Waddenwetenschap – in Het Waddengebied bij nader inzien

Net verschenen “Het Waddengebied bij nader inzien” onder redactie van Bas Eenhoorn, in samenwerking met de Wadden Academie.

De motovatie van Eenhoorn voor deze bloemlezing is dat het veel beter moet met het beheer van de Waddenzee, omdat het nu niet goed gaat en de natuurwaarden nog steeds ondermijnd worden.

Theunis schreef een hoofdstuk. De PDF is hier beschikbaar.

Hier alvast een voorproefje:

Lees ook het artikel in de Leeuwarder Courant: Piersma bepleit ecologische werkplaats.

Impressions of 2019 Yellow Sea and Bohai Wetlands International Conference (Yancheng, China)

Photo blog by Theunis Piersma on the Yellow Sea and Bohai Wetlands International Conference, 26-30 September, in Yancheng, China

Bill Sutherland: “Make the Yellow Sea one of the best places in the world to do coastal research”

Sutherland pleas for a local research community in a global setting: “show leadership in global collaborations and create an evidence-based World Heritage Site. This would be a first!”.


And the plan!

Forum discussion

EAAF participants discuss future of coastal wetlands in Asia and Russia.

Godwit inspiration

Bar-tailed Godwits inspire the conference delegates.

International representation

Including the Dutch flag!

Asian Development Bank

Presenting strict criteria to ensure livelihoods.

Second forum discussion

Discussion on coastal conservation and sustainable development with Nicola Crockford and Prof Lei Guangchun. Crockford: “China takes leadership  role in coastal conservation and management”.

The spirit of change!


Meeting the IUCN president

Honored to present Marathon Migrants to Zhang Xinsheng, the president of IUCN China

Management and research program

Prof Zhijun Ma outlines an ambitious programme of management and research in the context of the World Heritage Nomination.

Prof Zhijun Ma Of Fudan University

Proud of Global Flyway Network delegates

Theunis was not the only Global Flyway Network delegate. Here are his flock mates.

GFN folks during low tide at the Yancheng site – foraging! Hebo Peng, David Melville and Songlin Wang.

David Meville during a forum, with besides him Jimmy Choi.

Theunis’ presentation

Nicola Crockford: “Theunis Piersma of @GlobalFlyway wows the opening ceremony of the Yancheng Yellow & Bohai Sea Wetlands International Conference with his inspirational keynote – a single Theunis is larger than life, but in triplicate, quadruplicate and even quintuplicate he is quite something…!”

Further reading about GFN’s Bohai work?

Again in 2019, during the spring migration season the GFN team worked in Bohai Bay, China, to study Red Knots and Great Knots on northward migration. The PDF of the report can be downloaded here:image-1

The necessity of tracking individual birds

Jimmy Choi (flanked by Prof Zhijun Ma on the left and Lei Weipan (Leiming) on the right) makes points about tracking to establish proper reserve boundaries and the need for scientists to communicate better with the local communities.


Forum on public engagement

Huth Lean from Cambodia explains importance of linking local cultures to the world. Nice parallel with Iepen Mienskip movement in Frisian communities in The Netherlands!

Huth Lean from Cambodia

Terry Townsend makes a plea using shorebird tracking studies to bring the fascination with these connectors to the public.

Terry Townsend @BirdingBeijing

John McKinnon gives an visionary account on a changing world and how the engage people with change.

John McKinnon


Interface between aquaculture and biodiversity

Songlin Wang, acknowledging GFN, warns against the dangerous poison-related effects on sea cucumber farming. Shorebirds as indicator! Even for healthy, ecofriendly seafood.

Hebo Peng (BFU, RUG, NIOZ) summarizing the charged interface between aquaculture and shorebird foraging opportunities along the China coastline. Marine organism as food for birds and people.



Theunis Piersma is in the front, sitting next to the mayor of Yancheng.

And this!


Shorebird northward migration through Bohai Bay, China / 渤海湾北迁鸻鹬 研究工作报告


Posted on September 24, 2019

Again in 2019, during the spring migration season the GFN team worked in Bohai Bay, China, to study Red Knots and Great Knots on northward migration. This year the team consisted of Chris Hassell, Adrian Boyle, Matt Slaymaker and Nigel Jackett. The senior researcher in the project, Theunis Piersma, visited for about one week.

It is a long report but it does have lots of great images to keep you reading!  Here is the PDF: GFN Bohai Report 2019 web PDF.

A novelty this year is the Chinese summary: 渤海湾北迁鸻鹬 研究工作报告 (第十野外季

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.

Bohai 2019 Update 4: 21 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.

