Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Satellite tagged Eurasian Whimbrel Australia Wader Study Group - Fuelling up…


By mid-May our satellite tagged shorebirds are now settled in various stop-over sites, fuelling up and getting ready for their next move.

Satellite tagged Whimbrel 2017:

All our Whimbrels are now at inland sites in northern China.

JX was the first bird to reach northern China on 11-May-18 after spending 2 weeks at 3 sites in southern China. It has surprisingly skipped the northern Yellow Sea area and flew >1,500km directly from Jiangsu Province to Heilongjiang Province. After arriving in Heilongjiang Province, JX first headed to a site in Songhua River just 40km east of Harbin city. It then moved to another site further north near Qing’an on 13-May-18 and has been staying there since then.

Fig 1: JX’s flight from Jiangsu to Heilongjiang

KU once again demonstrates the term “site fidelity” perfectly. After stop-over in Xinghua Bay, Fujian Province for a week, it departed on 9-May-18 and made a 1,700km flight to arrive at the same site in Panjin, Liaoning Province as last season! It is amazing to see KU using a similar migration route and stop-over sites as 2017. A comparison of KU’s northward migration in 2017 and 2018 is shown below:

Table 1: A comparison of KU’s northward migration in 2017 and 2018

2017
2018
Departure date from Australia
17-Apr
22-Apr
Arrival date at Southern China
23-Apr
26-Apr
No. of days in Southern China
11 (Fujian)
4 (Guangdong) + 7 (Fujian)
Departure date from Southern China
4-May
9 May
Arrival date at Liaoning Province
8-May
13-May
No. of days in Liaoning Province
11
?
Departure date from Liaoning Province
19-May
?

 Fig 2: KU’s northward migration track in 2017 and 2018.

The rice field area around Panjin, Liaoning Province seems to be a popular site for our Whimbrels. On 13-May-18, after staying in Jiangsu Province for a week, LA also made a migration to Panjin! Last season, this area was used by both Whimbrels which migrated to the breeding ground (KU and KS).

Fig 3: Area used by Whimbrels around Panjin in 2017 and 2018

As per last year's record, the Whimbrels are expected to cross the China-Russia boundary in the coming week!

Photo1: Rice field in Panjin area (Photo by David LI)

As of 19-May-18:

Migration tracks of our Whimbrels:

Migration summary on our Whimbrels
Leg Flag
(track colour)
No. of days since transmitter deployment
No. of days since departing Australia
Distance travelled
LA (blue)
461 days
25 days
6,782 km
KU (yellow)
449 days
27 days
6,679 km
JX (pink)
420 days
36 days
7,531 km


Satellite tagged Grey-tailed Tattler 2018:

Compared to the Whimbrels, our Grey-tailed Tattlers are still far from the breeding ground.

Over the past week, LDN and LDU remained at their stop-over sites in Southern China and North Vietnam. Both areas are estuarine intertidal mudflat.

Fig 4: LDN and LDU’s location in Southern China and North Vietnam

Unfortunately, the transmitter on LBZ has ceased on 4-May-18, 3 days after it arrived in the Philippines. The other 2 Tattlers which stop-over in the Philippines departed a week ago and arrived in Southern China on 15-May-18. LBU and LBX both stayed in the Philippines for 7 days and made a move on 12-May-18. They arrived in Zhejiang and Fujian Province respectively, both using coastal mudflat.

Fig 5: LBU and LBX migration from Philippines to Southern China

As of 19-May-18:

Migration tracks of our Grey-tailed Tattlers:


Migration summary on our Grey-tailed Tattlers
Leg Flag
(track colour)
No. of days since transmitter deployment
No. of days since departing Australia
Distance travelled
LBU (green)


92 days
17 days
5,170 km
LBX (white)
24 days
5,284 km
LDN (orange)
24 days
4,789 km
LDU (blue)
21 days
4,874 km
LBZ (red)
77 days (transmission ceased on 4-May)
3,497km


Katherine Leung
19 May 2018

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Satellite tagged Eurasian Whimbrel Australia Wader Study Group - All aboard!

At the beginning of this week it was exciting to see that all of our eight satellite tagged shorebirds from North-west Australia had made it to the northern hemisphere.  They are now all at their 1st/2nd stop-over site, fuelling up, and preparing to make their next leg of the journey.


Satellite tagged Whimbrel 2017:

All three Whimbrels have now landed in southern China.

