WWT begins breeding project to save endangered waders

Written by??Mark Simpson/WWT

WWT have begun work on a groundbreaking new project to perfect the process of breeding waders as part of our conservation breeding program.

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Ruff chicks. ?? Sacha Dench

The project is currently focused on hatching and rearing two wader species – the Ruff and the Dunlin. Its goal is to research and test breeding methods on these birds so that, should the day come when conservation breeding is the only lifeline for an endangered wader species, WWT is prepared.

Wading birds are particularly vulnerable as tidal wetlands around the world are squeezed by rising sea levels and inland waters are altered for power and flood protection.

23 species of wader are now globally red listed (vulnerable, endangered or critical) and a further 20 species have reached near threatened status, two of which are UK birds the black-tailed godwit and Eurasian Curlew.

Three wader species have been lost entirely in recent history and the Slender-billed Curlew is either on the brink or already extinct (stay tuned for further news on an expedition to try to find traces of this possibly extinct bird).??

Head of Conservation Breeding Nigel Jarrett explained how the project has begun with the rearing of four??Ruffs??at WWT???s Slimbridge Wetland Centre.

???We???ve obtained some eggs and hatched those eggs in an incubator and we???re now just learning about their needs so that we can rear them successfully and then apply those rearing skills and know-how to other projects,??? he said.

???Their daily pattern seems to involve sleeping for 10 minutes and then feeding in 10 minute bursts so that they???re constantly either on the go full on or completely zonked.???

And the??Ruff??chicks currently thriving at Slimbridge???s breeding facility are doing well, with the help of some ingenious props thought up by Nigel ??? which include a Christmas tree and a fluffy toy rabbit.

???In the cubicles we???ve got an artificial Christmas tree broken up into pieces and moulded into a dense shelter so that the birds can get underneath and shelter if they can hear us talking or they feel too hot. So we???ve got a perfect living environment for them and they seem to be growing normally and very quickly,?????explained Nigel.

As for the cuddly toy ??? ???When wader chicks first hatch they???re just like a lot of fluffy birds ??? their down can be matted against their plumage. In nature, when they???re brooded by mum, she sits on them and that down then fluffs up.???

“Of course in this situation we haven???t got a mum so what I???ve used for the birds to sit against is a toy rabbit, as the fluffy texture we have found has the same effect and the chicks will nestle up to it.???

???The birds got underneath shortly after they hatched and just from friction the down has fluffed up and now they???re able to keep themselves warm.???

Rearing waders is much different to rearing ducks, added Nigel. ???They are very different to ducks ??? they take a long time to hatch from the very first time the baby pips the shell it can take up to four days for the chick to come out, which is, compared to a duck, a huge amount of time.???

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Ruff chicks with the Christmas tree. ?? Sacha Dench

The wader chicks are also very active and quite highly strung, he said. ???They seem to get stressed quite easily so we keep the birds behind shade screens so they can???t see us walk to and fro.

???That???s important because disturbance, as well as keeping the birds too warm, can cause them to develop growth problems and develop a crick in their neck and grow up with bent necks, so we???ve got to keep the temperature just right and make sure disturbance is kept to as low a level as possible.???

They???re far more ???on-the-go??? than ducklings too, he noted. ???These things grow so quickly it???s phenomenal. They???re constantly eating. Their daily pattern seems to involve sleeping for 10 minutes and then feeding in 10 minute bursts so that they???re constantly either on the go full on or completely zonked.???

But despite their care being a steep learning curve, the four??Ruff??chicks in Nigel???s care are doing well.

???We???re really delighted with what we???ve achieved so far,??? said Nigel. ???It???s the first time that the WWT have been incubating and rearing waders. It???s been a very exciting time. We???ve learned a lot and so far we haven???t done too badly. We???re rearing four out of four hatched baby??Ruff. We???ve also got some Dunlin in the Slimbridge duckery and they???re almost fledged.???

Watch our hyperactive??Ruffs??enjoying their carefully prepared home in the video below. (Footage taken by Sacha Dench).


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The Value of Agriculture for Migratory Birds: Long-billed Curlews use agriculture in California???s Central Valley

Written by Melissa Pitkin/PRBO

PRBO Conservation Science, with partner Audubon California, has embarked on a study to identify important habitat types for the Long-billed Curlew Numenius americanus, a bird of conservation concern whose world population ranges from 130,000???180,000 birds. Very little is known, however, about the abundance, concentration sites, and habitat needs of this species at migratory stopovers and wintering areas, where curlews spend about nine months of the year.

