Tracking the Oriental Pratincole – Update #9

Stick your neck out & things will happen

A contribution by Clive Minton

All four Oriental Pratincoles may now be settled in their breeding areas and may have commenced their 2019 breeding season. We’re probably in for a quieter period now in terms of news on this species (sticking my neck out like this is a sure way to get something dramatic and unexpected to happen!).

Oriental Pratincole

It's time to focus on the task at hand

Breeding has begun

After the excitement of the unpredictable and interesting journeys this project has treated us to so far, this week has been ‘uneventful’ overall.

First, there was limited accurate data received, most likely due to the cloudy weather that occurred in most of the regions where the birds are currently situated (Figure 2.). Second, the birds seem to have stopped migrating. 

Now this may be ‘boring’ in comparison to the great flight distances and habitat choices of recent weeks but we are at the most important stage in the Oriental Pratincole’s life cycle – breeding! 

So, while the most reliable location readings this week were scarce, there is enough information in the data to suggest that all four birds may have reached their chosen breeding grounds (Figure 1.).

Figure 1. OP Update 9
Figure 1. Migration tracks of the four satellite-tagged Oriental Pratincoles as of 27th April, 2019.
Figure 2 OP Update 9
Figure 2. Map of cloud cover covering the birds' signal transmissions, 27th April, 2019.
Table 1. Distance travelled on migration since capture in mid-February, 2019.

Oriental Pratincoles on the move

Early Days Yet

Leg Flag SUN (PTT 83591)

With only inaccurate location data available this week we continue to assume that SUN is most likely situated on the dry riverbeds somewhere along the Shoufeng and Hualien Rivers in eastern Taiwan, where breeding attempts have occurred in previous years (Figure 3.). We hope that more information will be made available within the next week or so.

Figure 3. OP Update 9
Figure 3. SUN's approximate location Hualien County, Taiwan as of 18th April, 2019. Note the 2018 breeding location recorded by Chung-Yu Chiang

River views

Leg Flag SEP (PTT 83593)

After last weeks long awaited data to confirm SEP’s location in South West India in the state of Karnataka, SEP seems to be making short local movements on the banks of the Krishna River, within the boundary of Heggur Village, Bagalkot District, Karnataka (Figure 4.).

Figure 4. OP Update 9
Figure 4. Short local movements of SEP Heggur Village, Bagalkot District, India as of 28th April. 2019.

Lakeside living – raising chicks?

Leg Flag SHE (PTT 83595)

Nine weeks in the Tonle Sap Biosphere of Cambodia and SHE continues with short local movements further reinforcing our belief that SHE is breeding in this area.

Figure 5. OP Update 9
Figure 5. Oriental Pratincole, SHE's potential breeding location using grassland and forest habitat in the Roniem Forest near Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia.

So where’s a good place to nest?

SEC (PTT 83596)

Day 40 and SEC is still in Prey Veng Province, Cambodia. It seems its movements may be becoming even more localised. Another week or so of data will hopefully help paint a better picture.

Figure 6. Oriental Pratincole, SEC, still in Prey Veng Province, Cambodia after 40 days as of April 27th, 2019.

Download a PDF copy of this report – Oriental Pratincole Satellite Tracking Report Number 9


Clive Minton

The extensive and expensive satellite tracking program we have set up in NWA has only been possible through the efforts and generosity of a large number of people and organizations. It is difficult to know where to start with the formal acknowledgements so I will list them – but not in any particular order of priority.

  1. The members of the AWSG NWA 2019 Wader and Tern Expedition and similar NWA expeditions in previous years, are particularly thanked for their efforts in the field in catching, banding and deploying transmitters on a range of species.
  2. Landowners are especially thanked for permission to go onto their property to enable us to catch various species in order to deploy the satellite transmitters. In particular we thank Anna Plains Station for giving us the freedom to roam over large areas of grazed grassland when counting and catching target species.
  3. AWSG acknowledges 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.
  4. AWSG acknowledges the Karajarri and Nyangumarta people for permission to catch birds to be marked for this project on the shores of 80 Mile Beach, traditional lands of the Karajarri and Nyangumarta.
  5. The cost of the satellite transmitters, which cost around $5000 each, and the satellite downloading costs (around $1000-1500 per month) have been met by a variety of sources. Private individuals (Charles Allen and Doris Graham) have made most generous individual contributions. Kate Gorringe-Smith and her team of artists involved in The Overwintering Project made a large, generous donation from funds raised during their various public exhibitions. The annual NWA Expedition members, collectively, also provided significant funds each year.
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Grace Maglio
Grace began working in conservation in the late 1990’s, but it wasn’t until she stopped in Broome halfway into a trip around Australia in 2013, that she discovered migratory shorebirds. She was spellbound and has been promoting their conservation ever since.
Image credits:
Book cover for A Shorebird Flying Adventure

A Shorebird Flying Adventure

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Join Milly on her microlight and discover how amazing and awesome migratory shorebirds are!

Milly Formby is a zoologist and illustrator of the children’s book A Shorebird Flying Adventure. Available now through CSIRO Publishing.

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