0 News & Events

October 11, 2023

The Clive Minton Medallion

The establishment of this award was instigated when Clive stood down from the Chair as a way of acknowledging his enormous input into the future and to recognise great contributions to the group by an outstanding member. The award is a Medal of Merit for Outstanding Contribution to the VWSG.

The award is made annually, at the AGM. The 2023 medalist was Jeff Campbell. Jeff is the ultimate quiet achiever and a very worthy winner of this prestigious award.

Pat Minton presenting Jeff with his Clive Minton Medallion.

Jeff Campbell Citation

Jeff has been banding waders for 30+ years with the Victorian Wader Study Group and the Australasian Wader Studies Group and holds an A class ABBBS Banding Licence with Cannon Netting and Mist Netting endorsements enabling him to take a leadership role in the VWSG field work program in SA and Victoria.
Whilst living in Melbourne he regularly attended VWSG field work, including the annual migration to Werribee, expeditions to South Australia and to AWSG NWWA. Since moving to South Australia he has become a distinguished lead and mentor for the VWSG and was foundation Chair of the Friends of Shorebirds SE in 2005, a position he still holds.

Jeff has ably and willingly undertaken many administrative tasks for the VWSG, AWSG and FoSSE including:

  • Conservation Officer AWSG 1987 – 1994, VWSG 1993 – 2004, FoSSE 2018 – present.
  • Committee member VWSG 1994 – 2004.
  • Editor of the AWSG journal The Stilt 1989 – 1995, Assistant Editor The VWSG Bulletin 2017, Editor VWSG Bulletin 2018 – present.
  • Population monitoring Count Co-ordinator for SE SA sites 2007 – present (including reporting).
  • Hooded Plover Count Co-Co-ordinator SE SA ?2018 – present (including reporting).
  • Flag making parties whilst living in Melbourne, and now all SA flags.
  • Jeff is a regular contributor to the Bulletin, with his first article appearing in 1989.

In collaboration with District Ranger Ross Anderson (Department for Environment and Water, SA), he designed and reported on a project to assess the amount of disturbance shorebirds are subjected to on the Limestone Coast in South Australia.

He also designed and published the study – “The Importance of Beach-wrack for Migratory Shorebirds” Stilt 72 (2018).

A foundational member of the Australasian Wader Studies Group, this year marks 40 years that Jeff has been counting waders. Commencing in 1983 with monthly counts of Mildura area he has been involved in special monthly counts in Victoria at Cheetham Saltworks, Inverloch and Lake Hawdon South in South Australia as well as routine biannual counts of PMP sites. Presently he is involved with counting PMP sites in SE SA, Lake George, Lake Bonney, Lake Hawdon and the Coorong.

Reading leg flags

Jeff and Sarah have made over 1,300 flag sightings of 15 species since 1992. Including over 547 Sanderling, 214 Australian Pied Oystercatcher and 444 Ruddy Turnstone flag sightings. Helping elucidate the habitat use of these species along the coast.

Discovery Bay Sanderling project

In addition to regular field work in SA, he has been pivotal in the VWSG Sanderling tracking project over the past two years, spending many hours in the field with his wife Sarah, looking for flagged birds and checking for birds with tracking devices. Jeff and Sarah have made over 491 flag reports for Sanderling over the last two years – a huge effort. They were key members of the field teams that deployed the tracking devices in Discovery Bay, Victoria and along the SA coast.

Jeff’s commitment and effort to all facets of protecting and monitoring shorebirds is boundless. His contribution to the group over 40 years makes him a worthy recipient of the Clive Minton Medallion.

July 28, 2023

J.N. Hobbs Medal 2023: Dr Roz Jessop

The VWSG is proud and excited to announce that Roz Jessop was the recipient of the prestigious 2023 Hobbs Medal. This is awarded by BirdLife Australia for outstanding contributions to Australasian ornithology by an amateur ornithologist.

Roz has been involved with the VWSG since the early 1980s and has been a key member of the group since joining. She was the first female to hold an Australian cannon net licence and has exceptional experience in capture and handling of waders (and other birds). She has been a key figure in the North West Australia Wader and Tern Expeditions. Among the many responsibilites she has shouldered, she has been instrumental in managing animal ethics approvals and permits for the VWSG and the AWSG. This is an enormous responsibility and without her efforts, the VWSG would not be able to undertake the catches it does.

We are immensely grateful for everything she has contributed over the decades and congratulate her on this fabulous and well deserved achievement.

