Curlew Sandpiper - flags
Frank O'Connor <>
Mon, 01 Apr 2002 22:17:28 +0800
I think that the date for Marilyn's posting says it all. Her article is
absolutely totally completely utterly fiction!
See previous long running series on these topics on birding-aus. Please
forgive the length of my response, but birding-aus is an archived mailing
list on the internet and this fiction cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.
A few points relevant to Curlew Sandpipers.
First year Curlew Sandpipers stay in Australia. THEY DO NOT MIGRATE until
their second year! They stay on their feeding grounds in Australia for
their first year.
The kill rate for cannon netting is far less than 1%, especially for the
Comparatively very few Curlew Sandpipers have been banded in Broome and
north west Australia. The sighting of one of these in southern Africa is
very significant (and the reason that the leg flags are used).
Several years ago, a Curlew Sandpiper that was banded and flagged in Broome
was found on the nest in Siberia and caught again the next year in Broome.
As Marilyn stated, a Curlew Sandpiper has been retrapped 17 years after the
first banding. This bird had a leg flag (not from the original banding).
There is simply no evidence that flagging increases the mortality rate.
The crash in numbers of Curlew Sandpipers are very disturbing in Western
Australia. But banding (and hence flagging) cannot be connected to this
decrease in reported numbers.
A couple of years ago there was a count of 40,000 Curlew Sandpipers at Lake
Macleod north of Carnarvon. This population has never been banded. A
cyclone flooded this lake shortly after and the water levels are still
higher than recent history. A survey this year found only about 1,000
Curlew Sandpipers at Lake Macleod. It will be next summer before the water
returns to previous levels, and possibly another year (maybe more) before
the biomass regenerates. So hopefully the Curlew Sandpipers will
return. There are annual surveys (hopefully twice a year if it can be
Lake McLarty near Pinjarra (south of Perth) has had up to 2,000 Curlew
Sandpipers in January / February. Lake McLarty dried by New Year this
summer. This population has never been banded.
Alfred Cove in Perth sometimes has up to 1,000 Curlew Sandpipers in early
summer. Very few came this year. This population has never been banded.
It is very unlikely that these birds have all died. It is still a very
high chance that the floods up north and in the interior have created
suitable areas inland for them for the last two summers. The flooded areas
are effectively inaccessible. Let's hope this is the case.
Possibly the only true way to roughly check for large changes in the
population is for surveys on the breeding grounds. The birds are very
spread out, but researchers who have surveyed the same area before would be
able to notice large population changes. Does anyone have information on this?
And has been previously said on birding-aus, the results and numbers of
birds banded and retrapped are published regularly in journals. This
information is very easy to find if you are willing to go to a library and
do a proper literature search. Just because you can't find it on the
internet (and I admit that I haven't checked this so the information may be
available and I must doubt that Marilyn has checked), doesn't mean that the
information is not publicly available.
Thank you if you have had the patience and interest to read this far. May
the waders continue to be safe, and the researchers need to be strongly
supported in their studies here in Australia, on their stop over locations
and their breeding grounds. They are the people who care enough to get off
their butts and actually do something in their own time with their own
money to try to ensure the waders continue with minimum threats.
Frank O'Connor Birding WA http://members.iinet.net.au/~foconnor
Phone : (08) 9386 5694 Email :
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