Monday, 6 November 2017

AWSG Whimbrel tagging: Ups and downs on Migration

People says “Life is like a roller coaster with ups and downs”. This also applies to our Whimbrel satellite tracking project.

Hooray to KU’s return to Australia after its more than 19,800km migration journey of 195 days to and from the breeding ground! KU departed its breeding ground around mid-July, after making 3 stops in Northern China, Sulawesi in Indonesia and Timor-Leste, it arrived Australia Mainland on 29-Oct-17.

Fig 1: KU’s complete migration journey
Instead of heading back to Roebuck Bay in Broome, KU chose to stopover at Dampier Peninsular near Beagle Bay. It will be very interesting to see if it will finally come back to Roebuck Bay later in the season.

Fig 2: KU at Dampier Peninsular

On the downside, we are very disappointed to confirm that we’ve lost signal from KS since late September. Based on the fact that transmissions from the satellite tag has been less constant in the final few weeks since KS arrived South-east Sulawesi, we do hope that it was the transmitter which failed rather than anything bad has happened to the bird itself. It is hoped that KS might be seen again in Roebuck Bay later this season to prove that it is safe.

Fig 3: KS’s movement between reefs and farmland in September at SE Sulawesi

Meanwhile, JX and LA are still doing very well at Roebuck Bay and Eighty Miles Beach respectively. At Roebuck Bay, JX regularly utilizes the Dampier Creek, West Quarry and the saltmarshes south of Crab Creek. Amazing that it has managed to escape from birders’ eyesight since August. On the other hand, at Eighty Miles Beach, LA remains at its favourite patch of the beach 40-50km south of the Anna Plain station entrance.

Fig 4: JX’s movement around Roebuck Bay over the past month

As of 6 November 2017:

Migration tracks of our Whimbrels:

Migration summary on our Whimbrels:

Katherine Leung
6 November 2017

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Happy Birthday Wader Quest!!

Once again we are celebrating our birthday with another Wader Conservation World Watch.

It all started five years ago because of one, single, charismatic wader, the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, and our desire to do something, anything, to help ensure its survival as a species. 

On the first of November 2012 we set off on the first of many trips to see the world's waders, the idea being that we would attract donations and sponsors (as so many other world travellers in pursuit of birds have done) to raise money to help to save the Spoonies. We honestly thought that we’d raise a lot of money to give to the WWT captive breeding programme at Slimbridge to help them with their project. 

Photo Paul Marshall WWT

But, perhaps because we weren't famous enough or didn't have the right connections, or possibly because the momentum was lost during the moratorium due to my brother's untimely illness and death or maybe simply because people thought that we'd use the money donated to pay for our travel (which we covered from our own savings) we fell well short of our expectations in terms of the money raised (£3,526.06 including Gift Aid claimed). Despite this we were proud to present the WWT with the money we raised and the WWT told us at the time that no other individual fundraisers had raised more, so that was pleasing.

On our last trip to see the Ibisbill in 2014 (the last species of the 175 we saw), we discussed the events of the previous year and realised we had witnessed, first hand, so many problems facing waders of all kinds, in so many habitats, that we couldn’t just stop there. We found ourselves utterly immersed in the world of waders and their conservation issues and at that moment we decided to do whatever we could to bring their plight to more people's attention and continue to raise money to perhaps assist those who were actively engaged in small conservation projects; a charity was born.

In total we have raised more them £20,000 for wader conservation projects and still have a long way to go to reach the amount we first thought of when starting out (which has now become something of a target). In furtherance of Wader Quest's aims in order to spread the word and raise funds we have undertaken to give talks, attend car boot sales, attend bird fairs, we have initiated a number of wader festivals - since our first in The Wirral, and much more besides.

But of course while we may have instigated many these things, we have not carried them out alone, we have a Board of Trustees and some worthy volunteers who help out at events and one, Andrew Whitelee is forever looking for ways to put himself in harm's way to help us raise funds.

In addition of course we have many Friends and Sponsors who support us with annual subscriptions without whom we would be lost. We are particularly grateful to those who have placed their trust in us by becoming Life Friends and in addition it is fair to say that without the generous support of one sponsor, Opticron, we would not have been able to achieve half as much.  So, to everyone who has supported us over the last five years we would like to say a very big:


Every year in celebration of our anniversary we carry out our Wader Conservation World Watch  (that is why it is always the first weekend in November). This event though is not just a celebration of another year of Wader Quest, it is a celebration of wader conservation itself and a way of doing so in an inclusive way, with others around the world who are both aware and who care that waders are facing unprecedented pressure upon them, being able to be part of that celebration. 

Note: For our purposes there is no necessity to count the birds however if you are willing and able to do so we would encourage you to enter your lists on public databases such as eBird and BirdTrack to add to our general knowledge of wader distribution and population levels.

It has been an exhausting five years, but every minute has been worth it.
Here's to the next five years 
and the next £20,000