Start of the Spring Migration [RFI from snipe gurus]

Subject: Start of the Spring Migration [RFI from snipe gurus]
From: "Dean Portelli" <>
Date: Tue, 06 Aug 2002 14:57:03 +1000
While waders are the major bird group I have little to do with (I'm more a passerine man!!) I suspect that with migration to breeding grounds younger birds remain for a longer period and depart later (on average - they may also form the majority of over-wintering birds, again for those anti-banders banding is the only way or at least capture of birds is the only way of answering this information, this isn't to say I condone leg flagging vs colour banding!!!) than adult birds (breeders) - I'm sure there is a wader expert out there to verify or comment on this hypothesis (banding data would provide the evidence!!). I would suspect that the reverse may also be true, i.e. younger birds depart later for their "wintering" grounds than do adults - certainly northern hemisphere banding sites would have the data to confirm this. Perhaps the early returners are early leavers (i.e. they squeeze all their breeding effort into the same period of time but commence earlier i.e. they are consistently early), alternatively they may have failed their breeding attempt (e.g. nest predation, chick death) and thus have left their breeding sites somewhat earlier. In any case there is bound to be natural variation in departure times (both hemispheres) as a matter of course, it is after all this variation is the basis for future evolutionary changes in migration timing and sites.

Look forward to a wader experts point of view.

Cheers, Dean

From: Frank O'Connor <>
Subject: Re: [BIRDING-AUS] Start of the Spring Migration [RFI from snipe gurus]
Date: Mon, 05 Aug 2002 20:57:41 +0800

At 22:27 05/08/2002 +1000, Laurie&Leanne Knight wrote:
While I couldn't look them up in HANZAB today, I noticed a record from the Birds Aust bird observation site that a correspondent had commented about a siting on
12 August 2000.

My question for the wader experts is, what is the earliest "spring" record of a Latham's Snipe in Australia, and do they fly directly to their austral summer haunts or in stages down the east coast? I suspect snipe heading to taswegia might stage, where the ones that set up shop in SEQ might come here directly.

Are the snipe normally the first of the northern hemisphere migrants to arrive?

I must say that I am highly impressed with their capacity to breed and fledge their young in Asia in time to get back to Aus just past the depth of "winter" - alright, we don't get a real winter in SEQ, but this is the best time of year
for snow further south.

Does this early return mean that the snipe prefer Australia to Asia [you'd think they would spend longer in their breeding territory than their non-breeding territory] or could some sort of environmental change be motivating them to rock
up earlier than usual?

Just a thought, but ...

Many first year waders (e.g. Red-necked Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, knots, godwits, etc) don't return to breed until their second (or later) year. For some waders the whole population seems to return (e.g. Oriental Plover, Long-toed Stint, etc). However, the question is - Do the first year birds breed when they return the first time? Or do they wait until they are two or even three?

If the young birds do not breed, then could the non breeding snipe possibly return earlier than the breeding population?

Frank O'Connor     Birding WA
Phone : (08) 9386 5694                Email : 

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