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

Departure date from Australia
Arrival date at Southern China
No. of days in Southern China
11 (Fujian)
4 (Guangdong) + 7 (Fujian)
Departure date from Southern China
9 May
Arrival date at Liaoning Province
No. of days in Liaoning Province
Departure date from Liaoning Province

 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)

Katherine Leung
19 May 2018

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