Curlew Sandpiper in South Africa

To: birding aus <>
Subject: Curlew Sandpiper in South Africa
From: Russell Woodford <>
Date: Wed, 03 Apr 2002 00:51:36 +1000
Can I just say 'thanks' to Philip Veerman for passing on this fascinating
report?  I hope that we can be kept informed of any updates on the
movements, and possible source and status of this bird.

I know some people on this list are opposed to bird banding, and doubtless
for very good reasons, but I don't see how we could get this sort of
information without banding.  The bird may prove to be a one-off vagrant,
but it might just as easily point to some sort of modification of migration
routes.  Are some of the birds missing from WA heading along a different
route to India and Africa? Are they somewhere else on the Australian
mainland?  Have they spread more westerly around the shores of the Indian
Ocean, with some stragglers reaching parts of Africa?  If there is a change
in route, or an alternative route for some flocks, will it be used until
conditions return to 'normal', or are we seeing a gradual change in
migration routes that might never be reversed?

These are extremely important issues - and I can't see how we can make
anything more than wild uninformed guesses without data from ongoing banding

Marilyn Davis raises some important points in her most recent messages  -
but they are derived mainly from her own impressions and feelings.  Her
assertions are highly speculative and her 'methodology' lacks rigour.  But
she feels very strongly about this issue, and it is fair for her to comment
in this forum.

Frank O'Connor, and Danny and Ken Rogers have responded to most of Marilyn's
comments.  Their responses have been drawn from vast experience in the
field, as well as from a broad range of published literature.  I've read a
little of it, but I'm sure they (and many others on this forum) have read
most of it.  Their responses also underline the importance of checking one's
facts before making generalisations.

The latest additions to this topic have been archived, along with all the
previous contributions, and I think it makes sense for anyone else who
wishes to add to this discussion to read what's already on the archive.
There probably isn't a lot more that can be added to the anti-banding
argument; Frank, Danny and Ken and others have given us the scientific
community's viewpoint very clearly and eloquently.  I wouldn't think there
would be a lot more to add to this debate without new material being found.

Of course, we'd like to hear plenty more about our Curlew Sandpiper over in
South Africa....

Russell Woodford
List Manager

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