Bohai 2019 Update 5: 30 May

The GFN team is in Bohai Bay, China, to study Red Knots and Great Knots on northward migration. Chris Hassell, Adrian Boyle, and Matt Slaymaker post regular updates on the Australian Global Flyway Network website. Here is the latest.

GFN now assist Beijing Normal University (BNU) with counts and we choose the most suitable tides and count all the coastal sites on the same tide cycle. We record all shorebirds and waterbirds and have amassed a great data set over the years. We think the huge increase of Red Knot in the area since 2017 is ‘real’, but we are still not 100% sure if we were unable to locate some birds during 2016 and 2017 or they didn’t arrive at Luannan and were using other sites in the Yellow Sea region. Our ‘sense’ was that the birds were not here (see reports from 2016 and 2017).

Red Knots feeding on the mud in front of a local fishing boat at Nanpu. Photo: Adrian Boyle

The rogersi subspecies of Red Knot have started to leave for their Chukotka breeding grounds while the piersmai subspecies are still arriving at Luannan. A very important factor influencing their numbers is the amount of food available in the mud. Hebo Peng of the University of Groningen had very encouraging news, stating:
The main food of shorebirds in general and Red Knots in particular is very abundant in Nanpu this year, Potamocorbula bivalves were found in the highest (average) density over the last five years. Other shellfish species also show a high density in this area, which means that Nanpu wetland is still healthy and can support large numbers of shorebirds.’

Read the full report here on the Global Flyway Network Australia website.

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