This page is devoted to updates on satellite tracking projects either lead by the VWSG or done in collaboration with VWSG members and on priority VWSG species.
Please note that all images on this page are copyright of the VWSG and its project partners. They must not be used without permission.
To get updates on Global Flyway Network wader tracking, please check the GFN website latest news.
Jump to individual species updates:
The (Far) Eastern Curlew project
The Far Eastern Curlew project is being co-ordinated by Amanda Lilleyman, Charles Darwin University. Updates can also be found on the Wader Quest website.
13th May. The map below shows the flyway-scale movements of all curlew beginning on 2019-01-01. Many of the tagged birds are still transmitting with the exception of four birds. Curlews GAVIN (Darwin), 171332 and 171323 (Moreton Bay), and WEE (Yallock Creek) have not received any signals since the last update. Please note that all maps show raw location data which have undergone no or minimal filtering for accuracy.
7th April. The Darwin Curlews AMANDA and DAMIEN are still in Darwin harbour. In 2018 these birds departed mid-to-late April - so we await their departure from tropical Darwin! GPS tag 182228 - GAVIN last transmitted on 22/3/2019 so may be out of phone reception.
ALL Broome Curlew are on migration! GPS tag 17006 – GRACE is near Shanghai; GPS tag 17008 – MICHA is on the coastline of southern China; GPS tag 180111 – ROZ is on the coastline of South Korea; GPS tags 180112 – PRUE, 180113 – MAUREEN and 180115 – MILLY are on the coastline of Taiwan; GPS tag 180114 – BIRGITA is still in South Sulawesi, Indonesia; and GPS tag 182226 – INKA On the coastline of Davao, Philippines.
VWSG Eastern Curlew project
20th June. There have been no new recent reports on the Eastern Curlew carrying satellite trackers. The latest information received suggested most live birds were now still breeding on their south-east Siberian/north-east China breeding grounds.
7th April. All Yallock Creek curlew are on the move, with two currently in China. GPS tag 182225 – KOO is on coastline of Zhoushan, just south of Shanghai; GPS tag 182227 – WEE is near Yalu Jiang, Liaoning.
GPS tag 182229 – RUP has had a very rough go over the last few weeks! RUP left Yallock Creek left VIC on 15/3/2019 but took a path over Mildura, Vic, over Lake Frome and Lake Eyre regions, SA through central Australia into the Northern Territory where it flew over Barkly Station and continued north over the western Top End. This bird made landfall on 17/3/2019 along the banks of Mann River, south of Maningrida in the NT. It then flew east towards Milingimbi and stopped at the Crocodile Islands for a few days. Its next few positions were from the Gulf of Carpentaria on 22/3/2019 – exactly when Tropical Cyclone Trevor (category 4) was heading towards Borroloola. It then made landfall on the coast just north of Karumba. A week later it flew east over QLD to the wet tropics area, where it was close to Cairns. But it flew further south and then touched down just behind the Townsville Town Common where it has been ever since! It has been moving between this wetland and the intertidal area of Bushland Beach, just north-west of Townsville.
17th March. Two Curlew from Victoria have migrated with almost identical tracks! These birds were last positioned in China, just a few hundred kilometres south of Shanghai. One Curlew is still doing regular movements between Yallock Creek and The Gurdies.
AWSG tracking of Oriental Pratincole, Little Curlew and Whimbrel
20th July. The Oriental Pratincoles have all now moved away from their breeding locations. The Indian bird in India has moved the furthest. We have been speculating about what the birds might do in the long period before they are due back in Australia (December). Excitingly it seems possible that they all may be breeding again.
20th June. We are still receiving signals from four different Oriental Pratincoles – two in Cambodia, one in Taiwan and one in India. While SEP and SUN remain on their chosen breeding sites, it seems that our Cambodian birds SHE and SEC may have completed the breeding for the season and have begun moving south. It’s going to be fascinating to see where they go and what they do, given we don’t expect them to return to Australia for another five or so months.