As of the 18th of May, the GFN team had recorded 106 Red Knots, 51 Great Knots and 2 Bar-tailed Godwits that had been individually colour-banded in Northwest Australia (NWA). They have also now recorded 118 individually identifiable shorebirds with yellow engraved leg flags (from NWA) comprising 71 Great Knots, 32 Red Knots, 10 Bar-tailed Godwits, 5 Curlew Sandpipers, 2 Ruddy Turnstones and a single Sanderling.

TAU, a Red Knot Calidris canutus piersmai from Broome, feeding in a salt pond at Nanpu. Photo: Adrian Boyle

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

Bohai 2019 Update 3: 10 May

The GFN team is in Bohai Bay, China, to study Red Knots and Great Knots on northward migration. The team (Chris Hassell, Adrian Boyle, and Matt Slaymaker) posts regular updates on the Australian Global Flyway Network website. Here is the latest update, with as highlight the visit of the New Zealand Ambassador to China, Clare Fearnley.

Chris Hassell presented a book written by Theunis Piersma to the Ambassador on Theunis’ behalf, as he had left the day before. Photo: GFN

Chris: “Talking of visitors, Kath Leung joined us for her fourth visit and added a great skill set to our scanning efforts. Professor Zhang, various, PhD students and volunteers from Beijing Normal University were and are here. Zhang has been a great financial and scientific collaborator of our studies here. The inspiration for the creation of GFN and its scientific leader, Theunis Piersma, was with us for an all too brief period. Theunis joins us in all our fieldwork and then we bombard him with questions whenever we are (k)not scanning. It is a very busy and productive time. The Bohai field team would like to take this opportunity to thank Theunis for the huge amount of fund raising he does to keep the Bohai work going and all his continually positive encouragement to us.”

Professors Zhang and Piersma with one of the fishermen we see every day. Photo: GFN

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

Bohai 2019 Update 2: 27 April

The GFN team is in Bohai Bay, China, to study Red Knots and Great Knots on northward migration. The team, Chris Hassell together with Adrian Boyle, veteran of 11 Bohai seasons, and Matt Slaymaker, posts regular updates on the Australian Global Flyway Network website. Here is the second of this season. The team reports:

It has been a week that has given us a little of everything; from wind and rain to blue skies and sun. From great scanning to fog with 10-metre visibility.

Shorebird numbers continue to increase in both overall numbers and diversity. Many of the regular species are continuing to arrive and have been joined by small numbers of scarce migrants such as Asian Dowitcher, Nordmann’s Greenshank and Little Stint. A count on the 26th totalled around 26,000 birds at Nanpu, our main site, with many more along the neighbouring sections of coast. Numbers seem to be broadly similar to this time last year, but we are also due a big increase in the coming days, particularly of Red Knot and Curlew Sandpiper…..

A typical scene in the saltponds. How many shorebird species can you see?

Bohai 2019 Update 1: 20 April

The GFN team is in Bohai Bay, China, to study Red Knots and Great Knots on northward migration. The team, Chris Hassell together with Adrian Boyle, veteran of 11 Bohai seasons, and Matt Slaymaker, posts regular updates on the Australian Global Flyway Network website. Here is the first of this season. The team reports:

It is always a relief to return to find the mudflats intact and the expected birds present and correct. Our core survey site, the Nanpu mudflat, was earmarked for nature reserve status; however, this doesn’t seem to have happened. The site and surrounding area is fundamental to the survival of the numerous species that pass through annually and we had hoped this positive development would offer some additional protection. We are still trying to find out the exact reason why reserve status has not been given and hope to be able to provide more information in future updates. For now, the mudflats are still here and being heavily used by the shorebirds that we all love.

Matt scanning at Zuidong.

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)

AWSG Satellite Tracking Project 2019 – UPDATE #2

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

In February 2019, for the first time in history, satellite tags were deployed on Oriental Pratincoles (during the non-breeding season in NW Australia). So everything you read here is brand new! Below you also find an update about the Little Curlews and Whimbrels that AWSG follows with satellite-tags.

Oriental Pratincole in the hand. Photo: Pat Macwhirter

Oriental Pratincole – All departed

All four satellite-tagged Oriental Pratincoles have now left Australia on northward migration. The leading bird has  been in Cambodia for over a week, settled by the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, where it could well stay to breed.

The other three are still on migration through Indonesia and Borneo. The tagged Oriental Pratincoles left Australia from the north-west. The birds could very well complete their migration in the next ten days or so. It will be particularly interesting to see where the individual breeding locations will be!

Migration tracks of the 4 Oriental Pratincoles. Map: AWSG

Individual reports of four Oriental Pratincoles with a PTT satellite-tag

1. SUN – Our interstate traveller has left the country

At the time of the last update, SUN was positioned 60km north-west of the Legune Airport. SUN reached this location around the 25 February. Legune Station is a 3,000km² cattle station which also contains the Legune Coastal Floodplain, a site of conservation significance (including an important and significant shorebird site), between the Victoria and Keep Rivers in the Northern Territory.  SUN remained in this area until 8th March.

