leg flagging

To: "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: leg flagging
From: "Chris Baxter" <>
Date: Wed, 30 Mar 2011 22:54:02 +1030
Hi All


I agree with Ian on this subject. I believe leg flagging of small waders is
detrimental to their well being and should stop immediately. I will go even
further and say that all banding/leg flagging of waders should stop as it
causes huge amounts of stress on these birds for no good reason. We should
be concentrating all of our efforts on non-interactive (minimal disturbance)
counts, recording all relevant information about these birds, actively
working towards habitat retention/management. This is what we are doing on
Kangaroo Island as part of the 20/20 Shorebird Project. I would be horrified
if someone seriously suggested that we start cannon netting KI waders in
order to band/flag them. I really cannot see any real benefit of this
practice continuing. We know enough about the movements of these birds now
and as Ian's suggests we need to be concentrating all of our efforts on
wader conservation projects and protecting these birds and their precious
feeding and roosting habitats from detrimental impacts/disturbance.


I spent three months in the Kimberley last year and 10 days at
Broome/Roebuck Bay. Observing waders at Roebuck Bay over this period was a
wonderful experience. However I must add that I did come away from that
place with certain misgivings. I went there thinking that after many years
of awareness about this area and its significance as the wader mecca of
Australia, stakeholders charged with managing this place would have their
act well and truly sorted out. Firstly, I must say that the wardens there
were first class and were doing everything expected of them re: wader
tours/management given the constraints they work under (lack of policing
powers, funding etc). I was not prepared for the shock I got in seeing the
amount of habitat degradation and disturbance to the waders by all manner of
vested interests. It is still very much a Broome residents recreation area
where lack of legislation/management allows these people to 4wd off road in
order to fish, party or whatever else might take their fancy. The damage to
the dune area of Crab Creek Mouth (sand erosion silting/compacting
mangroves) was quite severe and some vehicles even drove on beaches accessed
by the many eroded tracks off of the main esplanade road. I observed waders
disturbed time and again by these recreational exploits and coupled with
noisy hovercraft/airboat tour visits to the shoreline from Broome and
constant jet airplanes flying directly overhead I wondered if roosting birds
were ever going to get an opportunity to roost peacefully at all. It even
led me to frowning at Brahminy Kites and Sea-eagles as they added more
natural disturbance to these very nervous waders. 


I have mentioned all of this in order to set the scene for my closing
statement. After witnessing all of these disturbances to the roosting waders
I was intrigued to know more about cannon netting. It just did not gel well
with me that bird banders would be exacting even further disturbance/stress
to these waders. It must be chaos when the canon-net falls over a swathe of
birds and banders rush in to free and box them ready for processing. I found
that it is even worse than that. I was puzzled as to how a cannon-net could
be set up in the right spot given that waders shifted their roosting sites
from one high tide to another depending upon earlier disturbances/varying
tides etc. It seems that the banders have to deliberately flush the waders
on occasions in order that they fly from a non cannon-net roost site in
order to get them to fly off and land/roost in the "right" cannon-net spot
so they can be captured successfully. If this is true it is cruel harassment
and it must stop. 


In closing I know that banders mean well with what they are doing but I am
convinced that many of them have their better judgement blinded by their
addiction to the hobby/practice of bird banding.  Many are overzealous and
are prepared to overlook the well being of these fragile delicate creatures
in order to sate their own personal pleasures/egos. I believe there needs to
be a thorough assessment of bird banding in Australia. I for one need
convincing of its merits. 


Chris Baxter    


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