Sanderling are found in the non-breeding season, on the beaches of southern Victoria and the southeast South Australia. They are a small/medium sized wader found most often on sandy oceanic beaches.

The VWSG and Friends of Shorebirds SE have been banding and flagging Sanderlings since 2011. Through leg flag resightings, Sanderlings have been seen in Japan, Korea, China coast and Taiwan.

A study in March 2012, deployed a total of 44 light-level geolocators (Intigeo-W65, Migrate Technology) at Canunda National Park, south-eastern South Australia (140o110E, 37o370S) where typically between 200 and 400 individuals are present from October to April each year. Sanderlings were caught, using cannon nets, on the ocean beach where they forage and roost. A total of 16 of the 44 loggers were retrieved (36%).

Analysis of the data showed that Sanderlings fly directly from South Australia to South East Asia (e.g. 7,200km to Hainan in 6 days) before moving north to the Yellow Sea. Sanderlings were found to make extensive use of five main areas of the Chinese coastline, the Yellow Sea and Schmidt Peninsula on Sakhalin Island before flying to their breeding areas in the northern region of Siberia and the New Siberian Islands. They spend between 50 and 80 days in the breeding area before returning to South Australia, a 24,000km round trip.

Migration route of 4 sanderlings captured in South Australia in 2012. Northward migration = yellow, southward migration = red.
Breeding locations of Sanderlings in the Russian arctic. The numbers refer to the bird IDs.
Northward and southward migrations of Sanderlings from South Australia. The yellow and red colours represent the amount of time spent in location, such that, areas in pale yellow are occasionally used and areas in red were used for long periods of time (up to 6 days).

This work is being done in collaboration with Friends of Shorebirds SE and Deakin University. For more details about our work on Sanderlings, please refer to the following publication.

Lisovski, S., Gosbell, K., Christie, M., Hoye, B.J., Klaassen, M., Stewart, I.D., Taysom, A.J., Minton, C., 2016. Movement patterns of Sanderling (Calidris alba) in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway and a comparison of methods for identification of crucial areas for conservation. Emu 116, 168-177.