AWSG Satellite Tracking Project 2019 – UPDATE #3+4

This is a guest blog from the Australian Wader Studies Group (AWSG), edition March 2019.

In February 2019, the AWSG deployed Oriental Pratincoles with satellite tags, for the first time in history. Here we post regular updates on their whereabouts, and on the movements on Little Curlews and Whimbrels that where also issued satellite-tags in Broome, NW Australia.

Oriental Pratincole – All on the go and where they will stop, we really don’t know!  (by Grace Maglio)

Three of the four birds are now in Mainland Southeast Asia, SEC and SHE in Cambodia, and SEP in Thailand. SUN is now in East Malaysia. While SHE remains in the Tonle Sap Lake floodplains, SEC, SEP and SUN are currently located in areas of intensive agricultural use.

Oriental Pratincole ready to release with transmitter (Photo by Tom Clarke)
Tracks of the four Oriental Pratincoles
Bird ID –
Engraved Leg-flag
Approximate distance 80 Mile Beach to release location
SUN 2,540km
SEP 4,350km
SHE 4,000km
SEC 3,840km

SUN – In 4 days time between 9-13 March, SUN made a flight 1,450km northwest from Ashmore Islands and reached Central Kalimantan, approximately 5km from the Barito River and 10km from the village of Rantau Kujang, in the Jenamas District of Borneo. Between 13-23 March SUN travelled approximately 570km and is now in the Sri Aman District of East Malaysia, 26km west of the town of Sri Aman (Malay translation – “Town of Peace”), which is situated on the Lupar River.  This District consists of highly modified, agricultural land trading in Palm Oil, Rubber, Pepper and Timber.

This location is approximately 2,540km from the release site at 80 Mile Beach in North West Australia.

SUN passes by Ashmore Islands, Indian Ocean to Central Kalimantan
SUN travels north to East Malaysia

SEP – On 12 March, SEP was located in the populated Pati Regency, Central Java, Indonesia, using agricultural land surrounded by many villages in the area.. SEP is now located 2,600km from this area, in the Khan Thale So District, Nakhon Ratchasima Province, Thailand. Again, SEP is in an area dominated by agricultural use, 3.5km west of the town of Nong Suang.

SEP travels from Central Java to Thailand
SEP, in agricultural land, 3.5 km from Nong Suang, Kham Thale So District, Thailand

SEC – After departing Broome, SEC remained in the West Kalimantan Region, Borneo, for approximately 11 days. Around 12 March there was a brief stopover at Pulau Serasan, (Serasan Island) – part of the southern group of Islands making up the Natuna Regency, Indonesia. Between 14 and 15 March, SEC travelled a distance of approximately 850km to its latest location 23km off the coast of the Vietnam-Cambodian border. On 15 March, SEC was positioned 23km off the coast of the Vietnam-Cambodian border. From 20 March and 190km from this previous location, SEC was located 40km north east of Phnom Penh in the Prey Veng Province, Cambodia. This province is considered the “great green belt” of Cambodia, where agriculture and aquaculture dominate and less than 4% of the original native vegetation remains. 

SEC is approximately 3,840km from the release site at 80 Mile Beach in North West Australia.

SEC’sflight from West Kalimantan region to the coast of Vietnam
SEC, 40km north east of Phnom Penh, Thailand

SHE – Four weeks in and SHE continues to inhabit the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve, Cambodia and seems to be utilising a relatively small area available to it.

SHE at Tonle Sap Lake Biosphere Reserve, Cambodia

Little Curlew – Slight movement (by Inka Veltheim)

On 17 March, LS moved northwards approximately 200km to the grazed grasslands at Roebuck Plains, near Broome. This is probably the first step in its northward migration. LS moves large distances in the Roebuck Plains/Roebuck Bay area and has moved about 40 km from the plains to the south of the bay in the past week. At present, it seems to be on Thangoo Station, not far from Bush Point.

Little curlews LL and LU continue to move locally at Anna Plains. LK and LY appears to have been stationary for the last 2 weeks and it is possible the tag has fallen off the birds or that the individuals have died.

Little Curlew movement over the past week
Little Curlew ‘LS’ before releasing (Photo by Olivia Gourley)

Whimbrel (by Katherine Leung) There is still a month to go until the anticipated departure date. Both KU and LA remain at their marking locations, Roebuck Bay and 80 Mile Beach respectively.

Roebuck Plains Station (Photo by Katherine Leung)

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