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?? Stuart MacKay

To determine which habitats are important to the curlew and how many curlews concentrate in each one, PRBO is conducting two research programs: a citizen-science survey of the entire Central Valley and a satellite-tracking study of migrating curlews. Additionally, PRBO is facilitating a Masters project by Kristin Sesser of Humboldt State University who is analyzing space and habitat use of satellite tagged curlews in the Central Valley. Determining how curlews use habitats in migration and winter is critical to finding ways to protect and enhance agricultural fields and other important habitats they depend on.

Initiated in 2007, the citizen-science survey covers the Central Valley, and a tracking study, in partnership with the USGS, TNC and WWF, follows the movements of birds initially tagged on their nesting grounds in Oregon, Nevada, and Montana.

What we have learned
We are finding that important interior habitats for this species are agricultural lands, specifically alfalfa fields and irrigated pastures. Data collected by over 100 volunteers revealed that 83???94% of all birds counted during fall and winter surveys in the Central Valley in 2007 and 2008 were in alfalfa fields and pastures. Over the three surveys,15,846 (83%), 8371 (82%), and 17,117 (91%) of the curlews were from agricultural survey areas, the remainder from wildlife areas, refuges, and private wetlands.

With vast expanses of dry and irrigated pastures, alfalfa fields, and post-harvest rice fields, the interior valleys of California, combined, are likely the most important area in the world for Long-billed Curlews during migration and winter.

The telemetry research showed similar results.?? In this study, curlews were fitted with tiny satellite-transmitters while still on their nesting grounds in the grasslands of Oregon, Nevada, and Montana. Once the birds begin the migration to their wintering areas, researchers and the public can track their progress via the internet.

The Oregon birds all travelled to the Central Valley and the Nevada birds to California and Mexico. Those stopping in California use alfalfa fields, pastures, and other agricultural lands for their wintering habitats.?? Most curlews banded in Montana?? travelled to wintering sites in Texas and Mexico.

Both these research projects underscore the importance of irrigated agriculture for wildlife. In addition to the curlews, hundreds of thousands of shorebirds rely on irrigated pastures and rice fields as surrogate wetlands.?? California???s Central Valley has changed dramatically over the last 100 years as natural seasonal wetlands have been converted to agriculture and development. Now agricultural fields, along with managed wetlands, can provide those critical habitats in California???s Central Valley. This ongoing research project seeks to further document shorebird use of natural and managed wetlands, along with agricultural crops, with the aim of protecting and enhancing wetland habitat in California.

Shuford, W. D.*, G. M. Langham???, G. W. Page*, and C. Hickey*. 2009. Distribution, abundance, and habitat use of Long-billed Curlews in California???s Central Valley from broad-scale surveys in 2007 and 2008. Central Valley Bird Club Bulletin 12:29???44.

*PRBO Conservation Science, 3820 Cypress Drive #11, Petaluma, CA 94954
???Audubon California, 765 University Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95825

Interesting Facts About Long-billed Curlews:

  • Both males and females incubate eggs in nests that they scrape out of the ground using their feet and chests.
  • Curlews??? mottled brown and black plumage makes them very difficult to see in the heavily grazed grasslands where they like to nest.
  • Curlews defend their nests and young by feigning injury to lure predators away.
  • The bills of female curlews are longer, flatter and more curved than those of the males, making it possible for?? knowledgeable people to tell males from females in the field.
  • Curlews eat a wide variety of prey, including beetles, grasshoppers, earthworms, crayfish, marine crabs, and ghost shrimp.

More info: Melissa Pitkin, Education and Outreach Director, (707) 781-2555 ext 307 (Tue-Thurs), (415) 868-0655 ext 305 (Mon & Fri), 3820 Cypress Drive #11, Petaluma, CA 94954

Shorebirds, Gulls & Terns of SEQ ??? A New Identification Guide

Written by Birds Australia

Designed and compiled by Trevor Ford, this fantastic 64-page booklet is a joint initiative by Sunshine Coast Council, Caring For Our Country and SEQ Catchments, its primary objective being to raise the awareness of the local community regarding the shorebirds, gulls and terns in Coastal SEQ.