You can access and download the full Hobbs Medal citation from Australian Field Ornithology.

July 20, 2023

Exciting recovery of a VWSG bar-tailed godwit in Alaska

The Victorian Wader Study Group has had an exciting recovery. A Bar-tailed Godwit banded off Manns Breach, Corner Inlet on the 31st of January 2018 has been seen at Teshekpuk Lake Special Area, Arctic Alaska, USA on the 8th of June 2023. It was banded in its first year and has moved 12,167 kilometres from its original banding location. We know that Bar-tailed Godwit travel to Alaska to their breeding ground, however it is not often we have a recovery.

This bird has also been previously sighted in New Zealand at Ruakaka, Northland on 20/09/2020 and then at Snells Beach just north of Auckland on 14/09/2021.

We would like to thank Kristi Carr, who is an Avian Ecologist at Point Blue Conservation Science in Alaska, who was conducting an Arctic PRISM survey when the godwit was sighted. It was seen with its mate in a known nesting location. Kristi has kindly shared some amzing photos with us.

June 13, 2023

Kings Birthday Honour for Maureen Christie

The VWSG is delighted to announce that Maureen Christie received the Kings Birthday Honour 2023. Congratulations Maureen!!

MEMBER (AM) IN THE GENERAL DIVISION OF THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA

For significant service to wildlife conservation.

Friends of Shorebirds SE (FoSSE)

  • Secretary, Treasurer and Newsletter Editor, since 2005.
  • Founding Member, since 2005.

BirdLife Australia

  • Committee Member, Australasian Wader Studies, Special Interest Group, current.
  • Expedition Co-Leader, Australasian Wader Studies Group NWWA, and Report Co-Author, 2007-2013.

Member, Birdlife South East South Australia, since 2020.

Victorian Wader Study Group

  • Member, since 1995.
  • Authorized Australian A-class bird banding authority with cannon-netting endorsement, since 2001.

Friends of Mount Gambier Area Parks

  • Treasurer, 1996-2001.
  • Secretary, 1997-2001.
  • Founding Member, since 1995.

Roles – Other

  • Member, respective local Field Naturalists group, since 1974.
  • Contributor, Ornithological Collection, South Australian Museum.
  • Former Member, Country Women’s Association.

Publications include:

  • Over 35 peer-reviewed articles, reports, newspaper items, and a book chapter.
  • Author/Editor, 162 newsletters, ‘Friends of Shorebirds SE’, since 2005.
  • Author/Editor, 27 newsletters, ‘SA Banding’, prior to 2005.
  • Regular Contributor, ‘Victorian Wader Study Group Bulletin’

Awards and Recognition include:

  • Member, South Australian Women’s Honour Roll, since 2021.
  • Serventy Conservation Award, Australian Wildlife Society, 2021.
  • Certificate of Appreciation, Natural Resources South East, 2017.
  • Certificate of Recognition, South Australian Premier, 2014.
  • Certificate of Recognition, South Australian Landcare Awards and Premier’s Natural Resources Management Awards, 2009
  • Certificate of Appreciation, Department for Environment and Heritage, South Australia, 2007, and 2003.
  • Certificate of Recognition, Prime Minister’s International Year of Volunteers, 2001.
  • Certificate of Appreciation, South Australian Premier, 2001.

May 04, 2023

Australasian Ornithological Conference 28-30 November 2023

BirdLife Australia and Birds New Zealand are pleased to announce that registration for the AOC2023 is now open. The conference is being held at the Brisbane Convention Centre between November 28 and 30.

As part of the conference proceedings, there will be a symposium on shorebirds. This session will be focusing on improving our understanding and mitigating threats to migratory shorebirds at deteriorating habitats in the EAAF. More details on conference symposia are available online.

Please submit your abstracts now via the conference website.

March 24, 2023

Chinese Red-necked Stint captured at Stockyard Point

The VWSG headed out to Stockyard Point on February 23 to conduct a catch aimed at collection of percentage juvenile data from Red-necked Stint and Curlew Sandpipers. All Curlew Sandpipers captured were fully processed, as was a sub-sample of Red-necked Stint.

The highlights were the capture of a Little Stint and a chinese-flagged Red-necked Stint. The Red-necked Stint was banded by Forestry Resource Monitoring Center at Xinpu, Cixi City, Zhejiang Province China on 19 May 2018. The stint had black over white colour flags and a blue flag below the metal band on the upper leg. This was a very exciting outcome for the team as the VWSG rarely catch overseas birds.

