Curlew Sandpipers are small waders found along mudflats and muddy margins along the coastline of Australia and inland freshwater and saltwater locations. . This species is undergoing rapid declines in the East Asian Australasia Flyway; almost 80% over the last two decades . The VWSG has been banding Curlew Sandpipers since the 1970’s, and through resightings, we know that they stopover in places such as Hong Kong, Taiwan and the China coast. However, with declining habitat in the Yellow Sea they are now more evident near Tianjin on the west coast of Bohai Bay.
In the summers of 2017/18 and 2019/20 the VWSG deployed 60 geolocators on Curlew Sandpipers. We retrieved 18 geolocators from Curlew Sandpipers over the two years. Geolocator tracks of Curlew Sandpipers have provided some key insights as to why this species may be declining. Specifically, all individuals use only a select number of stop oversights, with all individuals relying on the Yellow Sea. Specifically, following departure in late March, Curlew Sandpipers fly to the China coast and Bohai Bay with brief stops in either Indonesia or Borneo. Curlew Sandpipers are estimated to breed between Taymyr in the west to Chukotka in the east.. Their southward journal relies on a similar route with similar stop over sites with the round trip being approximately 24,000km.
This heavy reliance on only a few key locations may be the key to their disappearance, as many of these locations are rapidly becoming degraded due to human activities.
This work is being done in collaboration with Deakin University and Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Germany.
For more details about our work on Curlew Sandpipers, please refer to the following reports/publications.
Lisovski, S., K. Gosbell, C. Minton, M. Klaassen. 2020. Migration strategy as an indicator of resilient to change in two shorebird species with contrasting population trajectories. Journal of Animal Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.13393