As well as introducing the reader to these birds and presenting some of the best places to see them in the region, the booklet contains a comprehensive identification guide to the species regularly encountered. (Note that photographs in this pdf are of a lower resolution than those in the booklet).

The booklet is being made available by the four funding councils ??? Sunshine Coast, Moreton Bay, Redland and Gold Coast.

It is downloadable here (ed.).

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Dates set for the 2010 fall migration shorebird counts: a new WorldWaders subproject

Written by Gyorgy Szimuly/WorldWaders

The migration period attracts more and more birdwatchers to go out and find rarities while others are counting birds for conservation purposes. While many people thinks shorebirds are mainly occurring along beaches and sea coastlines thousands of birds are crossing the continent in every part of the world. What numbers they are present compared to the shoreline migrants? Are those numbers large enough to identify important shorebird sites? Do we need to ensure the availability of suitable foraging habitats as large numbers are passing by both during southbound and northbound migration? To answer those questions we need to ensure we have data of passing shorebirds from various parts of the flyways.

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Migrating/wintering Kentish Plovers and Dunlins in Montenegro. ?? Gyorgy Szimuly

Monitoring waterbird populations are popular acorss the globe. The expanding number of users of WorldWaders do it any differently. Starting from the fall migration of 2010 we launch a long term counting project for getting answers to the question mentioned above. The objectives of the subproject is as follows.

  • Picturing the numbers of continent crossing waders both during southbound and northbound migration.
  • Identifying unidentified key habitats used by waders during migration.
  • Ensuring constantly available stop-over site network for waders based on data.
  • Popularising wader monitoring.

To meet these target organised counts will be carried out in various parts of the world on every second week-end beginning of 1 August 2010. The following dates set for the period of 2010 fall migration:

01.08.2010
15.08.2010
29.08.2010
12.09.2010
26.09.2010
10.10.2010
24.10.2010
07.11.2010
21.11.2010
05.12.2010
19.12.2010

Participants on these dates will count waders (means Charadriiformes excluding gulls, terns and allies) and data will be entered to the Non-breeding Shorebird Mapping Project module on www.worldwaders.rog.

I am encouraging you to join this subproject and make counts on your easily accessible or frequently visited site(s). Please drop a line if you can join this project and fine with counting in every second week-end.

Drought puts paid to grid

Written by BirdWatch

The lack of water, expected to worsen as the summer proceeds, is already affecting thousands of waders, wildlfowl, amphibians, fish and insects. The reservoir at the RSPB and United Utilities’ new reserve near Manchester, at Dove Stone in the Peak District National Park, is a third empty, and the bog vegetation has been described a “tinder-dry”, depriving wader and Red Grouse chicks of essential food.

However, UU has also launched a new project called the Sustainable Catchment Management Programme to help prevent future droughts in what should be a water-rich Britain. UU, conservationists and farmers will work together to restore wetlands and peat bogs, plant new woodlands and restrict grazing, reversing the centuries of exploitative drainage that have depleted naturally wet upland areas.

The large-scale ‘re-wetting’ will enhance drinking water quality, help shore up defenses against flooding and prevent the loss of irreplaceable peat, as well as having the agreeable side effect of encouraging scarce birds and other wildlife.

Lobbyists that promoted the idea of a National Water Grid to pipe massive amounts of water from the north to the overpopulated South-East have been somewhat undermined by the drought hitting those proposed source areas hard. The NWG would have been very expensive, energy-hungry and hugely environmentally damaging and would merely have created extreme water-loss problems elsewhere, it now seems.

It is apparent that there are no regions of Britain that have the amounts of water needed to ‘bail out’ areas of ‘water-scarcity’, and that we would be better off effectively managing water use and preventing leakage and waste.

Managing water levels on wet grasslands to improve foraging conditions for breeding Northern Lapwings

Written by Sarah Eglington/BTO

The widespread drainage of wetlands and grazing marshes is known to be one of the main drivers behind the severe reductions in the number and range of breeding waders across Europe. Changes in agricultural practices have resulted in a reduction in the quality and quantity of food available to breeding waders, and there is evidence that changes in the abundance and the availability of food supplies have contributed to the declines of many farmland birds. Wader chicks require wet, invertebrate-rich foraging habitats and most agricultural land is now too dry to support sustainable breeding populations.

