2017 News Snippets
VWSG KING ISLAND REPORT
4-13 DECEMBER 2017
Read the latest King island report here.
Our schizophrenic Ruddy Turnstone! The next chapter of the travels of WMA.
On 9 December the tenacious team of the VWSG retrieved the geolocator from Ruddy Turnstone WMA. This was only one of 16 loggers retrieved but has been singled out for preliminary analysis due to the interest it has drawn. It will be recalled that this bird created interest last year when the geolocator analysis showed it not only made a southward journey across the Pacific from Japan to Bougainville but also spent the 2015 austral summer in Newcastle on the NSW coast before it made its 2016 migration north again through Taiwan. As the geolocator failed on the breeding grounds we have little detail of this track but the bird was seen again in Newcastle on 4 November, 2016. At some time over the summer it must have returned to King Island because it was recaptured there on 30 March, 2017, its geolocator removed and a new one fitted.
This geolocator was retrieved on 9 December, 2017. The map below shows the simplified track which was obtained from data provided by the geolocator. The fundamental observation is that the journey it made in 2017 almost exactly replicates that made in 2015 and 2016.
Thanks are due to a lot of people who have contributed; Deakin University for provision of funds for the geolocators, the VWSG teams who undertook the task of retrieving and deploying them and particular thanks to the wader watchers in Newcastle whose observations have assisted enormously in ground truthing the geolocator data.
Tern Spotter - Seal Rocks Phillip Island Nature Parks
Alongside our seal survey, we've managed to get some great images of the crested terns at Seal Rocks, Victoria, Australia. We'd love to know how many are out there, and we'd also love to test out our system for counting them (very similar to the system we plan to use to count the seals). If you're interested in helping (even if you've only got a few minutes to spare), please head to the address below, and get clicking!
Go to Tern Spotter
To use the counter, we basically just need you to click on every tern you see in each image. Once an image appears, start clicking, and once you've marked all the terns in that image, click "Submit" to bring up the next one (you can comment on an image if you saw something of particular interest, or if you have a comment about the system). You'll notice that the terns are generally easy to recognise by the dark patch on their head, so for those not completely within the image you're looking at, just count them if you can see that head patch. This survey area is much smaller than what we use for the seal survey, so there are only about 35 images to mark.
Thanks for your help, science and wildlife fans!
Phillip Island Nature Parks research and conservation teams
Ken Gosbell receives the 2017 Hobbs Medal
The J.N. Hobbs Medal is awarded for outstanding contributions to Australasian ornithology by an amateur ornithologist. This year, the medal was awarded to Ken Gosbel in recognition for his unwavering, patient and significant contributions to the study and conservation of waders in Australia and more broadly, in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.
You can read about Ken's nomination on the BirdLife Australia website.
The award was co-presented by BirdLife Australia's CEO Paul Sullivan and Clive Minton, at the Australasian Ornithological Conference dinner on Thursday 9th November at Simmonds Stadium, Kardinia Park (Geelong).
Congratulations Ken from the whole VWSG! This award is truly well deserved.
Vale Dave Cropley
Dave is one of the longest standing members of VWSG, having first joined us in the early 1980s. He was an extremely regular participant in fieldwork in those early days, and in recent years he has also been particularly responsible for many of the recces carried out before the fieldwork activities. As anyone who has been out in the field when he has been part of the team will know well, he is a great contributor of ideas and full of enthusiasm. A major contribution in the last ten or more years has been ‘twinkling’ with his beloved hovercraft. He could get to many places which we were unable to reach to fetch birds and he could also get there a lot more quickly.
We will greatly miss the contribution of his hovercraft twinkling and the increased efficiency it gave us. Even more we will greatly miss Dave, with his ready smile and quips of humour.
Thanks, Dave, for all you did for the VWSG over the last 35 years.
Highlights from the VWSG Annual General Meeting, August 2017
The AGM was held at Clive and Pat's place on Saturday 26th August. While there were a number of highlights, the event was marked by a momentous change in the direction of the VWSG. Clive stepped down as the chair of the VWSG of 40 years, having held this role since the VWSG was first formed. Roger Standen was voted in as the new chair.
The change to the chair is part of a larger restructure for the VWSG committee. This in recognition of the huge amount of work that Clive has traditionally managed, but has now become too much for a single person to handle. This will include creation of several new roles, to divest Clive of these tasks. The new structure will be updated on the website in due course.
As incoming chair, Roger expressed his gratitude and thanks on behalf of the membership for Clive's massive contribution to wader studies over the decades. Clive is leaving behind an incredible legacy in terms of knowledge about waders, advances in their study and an appreciation of their wonder for so many people.
Other higlights included:
- Major field work achievements like the long-term geolocator study on turnstone, which has seen 1 bird provide 4 separate return journeys.
- Crested tern monitoring which revealed the highest ever number of breeding pairs last season on Mud Islands, but variable success elsewhere
- Three signifcant and generous donations.
- Outline for proposed changes to the future field work program, which will see the monitoring of some species discontinued.
Thanks to everyone who turned up to help during the day, to the evening speakers and to Pat for putting up with the crowds in her home yet again.
VWSG Annual General Meeting
The AGM will be at Clive and Pat Minton's place in Beaumaris on Saturday 26th August. Please contact Clive if you are planning on attending.
Aphae Island leg flag sightings, Spring 2017
Loss of key refuelling areas – will this mean extinction of migratory shorebirds?
