News & Events

July 27, 2020

#SCBMelb20 Twitter conference 30-31 July

The Society for Conservation Biology Greater Melbourne Chapter is holding their inaugural Twitter 2020 conference on July 30th and 31st. The VWSG, via our Twitter account @VWSG_web, will be presenting an overview of some key VWSG projects as part of the conference.

The VWSG presentation will be between 15:00 and 15:10 on Thursday 30th July.

If you do not have a Twitter account there are a number of ways to follow the conference tweets. The easiest is to sign up for free account. That way you can interact with the conference presenters. If not, you can only view tweets using the hashtag #SCBMelb20, or if you only want to view the VWSG presentation, use @VWSG_web. The conference organisers are trialling some software that allows non-Twitter users to interact with the conference. Keep an eye on the conference webpage for more details. We will try to post something here too before Thursday.

You can find out more about the conference and Twitter format at https://scbgreatermelbourne.wordpress.com/conference-scbmelb20/

July 26, 2020

Latest Hooded Plover research

Mike Weston and his colleagues have recently published a paper in Conservation Genetics about morphological and molecular evidence of population divergence in a widespread shorebird across its southern mainland Australian distribution. See the publications page for more details.

And the Phillip Island Nature Parks have published their Hooded Plover breeding report, which you can download from https://www.penguins.org.au/assets/Conservation/News/Nesting-Shorebird-Breeding-Season-Report-2019-20.pdf

Hooded Plover UJ at Flinders Beach. Photo courtesy of Jo Wolff

July 09, 2020

Geolocator news in the MP BirdLife newsletter

Penny Johns and Roger Richards have written a great little summary about the Flinders Ruddy Turnstone, and the curlew sandpiper and red-necked stint geolcoator results. You can download the article from the BirdLife Mornington Peninsula webpage, go to page 4.

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