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Far-Eastern Curlew and Whimbrel Satellite Tracking 2017/2018

Far-Eastern Curlew AAD with transmitter at Toorbul, just prior to release

In 2017/18 QWSG and the University of Queensland (UQ) funded 10 tracking devices for use on Far-Eastern Curlew as part of a broader initiative under the Far-Eastern Curlew recovery initiative. The idea being to generate detailed data on migration routes and local movements on non-breeding, staging and breeding locations. Another project sponsored by Fudan University in China has also seen us deploy 5 tracking devices on Whimbrel for the same purpose.

For the Curlew, two types of device were purchased for use in Queensland, five devices were sourced Microwave Telemetry and were standard Platform Terminal Transmitters (PTT’s) using Doppler positioning to establish locations. The other five devices were sourced from Ornitrak and use a more accurate GPS positioning capability. All five devices used on Whimbrel were standard PTT’s from Microwave Telemetry.

In the 2017/18 season PTT’s were deployed on Far-Eastern Curlew at King Street, Thornlands (1), Toorbul (1) and Geoff Skinner Reserve, Wellington Point (2). One Ornitrak device was fitted at Wellington Point. Of these, the device fitted at King Street proved faulty but the remaining devices are all transmitting as expected. For Whimbrel, five PTT’s were deployed at Wellington Point (1) and Toorbul (4), all of which are functioning and transmitting data normally.

Thanks to the many volunteers from the combined QWSG and UQ team who’s dedication to the fieldwork required to deploy these devices has resulted in such success. If you have any questions on the project please contact Jon Coleman

Update 15th April 2018.

As of the 15th April the Whimbrel have still not departed and are moving locally in the Toorbul and Wellington Point areas. The Curlews have continued their migration with two birds (AAD and AAK) on the Chinese/Russian border and now potentially on their breeding grounds. The third bird (AAH), was last recorded on Okinawa Island, Japan. AAD and AAK have the Microwave Telemetry devices which transmit regularly irrespective of location. AAH has an Ornitrak device, which uses 3G to share its data. We therefore now await this bird coming back into range when the data will be uploaded from the device.


Eastern Curlew Migration activity to 15th April 2018

Since the last update AAD left Taiwan on the 20th March and moved to Rudong, China, then to the North Korean/ Chinese Border for several days. AAD is now near a town called Khabarovsk in Russia, some 8,700km from Brisbane. AAK moved from Rudong, China to Jindo, South Korea for several days and then flew to Jiamusi near the Chinese /Russian border. AAK has remained there for over a week now. This is approximately 8,500km from Brisbane.



Update 17th March 2018.

Movements of AAD in the Toorbul area prior to migration

The Whimbrel are all still local to Toorbul and Wellington Point and have not left yet. The curlew have started to migrate now with two of the four birds with active devices en-route already. Locally, the devices have provided detailed information on roosting and feeding areas in Moreton Bay. At Toorbul, there appear to be several roosting locations in the Toorbul area with AAD feeding locally in the southern Pumicestone Passage. However the bird clearly spent the majority of its time at or adjacent to the artificial roost.

Further South, the two birds with PTT’s fitted at Geoff Skinner wetlands, Wellington Point roost at Geoff Skinner but are regularly crossing Moreton Bay to feed on the shoreline of Peel Island and

Local movements of AAJ and AAK in the Wellington Point area

near Dunwich. AAJ, was a sub-adult bird and while we don’t expect that one to migrate we will learn an enormous amount about local movements over the coming year as he moves around the local area. AAK has now migrated north and AAH is expected to leave Moreton Bay any time now.

Both AAD from Toorbul and AAK from Wellington Point left Moreton Bay between the 6th and 8th March and took almost identical paths north along the Queensland coast to Cape York. Both birds then headed north, over Papua New Guinea towards Guam before turning westwards towards the coast of Asia.

Migration tracks for AAD and AAK

AAD is now on the east coast of Taiwan having arrived there on the 15th March, taking approximately 7 days from Brisbane. AAK moved further north and is staging near Rudong in China, also arriving on the 15th March after 7 days of flying. AAH, the bird with Ornitrak device is expected to migrate soon and I’ll provide more information in the next update. The map on the left shows the migration track to date.