News & Events

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)


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

October 04, 2022

New research sheds light on geographic patterns in shorebird size and shape

New research sheds light on geographic patterns in shorebird size and shape, thanks to long-term data collected by the Victorian Wader Study Group and Australasian Wader Studies Group.

We show that shorebirds from hot, tropical north-western Australia are smaller and have longer bills than members of the same species from temperate, south-eastern Australia. These patterns are consistent across 30 ecologically diverse species, including sandpipers, plovers, terns, stilts, and oystercatchers.
Differences in the size and shape of shorebirds from northern and southern Australia correspond with two eco-geographic ‘rules’ in ecology. Bergmann’s Rule states that animals should be larger at higher latitudes, while Allen’s Rule states that animals should have shorter appendages – such as bird bills – at higher latitudes. Understanding why latitudinal patterns in animal size and shape exist is challenging because there are many possible explanations.

Our findings best support the expectation that differences in shorebird size and shape are driven by adaption to keep cool on the northern Australian coast. This would explain why Arctic-breeding shorebirds that travel to northern Australia have smaller bodies and longer bills than members of the same species that fly to southern Australia. It also explains why we find consistent patterns in body size and bill length across migratory and resident shorebirds. Small bodies and long bills help birds keep cool by providing a greater surface area to dissipate heat. Longer bills are especially advantageous because birds can increase blood flow to the bill’s surface to increase heat loss.

This research helps improve our understanding of the evolution of shorebird size and shape, and how shorebirds might adapt to a warming climate.

Read the full story here:

July 19, 2022

Australasian Shorebird Conference online in 2022

The 12th Australasian Shorebird Conference will take place from 29-30 October 2022 hosted jointly by the Australasian Wader Studies Group and the Queensland Wader Studies Group. We are pleased to announce that the Conference will be an online event, in the hope of encouraging broad participation from around Australia and across the East Asian – Australasian Flyway Partnership.

The theme for this Conference is “Global Strategies Local Actions” and through the Conference program we will look at what has been happening across the East Asian – Australasian Flyway since the 11th Australasian Shorebird Conference held in 2018.

The call for abstracts for the Australasian Shorebird Conference 2022 is now open. You can submit an abstracts for an oral presentation (15-min talk, plus 5-min for questions), or an e-poster presentation. Abstracts can either be submitted under the following themes or as general submissions.

  • EAAF site network
  • Conservation and monitoring
  • Citizen science
  • Indigenous research, monitoring and conservation
  • Communicating shorebird science

All submissions will be considered for the program and program sessions will be determined on the basis of submitted abstract themes.

Go to the Australasian Shorebird Conference website to find out more and submit your abstract.

July 09, 2022

Sanderling sightings from China

Several Sanderling tagged in South Australia and south-west Victoria in April 2022 have been sighted in China during the May field work season. Noteable resightings include LHL, BCE and BVM at Guangdong, and LEY at Wanbao beach, Shandong. LEY is the exciting observation having been first captured in April 2014 in Nene Valley.

BVM spotted at Green Point on April 29, 2022 in a flock of 400 sanderling. Photo courtesy of Maureen Christie

You can view Sanderling sightings on the BirdMark portal, where you can also submit your own sightings.

June 19, 2022

Queen’s Birthday Honours – Margaret Rowe and Terri Allen

Congratulations to Margaret Rowe and Terri Allen on receiving the Queen’s Birthday honours for their active contribution toward conservation and preserving the natural environment. Margaret is a long-term member of VWSG and Terri participated in VWSG field work activities in the 1990’s and 2000’s.

You can read more about their achievements on the ABC website.

May 06, 2022

VWSG awards presentation and equipment repair day 21 May

VWSG will be holding a equipment repairs day, which will include a presentation of the Minton Medallion and Life Memberships. Pat MInton has kindly agreed to have the event at her house in Beaumaris.

If you can attend please advise our chair Steve Atkinson

Please confirm by 18th May for catering purposes.

April 27, 2022

Australasian Shorebird Conference 2022

The ASC will be going online this year and a fully virtual conference is planned for October 29-30. The theme will be Global strategies Local actions.

Save the date!

Further details to come in terms of abstract submission and registration. For further information contact the AWSG Committtee.

April 11, 2022

Vale John Stoate

John died on March 17th at the age of 93. John leased and then owned Anna Plains Cattle Station, south of Broome. This abuts the Eighty Mile Beach Ramsar site, which is a major hot spot for migratory waders.

The AWSG has been visiting Anna Plains Station for many years, thanks to John’s interest in these birds and the great friendship he and Clive Minton struck up. The AWSG camped on the station around the homestead for many years with the help and support of John, and in later years his son David and his wife Helen Campion. John’s eyesight faded in his last few years, and he was unable to enjoy the trips to the beach, especially with Clive, despite this he took an active interest in our activities and the running of the station. When the AWSG was at Anna Plains John and Clive met every evening to enjoy a port, a chat and probably a snooze in front of the television.

Many people have joined the expeditions to Broome over the years and we have all had a wonderful time using the facilities of the station, and camping near the main homestead. John and his family have always been very welcoming to our annual invasion of their homestead area. Visiting a cattle station has been an interesting experience for our overseas visitors, as well as Australian participants, and we were always given the opportunity to explore the station, admire the cattle and hunt for wildlife. I enjoyed evening chats on the verandah with John in 2020 when Clive was no longer with us. Covid has unfortunately prevented most of us visiting for 2 years. John will be missed, as a wonderful supporter of our work with the shorebirds, as well as great family man and contributor to the cattle industry.

Prue Wright

John enjoys holding an Oriental Pratincole, with Clive Minton, after we made a catch of 100 on the station

April 11, 2022

Sanderling highlights March 2022

Sanderling continue to be seen regularly in the South Australian section of Discovery Bay. Many of the flags recorded by observers are of individuals captured at Yambuck in early December 2021. Sanderling have been absent from the Nene Valley beach all season until the last few weeks 1 or 2 have occasionally been seen. On Saturday 19th March, a small group of 20-30 was sighted, including BMZ – yet another Yambuck individual.

Going further to the west we have had sightings from Little Rock and Pethers in Canunda. On 14th March, BKE was sighted – originally flagged at Yambuck, then seen by at Danger Point on 3rd March.

So, now we need some sightings from the Coorong! With Coorong the Park of the Month during March, and a Shorebirds activity on the 26th, fingers crossed we get some more sightings.

Congratulations to Sarah Campbell on winning the February Sanderling award of a print with this stunning photo of Sanderling BJH taken in Riddock Bay. BJH was originally flagged in the early December catch at Yambuck.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Campbell

Saturday 9th & Sunday 10th April were the last days in the field. The catching team has had variable success. The high note is that all 30 geolocators were deployed. The low note is that only one has been retrieved. This despite the fact that birds bearing geolocators have been observed at all catching sites, e.g. VAZ (aka ATZ) has been seen several times at Nene Valley west.

You can learn more about the Sanderling tracking project on the Glenelg Hopkins CMA website.

February 02, 2022

Recent wader sightings

There’s been some great observations recently from south-west Victoria and south-east South Australia.

The first was by Maureen Christie of some of the sanderling tagged late last year at Yambuk and Pethers, as part of the Sanderling tracking project.

The other was some fabulous pied oystercatcher sightings from the Coorong in January by Mary-Ann Van Trigt.

Thanks to Maureen and Mary-Ann for sharing these photos.