a solution in itself to dwindling wader numbers, but buys some time until long-term solutions are found to the habitat changes and other causes of the decline of this fascinating species.
August 30, 2014
The VWSG AGM is on today. The annual Bulletin is therefore published and can be found on the publications page accessed from the home page of this website. It can also be accessed directly from here.
August 30, 2014
A great comeback by Curlew Sandpipers this week as a catch of 293 was made on Barrallier Island, the largest since 2006. Unfortunately it doesn't mean a comeback in terms of their total numbers, but there have been better numbers of juveniles around this winter than there have been for many years so that is a good thing.
August 20, 2014
Following several near fails and low catches of oystercatchers this winter, a team of 15 people went to Charles Hall Road at Corner Inlet, on August 12, in a further attempt to bolster the numbers of oycs caught for the season.
Success at last. The catch of 75 Oystercatchers (49 Pied, 26 Sooty) was the largest ever catch of mixed species of Oystercatchers by the VWSG in its 30 year - long Oystercatcher study. The next largest mixed catch was 63 birds (54 Pied and 9 Sooty) in June 2005, off Mann's Beach, also at Corner Inlet.
There have been even larger Pied Oystercatcher catches - 84 at Stockyard Point and 81 at Roussac's farm, both in 2002. The largest ever Sooty Oystercatcher catch was 56, in April 2008, at the same Charles Hall Road location as this catch.
August 20, 2014
The VWSG AGM is coming up on the 30th August. This day is spent mending equipment and chattng among members before the formal AGM is held at 4pm. Following the evening meal, we enjoy a series of presentations on wader related topics. If you are interested in coming, please get in touch to find out the details
August 15, 2014
A terrific mix of birds was caught at Yallock Creek on August 8, by a mix of experienced and new team members. The catch of 15 Curlew Sandpipers, 62 Double-banded Plovers and 68 Red-necked Stints gave the newcomes a great chance to see different birds in the hand and to understand more about their ageing, moult and biometrics. Due to the mix of experience and new team members, the newcomers all had the chance to move betwen processing teams and do measurements on the three species.
This illustrates how important these catches can be to help students (the new members were from Deakin Uni) and others who are learning about birds, understand the biometrics.
The bonus was that they all got to see the Double-banded Plvers in absolutely cracking breeding plumage.
June 4, 2014
To see a visual representation of the path of the Little Curlews on migration, go to this page where the AWSG has provided updated information about the birds travel.
June 2, 2014
Most of us do not get to see the birds when on their northward migration to and from the breeding grounds and don't appreciate the environment they are passing through. When Igor Dorogoy, a Russian researcher, sent in a number of photos of waders carrying Australian flags from Ola Lagoon, near the Sea of Okhotsk in eastern Russia, one of them was such a lovely shot of the area, that it was worth sharing with more people.
Igor said that there were more waders there this year than he normally sees and there were several Bar-tailed Godwit and Great Knot with yellow flags from North-west Australia within the flocks using the lagoon as a stopover on their last leg to the breeding grounds.
June 1, 2014
A further update on the exciting Little Curlew satellite transmitter work has just been released by Inka Veltheim on behalf of the team. Of the three birds with active transmitters on them, one left Broome on its own and travelled through to China and on to the Russian breeding grounds, where it has moved another 160km (shown on the attached image) but has been still for several days now, so hopefully it is finding a mate and getting to the business of nesting.
The other two left together a couple of weeks after the first and have now separated with one going on to Rudong, north of Shanghai in China and the other has returned to Lombok in Indonesia.
The second bird is following a similar course to the first bird so hopefully it too will make it to the breeding grounds.
April 24, 2014
An exciting project run by VWSG and AWSG members is unfolding in north-west Australia. Clive Minton and Inka Veltheim and the team have just released an update.
The essence is that satellite transmitters have been placed on some Little Curlew and there are three birds with operating transmitters that are poised ready to go on their migration. We know vey little about their migration and all news about stopover sites will be new information.
This project is especially important as most of the Little Curlew are believed to spend their non-breeding season in Australia and we know so little about their movements. What makes this more critical is that the two cousins from other flyways, the Eskimo and Slender-billed Curlews are both extinct, after they were known to have large populations.Let us hope we don't allow the Little Curlew to follow the same fate as its cousins.
The detailed update can be read in the "LC_update_1.pdf".
April 9, 2014
An interesting sighting of one of our Victorian flagged birds has just been reported. A Bar-tailed Godwit with an orange engraved flag with the code 'T0' has just been seen in South Korea on April 3 on its route north. This bird was banded at Mann's Beach, Corner Inlet on 23/6/09 aged 1. It would then have stayed here for a couple of years until mature enough to migrate.
The first overseas sighting of 'T0' was at Aphae Island in South Korea on 23/4/11, which would have been its first migration north to breed. It was then seen again there a year later on 11/4/12 when it stayed until at least 13/5/12. Then it returned the next year arriving by 8/4/13 and staying to at least 28/4/13. These records show how critical the stopover sites are for birds to spend time and refuel after their 8500km trip from their non-breeding site in Victoria.
So 'T0' has been seen at the same site in South Korea ever since it started to migrate.
We thank the numerous people who have spotted 'T0' and reported their sightings to us.
April 9, 2014
Birdlife Australia are having a Farewell Shorebirds Campaign where people are encouraged to join up on the this link which also has a video teaser.
It is aimed at the general public with a view to increasing awareness and even participation in shorebird activities.
It will commence in earnest this week and run until World Bird Migration Day in May. New items will be added to the website weekly. The "Media Release - Farewell Shorebirds - 3 April.pdf" media release may also be of interest.
March 11, 2014
The arrival of the New Zealand sightings (see entry below) reminds us here in Victoria to be much more active in seeking to find flagged birds. While it can be difficult to reach many high tide roosts around the Victorian coast, we must work hard to do so. The importance of flaggging our birds is valued only when they are seen again. The same applies to overseas flagged birds. Let us please get out there and search for overseas as well as localy flagged birds.
March 11, 2014
Our New Zealand partners recently sent across a number of sightings of Red Knot from 2013, that had orange flags and many of these were engraved flags so we could identify the individual birds. What was fascinating was that of the 16 individually identified birds, all bar one were aged one when they were banded and flagged in Victoria. This reflects what commonly happens with Red Knot where they move through Australia on their way to New Zealand. There must be something in that genetic mould that makes these young birds continue their travel even after reaching suitable non-breeding areas in southern Australia.