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???wet features supported more than double the biomass of surface-active invertebrates and a greater abundance of aerial invertebrates than the vegetated grazing marsh.???

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In recent efforts to re-create wet grasslands and improve wader breeding success, a lot of work has focussed on reinstating wet features, in order to provide foraging habitats for chicks. These wet features may take the form of simple scrapes or pools in the middle of the grazing marsh, or they may be shallow linear channels attached to ditches, which are known as ???footdrains???, or ???grips???. The advantage of footdrains is that they allow landowners to have the ability for some degree of water control within the wet feature itself, as water can be transported along the feature from the main ditch.

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A footdrain on Berney Marshes, UK. ?? Mark Smart

Techniques for re-creating lowland wet grasslands from arable and pastoral farmland are becoming increasingly well-established, and support from agri-environment initiatives is now available for wet feature installation on grasslands. Whether installation of wet features is successful however will depend on whether they provide sufficient invertebrate prey for chicks throughout the pre-fledging period. This study, based at the University of East Anglia and carried out in conjunction?? with the RSPB, explores the effect of wet feature provision on invertebrate abundance and the growth rates and body condition of Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus chicks, on grazing marshes in eastern England.

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Northern Lapwing, United Kingdom ?? Gyorgy Szimuly

Results of the study showed that wet features supported more than double the biomass of surface-active invertebrates and a greater abundance of aerial invertebrates than the vegetated grazing marsh. Chick foraging rates were also two to three times higher in wet features than in the grazing marsh, as was the estimated biomass intake per food item, showing that not only did the wet features support more food items for chicks, but that these items were also more accessible. Even more importantly, the results showed that at the start of the breeding season, chick condition was unrelated to wet feature provision but late in the season, when water levels were low, chick body condition was significantly higher in fields with footdrain densities of more than 150???m???ha???1. This key finding shows that late in the season, provision of wet features is an important tool to provide high-quality foraging habitats for chicks to enable them to maintain a good body condition.

Scientists predict changes in climate over the coming years, with increasing temperatures and changes in patterns of rainfall. This will have an impact on the seasonal drying out of grazing marshes and wetlands and the quality of habitat available for breeding waders. Predicted changes to the seasonality of rainfall at temperate latitudes means that provision of wet features is likely to be increasingly important for maintaining breeding wader populations in the future. For these features to be successful it is important that they are managed to remain wet for as long as possible.

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Mean (+ s.e) peck rate and estimated biomass intake rate of chicks observed in different habitats on wet grasslands in the Broads, UK.??

The plastic waste that is in our oceans claims yet another life

Written by Craig Nash/Peregrine’s Bird Blog

I headed out to my local patch this morning at Killard NR. I arrived at Ben Derg beach and there were a couple of Dunlin on the rocks and a couple of pairs of Ringed Plover. The Ringed Plover both have young. One has two and the other one. There were also a few Oystercatchers on the shoreline making a racket and as I approached two flew off and I noticed a dead one and was even more shocked to see the way that it had died. It had this plastic item jammed over its lower mandible. When I turned it over and felt its breast it was skeletal. So had basically died of starvation.

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?? Craig Nash

Infact the moment it put its beak into this object it had signed its death warrant. I had great difficulty myself in removing it from the beak. Once it stuck it in the tiny hole on one side the metal strips on the other side allowed it to push further but not out again.

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?? Craig Nash

I dread to think how long it took this bird to die.

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?? Craig Nash

It is just so depressing to see the amount of plastic waste that washes up daily on the shoreline mainly I suspect from fishing boats. There was also another piece of litter on the reserve being two semi deflated balloons which were probably released at some party or charity function. Releasing balloons should be banned.

Mountain Plover Proposed for Listing as a Threatened Species Scientific Information Will Be Accepted Until August 30, 2010

Written by Melissa Normann/Rainforest Alliance

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reinstating a proposal to list the Mountain Plover, a native bird of short-grass prairie and shrub-steppe landscapes, as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The Service also requests the public to provide scientific information regarding the reinstated proposal and the newly available information regarding the status of the Mountain Plover.

Mountain Plovers breed in the western Great Plains and Rocky Mountain States from the Canadian border to northern Mexico.?? Within the United States, most breeding occurs in Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado; fewer breeding birds occur in Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah.