15th May. In Search of SEP: The Oriental Pratincole
The 4 Oriental Pratincoles are now more or less “stationary” in their chosen breeding grounds. One of the tagged birds with leg flag ID, SEP, made its way from the coastal plains of Eighty Mile Beach to Karnataka, India. Upon hearing the news of the bird’s arrival in India, a surveying team was subsequently organised and the expedition “In Search of SEP” began.
In April, SEP was tracked to the region of Bagalakot, in North Karnataka, where it was using a dam off-limits to the public. Subbu Subramanya and his team managed to negotiate access to the area to search the breeding population of pratincoles there for SEP. With support from Karnataka State Forest Department, a team spent two days searching for SEP among a large number of breeding pratincoles (as evidenced initially by broken wing displays and later by the discovery of nests with eggs). The team was successful in locating SEP on May 13, among a small group of around 50 pratincoles breeding in an area characterised by drying grass and dry gravelly ground, well away from the water's edge.
The sighting SEP has generated quite an interest and the State Forest Department has shown keen interest in protecting the region to conserve both resident and migratory waterbirds. It is planning to get the area declared as a wetland of national importance and plans even to apply for the Ramsar Site nomination. As a part of this initiative, there is plans to declare the breeding area as a Conservation Reserve, for protecting OPs. Future days will reveal how these plans will take shape.
16th April. Highlights continue to come the Oriental Pratincoles. It is absolutely marvellous the way these birds continue to come up with surprises. One has gone to Taiwan, the site of the only previous overseas record of an Australian marked Oriental Pratincole. The other has gone to India. If this bird remains to breed it will be the first example of an Australian wader breeding in India. What are the other two Oriental Pratincole now going to do – stay put and breed or migrate?
24th March. Three of the four birds are now in Mainland Southeast Asia, SEC and SHE in Cambodia, and SEP in Thailand. SUN is now in East Malaysia. While SHE remains in the Tonle Sap Lake floodplains, SEC, SEP and SUN are currently located in areas of intensive agricultural use.
20th June. All satellite transmitters deployed on Little Curlew having now ceased transmitting. There will be nothing further to report on this species in this programme this year.
18th May. The Little Curlews are progressing slowly to the north with one in the Yellow Sea region. Little Curlew LU is still in Yancheng Nature Reserve. On 7 May it moved towards the coast and now ustilise aquaculture pond in the buffer zone instead. The area is mariculture ponds for shells, shrimps, crabs and clamworms are carried out. LS continued to fly north on 10 May and transmitter signals indicate it was still migrating on 12 May, approaching Wenzhou in Zhejiang province.
16th April. The first Little Curlew has started its migration. Little Curlew LL has moved about 90 km east on Seram Island, Maluku province. The others (LS and LU) are still getting ready for migration at Anna Plains and we expect them to migrate any day now.
24th July. The two Whimbrel are amazingly still giving us information, with the transmitters now in their thirds year. One seems to have bred successfully and the other may have done so. They should be starting their southward migration from their NE Siberian breeding grounds in the near future.
20th June. The two Whimbrel are still on their breeding grounds in Siberia, presumably now incubating eggs. Last year one of them did not nest, even though it reached the breeding grounds.
18th May. Despite some deviations at the early stage of northward migration, Whimbrel KU and LA continue to show high site fidelity to their major stop-over sites along China coast as per previous year(s). Over the past week, KU gradually “hopped” along the coast of Guangdong Province towards its familiar stop-over site for the past 2 years in Putian, Fujian Province. A brief stop-over was made at an estuary near Shantou city on 10 May, which was the landing location of KU in 2018, before it moved on to arrive Putian on 14 May. LA spent 5 days on Kinmen island before hopping back to estuary on mainland Fujian on 11-May. LA soon continued heading north to arrive the same stop-over site in Panjin, Liaoning Province on 15 May.
AWSG fitted two Whimbrel with transmitters in 2017. One of the very interesting findings from this tracking was a whimbrel taking action to avoid a cyclone. In mid-February 2018, Whimbrel LA made a deliberate well-timed significant movement (at least 157km), outside its normal range in order to reduce the effects (wind and rain) of the category 2 cyclone (Cyclone Kevin).
If there are is missing information on this page or errors in reporting, please contact Birgita Hansen.