Leg flagging

Subject: Leg flagging
From: Mike Honeyman <>
Date: Thu, 31 Mar 2011 07:28:30 +1100
There seems to be a lot of emotive language being thrown around about leg flagging, and some pretty strong comments about the damage done to birds by mark-recapture studies. Whilst I have no doubt that the birds are, temporarily, distressed by this the more extreme allegations need to be backed up by some evidence. If you are going to make these accusations unsupported rhetoric does not cut it. The suggestion by both Ian and Chris that there is no benefit in mark- recapture and that banding is done for the benefit of the banders is bizarre given the wide acceptance in the scientific community in the use of the technique, especially for migratory birds and understanding how migration functions at an individual and population level. The allegation by Ian that "Very few leg flagged birds ever make it past their next migration" with the clear inference that this is because of the leg flagging rather than incidental to the leg flagging certainly needs some (objective, peer reviewed) evidence.

Chris however does touch on a good point with his observations from Broome. I wonder how much damage is being done by human activity on beaches impacting the ability of migratory waders to prepare for the return migration, or on resident species breeding success. If we want to get all hot under the collar about anything I would suggest that the assumption by the Australian public that the beach is an extension of the local recreation park / 4WD training area needs challenging. Surveying Pied Oystercatchers in winter/spring last year around Phillip Island and Westernport it was surprising how hard it was to find a beach without people and very often people with dogs on them. There were few, if any, birds on these beaches. One beach I did visit that was inaccessible by road and involved a reasonable walk through bush to get there had a reasonable group of small waders. When I found Hooded Plovers they were out on a rocky spit whilst a family passed with two off leash labradors despite clear signs saying that dogs should be on a leash..... And don't get me started on the damage being done in China to build facilities to import iron ore from Australia or export crap we don't really need back to us.......


Mike (not a bander!)

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