Mountain Plovers winter in California, southern Arizona, Texas and Mexico. While California???s Sacramento, San Joaquin, and Imperial Valleys are believed to support the greatest number of wintering Mountain Plovers, relatively little is known about their winter range use in other areas.?? Unlike other plovers, Mountain Plovers are not found near water, and will only inhabit areas with short grass or bare ground.????

The Service originally proposed the listing of the Mountain Plover in December 2002. The 2002 proposal also included a proposed special rule exempting specified farming practices in certain parts of the Mountain Plover???s breeding range from Endangered Species Act prohibitions while research was being conducted regarding the conservation of the species on farmed lands. Subsequently, the Service withdrew the listing proposal in September 2003 based on the conclusion that the threats to the Mountain Plover as identified in the proposed rule were not as significant as previously believed and that information available at that time did not indicate the threats to the Mountain Plover and its habitat were likely to endanger the species in the foreseeable future.

In November 2006, the Forest Guardians and the Biological Conservation Alliance filed a complaint challenging the withdrawal of the proposal to list the Mountain Plover. As part of the settlement agreement, the Service agreed to vacate our 2003 withdrawal of the listing proposal and reopen a comment period on our 2002 proposal. This notice satisfies that requirement. The Service also agreed to submit a final listing decision to the Federal Register by May 1, 2011.????

The Service is seeking scientific information regarding the Mountain Plover???s life history, ecology, and habitat use; its range, distribution, population size, and population trends; current and potential future threats to the Mountain Plover and its habitat; and positive and negative effects of current and potential land management practices that affect Mountain Plover, including conservation efforts.

Scientific information will be accepted until August 30, 2010 and can be submitted electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at: http://www.regulations.gov (search the docket for FWS-R6-ES-2010-0038), or can be mailed or hand delivered to Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R6-ES-2010-0038; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.

Pertinent information received, developed, or analyzed since 2002 is available for review at http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/birds/mountainplover or by contacting the Colorado Ecological Services Field Office Supervisor at 303-236-4773.

The Service will evaluate all information regarding the status and distribution of the Mountain Plover, including the impacts or potential impacts to the species resulting from either human activities or natural causes.????

The Mountain Plover is a small bird about the size of a killdeer. It is light brown above, with a lighter-colored breast, but lacks the contrasting dark breastbelt common to many other plovers. During the breeding season, it has a white forehead and a dark line between the beak and eye which contrasts with the dark crown.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov

Largest recorded breeding event of Australian Banded Stilt

Written by Ken Gosbell, Maureen Christie, Iain Stewart & David Hollands

The normally dry, salt encrusted bed of Lake Torrens was transformed into a lake following significant local rain which occurred in April this year. Members of Friends of Shorebirds SE have been monitoring the large flock (150 ??? 200,000) of Banded Stilt that has been utilising the hypersaline conditions of the lower Coorong for the last 8 years. Iain Stewart, who had been tracking water flows throughout the arid interior since the floods in northern Australia, reinforced by David Dadd???s report of the absence of birds in the Coorong, immediately realised the significance of the water in Lake Torrens. A call went out to members and DEH Coorong staff for news of the Coorong flock. The last documented sighting of a significant number was on 5th April. The Department for Environment and Heritage, South Australia, was contacted stressing the urgency of the situation ??? high in every-one???s thoughts was the massive predation that had occurred at Lake Eyre in 2000, and the need to locate and protect a breeding colony as soon as possible. They firstly flew over the Coorong and confirmed the missing birds and then subsequently made a search of a number of inland lakes from Lake Eyre to the south. In early May they located a large colony of around 140,000 Banded Stilt which appeared to be nesting on an island in Lake Torrens. This was a very special event as this species had not had an extensive breeding event since the one at Lake Eyre South in 2000 although a small attempt was recorded in the Coorong in 2006.

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?? Ken Gosbell

This species requires small isolated islands in large ephemeral inland salt lakes where the influx of fresh water stimulates the dormant brine shrimp and other small crustaceans to hatch and reproduce. Such conditions are erratic given the nature of inland Australia and Banded Stilts are known to have bred in SA only seven times in the last 70 years.

