Many of the regular field activities in Australia are organised by the State Wader Study Groups. The AWSG through the Shorebirds 2020 Project is also running local workshops on counting and wader identification in regional centres to get a better understanding of shorebird poplations across Australia, and why so many are declining in numbers. Nationally coordinated counts are carried out at core sites in February and June each year. The AWSG also organises regular counts of Hooded Plovers and other beach nesting birds and runs regular wader catching expeditions to NW Australia.
Opportunities to take part the field work organised by the AWSG will be posted here. However any individual at any time can help the AWSG with field work quite simply by searching for flagged waders, and by making counts of waders anywhere. In particular large parts of the interior of Australia have still been little counted. There are also huge opportunities for counting throughout the Flyway, where in many places the coverage is still poor or non-existent.
Waders have been counted for in Australia since 1981, with 23 core sites being monitored every February and June. In recent years more sites have joined the scheme. Counting was particularly active during the period 1981 to 1985 when a national count program was conducted, and from 1985 to 1990 when selected sites were counted at monthly intervals and twice yearly since. The Shorebirds 2020 program commenced in 2007, employing two full-time staff to work towards reinvigorating and expanding population monitoring in Australia.
The implications of the Environment Protection and Conservation Act 1999 means that the approval of planning permission at sites containing migratory waders in numbers of international importance has become the responsibility of the Commonwealth, rather than the States. The implications of the Act are that we will in the future need a much better knowledge of our wader distributions and how they use the key sites. The primary objectives of the Shorebirds 2020 program are to collect robust population data on shorebirds in a manner that can be utilised to aid their conservation and management.
The Shorebirds 2020 team would like to hear from anyone with an interest in shorebirds, or who would like to learn more about these amazing birds.In particular they are looking for volunteers to assist with biannual national population monitoring counts at sites throughout Australia. People with limited shorebird experience need not feel daunted as we will be supporting counters with a shorebird identification toolkit, workshops and regional mentors.
To become involved please contact Golo Maurer at the BirdLife Australia National Office on (03) 9347 0757.
A variety of activities which are undertaken each year that require self funding volunteers within Australia as well as within the migration routes of the Asia Pacific Region. These include the north west of Australia, the Arctic tundra in the Russian Far East, South Korea and China. Although the AWSG are not directly involved in organising expeditions we are maintaining a Register of Volunteers who might be available to take part in such expeditions.
If you are interested, contact Phil Straw and request a copy of the registration form.
The Australasian Wader Studies Group, in conjunction with Wetlands International – China, completed ten years of training, surveying and shorebird counting activities along the Chinese coast and parts of South Korea around the Yellow Sea during the migration season. More recent surveys included Yalu Jiang National Nature Reserve (near the North Korean border), northern Jiangsu and Shandong Provinces of China as well as an extensive survey of Saemangeum and nearby estuaries in South Korea in conjunction with Birds Korea.
The activities in China were carried out as part of the Asia-Pacific Shorebird Action Plan funded by the Australian Department of Environment and Heritage, while the surveys in South Korea were carried out largely with the financial support of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Brief count results and observations follow:
YALU JIANG NNR (39d 50m N; 123d 48m E).
Complete coastline of the Nature Reserve – 55 km – adjacent to the border with North Korea: 166,471 shorebirds of 32 species, including internationally important numbers of Bar-tailed Godwit (66,134), Eurasian Curlew (13,136), Eastern Curlew (3,874), Great Knot (32,880), Dunlin (34,841) and Grey Plover (4,628).
N JIANGSU (34d 42m N; 119d 14m E).
Saltworks east and west of Lianyungang, and 20 km of coastline N to Shandong border: 33,628 shorebirds of 27 species, including internationally important numbers of Spotted Redshank (1,054), Marsh Sandpiper (1,010), Great Knot (6,700), Red-necked Stint (8,041) and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (1,653).
JIAOZHOU WAN (36d 12m N; 120d 09m E).
In Shandong Province, near Qingdao – 40 km of coastline plus saltworks: 19,286 shorebirds of 19 species, including internationally important numbers of Spotted Redshank (960), Marsh Sandpiper (1,283), Curlew Sandpiper (2,512) and Red-necked Stint (7,570).
LAIZHOU WAN (37d 12m N; 119d 10m E).
In Shandong Province, S of Yellow River delta – 100 km of coastline plus saltworks: 53,463 shorebirds of 20 species, including internationally important numbers of Bar-tailed Godwit (25,961), Grey Plover (5,801) and Lesser Sand Plover (877).
It was estimated that more than 95% of the Bar-tailed Godwits at Yalu Jiang were of the baueri subspecies, implying that in excess of 50% of the breeding population of this subspecies was present in the Reserve during the intial survey. Similarly, more than 50% of the breeding population of the orientalis subspecies of the Eurasian Curlew was also present. The survey also uncovered a large flock of Little Curlew (1,180) – only the third large concentration of this species yet discovered on northward migration in China
New Zealand researchers were responsible for the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Miranda Naturalist Trust, in New Zealand, and the Yalu Jiang National Nature Reserve in 2004. This has resulted in eight surveys of the shorebirds at Yalu Jiang up until the end of 2009. More research and surveys of the Reserve will continue in partnership with the Shorebird Centre at the Miranda Naturalist with the establishment of a five year plan at Yalu Jiang.
Counts in the saltworks in N Jiangsu and Jiaozhou Wan confirmed the great importance of these man-made habitats for species such as Spotted Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Red-necked Stint and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.
The large numbers of Bar-tailed Godwit found in Laizhou Wan appeared to be mainly of the menzbieri subspecies. We also encountered in this area some of the largest concentrations of Lesser Sand Plovers seen so far in China
We believe the Yalu Jiang shorebird count accurately estimated numbers present, whilst those in N Jiangsu, Jiaozhou Wan and Laizhou Wan were probably significant underestimates of shorebird numbers in these regions.
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