Where are the oriental pratincoles now?
I start this report with an apology to all who have been following this amazing project; it has been too long between reports. I am fully responsible for the delay and I will ensure updates are issued fortnightly once again. This project continues to produce fantastic results. We still have three birds with functioning Platform Transmitter Terminals (PTTs), SHE and SEC are currently on location on their 2019 breeding sites, and from the data it seems they have returned to the exact location. Despite continued infrequent transmissions, we have enough information to confidently locate SEP in Sumatra at the time of this report.
Also, when looking at Australian movements since the commencement of this project, the birds seem to use very similar areas for both years only expanding around 200 km either side of their 2019 range.
Note in the figure above that the white tracks recording SUN’s movements in February 2019 not listed on the legend, (PTT failure shortly after reaching Taiwan).
SHE (PTT 83595) – The first to leave the Australian shore once again!
In February 2019 SHE left Australia around the 16th February, 8 days after being fitted with a PTT, ten days before any of the other birds in this project. This year SHE took flight over Eighty Mile Beach, 15 km south of the initial release site, towards Java around the 4th February.
On the 7th February positioned SHE over the South China Sea 130 km east of the Malaysian coast, by the 15th February data showed SHE at the actual 2019 breeding site until around the 23rd February. SHE remains at this site at the time of this report and is currently 4000 km from the 2019 release site.
SEC (PTT 83596) – Back in the Prey Veng Province
After arriving back in Australia on the 9th December, SEC remained mainly around the banks of Lake Argyle approximately 80 km south of Kununurra until the 7th January. SEC headed south to Anna Plains Station was was there from the 14th January, around 15 km from the 2019 release site. SEC remained within the Anna Plains and Mandora Marsh and then further south towards the Great Sandy Desert before embarking on its next flight north around the 18th February, flying almost directly over the release site and towards Java.
The next accurate reading on the 27th February finds SEC 7 km east of the tin mining town of Sungai Lembing in the Kuantan District in Malaysia. Further flights north and SEC reaches its 2019 breeding site in the Prey Veng Province, Cambodia 35 km east of Phnom Penh, around the 8th March remaining in this area at the time of this report and is 3870 km from the 2019 release site.
The figure above shows one complete migration and northward flight for 2020 represented by the dark purple line.
SEP (PTT 83593) – Never Say Die – AGAIN
With hopes of a return to India, limited data continues to taunt the team and have us wondering how much longer before the PTT stops transmitting signals altogether. The first accurate reading received in Australia after the 2019 breeding season was received on the 2nd January 2020. On the 24th January SEP was situated 75 km north east of the Eighty Mile Beach release site then 121 km south west of this on the 2nd February. On the 12th March SEP was definitely located 3130 km from the Eighty Mile Beach release site in Sumatra, 33 km west of Bengkalis in the Bengkalis Regency.
There was limited data overall but the figure above shows one complete migration and northward flight for 2020 represented by the salmon coloured line. Last known location, Sumatra.