Curlews, godwits and canals

To: "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: Curlews, godwits and canals
From: "Trevor Ford" <>
Date: Tue, 25 Nov 1997 10:57:31 -0000
Since moving to SEQ in July I've been fortunate enough to be living close to
an excellent high tide wader roost.  Thirty species of wader so far!  One
question has been puzzling me and probably has an obvious answer.

The roost is extremely important for Eastern Curlew, I've counted a maximum
of 800, and these birds always arrive at the site first, scattered around
the drier areas and mangroves.  As the tide rises smaller waders, such as
both sandplovers, Red-necked Stints, Curlew Sandpipers, etc., arrive.
Finally, and only on really high tides, Bar-tailed Godwits appear, some two
thousand of them and always bringing with them a hundred or so Great Knots.
It's a wonderful experience to watch them fly past in groups of fifty to two
hundred, chattering to each other as they go.

So why are the curlews first and the godwits last (if at all).  It's easy to
speculate but surely any hypothesis to do with leg or bill length would
apply to both!?  As the tide lowers, the curlews start leaving the roost in
dribs and drabs, soon followed by the godwits who tend to leave in a
consolidated whoooosh!

By the way, the curlews roost where the marina will be and the godwits roost
where the marina village will be.

Which brings me to the next, obvious question.  RAMSAR, international
agreements, environmental obligations - do these have any meaning to the
Australian government / DOE?  How can they let this development go ahead
(due to start next year)?  I've heard that the world population of Eastern
Curlew, an endangered species, is in the region of 17,000 which means that
this roost attracts about 5%.  Have there been any proposed canal estate
developments in the past that have been cancelled due to environmental
issues or are we on an inexorable journey towards concrete?

Perhaps the reasoning is that if we continue to pollute the water enough,
there won't be so many birds (if any) and therefore the roost sites won't be



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