The Far Eastern Curlew Project – Update #3

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All together now

Our latest report collates data from GPS-tagged Far Eastern Curlew captured and released in Darwin, Northern Territory; Roebuck Bay, Western Australia; and Yallock Creek, Victoria.

We now have 14 operational tags from these three sites, and an additional six tags from Moreton Bay in Queensland. Our future plan is to provide full updates on all of our tagged Curlews across Australia once we automate how we do this so we can quickly report on all birds as they undertake exciting migration movements!

Here is a brief summary of the raw, unfiltered movements of Far Eastern Curlew from the first three aforementioned sites.

Far eastern curlew
Far Eastern Curlew being fitted with a satellite transmitter by Amanda Lilleyman in Darwin, Northern Territory.

Curlew commutations

FAR EASTERN CURLEWS IN Darwin, Northern Territory

Two Curlews, AMANDA and DAMIEN, are still in Darwin Harbour doing regular movements from East Arm Wharf to mudflats close by (Figures 1a. and 1b.). 

Figure 1a. FEC Update 3
Figure 1a. GPS tag 17004 – AMANDA
Figure 1 - FEC Update 3
Figure 1b. GPS tag 17007 – DAMIEN

One Curlew, GAVIN, has started its northward migration and was last positioned in Japan. It is possible that this bird stopped at Palau on the way to Japan (Figure 2a.).

Figure 2a. GPS tag 182228 – GAVIN

GAVIN was seen by Shin Sekiguchi at Ose beach, Amami-Oshima Island, Kagoshima, Japan on the 17th March sporting Yellow Leg Flag 03 (Figure 3.). It has travelled a distance of approximately 4,900km!

Figure 3a. FEC Update 3
Figure 3b. FEC Update 3

Figure 3. Far Eastern Curlew, GAVIN, with yellow leg flag 03 sighted in Kagoshima, Japan on 17th March.

Far Eastern Curlews in Broome, Western Australia

One of the curlews from Roebuck Bay, BIRGITA, has started migration and was last positioned in Indonesia, near the Gulf of Boni on South Sulawesi (Figure 4.).

BIRGITA - FEC Update 3
Figure 4. Yellow ELF 26 = GPS tag 180114 – BIRGITA

Six of the eight Roebuck Bay Curlew – GRACE, MICHA, ROZ, PRUE, MAUREEN and MILLY – are still on the mudflats near Crab Creek (Figures 5a. – 5f.). In our last report, MILLY was omitted after not receiving signals from the transmitter. It has since come back online. 

Last, but not least, is INKA. Note that the tracks for this bird are from 20/2/2019 (when it was tagged) through to 26/2/2019 when it last transmitted (Figure 6.). The battery was still at 100% at this time, so it is possible that the bird has gone out of range of a phone tower so has not had the opportunity to transmit data. Watch this space!

INKA - FEC Update 3
Figure 6. Yellow ELF = 18 GPS tag 182226 INKA

Far eastern Curlews in Koo Wee Rup, Victoria

Incredibly, two Curlew from Victoria – KOO and WEE – have migrated with almost identical tracks (Figures 7a. and 7b.)! These birds were last positioned in China, just a few hundred kilometres south of Shanghai. One Curlew, RUP, is still doing regular movements between Yallock Creek and The Gurdies (Figure 7c.).

KOO - FEC Update 3
Figure 7a. GPS tag 182225 – KOO
Figure 7b. GPS tag 182227 – WEE
RUP - FEC Update 3
Figure 7c. GPS tag 182229 – RUP

Acknowledgements

Thanks go to the National Environment Science Programme Threatened Species Recovery Hub, Darwin Port, Larrakia Nation and the Larrakia Indigenous People whose land we work on, The Australasian Wader Studies Group, The Victorian Wader Study Group, the Queensland Wader Study Group, Wader Quest, Charles Darwin University, the University of Queensland, the Quandamooka People, the Boon Wurrung People, the Yawuru People via the offices of Nyamba Buru Yawuru Limited for permission to catch birds on the shores of Roebuck Bay, traditional lands of the Yawuru people, and all the enthusiastic volunteers that put their time into catching and resighting birds.

To learn more about the Far Eastern Curlew Project, visit the Threatened Species Recovery Hub.

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Amanda Lilleyman
Author
Amanda Lilleyman is a shorebird researcher based in the Northern Territory. She has been working on shorebirds since 2010 when she first became interested in the Bush Stone-curlew, or as local Darwinites call it the ‘Creepy Curlew’. Since then Amanda discovered migratory shorebirds and became fascinated by them, their curious identification and migration abilities. Amanda works to conserve shorebirds by understanding how they interact with the environment and what they need to continue existing in this human-dominated world.
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