News & Events

April 26, 2020

A senior on migration

This Bar-tailed Godwit with a plain orange flag was seen on April 20 2020 on Aphae Island (ROK). The band number was seen entirely, but unfortunately an image could not be obtained of the last digit. The band number is 072-80733. This bird was banded on June 24 in 2001 at an age of 1 and was caught again eight month later in February 2002. This bird is now migrating at an age of twenty and so one of the seniors on the annual journey.

Bar-tailed-Godwit 072-80733

April 03, 2020

VWSG Red-necked Stint and Curlew Sandpiper geolocator news

In both the summers of 2017/18 and 2019/20 we deployed 60 geolocators on each Red-necked Stint and Curlew Sandpipers. While the Curlew Sandpipers utilised the 0.65g geolocator used for Ruddy Turnstone, the Red-necked Stint were fitted with a miniaturised geolocator weighing only 0.3g but with otherwise similar capabilities to the 0.65 loggers aside from a shorter battery life. Following some intensive and challenging efforts to retrieve the instruments from the returning birds, we achieved a total of 19 retrievals for Red-necked Stint and 18 for Curlew Sandpipers over the two years. After downloading, these resulted in 17 viable sets of data for Red-necked Stints and 15 sets for Curlew Sandpipers.

Simeon Lisovski has undertaken an analysis of these data and come up with some exciting findings. You can find an overview of the results on Simeon’s github site. The main finding was that Curlew Sandpipers are more reliant on the heavily impacted Yellow Sea area, during both their northward and southward migration. In comparison, Red-necked stint seem to make use of a lot more sites scattered along the flyway, which may result in more resilience for habitat deterioration. A secondary finding was two curlew sandpipers that made remarkable deviations from the general migration pattern for this species.

These exciting results could not have been possible without the dedication of all those VWSG citizen scientists who participated in deploying and retrieving these loggers; at times, these teams faced varying degrees of challenge and adversity. We want to express our sincere thanks to all. Local land holders are thanked for access to their properties.

March 05, 2020

Field work suspended

After much deliberation, the VWSG is suspending group field activities for 12 weeks until 20 June 2020. This decision has particularly impacted on the ability to retrieve and deploy geolocators on turnstone in SA (the King Island trip has not gone ahead due to a number of factors but could not have proceeded under the current Tasmanian interstate travel requirements. This also impacted on turnstone geolocator recoveries and deployment).

We will plan to have catches organised for when we get active again in order to salvage something from the winter period, but certainly hope to be back in action next summer.

Fortunately, over the past couple of months we managed to retrieve a number of geolocators from curlew sandpipers and red-necked stint and deploy new batches for (hopefully) retrieval next year.

February 27, 2020

Go-Go Godwit preparing for his next trip

One of Adelaide’s most well-known frequent flyers, Go-Go godwit, has been spotted on the mudflats north of Adelaide. 

Go-Go the bar-tailed godwit was snapped by local bird photographer Paul Taylor in February in a flock at Bald Hill near Port Wakefield. He was last spotted at Thompson Beach in March 2019. He was first captured at Thompsons Beach in 2012.

AKK resting at Bald Hill. Photo by Paul Taylor.

Read the full article in the Environment SA News

January 12, 2020

Catching in South Australia, April 8-15

Dates for SA catching have been set. Travel on Wednesday 8th April, and go home 15th April. Good Friday is 10th April. Tides are suitable to extend by 2 days if necessary. As usual, we will be staying at Paul Feast’s shack at Green Point for the first few days, then migrating to the Stewart’s residence at Rendelsham. The target for catching is to deploy and retrieve geolocators on Ruddy Turnstone.

To participate in bird catching and handling you must now have an ABBBS banding license.

Please contact Maureen ASAP if you are interested in participating.

December 15, 2019

Clive’s South Australian Send-off

On the 15th December we gathered under the vine covered verandah at the Stewart’s home in Rendelsham to farewell Clive. When I arrived I found Iain and Nick chucking a bag of fresh oysters from Smokey Bay. Clive would have been in his element! On the table was ‘Waders of Australia’ and a framed photo of Clive wearing a brightly coloured apron, wizz in hand, as he whisked up a bowl of crayfish mustard. There was also the family guest book with signatures of the team for visits going back to the first one in 1993. Present in the small group were five people who had been at the very first catch of Sanderling in Canunda in 1993 – Sandy and Iain Stewart, Noel and Sheila Boyle and Sarah Campbell (nee Sarrailhe).

