New most northerly records of Australia GFN-banded shorebirds: Red Knot and Great Knot observed by Pavel Tomkovich and team in Meinypilgyno, Chukotka!

Monday, 29 May 2017, Chris Hassell from Global Flyway Network|Australia reports:

I have just had two records of Australia banded birds in Meinypilgyno, Chukotka, Far East Russia. The birds were observed by our colleague Pavel Tomkovich from the Zoological Museum at Moscow State University and the team of Birds Russia at Meinypilgyno Station. This is a latitudinal novelty! Our most northerly records so far have been from the west coast of Kamchatka (Black-tailed Godwits and Great Knots on southward migration) and a Great Knot at Ola Lagoon on the northern Sea of Okhotsk, on northward migration.

The new records from Pavel Tomkovich’s in Meinypilgyno (see below map) are 1,300 km NE of the Kamchatka site and 1,800 km ENE of the Ola lagoon record. So by far and away the most northerly records for the GFN-Australia shorebird database. One is a Great Knot and one is a Red Knot. The sightings were about 4 km east of the village of Meinypilgyno which has 420 inhabitants.

Map MeinypilgynoChukotka May2017
The remote(!) location of in Meinypilgyno where the Red Knots and Great Knot were seen by Pavel Tomokovich and this team

The Great Knot is 5RYYL was banded in Roebuck Bay on 22/10/2014 aged ‘2’ in its second year of life (the Australian aging system giving all birds their ‘birthday’ on August 1st.) This bird has only one record from 80 Mile Beach and one from Roebuck Bay. The Roebuck Bay record is from August 2016 presumably passing through on its way to a non-breeding site further south.

PavelTomkovich MeinypilgynoChukotka May2017
Great Knot 5RYYL in Meinypilgyno, Chukotka, on 26 May 2017. Breeding plumage 100%. Abdominal profile 2. Photo: Pavel Tomkovich

The Red Knot is code 5RLLY. It was banded in February 2016 during an AWSG expedition as age ‘2+’ in its second year of life or older. It is regularly seen in Roebuck Bay. The last sighting there was 26/03/2017. It was next recorded here, where I write this note from, on the Luannan Coast on 25/04/2017 and 5/05/2017. We recorded it as a rogersi on both occasions which of course fits very well with its breeding location. It has also been assessed as rogersi in Roebuck Bay as early as the 21/03/2016.*

Colour-banding re-sightings depend on observers and GFN are lucky to have many skilled volunteer and professional shorebirders throughout the flyway doing just that, observing, recording and reporting. Numbers of records correspond to where those observers are so Roebuck Bay and the Luannan Coast dominate. But we receive many records from far and wide, however never from this far!

Thanks to Pavel Tomkovich and Birds Russia for these records and indeed to all the people who send records for the GFN-Australia database, we appreciate it very much.

*Footnote: ‘In addition to the GFN colour-marked birds two Red Knots with yellow engraved flags have also been recorded and photographed by Pavel’s team. Both of these birds were marked in Broome, north west Australia by the by the Australasian Wader Studies Group (AWSG). However one of them now lives the non-breeding part of its life in New Zealand. Some Red Knot of the rogersi subspecies pass through NW Australia on their first southward migration after hatching in the Arctic. They then move to New Zeland and from our resighting records they then keep New Zealand as their non-breeding location. GFN and AWSG only have a very few records of these birds passing back through Broome on either northward our southward migration in subsequent years. Interestingly, Pavel also reported one plain-white flagged Red Knot from New Zealand – Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre.

EgorLoktionov_MeinypilgynoChukotka May2017
An Red Knot flagged in Australia by the Australasian Wader Studies Group (AWSG) and photographed near Meinypilgyno in Chukotka in May 2017. Photo: Egor Loktionov

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