Field work suspended
After much deliberation, the VWSG is suspending group field activities for 12 weeks until 20 June 2020. This decision has particularly impacted on the ability to retrieve and deploy geolocators on turnstone in SA (the King Island trip has not gone ahead due to a number of factors but could not have proceeded under the current Tasmanian interstate travel requirements. This also impacted on turnstone geolocator recoveries and deployment).
We will plan to have catches organised for when we get active again in order to salvage something from the winter period, but certainly hope to be back in action next summer.
Fortunately, over the past couple of months we managed to retrieve a number of geolocators from curlew sandpipers and red-necked stint and deploy new batches for (hopefully) retrieval next year.
Catching in South Australia
8-15 April 2020
Dates for SA catching have been set. Travel on Wednesday 8th April, and go home 15th April. Good Friday is 10th April. Tides are suitable to extend by 2 days if necessary. As usual, we will be staying at Paul Feast's shack at Green Point for the first few days, then migrating to the Stewart's residence at Rendelsham. The target for catching is to deploy and retrieve geolocators on Ruddy Turnstone.
To participate in bird catching and handling you must now have an ABBBS banding license. See the VWSG calendar for more details.
Please contact Maureen ASAP if you are interested in participating.
Catching at Rhyll, Phillip Island
12 March 2020
Tributes to Clive Minton
5 December 2019
Humphrey Sitters is helping organise a tribute to Clive, to be published in the December issue of the Wader Study Group Bulletin. The IWSG has also opened a “book of remembrance”, (note that it has four pages, not just the one that opens first). Anyone who wishes to do so is invited to contribute their own remembrances.
Clive's memorial service will be held on Wednesday 11th December in Sandringham, Melbourne. Please contact the VWSG Chair if you wish to attend.
A summary of Twitter tributes and remembrances can be viewed here.
Vale Dr Clive Minton
11 November 2019
We are immensely saddened by the passing of Dr Clive Minton, who was killed in a car crash on 06/11/2019 at Dunkeld in Victoria, Australia.
Clive trained as a metallurgist but is best known for his work with waders. Clive Minton has been described as a father figure in global wader studies. His early wader studies were in England with the Wash Wader Ringing Group (founded in 1959). Early catches of waders used rocket nets, but soon the group developed the cannon net – their first catch being in 1967. Clive moved to Australia in 1978 where he introduced cannon netting and played key roles in the Victorian Wader Study Group and the Australasian Wader Studies Groups (formed 1981), as well as the Royal Australasian Ornithologists’ Union.
Clive has been one of the great movers and shakers of shorebird research and colour flagging in the East Asian – Australasian Flyway and in other flyways over the last many decades. Clive was the key initiator of the North-west Australia Shorebird Expeditions. This field work dramatically increased knowledge of the importance of Roebuck Bay and Eighty Mile Beach as key non-breeding habitat of many species of migratory shorebirds. This work has continued annually or biannually for over 35 years and involved many people for Asia and Europe. It provided inspiration to young shorebird conservationists in Australasia and from across the EAAF. It has led to the development of the largest morphometric and movement data set for migratory shorebirds in the Flyway. This work also led to the establishment of Broome Bird Observatory and this continues to be a legacy to the passion Clive had for migratory shorebirds.
Clive’s work was recognised by a number of awards, including the BirdLife Australia’s John Hobbs Medal for outstanding contributions to ornithology as an amateur, and the Linnaean Society of New York’s Eiesenmann Medal for ornithological excellence and encouragement of amateur efforts in ornithology. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for ‘services to ornithology, particularly the study of migratory wading birds in Australia.
A memorial service to commemorate Clive's life and achievements will take place sometime later in the year. More information will be circulated once arrangements have been made.
Oldest leg-flagged oystercatcher recovered in Inverloch
25 September 2019
Victoria’s oldest leg flagged Australian Pied Oystercatcher was found dead on 25/9/19 a high tide beach wash not far from the Inverloch jetty by a local resident exercising their dog. A necropsy was performed and it appeared the bird had died of natural causes. The bird was first captured and banded on 15th May 1988 at Pt Smythe Inverloch, and was fitted with “Green over Green” leg colour bands by the Victorian Wader Study Group. It was classified a 2+ year old bird at the time and must have enjoyed the Inlet habitat as it was recaptured by the again on 11th August 2013 again at Point Smythe. Now a 25+ year old bird it was reflagged “Blue A4” and became a local celebrity with its story featuring in the Sth Gippsland Sentinel Times newspaper. its banding to recovery age was 31yrs 4mth 10days. Adding its age at first capture, it was approximately 33yrs old when it was recovered.
First ever Inaugural Clive Minton Medallion awarded to Dr Roz Jessop
24 August 2019
The Clive Minton medallion is a newly established award for a VWSG member in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the group inline with the group's objectives. The medallion has been awarded this year to Dr Rosalind Jessop.
Roz has been an active member of the VWSG for almost as long as it has been in existence. Whilst field activities have been reduced in recent years, in the early days of the group she was always in the field. Roz became a qualified cannon-netter very early in the piece and was attending catches regularly for decades. Roz has been leading catches in her own right, leading processing teams and training many people in the appropriate way to handle and measure birds and how to age birds through assessing moult.
Her knowledge on catching and processing waders is enormous and her insights and experience are often called upon when in the field and to call on when planning catches. She is happy to share her knowledge and her dry wit make her a valuable member of any team. Flagging parties were mostly held at her house in the early days with people camped out all over her house for the weekend to get the thousands of flags done that were needed.
Roz has carried an enormous backroom workload over several decades. These roles have included:
- Committee member since 1993.
- Editor of The Bulletin for 23 years (1994-2017).
- Keeper and maintenance of the oystercatcher database before David Trudgen took it on.
