Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Summary of Nad and Charlie's journeys and stop overs. Grey Plover Project.

The Journeys

Now that our birds are busy breeding, it is a good time for us to look back at the magnificent journeys that they have made.

Nad fitted with transmitter at the Broome Bird Observatory (photo by Robert Bush)

Nad had used 51 days in total migrating from Broome to breeding ground in Sakha Republic, Russia. The total distance travelled is 10,942km. Charlie spent 2 days less than Nad from Broome to breeding ground also in Sakha Republic (49 days). The total distance travelled is also slightly shorter (10,642km).

Both Nad and Charlie used 4 days to migrate from Broome to China non-stop. Nad covered 4,873km with average speed of 47kph, which is the longest non-stop flight recorded for Nad. Charlie covered 4,651km with average speed of 45kph, which is the maximum average speed recorded.

They have both made 5 stops in China but with very different tactics. Nad spent 32 days in China in total, with over 90% of time (29 days) spent at the east coast of Bohai Bay in Hebei Province in the Yellow Sea area, the rest of the time was spent at 3 inland locations. Charlie only spent 24 days in China, with only 54% of the time spent in the Yellow Sea area, the rest was spent in the coastal area of Southern China. The “longest stay” stop-over site was on the north coast of Bohai Bay in Liaoning Province for 9 days.

Both Nad and Charlie crossed the Chinese-Russian border in late May. Nad had made 2 more stops in Sakha Republic (one inland location, one coastal location) before reaching its breeding site, while Charlie had only made 1 stop at an inland location in Sakha Republic before reaching its breeding site.

Details and some other fun facts of their journey are shown in the table below:


Nad
Charlie
MIGRATION: BROOME to CHINA
Date of Departing Broome
11th Apr
(night)
12th Apr
(midnight)
Date arriving China
16th Apr
(morning)
16th Apr
(morning)
STOP-OVER: CHINA
1st stop-over (time spent)
Guangdong Province
 (2.5 days)
Guangdong Province
(5 days)
2nd stop-over (time spent)
Jiangsu Province
(3 hours)
Fujian Province
(4.5 days)
3rd stop-over (time spent)
Jiangsu Province
(4 hours)
Zhejiang Province
(2.5 days)
4th stop-over (time spent)
Hebei Province
(29.5 days)
Shangdong Province
(3.5 days)
5th stop-over (time spent)
Jilin Province
(3 hours)
Liaoning Province
(9 days)
Total stop-over time in China
32 days + 10 hours
24 days + 22 hours
Total stop-over time in Yellow Sea
29.5 days
 (91% total stop-over)
13 days
(52% total stop-over)
MIGRATION: CHINA to BREEDING SITE
Date of Departing China
27th May
(morning)
22nd May
(night)
Date arriving breeding site
2nd Jun
(night)
31st May
(night)
FUN FACTS:
Total time from Broome to Breeding site
51 days
49 days
Total distance travelled
10,942 km
10,642 km
Total displacement from Broome
10,139 km
10,137 km
Max. speed recorded
Jilin, China to Sakha
 (50kph)
Broome to China
(45kph)
Longest stopover
Bohai Bay, Hebei
(29.5 days)
Bohai Bay, Liaoning
(9 days)
Longest non-stop flight distance
Broome to China
 (4,873km)
Broome to China
 (4,651km)
Longest non-stop flight time
Broome to China
(4 days)
Bohai Bay to Sakha
(6 days)



The migration route of our birds is shown in the map below:
Ecosure (white), Mymi (red), Nad (blue) and Charlie (orange)
Distance travelled by our Grey Plover since departing Broome:
Name
Leg Flag
Distance travelled
Ecosure
LLA
4,650km
Mymi
LLH
4,300km
Nad
LLJ
10,942km
Charlie
LLK
10,642km

The Grey Plover project team:
Katherine Leung
Clive Minton
Ken Gosbell
Chris Hassell
Grace Maglio
Inka Veltheim
Maureen Christie

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Update on the Spoon-billed Sandpiper eggs at Slimbridge.

In short, it is not all good news but it is by no means bad news either. The unfolding story at Slimbridge is still a remarkable achievement by the captive breeding team.

A total of seven Spoon-billed Sandpiper eggs have been laid at Slimbridge this year. One clutch with just three eggs looked very fragile, the thin shell had not properly formed and was allowing too much water to exit the egg. These three eggs were put into a humid incubator and two of them levelled out, losing moisture and weight at an acceptable rate. One of the eggs with the softest shell sadly soon gave up the ghost and collapsed.


Spoon-billed Sandpiper egg being weighed. Photo: WWT Martin McGill
The four egg clutch looked perfectly normal and they were placed in an ordinary incubator.


All six remaining eggs were then examined on the 21st of June by a method called candling where light is shone through the egg to reveal what is going on inside. In a fertile egg you would expect to see blood vessels and an embryo by this stage.



Spoon-billed Sandpiper eggs in an incubator. Photo WWT Martin McGill.

Surprisingly one of the two abnormal eggs was showing a viable embryo and blood vessels, the second was, not unexpectedly, clear.



Of the four normal eggs the first three worryingly showed no sign of development but the fourth egg again showed blood vessels and an embryo. 



So, from the seven eggs there are what appears to be at least two developing embryos, one form each clutch. This good news as they have come from different parents thus it is good for the gene pool of the programme; rather than just having siblings raised. The bad news is of course that there is still some way to go, so, according to the old saying about chickens and hatching... 


Whatever happens from now on this year, the project has made a giant leap forward with the production of these eggs, remember there is no instruction manual for the team to work from, indeed they are writing it as they go along. The breeding team are to be congratulated and admired, they have made history and more importantly made the extinction of this amazing little sandpiper less likely by degrees!

Adult Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Photo: WWT Martin McGill

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Nad has gone missing; Grey Plover update.

Euphoria doesn’t last long! Our champagne glasses were barely dry when we stopped receiving new signals from Nad’s satellite transmitter. We don’t know whether some harm has come to the bird on the breeding grounds or whether it is another case of the mysterious cessation of a satellite transmitter soon after the completion of a long-leg of the migratory journey. It is even possible that mating of the Grey Plover on the breeding grounds has led to some displacement of the transmitter…..

Never the less, Nad has already brought us lots of valuable information about the migration journey of its kind and we can well say that it is a “mission completed”. Thank you Nad!


While Charlie’s transmitter continues to send back high accuracy signal, as the quantity of data increases through time, we can eventually pin-point the exact nesting location. In Fig 1, the red circles indicate the accuracy of each signal, the smaller the circle, the higher accuracy of the signal. After overlapping the “potential area” covered by the signals, we can locate the nesting area (shaded in white).

Fig 1. Charlie’s breeding location in the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic, Russia




In the next update, we will bring you a summary reviewing the journey of both Nad and Charlie. Stay tuned!

The migration route of our birds is shown in the map below:

Ecosure (white), Mymi (red), Nad (blue) and Charlie (orange)

Distance travelled by our Grey Plover since departing Broome:
Name
Leg Flag
Distance travelled
Ecosure
LLA
4,650km
Mymi
LLH
4,300km
Nad
LLJ
10,325km
Charlie
LLK
10,405km

The Grey Plover project team:
Katherine Leung
Clive Minton
Ken Gosbell
Chris Hassell
Grace Maglio
Inka Veltheim
Maureen Christie
19 June 2016