SUN using Legune Coastal Floodplain, Northern Territory, Australia. Map: AWSG

Around the evening of 8 March, SUN left this site and commenced migration with the next position being recorded 140km north-east of the Ashmore Islands, travelling approximately 700km between the times of 18:38 on 8 March and 20:12 on 9 March. SUN was located 900km from the release site on 11 March.

SUN’s departure from Australia on 8 March 2019. Map: AWSG

2. SEP – From outback explorer to city living (well, almost)

During the last reporting period SEP spent its time exploring the remote outback of NW Australia. On 4 or 5 March, SEP ended its outback tour, next land-based location was in the Pati Regency, Central Java, only 8km east from the city of Pati, this location is 1,790km from the release site.

SEP’s movement since transmitter deployment in February 2019. Map: AWSG
SEP – From the remote outback of northern Australia to a populated area in Central Java. Map: AWSG

3. SHE – Our first world traveller foraging and roosting on Tonle Sap Lake, a UNESCO Biosphere reserve

SHE remains on the floodplains of Tonle Sap Lake where SHE has been for 15 days, (from 23 February – 10 March). This lake is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, an important area not only for the flora and fauna of the region but this lake also supports almost 50% of the Cambodian human population, who depend on the lake’s resources. SHE remains approximately 4,000km from the release site.

SHE – utilizing the floodplains of Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia. Map: AWSG

4. SEC – In West Kalimatan, “The Province of a Thousand Rivers” 

After staying ‘close to home’ for just over 2 weeks, (8 – 25 February), SEC began its migration around 26 February, via Roebuck Plains, before heading in a more westerly direction towards Borneo. At the time of the last report, SEC was located in the south west corner of Borneo, 5km north of Air Hitam Village. On 3 March and a further 330km north, SEC was in the Landak Regency, 45km north east of Pontianak, the capital of the West Kalimatan Province. SEC is located approximately 2,500km from the release site.

SEC travelling to Borneo. Map: AWSG

Little Curlew and Whimbrel

Little Curlew – No change to movement

The Little Curlew are still mainly feeding on the grazed grasslands of Anna Plains Station and adjourning occasionally to the nearby coastal beaches/mudflats of 80 Mile Beach. Whilst most birds have ranged around for up to 50km or more, the movements of one bird are rather circumscribed and it maybe that this is in fact a reflection of a bird we have lost and/or a transmitter which has been shed.

Little Curlews at Anna Plains Station. Photo: Katharine Leung
Local movement of the Little Curlews near 80MB and Anna Plains, NW Australia. Map: AWSG

Whimbrel – Still in the territories of NW Australia

KU and LA are both demonstrating high site fidelity as in previous years: KU are constantly using the mudflat near Crab Creek (east of Roebuck Bay) and Dampier Creek (west of Roebuck Bay; while LA remains at its favourite section of 80 Mile Beach 45-48km south of the Anna Plains Entrance.

Whimbrels roosting during high tide in Roebuck Bay. Photo: Katherine Leung


(contributed by Clive Minton)

The extensive and expensive satellite tracking program we have set up in NWA this year has only been possible through the efforts and generosity of a large number of people and organizations. It is difficult to know where to start with the formal acknowledgements so I will list them – but not in any particular order of priority.

  • The members of the AWSG NWA 2019 Wader and Tern Expedition are particularly thanked for their efforts in the field in catching, banding and deploying transmitters on a range of species.
  • Landowners are especially thanked for permission to go onto their property to enable us to catch various species in order to deploy the satellite transmitters. In particular we thank Anna Plains Station for giving us the freedom to roam over large areas of grazed grassland when counting and catching target species.
  • AWSG acknowledges the Yawuru People via the offices of Nyamba Buru Yawuru Limited for permission to catch birds on the shores of Roebuck Bay, traditional lands of the Yawuru people.
  • AWSG acknowledges the Karajarri and Nyangumarta people for permission to catch birds to be marked for this project on the shores of 80 Mile Beach, traditional lands of the Karajarri and Nyangumarta.
  • The cost of the satellite transmitters, which cost around $5000 each, and the satellite downloading costs (around $1000-1500 per month) have been met by a variety of sources. Private individuals (Charles Allen and Doris Graham) have made most generous individual contributions. Kate Gorringe-Smith and her team of artists involved in The Overwintering Project made a large, generous donation from funds raised during their various public exhibitions. The annual NWA Expedition members, collectively, also provided significant funds. However, it will still be a year or two before we can repay all current debts.