Last week, some of you may have seen a message from Hugo Phillips of
the RAOU copying a message he had received from Japan advising of the
arrival of an Eastern Curlew wearing a satellite transmitter fitted in
Moreton Bay, SE Queensland.
As a Committee Member of the Queensland Wader Study Group, and one of
the 16 members involved in fitting the equipment to the birds, I would
like to provide the background and current status of this project on
behalf of QWSG.
This satellite tracking project is the work of the QWSG, a special
interest group of the Queensland Ornithological Society, and a project
of which we are justly proud. The object of the QWSG is "to promote and
participate in the study and conservation of waders and their habitats
and to influence government policy and public opinion for the well-being
Year two of this joint Australian/Japanese government project to
conduct a satellite tracking survey to clarify the migration route of
the Eastern Curlew Numenious madagascariensis, had begun in earnest at
the end of January 1998. The project was initiated following
discussions at the 8th Conference of the Japan-Australia Migratory Bird
Protection Agreement (JAMBA) in 1995. Since 1994, QWSG had been
trialling methods of fitting radio transmitters to Curlews using radio
transmitters and harnesses, and on 10 February 1997, Year 1 of the
project began with 15 transmitters attached.
Some excellent results from 1997, including one bird who was tracked
from Moreton Bay, SE Queensland to the Arum River basin in Russia, and
back to the Broad Sound on the Queensland coast i.e. within 700km of
documenting a complete return journey of 20,000km, gave hope for similar
success this year.
The combination of continued funding from the Japanese and Australian
Governments, support from the Queensland government, and enthusiasm and
voluntary hard work from members of the Queensland Wader Study Group and
the Japan Wild Bird Society, resulted in transmitters being fitted to
nine more Eastern Curlews at Mirrapool, Moreton Island on Saturday 31
On 21 March, 1998 one of these Eastern Curlew arrived at Yoshino
Estuary, at the eastern end of Shikoku Island. The site is one of two
Shorebird Reserve Networks in Japan.
From a map produced in the local Japanese paper, it appears a signal
had been received from the bird in Moreton Bay at 1.00am on 6 March.
The next was received two days and 2,100 kms later at 10.30am on 8 March
immediately north of New Guinea. This was followed by another at 5.00am
on 10th March from southwest of Japan . Then, at 4.00am on 21 March,
after travelling 6,150km in 15 days, a signal was received from the
Yoshino estuary. A local member of the Wild Bird Society of Japan was
on the site at 9.45am on 21 March, and videoed the bird wearing its
As of 31 March, QWSG?s most recent information places the birds
approximately at the following locations - 1 is not transmitting, 2
still in Moreton Bay Qld, 1 off Cooktown Qld, 1 in the vicinity of Port
Moresby New Guinea, 1 north of Wewak just in the northern hemisphere, 1
in the Celebes Sea north of Sulawesi, 1 just south of Guam and the bird
that was at Yoshino has moved to near Vladivostok in Russia.
Full details of the tracking exercise in 1997 were included in
"Queensland Wader", the newsletter of the QWSG, and information on this
year?s exercise will also be included in that forum.
Newsletter of the Queensland Wader Study Group
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Leanne Bowden, Brisbane, Australia
e-mail: Ph: 07 3357 9009
or Ph: 07 3227 7104