The first departing Whimbrel JX made its first landing at Guangdong Province on 20-Apr-18 (5-7 days after it departed from Broome). It then applied a “hopping” strategy, making short stops for 4 days each in Guangdong and Zhejiang Province and now staying on mudflats in southern Jiangsu Province.

Fig 1: JX’s hopping along southern China coast

The second Whimbrel KU departed about 10 days after JX. KU was our “home runner” who made it all the way to the breeding ground and back to Australia last season. This year KU departed 5 days later than last year on 22-Apr-18. Similar to the previous year it made a direct long-haul flight to reach southern China as its first stop. However, this time it landed in Guangdong Province rather than Fujian Province where it first stopped-over last year.

Table 1: A comparison of KU’s first flight in 2017 and 2018


2017
2018
Departure date
17-Apr
22-Apr
Distance travelled in first flight
4,814km
4,610km
First landing location
Xinghua Bay, Fujian Province
Shantou, Guangdong Province
Arrival date
23-Apr
26-Apr
Average speed
33.4km/h
48.0km/h

However, KU didn’t stay for long in its first landing location. Four days later on 30-Apr-18, it migrated north again for 350km and stopped precisely at Xinghua Bay, Fujian Province, the site where it used as its first stop-over site in 2017!

On 26-Apr morning before KU landed on China, it’s flight direction was drifted to the east for nearly 700km. This detour might have caused KU to landed in Guangdong Province rather than its “planned” location in Fujian Province. It would be really interesting to see if KU will use the same stop-over sites as last season as it migrates further on!

Fig 2: KU’s migration track to southern China.

After spending the non-breeding season in Eighty Mile Beach during its first and second years of life, Whimbrel LA made the first northward migration in its life this year. It departed Australia rather late on 24-Apr-18 and made a direct flight of 4,980km to land in Fujian Province. The area in which LA stopped-over is in the same bay, just 25km further south, to the area that KU has been using. How does LA know that site is suitable for Whimbrels?! Four days later, LA moved on to reach Jiangsu Province and has been using area of both mudflats and aquaculture ponds.

Fig 3: LA’s migration along China coast

Despite its late departure, LA is now the northern-most Whimbrel among the three. Will it also be the first bird to reach breeding ground?

Fig 4: JX, KU and LA’s current location along the China coast

As of 10-May-18:

Migration tracks of our Whimbrels:

Migration summary of our Whimbrels
Leg Flag
(track colour)
No. of days since transmitter deployment
No. of days since departing Australia
Distance travelled
LA (blue)
452 days
16 days
5,869 km
KU (yellow)
440 days
18 days
4,962 km
JX (pink)
411 days
27 days
5,885 km

Satellite tagged Grey-tailed Tattler 2018:

Between 25-Apr and 2-May, the five satellite tagged Grey-tailed Tattlers at Eighty Mile Beach have also started their migration.

LBX and LDN were the first two to depart on 25-Apr evening. Rather than making a direct long-haul flight to the Northern hemisphere, they both decided to make a stop in Borneo. LBX stopped for 5 days at the east coast of Borneo in North Kalimantan, a site which was also popular for Great Knot and Red Knot as per previous satellite tracking data. LDN landed on the west coast of Borneo on the Malaysian side near the town Bintulu and stayed for 8 days.

Fig 5: LBX and LDN’s stop-over at Borneo

LDN then moved on migrating north to reach Guangxi Province in China on 8-May-18 and is currently just less than 140km from the forth departing Tattler LDU. LDU departed Australia on 28-Apr-18 evening and made a direct 5-day flight to reach Leizhou Peninsular in Guangdong Province. After stopping for a day, it flew west and crossed the China-Vietnam boarder.

Fig 6: LDN and LDU’s location in Southern China and North Vietnam

Similar to LDU, the remaining two Tattlers, LBZ and LBU also made a direct flight to their first stop-over site in the Philippines. They departed 26-Apr-18 and 2-May-18 respectively and spent 3-4 days flight over 3,200km to reach the Philippines. They were joined by LBX after its stop-over in east Borneo.

Fig 7: Location of LBZ, LBU and LBX in the Philippines

As of 10-May-18:

Migration tracks of our Grey-tailed Tattlers:


Migration summary on our Grey-tailed Tattlers
Leg Flag
(track colour)
No. of days since transmitter deployment
No. of days since departing Australia
Distance travelled
LBU (green)


83 days
8 days
3,290 km
LBX (white)
15 days
3,324 km
LBZ (red)
14 days
3,497 km
LDN (orange)
15 days
4,789 km
LDU (blue)
12 days
4,874 km


Katherine Leung
10 May 2018