Wader Banding & Flagging

Subject: Wader Banding & Flagging
From: Frank O'Connor <>
Date: Mon, 01 Oct 2001 15:36:55 +0800

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 countries.

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 or by email to Clive Minton at Sightings in New Zealand can be reported to Adrian Riegen at

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
8C Hardy Road                      Email : 
Nedlands  WA  6009                       Phone : +61 8 9386 5694

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