Sharp-tailed Sandpipers overwintering

To: "Mike Carter" <>, "BIRDING-AUS" <>
Subject: Sharp-tailed Sandpipers overwintering
From: "Ricki Coughlan" <>
Date: Mon, 2 May 2005 12:21:56 +1000
It's the case with many species of waders that the juveniles remain in Australia for the first year or two of their lives. Upon reaching maturity, they join their older peers on the Flyway. I recently heard that Sharp-tailed Sandpipers are of breeding maturity from their first year and so join the adult population from the first migratory departure. Therefore, the only birds which remain would be sick or injured individuals.
We have noted up here at Broome that, with the migration now dwindling, some birds are eager to depart but appear to have left it too late. There are not enough fellow species to join them and thus share the load in Vee formation which is required for them to complete the mostly non-stop journey to the Yellow Sea. Each evening we see these birds begin to head north repeatedly but return to the bay after a short while. None are specifically colour banded, so I can't state for certainty that individuals are failing to depart due to lack of fellow travellers, but it certainly appears to be the case that late starters are non-starters and thus doomed to remain with the sick, injured or juveniles and snack on good old aussie inverterbrates all winter here at Roebuck Bay.
Broome WA
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