On A Whimbrel & A Prayer #4

Getting close to the breeding grounds!

Over the past week, our two Whimbrels KS and KU have made significant progress on migration towards the breeding grounds.

Satellite-tagged whimbrel migration path
Migration summary table - Whimbrels
Migration summary & tracks of satellite-tagged Whimbrels, LA, KS, KU & JX as of 23 May 2017

Whimbrel KS

After staying for 10 days in Panjin, Liaoning Province, on 17 May, KS first made a north-east flight to the east coast of Sakhalin, Russia in a single flight of nearly 2,000km in 2 days with an average speed of 45.1km/h. On 21 May, signals from the transmitter show us that KS had moved again to a lake called Ozero Tungar near the coast of the Sea of Okhotsk. But it had only stay for a very short while, maybe for an hour or so, before it continued to head inland in a north easterly direction.

AWSG migrating whimbrels
Figure 1. Migration route of KS after leaving the Yellow Sea

Whimbrel KU

Just one day after KS departed, KU made its move as well. On 21 May, KU first made a stop near Qiqihar City in Heilongjiang Province, China before crossing the China-Russia border. 

Two days later, KU flew a further 1,650km with an average speed of 35.1km/hr to land east of Yakutsk in Sakha Republic. From the maps in Figure 2., we can see KU had been using a string of wetlands stretching from China to Russia. It will very interesting to see if its final destination in the breeding grounds falls along the same straight line!

AWSG migrating whimbrels
Figure 2. Migration route of KU from China to Russia

Whimbrels JX & LA

We are now quite certain that JX would stay in Palawan, the Philippines. Nevertheless, it is still giving us valuable information as NW Australia leg-flagged Whimbrels have not been resighted in South- east Asia before. 


Today also marks 100 days since we deployed the satellite transmitter on LA. We hope our Whimbrels and transmitters stay strong for another 100 days or more for us to understand more of their magical journey!


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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Kara Jarri Rangers logo
Katherine Leung
Katherine Leung is an ecologist from Hong Kong and one of the leaders of the satellite-tracking projects run by the Australasian Wader Studies Group in north-west Australia since 2016.
Image credits:
Book cover for A Shorebird Flying Adventure

A Shorebird Flying Adventure

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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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