Canunda, 1993. Bob Downs, Iain Stewart, Colin Boyle, Sally Stewart, Clive Minton

Iain spoke on the history of how the initial visit came to be. Then the call : 3…2…1……Fire! A VERY load bang along with a cloud of grey smoke!

Iain Stewart giving a speech at Clive’s sendoff

December 05, 2019

Tributes to Clive Minton

Humphrey Sitters is helping organise a tribute to Clive, to be published in the December issue of the Wader Study Group Bulletin. The IWSG has also opened a “book of remembrance”, (note that it has four pages, not just the one that opens first). Anyone who wishes to do so is invited to contribute their own remembrances.

Clive’s memorial service will be held on Wednesday 11th December in Sandringham, Melbourne. Please contact the VWSG Chair if you wish to attend.

Many amazing and heart felt tributes have been contributed via Twitter. These have been compiled into an image file (below). You can view the original thread or interact via Twitter

November 11, 2019

Vale Dr Clive Minton

We are immensely saddened by the passing of Dr Clive Minton, who was killed in a car crash on 06/11/2019 at Dunkeld in Victoria, Australia.

Clive trained as a metallurgist but is best known for his work with waders. Clive Minton has been described as a father figure in global wader studies. His early wader studies were in England with the Wash Wader Ringing Group (founded in 1959). Early catches of waders used rocket nets, but soon the group developed the cannon net – their first catch being in 1967. Clive moved to Australia in 1978 where he introduced cannon netting and played key roles in the Victorian Wader Study Group and the Australasian Wader Studies Groups (formed 1981), as well as the Royal Australasian Ornithologists’ Union.

Clive has been one of the great movers and shakers of shorebird research and colour flagging in the East Asian – Australasian Flyway and in other flyways over the last many decades. Clive was the key initiator of the North-west Australia Shorebird Expeditions. This field work dramatically increased knowledge of the importance of Roebuck Bay and Eighty Mile Beach as key non-breeding habitat of many species of migratory shorebirds. This work has continued annually or biannually for over 35 years and involved many people for Asia and Europe. It provided inspiration to young shorebird conservationists in Australasia and from across the EAAF. It has led to the development of the largest morphometric and movement data set for migratory shorebirds in the Flyway. This work also led to the establishment of Broome Bird Observatory and this continues to be a legacy to the passion Clive had for migratory shorebirds.

Clive’s work was recognised by a number of awards, including the BirdLife Australia’s John Hobbs Medal for outstanding contributions to ornithology as an amateur, and the Linnaean Society of New York’s Eiesenmann Medal for ornithological excellence and encouragement of amateur efforts in ornithology. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for ‘services to ornithology, particularly the study of migratory wading birds in Australia.

A memorial service to commemorate Clive’s life and achievements will take place sometime later in the year. More information will be circulated once arrangements have been made.

September 25, 2019

Oldest leg-flagged oystercatcher recovered in Inverloch

Victoria’s oldest leg flagged Australian Pied Oystercatcher was found dead on 25/9/19 a high tide beach wash not far from the Inverloch jetty by a local resident exercising their dog. A necropsy was performed and it appeared the bird had died of natural causes. The bird was first captured and banded on 15th May 1988 at Pt Smythe Inverloch, and was fitted with “Green over Green” leg colour bands by the Victorian Wader Study Group. It was classified a 2+ year old bird at the time and must have enjoyed the Inlet habitat as it was recaptured by the again on 11th August 2013 again at Point Smythe. Now a 25+ year old bird it was reflagged “Blue A4” and became a local celebrity with its story featuring in the Sth Gippsland Sentinel Times newspaper. its banding to recovery age was 31yrs 4mth 10days. Adding its age at first capture, it was approximately 33yrs old when it was recovered.

A4 Blue photographed by Steve Johnson at Pt Smythe on 18/10/2017