One geolocator was also retrieved and a Broad-billed Sandpiper seen in the field.

Chinese banded Red-necked Stint (Photo Karen Yi Lam Kam)
Little Stint (Photo Thomas Verzonden)

March 20, 2023

The role of waders as hosts for low pathogenic avian influenza

The VWSG has supported a significant and long-term study that demonstrates the role of waders as hosts for low pathogenic avian influenza.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (or bird flu) is gaining substantial media attention as a result of the profound impact that this virus is having on wild and domestic birds. The bird flu that is being reported is just one strain of many, the vast majority of which cause no disease and are commonly found in wild birds. These strains are termed low pathogenic.

Through a decade of sample collection, Prof Marcel Klaassen and Dr. Michelle Wille have demonstrated the role of waders in the ecology of these low pathogenic avian influenza viruses. Marcel and Michelle are a common sight at catches in Victoria, and often join expeditions including King Island, South Australia and Broome to collect blood samples and swabs for their research. They show that the long distance migratory waders rather than endemic waders are the most frequently infected with low pathogenic avian influenza viruses. The highest prevalence is found in Ruddy Turnstones and Red-necked Stints; Sanderlings by contrast are almost never infected with the virus. This is supported with antibody data from blood samples. Based on patterns of virus prevalence, they also found that the genetic relationships between bird species (here, inferred through phylogenetics) explains why some species have high prevalence and others have low prevalence.

The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences

March 13, 2023

No evidence of HPAI emergence in Australia in 2020

The global panzootic of highly pathogenic avian influenza (or bird flu) continues, and has thus far resulted in the death or destruction of half a billion domestic birds. This virus is now present on every continent, with the exception of Australia and Antarctica.

With the support of the VWSG, Prof Marcel Klaassen and Dr. Michelle Wille report no evidence that bird flu arrived in Australia between September and December 2022 with the arrival of waders. Approximately 600 waders were sampled in Broome and King Island during this period, all of which tested negative. Their results were outlined in a short report in the journal Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses.

Australia will again enter a high-risk period coinciding with the return of waders between September and December 2023, and the VWSG will once again support Prof Klaassen and Dr. Wille in their sampling efforts.

November 30, 2022

Warning against handling sick birds

Wildlife Health Australia has issued a warning notice with risk management advice for bird banders, wildlife rangers and researchers about High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza and Wild Birds. Expert advice from our our research members, Michelle Wille and Marcel Klaassen, was important to formulating this statement. Michelle and Marcel have also provided more information about avian influenza, which appears in the latest volume of the bulletin.

If you see birds that are sick, please do not pick them up or handle them unless directed to do so. Please call the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

You can find out more in this factsheet issued by Wildlife Health Australia.

November 02, 2022

New paper on primary moult strategies in adult waders

Clive Minton was a key person in the professional lives of both Colin Jackson and myself (Les Underhill). So we are delighted to honour his memory through this paper on moult, a topic that he was really enthusiastic about. He was a co-supervisor of both the PhD of Colin, and that of Yahkat Barshep (who did an expedition to Broome which he led). Paper is available via the this link: Primary moult strategies in adult migrant waders (Charadrii)

Abstract

We assembled the results of moult studies for 57 populations of 24 species of migrant waders which moult in the period between their southward and northward migrations. We used studies in which the Underhill-Zucchini moult model had been used to estimate the duration of primary moult and its mean starting date. Study sites were between 70°N and 38°S. We created three zones: north of 30°N, between 30°N and 30°S, and south of 30°S. We found that north of 30°N, moult patterns were constrained by the onset of cold winter weather; the timing of moult was relatively early and the duration was short. Moult duration was positively correlated with body mass. South of 30°S, the main constraint on moult patterns was the relatively short period between arrival and departure on the non-breeding grounds. Generally, in this zone the timing of moult was similar for all species, and the duration of moult was extended to cover the time available, ca. 120 days. This is thought to be a strategy to enable the growth of good quality feathers, capable of enduring long migration distances. In this southern zone, there was no relation between moult duration and body mass. Between 30°N and 30°S, moult patterns were less constrained, and there was considerable variation in both timing and duration of moult. With little environmental seasonality and day length variation, local conditions are thought to influence both the timing and duration of moult. This exploratory meta-analysis reveals patterns, highlights data gaps, and suggests hypotheses for further research