Grey Plovers lead the way

To: "birding aus" <>
Subject: Grey Plovers lead the way
From: "Ricki Coughlan" <>
Date: Wed, 20 Apr 2005 19:02:02 +1000
G'day nature lovers
I thought that I would share a little tidbit of information which has come through to us from some colleagues who are currently in China, where they are capturing, banding and flagging migratory waders as they head northward on the East Asian - Australasian Flyway.
In an enlightened move, the Chinese government now pays many people who used to hunt waders for food to trap these birds for researchers. The hunters eschew cannon-netting and employ the traditional "clap-net" system. They set the nets on or near the mudflats, pop a few stuffed birds or decoys near the nets and hide in nearby bushes where they immitate the calls of the waders on home made bamboo flutes as the birds fly over. Apparently, the trappers are fine exponents of the art of bird calling, for the birds hear their calls and see their friends on the mudflats and thus fly down to join them. Before they know it, they're wearing an alloy band and plastic flags - coloured according to the trap location - and have been measured, weighed and released! Invaluable knowledge of the movements of these birds is thus obtained.
Of great interest is that the trappers inform us that they use the call of the Grey Plover to coax Great Knots down to their traps. The reason they give is that Grey Plovers often travel with the Great Knots and are indeed their preferred leaders in the course of their long migratory journey! Fascinating stuff! Although good numbers of Grey Plover winter at Roebuck Bay, we have not noted any of them departing en masse. I am starting to suspect that it might be possible that at least some are indeed slipping out with our Great Knots and we are now keeping as sharp an eye as possible on the Knots as they leave. An interesting side note: We are not sure where male Grey Plovers winter but I have it that so far we have been able to locate only female Grey Plovers in Australia.
The amazing lives of these incredible 'travelling birds' becomes more wonderful and inspiring at every turn!
Broome WA
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