Media Release April 13, 2017
“Migratory shorebirds, amazing global travellers that cover immense distances every year, are in trouble,” said Doug Watkins, Chair of the Australasian Wader Studies Group, a special interest group of BirdLife Australia.
“Populations of these iconic birds, that spend half of the year in Australia during their non-breeding season, have been declining for decades, despite conservation efforts. A new international study has identified where in the flyway the declines are occurring,” he said.
Bonanza trip visit to King Island!
March 28 and April 6, 2017
This was the VWSG's 18th catching visit to King Island. The main objectives were to deploy the remaining 30 geolocators, collect more data on pre-migration fattening, monitoring for avian viral infections and the collection of data of percentage juveniles.
Highlights of the trip were:
- A count of 843 Turnstones along the west coast – the highest total since March/April 2010 and 246 birds above last year.
- A total catch of 216 Turnstone, again the highest since March 2010.
- A record percentage of juveniles (31.0%) indicating an exceptionally successful breeding season for Turnstone in the 2016 northern summer.
- Retrieving 16 more geolocators, bringing the 2016/17 season’s total to a record 46 units retrieved.
To read the full trip report click
Preliminary results from geolocators deployed on Red-necked Stints at Yallock Creek in Western Port, Victoria
The VWSG deployed 60 Migrate Technology lightweight Intigeo geolocator s(0.3g) on Red-necked Stint at Yallock Creek on 9 April, 2016. A team was successful in retrieving 7 of these on 7 Jan 2017 at Yallock Creek and an additional 3 from a catch on Barrallier Island (Western Port Bay) on 21 January making a total of 10 retrievals at this stage. Data was successfully retrieved from 5 of these devices.
Overall the 5 birds that migrated did reach the Arctic breeding grounds and returned to Westernport Bay. Birds departed Yallock Creek between 11 April and 6 May with the majority between 11th and 22nd April. On northward migration, the birds seemed to make several stops in Australia before departing our shores, with most overflying Northwest Australia to either East Timor or Indonesia (Java and Sulawesi). The longest flight of their migration was to either Taiwan or Hainan (3000-3500km). From there they made their way up the coast of China to the area of the Shandong Peninsula and Bohai Bay where they might spend up to a week, and then they all flew inland to the lakes around the China, Mongolia, Russia border. Unfortunately, full light values were not obtained so it was not possible to define tracks to the breeding grounds (which appear to be in northern Siberia).
It is interesting that of the 5 records, 3 birds would appear to have successfully incubated and there is some indication of some brooding. Birds departed the Arctic between 3 July and 12 August, and returned through the Daursky Wetlands near the Russia/ China border, then south along the China coast to areas such as Taiwan and Hainan, Vietnam and Indonesia. All had returned to Western Port by the end of October.
Coastcare Volunteer Forum : 29-30 April 2017
You are invited to the the Coastcare Volunteer Forum, which is being held at The Nobbies Centre on Phillip Island. Register for the forum at Eventbrite
April 6, 2017 - and Bar-tailed Godwit TO did it again
The exciting story of Bar-tailed Godwit TO continues. Everyone knows the story that this bird was seen on all its migrations on Aphae Island, South Korea (see news from 2016). This year is now the 7th year in a row that this bird visits the same staging site in the Yellow Sea; it was seen first on April 5th and again on April 6th. Godwits are back since March 28 and there have been already some sightings of several orange ELFs of returning birds but also two first for Aphae Island. Exciting times...
Ruddy Turnstone ATZ does it again!
Ruddy Turnstone ATZ is certainly doing more than his share for the flyway.
He first volunteered on 4.3.2006 aged 1 so would now be aged 11 years. He was given Orange 4X/Yellow. At the beginning of our project we had a great deal of problems with ink fading, and so it was that 4X was replaced with ATZ in March 2009. On 11.4.2013 he joined the geolocator project, wearing a geolocator donated by the students of the Newbery Park Primary School (Millicent). The children were in the field when the geolocator was put on, and then again when it was retrieved the following season.
And each season thereafter ......
ATZ was recaptured 27.11.2016, and his 5th geolocator deployed. By now the ink on ATZ had faded to such an extent that it was unreadable in the field. And so ATZ is now wearing VAZ. Ken has plotted all 4 northern and southern migrations below. He also advises that ATZ has probably successfully bred in all 4 years. And this is only part of the story – 4X/ATZ/VAZ has been caught in the same general area a total of 11 times!
Thankyou to all who have worked hard over many years to collect this data. And especially thankyou to ATZ !!!
Upcoming field work January 10, 17 and 20/21
Tuesday 10 January: CLONMEL ISLAND. Catching Caspian and Crested Tern chicks. Boat(s) leave Port Albert at 0900
Tuesday 17 January: THE NOBBIES, PHILLIP ISLAND. Catching Crested Tern chicks. Meet at The Nobbies car park at 0900
Friday 20 January and Saturday 21 January: BARRALLIER ISLAND, WESTERN PORT. Catching Red-necked Stints and Curlew Sandpipers. By boat from Warneet. Net setting on Friday, departing 1500. Stay overnight at Harewood, Tooradin (at Pat McWhirter's home). Go out to catch 0615 Saturday. High tide 2.81 at 0824.
As you all know, we are now into the most intensive period of the year’s field work. It would be greatly appreciated if everyone can put their maximum effort into ensuring that we have adequate teams for each activity. Please contact Rob Patrick or Penny Johns if you are available to assist.