A Little Curlew Goes a Long Way – Update #1
March 19, 2019
A slow growing flock
When we first arrived at Anna Plains Station on the 3rd February, 2019 for the Australasian Wader Studies Group’s annual Wader and Tern expedition to northwest Australia, only a few Little Curlew were present in the grasslands and on the adjacent Eighty Mile Beach.
Little Curlew occur widely on grasslands across northern Australia and their numbers and locations vary markedly from year to year depending on the predominant weather and feeding conditions. The presence of so few Little Curlew on our arrival was most likely the result of January being a relatively dry month.
We were therefore delighted over the next two-week period as we watched the numbers of Little Curlew steadily grow to ten to fifteen thousand as they gathered together on the grassland and beach areas 20km south of Anna Plains Station (and probably many more elsewhere).
A successful catch
Eight Little Curlew were cannon netted as they roosted on the beach on the incoming tide on 14th February. Five were fitted with 5-gram Microwave Telemetry satellite transmitters and engraved leg flags – LL, LK, LS, LU and LY.
Since then all five Little Curlews have remained in the same general area of Anna Plains Station and 80 Mile Beach, about 20km south of the Anna Plains Station Homestead (Figures 1a. and 1b.).
The Little Curlew are still mainly feeding on the grazed grasslands of Anna Plains Station and adjourning occasionally to the nearby coastal beaches/mudflats of 80 Mile Beach. Whilst most birds have ranged around for up to 50km or more, the movements of one bird are rather circumscribed and it maybe that this is in fact a reflection of a bird we have lost and/or a transmitter which has been shed.
It is possible that some or all of these four birds will move back to Roebuck Plains near Broome before their main northward migration. However, the feeding conditions at Anna Plains Station are so good this year, that birds may remain there right up until they depart on northward migration, probably in April.
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Little Curlew being released by Prue Wright. Used with permission © 2019.
Little Curlews in the grass by Inka Veltheim. Used with permission © 2019.
Little Curlew ‘LY’ by Olivia Gourley. Used with permission © 2019.
Tagging Little Curlews by Olivia Gourley. Used with permission © 2019.
Google map images prepared by Inka Velthiem. Written by Inka Veltheim for the AWSG. Edited and published with permission by Amellia Formby for Wing Threads © 2019.