The flagging of waders has been an outstanding success. This data is
available publicly from the ABBBS, and papers are regularly published in
journals such as The Tattler, The Stilt and many other journals in
Australia and overseas.
Data on the Red-necked Stint banded and flagged in Victoria has been
published in the recent issue of The Stilt (June 2001). There were 154
sightings of Red-necked Stints flagged in Victoria (orange leg flags) from
New Zealand, South Australia, NSW, Queensland, Western Australia, Northern
Territory, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Mongolia and Russia. Sightings
of other species have been seen in China, Indonesia, Borneo, Vietnam.
The orange and yellow flagged birds have been banded in south east South
Australia since early 1998. There have already been sightings of these
birds from Mongolia.
The birds in the north west have yellow leg flags. There are also colours
for New Zealand and Queensland. Leg flagging has now been established
world wide with a world protocol for the colours. Birds are being flagged
in Russia, China, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, New Zealand,
Alaska, Philippines and PNG.
The advantage of leg flags is that sightings can be reported without
retrapping the birds. This had led to a large order of magnitude increase
in the number of sightings and a far better understanding of the migration
flyway and which areas are the most important to conserve. i.e. Without
this knowledge it would carry little weight for Australia to lobby for the
protection of individuals sites overseas, but with leg flagging it can be
shown that these sites are vital for the birds that reach Australia.
The people involved in the Australasian Wader Study Group and the Victorian
Wader Study Group volunteer their time and money for this research that has
already made great advances in the understanding of the migratory waders
and their conservation through treaties such as JAMBA and CAMBA and with
more agreements in the process. The members have justly been recognised
internationally and within Australia.
Dr Clive Minton has undoubtedly done more than anyone for the conservation
of shorebirds in Australia and has been recognised as a Fellow of Birds
Australia, awarded the John Hobbs Medal (the highest award from Birds
Australia) and the Order of Australia.
The AWSG has organised wader banding expeditions to the north west of
Australia. It was the AWSG that recognised the world importance of this
area in the very early 1980s. The expeditions have sponsored people from
many overseas countries to ensure that their work is carried on throughout
the migration path. People from China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Vietnam,
Thailand, Indonesia, Russia, Netherlands, Canada, US, South Africa have
participated in the expeditions and taken the knowledge back to their
The AWSG has a current expedition in the north west. Clive has gained
considerable media exposure on radio and television. He used the report of
a Curlew Sandpiper that was retrapped 19 years after it was banded as a 2
year old. This is the oldest record of a Curlew Sandpiper. The advantage
of this publicity was immediately obvious to me. I was asked by over 10
people at work whether I saw the story on the television news. This gave
me the chance to explain to them some of what is happening to shorebirds
and how important wetlands and coastal mudflats are, and the particular
importance of Broome, 80 Mile Beach and the north west.
I encourage you to look for leg flags on the birds and to report them to
the AWSG. They need to know date, location, species, flag colour(s),
number of flagged birds and if feasible the total number of the birds. I
have passed Dave Beswick's observations on to the AWSG.
The sightings can be reported to their web site at
http://www.tasweb.com.au/awsg/ or by email to Clive Minton at
Sightings in New Zealand can be reported to Adrian
I repeat that despite Dave's casual unscientific observations, leg flagged
waders (including stints) fare just as well as their cohorts. Time is
running out fast for the shorebirds. More and more stopover sites are
being destroyed or damaged. Population counts done over the last 10 years
by the AWSG have already shown that numbers are declining.
Frank O'Connor Birding WA http://www.iinet.net.au/~foconnor
8C Hardy Road Email :
Nedlands WA 6009 Phone : +61 8 9386 5694
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