Update from Kane Brides (WWT)
Hello from Rudong, on the shores of the Yellow Sea in China! Since arriving and meeting up with Professor Chang and his team of students from Nanjing Normal University we have had a busy schedule! The team have been working flat out around the clock carrying out various aspects of fieldwork. The most exciting bit of news is that we have caught some Spoonies, four in fact! Two birds were captured during a mist-netting session at a night-time roost on 28 September at Tiaozini, as part of a catch of 469 birds. The two Spoonies were ringed with yellow flags ‘KY’ and ‘JY’, measured and weighed before being fitted with Microwave Telemetry Inc. Solar 2g PTT tags.
As dawn broke over the catching site and as the last of the birds had been released, the team departed for some well-earned rest. However, no sooner had the team packed up the nets, loaded the equipment and set off for their hotel – news came through from HE Tao to say that he had photographed recently tagged Spoony ‘KY’ out on the mudflats at Tiaozini! We were delighted to receive the news that KY was seemingly going about its usual business as normal after tagging.
Much to the delight of a very sleepy team, mist netting at the same location on the 30th paid off with a further two Spoonies being captured, in a catch of 602 birds! Two more tags were deployed and yellow ‘AH’ and ‘EH’ were duly colour-flagged and welcomed to our colour-marked population.
The smallest of their kind, these tags have revolutionised our understanding of the secret lives of Spoonies. By fitting tags, we hope these individuals will help us to gain vital information about important sites they are using. These four little birds and their tiny tags will be helping conserve the Spoony population and the other shorebirds which share the mega important East Asian-Australasian Flyway.
Working into the small dark humid hours, a total of 1,324 shorebirds have been mist-netted at night-time roosts so far. These catches include several Far Eastern Curlew and Nordmann’s Greenshank, both listed as Endangered. All birds captured are being colour-marked with a two colour-flag scheme (green over blue), which denote their ringing in Jiangsu province. A sample of birds, ranging from Dunlin and Kentish Plovers up to Bar-tailed Godwit and Far Eastern Curlew, are being marked with individual engraved leg flags (the blue flag) which will allow us to learn more about the individual movements of these birds.
So far this autumn, 33 Spoonies have been identified by their leg flags out on the mudflats at Tiaozini and Dongling. Many thanks to all birders and photographers, who have taken the time to read, photograph and report these sightings. Every sighting is valuable and adds to the ever growing database and we encourage anyone who sees a colour-marked Spoonie to report the details.
The team have one more Spoonie tag to fit (fingers crossed!) and will be spending their time carrying out scan-sampling surveys over the coming days. However, it is now 6am on 1 October and we have just returned to our hotel after a busy night catching. Sleep and rest is much needed!
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