Northward migration wader counts in China

Subject: Northward migration wader counts in China
From: Hugo Phillipps <>
Date: Tue, 2 Jun 1998 12:48:01 +1000 (EST)
For the interest of BIRDING-AUS, this message forwarded from the wader
listserver regarding recent activities by the Australasian Wader Studies
Group (AWSG), one of our special interest groups, which is working to study
and protect the waders of the East Asian / Australasian Flyway.

>Date: Tue, 2 Jun 1998 10:49:41 +1000 (EST)
>From: Mark Barter <>
>Subject: Northward migration wader counts in China
>Sender: Majordomo Pseudo User <>
>The Australasian Wader Studies Group has been involved for the third year
>running in training, surveying and wader counting activities at East Asian -
>Australasian Shorebird Reserve Network sites in China. This year we
>revisited Chongming Dao and the Huang He (Yellow River) delta, and went to
>the third Network site at Shuangtaizihekou for the first time. The
>activities were conducted on behalf of Wetlands International with funding
>from Environment Australia.
>Brief count results are as follows:
>CHONGMING DAO (31d 31m N; 121d 56m E) - 18 to 21 April
>Counts were less extensive than in previous years and totalled 4785 birds in
>the more important wader areas. The results confirm the view  that Chongming
>Dao is employed by most migrants as an emergency staging site for use in bad
>weather or by less fit birds. Discussions during the visit with Lu Jian Jian
>confirmed that large numbers of waders (ie. tens of thousands) were using
>Jiu Duan Sha (emergent islands within the Chang Jiang estuary) but that
>numbers here were also higher there during bad weather.
>HUANG HE DELTA (37d 56m N; 118d 51m E) - 27 April to 7 May
>The count of 78,000 birds confirmed the importance of the delta for
>migratory waders. Counting took place some eight days later, on average,
>than in 1997, when an estimated 130,000 birds were present. This year few
>Black-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Curlew and Kentish Plover (ie. more southerly
>breeding waders) were present and numbers of Dunlin  were substantially
>lower, accounting in total for a decline of 53,000 over last year. Coverage
>this year was marginally less than in 1997 and the count at one of the most
>important sites was significantly affected by poor visibility.
>Proportionally, numbers of the more northerly breeding waders, such as
>Bar-tailed Godwit and Great Knot, had increased.
>A detailed survey of Little Curlew was conducted in grassland habitat. This
>resulted in an estimate of 22,000 birds in an area of approximately 112 km2,
>which is only a small part of the apparently suitable habitat within the delta.
>The 1997 count found that the delta was internationally significant (using
>the 1% criterion) for 15 species ie. Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit,
>Little Curlew, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Eastern Curlew, Spotted Redshank,
>Marsh Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Nordmann's Greenshank, Great Knot,
>Dunlin, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Grey Plover and Kentish Plover. This count
>identified an additional species, ie. the Terek Sandpiper, as also being
>present in internationally important numbers.
>SHUANGTAIZIHEKOU (41d 07m N; 122d 03m E) - 11 to 19 May
>The count during the visit was the first comprehensive one undertaken at
>this site. The total of 63,641 waders indicates that the Reserve is
>extremely important as a final staging area, particularly for Great Knot
>(46.0% of identified birds), Dunlin (30.3%), Grey Plover (7.8%) and
>Bar-tailed Godwit (6.4%). It is probable that more than 80,000 waders were
>present at the time of the count as it was not possible to visit a large
>offshore sand bank in the south-east of the Reserve. A much smaller sand
>bank was found to hold 12,530 birds. It is probable that the Reserve
>supports more than 200,000 waders during northward migration and maybe twice
>this number over a full year.
>The Reserve was found to be internationally significant for six species, ie.
>Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Great Knot, Dunlin and Grey
>Plover. Previously, Eastern Curlew had been recorded in internationally
>important numbers on southward migration.
>The Reserve accounts for less than 20% of the mudflat area in northern
>Liaodong Wan, implying that more than 300,000 birds are using this region in
>mid-May. Very large mudflat areas also exist in China close to the North
>Korean border and it seems that the coastline of the northern Yellow Sea
>(including North Korea) is of extreme importance as the final staging site
>for many waders on northward migration.
>Six Australian leg-flagged birds were seen.
>Please contact me directly if you would like to receive attached Excel files
>with detailed count data.
>Mark Barter
>Chair, Asia-Pacific Shorebird Working Group
>21 Chivalry Avenue
>Glen Waverley VIC 3150
>voice/fax:     +61-3-9803 3330

Hugo Phillipps,
Birds Australia Conservation & Liaison,
Australian Bird Research Centre,
415 Riversdale Road,
Hawthorn East, VIC 3123, Australia.
Tel: (03) 9882 2622. Fax: (03) 9882 2677.
O/s: +61 3 9882 2622. Fax: +61 3 9882 2677.
Email: <>
Web Homepage:

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