In response to the discovery of this breeding colony, the Department for Environment and Heritage sent in an expedition of ecologists and rangers in early May, led by Alex Clarke of the Port Augusta office of DEH. Their objective was to observe and check for any excessive predator activity. They were able to confirm the colony had 140,000 – 150,000 birds and that they were witnessing probably the largest breeding event on record with up to 200,000 chicks produced. Even better news was the fact that predation activity by Silver Gulls was minimal and within natural bounds. It was also observed that following the first hatching, the colony split with half moving to a northern island and the remainder laying a second clutch of eggs in the original colony.

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?? Ken Gosbell

The AWSG, VWSG and Friends of Shorebirds SE, were invited to participate in a second expedition timed to coincide with the second hatching to record observations and to attempt to place bands and coloured leg flags on some of the chicks. The latter was aimed at finding more about the movements of these birds including any possible movement between the WA and southeastern Australian populations. Accordingly 4 of us (Maureen Christie, Iain Stewart, David Hollands and Ken Gosbell) accompanied a team of rangers and ecologists from the Coorong office of DEH (Simon Oster, Clare Manning and Chris Thompson). We set out from Port Augusta and camped on the shores of Lake Torrens from 14 ??? 18 June when we returned to Port Augusta. To view this body of water almost 200km long and up to 30km wide, surrounded by gibber and desert, listening to a colony of Banded Stilts almost 3km away was an amazing experience.

The colony occupied about half of a small island some 320m by 200m which was located 2.7km from the shoreline campsite. Hence a walk through water 20 ??? 30cm in depth for this distance to get to the colony each day was more than sufficient exercise. The colony was much reduced by the time we arrived with less than 10,000 birds in it. It was located on sandy patches interspersed with low salt bush (Atropex sp), Nitre-bush (Notraria sp), Samphire (Sarcoconia sp), Rhagonia and other plants. Birds were nesting in scrapes which were at a density of 10 ??? 15 per square metre and were sitting on 2 to 4 eggs. Some 30% of the colony had been abandoned probably due to disturbance by a fox and/or dingo which had killed quite a few adult birds. We assessed that chicks from the second clutch had been hatching for the last week and this continued at a reasonably constant rate for the days we were there. When the chicks are 1 or 2 days old the adults take them across the stony beach and introduce them to the water. The rate of chicks being taken to the water varied from 50 to 350 chicks per hour and we saw very few actually taken by gulls. However, as the colony thinned out, more gulls were entering the colony.

One of the inspiring sights was to see the adults shepherd their family of 2 ??? 4 fluffy white/grey down covered chicks to the water, negotiate past the line of gulls and reach the open water where they amalgamated with other family groups to form cr??ches. The largest cr??che we observed was 40 but as they were moving some distance (several kms) to feed we suspect that even larger cr??ches were being formed which is their normal behavior.

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?? Ken Gosbell

Several attempts were made to band chicks while they were in their family groups in the water. This was a tedious process due to adults appearing to abandon the chicks when captured. This meant great care was needed to reunite chicks with adults who were caring for cr??ches. Because of these constraints we were only able to band and leg flag 54 chicks. So, if you see a Stilt with orange/yellow on the Left tibia it is a very special bird and we need to hear about it. We are also interested in observations of juvenile stilts ??? recognisable by their grey legs.?? The first clutch is thought to have started hatching on the 10th May.?? Allowing 50 days to fledge, they could be arriving at a wetland near you any day!?? Indeed news of the arrival of adults is also of interest as it will help us understand how they disperse after such a large breeding event. One of the highlights of our visit to the colony was when Clare spotted a bird with flags on its right leg which was the result of the banding undertaken by Maureen and her team in the Coorong in 2006.

Overall this was an exciting event which at this stage appears to have been extremely successful for this enigmatic species. To have observed and photographed this unique event combined with the experience of witnessing the way in which outback Australia comes alive with water was very special. We would like to thank the staff of DEH SA for their consideration, co ope
ration and assistance on site; it was a great team effort. We also thank our flag making teams for making a large number of flags at short notice.

It should also be noted that a small breeding event also took place on Lake Eyre where some 5,000 birds nested. This was reported in the media earlier this month.

Although we have increased our knowledge of one of the most interesting of our resident species through the observations of this event, there is still much to learn. Just how did those birds who were happily feeding in the Coorong know that suitable breeding conditions had been created 1000 kms away? Maybe in time we will learn.

Source: AWSG