It is very sad that LA’s transmitter ceased to work on 23-May, ending the Whimbrel tracking project that has been running since 12-Feb-2017. Signals on LA’s transmitter have been unstable since earlier this year, which was reasonable for a transmitter that has functioned for 3 full years, and travelled nearly 53,000km.
Not many signals with high accuracy was received after LA arrived Panjin, Liaoning on 9-May. From the low accuracy signals, it could be confirmed that LA departed Panjin around 20-May to head north to Russia. As the transmitter was switched on again on 23-May, only one low accuracy signal came through showing that LA did manage to get close to the breeding grounds.
Based on the unstable performance of the transmitter earlier this year, we believe that the transmitter has failed and that LA is still alive. Hopefully it will show up again at 40-50km south at Eighty Mile Beach in the non-breeding season!
Migration summary of Whimbrel LA (transmission ceased on 23 May 2020):
Number of days since transmitter deployment
Distance travelled (2020)
Total distance travelled
June 03, 2020
On the same track
Being a bird on its 4th year of life and its third northward migration, LA seems to know the China coast like the back of its “wing”. Stop-over sites used were very similar to previous season.
After travelling for nearly 4,800km from NW Australia to China, LA only refuelled for about a week in southern China (Shantou, Guangdong and Xiamen, Fujian). Then it made another 1,300km flight to Qingdao, Shandong for a quick one-day stop-over. This is about the same pattern as in season 2019. This brings its total tracked distance travelled to 6860 km over nearly 1200 days!
LA made it to Panjin, Liaoning on 9 May and is using rice field in area similar to 2019. In the previous two seasons, LA left northern China around 22-24 May to Russia. Let’s see if it will follow the same regime again!
May 02, 2020
The third run
It was thrilling to see Whimbrel LA started its third northward migration and made it safe to land in Southern China once again.
LA’s exact departure time from Eighty Mile Beach was unknown. It happened sometime between the evening of 20 April and the morning of 22 April when the transmitter was switched off. As signals came through on 22 April evening, LA was already over 1,200km away from Eighty Mile Beach, flying above West Nusa Tengara, Indonesia. Two days later, LA was still flying continuously over Palawan, the Philippines. Finally, on 27 April, LA ended its 4,783km flight crossing the globe and landed near Shantou City, Guangdong Province, China.
April 18, 2020
Ready to take off
In preparation for LA’s third northward migration in the coming week, let’s review LA’s journeys from Eighty Mile Beach to the breeding ground in the past 2 seasons. LA departed on northward migration on April 24 in 2018 and April 26 in 2019. So we’re expecting LA to depart in 7 days time.
March 15, 2020
Update on Whimbrel LA
Whimbrel LA, now in its fifth year of life, has been very loyal to its territory between 40-50km south of Anna Plains Station entrance at Eighty Mile Beach since it was back to North-west Australia in October 2019. Whimbrel LA has been back in Australia now for 156 days, and its PTT has been transmitting now for 1127 days! It is expected to start its third northward journey in late April.
November 28, 2019
Whimbrel LA back in Australia
Whimbrel LA has now back to 40-50km south of Anna Plains Station entrance on Eighty Mile Beach, and has been back in Australia now for 48 days. As per the previous two non-breeding seasons, it is expected that LA will be hanging around this area until next migration season in spring, unless there is any extreme weather event. It is has been 1019 days since LA’s transmitter was first deployed.
October 31, 2019
Whimbrel LA returns home
After staying for 23 days in Indonesia, Whimbrel LA has made its way back home to Eighty Mile Beach, to be more exact, 40-50km south to Anna Plain station entrance. LA arrived Eighty Mile Beach on 11 Oct after a 1,370km single flight. The arrival date is only 4 days late compare to previous season.
The transmitter on KU has ceased sending signals since 9th October. Based on the performance of the satellite transmitter in the past month, it is likely that the transmitter has come to the end of its life after functioning for 957 days and providing us with 2 complete migration journeys of KU in the past 2.5 years. We hope that KU has safely migrated back to Broome.
September 24, 2019
LA resumes southward migration
After a 3 week stop-over in Fujian Province, LA continued its journey south on 8th September. In 7 days it has flown >3,800km to reach a small island in Indonesia on 15th September, which is about 1,400km east of Bali. It is only another 1,300km away from home at Eighty Mile Beach. KU is still at Yingkou, Liaoning Province.
August 30, 2019
LA and KU migrating southward
Both Whimbrel are now well into their southward migration. It appears that LA, which made a long sea crossing on southward migration last year, is taking a more conservative route along the Asian coast this time. It seems to be doing really well for itself, having found one of the upmarket, offshore island holiday resorts for a prolonged stopover. The other bird (KU) is staging at a more conventional wader location on the Yellow Sea.<
July 24, 2019
Whimbrel due to depart breeding grounds soon
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.