Leg Flags; double trouble for Curlew Sandpiper

To: Birding-aus <>
Subject: Leg Flags; double trouble for Curlew Sandpiper
From: Ian May <>
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2008 09:41:15 +1030
g'Day all

In near gale force winds at about 1800 hrs on Tuesday 25 March, at the western end of Price Saltworks, South Australia, there was a Curlew Sandpiper in near full breeding plumage, attempting to feed with a mixed flock of several hundred Red-necked Stint and other Curlew Sandpipers but this bird was clearly struggling to hold its balance in the windy conditions because of leg flags; doubled up leg flags on a single tibia positioned immediately one on top of the other. Unbalanced by the leg flags, it toppled uncontrollably, constantly pushed about by the gusty wind. It was experiencing much difficulty attempting to feed, while other un-flagged birds surrounding it were coping well. Interestingly, this bird was in a more advanced stage of breeding plumage than other migrant waders (shorebirds) surrounding it. At this time of time of year, prior to their imminent departure, pre migrating waders are feeding actively to build energy reserves and this impediment was seriously affecting this bird in 25 knot plus windy conditions. According to their own banding protocols (Asia Pacific Shorebird Network/AWSG/VORG?) , one flag only is to be placed on the tibia of small waders. Sharing concerns previously stated on this list about wader leg flagging, especially multiple flagging, in more than 40 years of observing waders, this is the first time I have seen double flagging on the same appendage of a small wader. Is it a new policy; double flagged tibia on small waders? It leaves me wondering who is actively assessing and evaluating adverse impacts from banding waders, especially from leg flagging.

With regret

Ian May

St Helens, Tasmania
Currently at Price SA

Mob: 0428337956


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