News & Events

July 05, 2019

Yellow Sea shorebird habitats secure World Heritage listing

At the World Heritage Committee meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan on July 5, key sites along the Chinese coastline of the Yellow Sea were granted World Heritage status. This decision has significant and positive implications for the conservation of 17 globally threatened migratory shorebird species that rely on these habitats. It follows tireless advocacy from BirdLife Australia and reflects China’s role as a leader in global conservation.

Read more about this Phase I nomination at UNESCO World Heritage Centre website, and also on the BirdLife International website.

A huge congratulations and thanks to the 62 NGO representatives and experts globally who signed an NGO intervention statement in support of the nomination.

June 26, 2019

A duck is not a duck is not a duck

New open access research published by Michelle Willie Virome heterogeneity and connectivity in waterfowl and shorebird communities draws on samples taken during VWSG catches and tells an important story about virus evolution and maintenance in complex multi-host communities. Five duck and four wader species were the focus of Michelle’s data collection.

The article can be freely downloaded from the ISME Journal website.

June 13, 2019

VWSG presentation at the Marine and Coastal Forum, Melbourne

VWSG Chair Roger Standen presented an overview of the group’s achievements in the last forty years and how much has been discovered about the miracle of wader migration, thanks to these years of effort. Roger began by talking about how so little was known about ‘our’ waders at the start of that period. The VWSG started with just banding and then moved to the deployment of coloured leg flags. This resulted in a coordinated process across the EAAF, which has provided so much more knowledge about stopover sites.

Roger Standen giving a presentation

With the introduction of engraved leg flags came information about individual birds. This led to a much greater udnerstandingabout migration schedules, time spent at stopover sites (using examples like Curlew Sandpiper H0 and Bar-tailed Godwit T0) and more about survival. In more recent years, the VWSG has moved to deploying geolocators, which has allowed the remarkable tracing of Ruddy Turnstone to their breeding grounds. This is information that was virtually impossible to obtain from sightings of leg flags as almost nobody visited these areas. Finally the group started satellite tracking, focusing on Eastern Curlew from Yallock Creek currently in China (plus being able to track one bird’s flight around a cyclone and back to its austral base).

Emaciated godwit just arrived in NZ. Photo Phil Battley

Roger highlighted the Yellow Sea dependency impact on counts and left the audience with a stunning image (see above – courtesy of Phil Battley) of a completely emaciated godwit just arrived in NZ on its first southward migration flight. These birds endure so much just to go through their natural lifecycle, that it is beholden on all of us to make their feeding and roosting sites in Australia secure.

Jennifer Fraser, one of the Marine and Coastal Council Members, did a recap on Day 2 to all 200 delegates and highlighted the key points from Roger’s talk the previous day, reinforcing the importance of the VWSG’s (and others’) achievements.