- Since state permits became more complicated over the last ten years, Roz has handled all document preparation, renewal of permits and ensured our reporting requirements have been met. We have scientific, ethics and public land owner permits within each of the three states we catch in, plus the project permit with ABBBS and a permit to catch threatened birds listed under the EPBC Act. Without her input to this, we could not have functioned. This has been a huge workload and responsibility that she has carried. Roz has been Deputy Chair of the VWSG since 2004 giving stability to the group.
- Regular email communications to members have been channelled through Roz for decades.
Roz has made these significant contributions to the VWSG continuously over the period of her involvement, all the while working full time. Roz has been a co-author of a myriad of papers and has made many presentations on waders, particularly of oystercatchers, over the years to a range of groups and audiences.
She makes a very worthy winner of the Clive Minton Medallion as there is no doubt that she has made an outstanding contribution to the group.
VWSG wins the Virgin Coastcare Award for 2019
30 August 2019
The VWSG was nominated for the Victorian Landcare Virgin Coastcare Award by Bethany Hunting from DEWLP (the new CoastCare officer for Gippsland).
Rob and Prue were very excited to receive the “Virgin Coastcare Award” on behalf of the VWSG at Government House in Melbourne on August 30. They received the award at a ceremony at government house in the presence of the governor and Lily D’Ambrosio. This is a great tribute to the hard work of members of the VWSG and the many hours spent catching birds and all the preparations that go into making our catches. It is good to know that our work is demonstrated to have benefits to the wider environmental community.
The Virgin Coastcare Award acknowledges a community group or network that has contributed to the significant improvement of a coastal or marine environment. This may include estuaries, coastal and marine wetlands, river systems and salt marsh ecosystems. The Coastcare activities may include sand dunes restoration, the protection of threatened species, removing invasive species that are imposing on native flora, plastics and waste removal, education and volunteer engagement, and mitigating urban impact on marine environments like storm water pollution or the control of access to sensitive and vulnerable areas. State winners go forward to the National Landcare Awards later in the year.
Yellow Sea shorebird habitats secure World Heritage listing
5 July 2019
At the World Heritage Committee meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan on July 5, key sites along the Chinese coastline of the Yellow Sea were granted World Heritage status. This decision has significant and positive implications for the conservation of 17 globally threatened migratory shorebird species that rely on these habitats. It follows tireless advocacy from BirdLife Australia and reflects China’s role as a leader in global conservation.
A huge congratulations and thanks to the 62 NGO representatives and experts globally who signed an NGO intervention statement in support of the nomination.
A duck is not a duck is not a duck
26 June 2019
New open access research published by Michelle Willie Virome heterogeneity and connectivity in waterfowl and shorebird communities draws on samples taken during VWSG catches and tells an important story about virus evolution and maintenance in complex multi-host communities. Five duck and four wader species were the focus of Michelle's data collection.
The article can be freely downloaded from the ISME Journal website.
VWSG presentation at the Marine and Coastal Forum, Melbourne
13 June 2019
VWSG Chair Roger Standen presented an overview of the group's achievements in the last forty years and how much has been discovered about the miracle of wader migration, thanks to these years of effort. Roger began by talking about how so little was known about 'our' waders at the start of that period. The VWSG started with just banding and then moved to the deployment of coloured leg flags. This resulted in a coordinated process across the EAAF, which has provided so much more knowledge about stopover sites.
With the introduction of engraved leg flags came information about individual birds. This led to a much greater udnerstandingabout migration schedules, time spent at stopover sites (using examples like Curlew Sandpiper H0 and Bar-tailed Godwit T0) and more about survival. In more recent years, the VWSG has moved to deploying geolocators, which has allowed the remarkable tracing of Ruddy Turnstone to their breeding grounds. This is information that was virtually impossible to obtain from sightings of leg flags as almost nobody visited these areas. Finally the group started satellite tracking, focusing on Eastern Curlew from Yallock Creek currently in China (plus being able to track one bird's flight around a cyclone and back to its austral base).
Roger highlighted the Yellow Sea dependency impact on counts and left the audience with a stunning image (see above - courtesy of Phil Battley) of a completely emaciated godwit just arrived in NZ on its first southward migration flight. These birds endure so much just to go through their natural lifecycle, that it is beholden on all of us to make their feeding and roosting sites in Australia secure.
Jennifer Fraser, one of the Marine and Coastal Council Members, did a recap on Day 2 to all 200 delegates and highlighted the key points from Roger's talk the previous day, reinforcing the importance of the VWSG's (and others') achievements.
Read the latest King Island report from December 2018
The most recent King Island report is now available for reading. Catching was conducted between December 6 and 14. A total of 671 Ruddy Turnstone were counted over the northern, central and southern parts of the island, and 191 were captured over 5 catches. There were 67 were retraps and 41% of all turnstone captured were juveniles. In addition, 9 old geolocators (5 on yellow flags and 4 on white flags) were retrieved during this visit, of which repliminary data have been retrieved from 5.
Thanks to the team who participated: Clive Minton, Robyn Atkinson, Rob Patrick, Mark and Mem Smith, Prue Wright, Tessa Lamin, Marcel Klaassen, Michelle Willie and Katherine Leung, local King Island participants, including Graeme and Margaret Batey, Margaret Bennett and Liz.
The schizophrenic Turnstone from King Island
The interesting story about Ruddy Turnstone WMA from King Island, which has dropped in to Newcastle for the last 3 years has now been published in the Hunter Bird Observer's Club scientific journal ‘The Whistler’. You can browse the volume and download a copy by going to the journal publication page.
To see last year's news, please click on one of the following:
If there are any references to information you can't access through these archives, please request the information from Birgita Hansen.