Godwit satellite-tracking

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Godwit satellite-tracking

Postby philbattley » Thu Mar 19, 2020 10:58 pm

Hi folks,

While I have communicated with you about locating juvenile godwits being satellite-tracked around New Zealand, we also have a project underway to track adults migrating to Alaska. We tagged adults at Pukorokoro Miranda at the same as the juveniles last year, and have been keeping tabs on the birds through the summer. Even these birds threw up some surprises with one bird turning out to summer at Raglan, and two moving mid-season to the Kaipara Harbour. Migration for these birds is underway, and you can now see the tracks of these birds here: https://www.globalflywaynetwork.org/flyway/east-asian-australasian-flyway/map

It's been an amazing season already. The first two birds to approach the Yellow Sea met a wall of headwinds, and one diverted west to the coast near Shanghai while the other stopped in an island in the Okinawa chain. The first bird checked in again today from North Korea, near the border with China (and Yalu Jiang reserve). Three birds battled Cyclone Gretel northeast of Australia, and while two managed to push around/ahead, one ended up abandoning its migration and returning back to the Firth of Thames. 6500 km in 6 days only to end up right back at the beginning!

At the moment we have two migrants on the ground and five in the air. It takes at least a week for a godwit to reach Asia, so you have plenty of time to enjoy the tracks. The real purpose of the tracking, though, is to discern how the birds cope with deteriorating conditions in the Yellow Sea over the coming months as they refuel for the flight to Alaska. Exciting times!

You can also check for tweets from the Global Flyway Network (https://twitter.com/globalflyway?lang=en). As ever, this sort of project doesn't happen without a lot of parties, and this project involves Massey University, The Global Flyway Network, Birds NZ, Bird Studies Canada, and a lot of volunteers with expert assistance from researchers from the Max Planck Institute.

Cheers, Phil Battley
Godwits on the move!
GFNmap.JPG (58.68 KiB) Viewed 695 times
Paul Sagar
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Re: Godwit satellite-tracking

Postby Paul Sagar » Fri Mar 20, 2020 1:31 pm

Hi Phil,
Many thanks for keeping us up-to-date with this impressive project.It really is great to be able to view the developing story via the tracking websites.
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Re: Godwit satellite-tracking

Postby Jim_j » Sat Mar 21, 2020 1:22 pm

Very interesting (and amazing!!) - that a bird flew back!!
I would have thought they would be genetically programmed to just go that way come what may- much to be learned still.

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Adam C
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Re: Godwit satellite-tracking

Postby Adam C » Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:49 pm

Great to see this progress Phill. Crazy about the returning bird. Poor chap! Cant quite tell on the link where that one is currently. Staying in Aotearoa for now? Imagine it wouldn't have quite enough reserves to attempt another flight?
“Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”

Samuel Ullman
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Re: Godwit satellite-tracking

Postby philbattley » Wed Mar 25, 2020 2:02 pm

Hi Adam, it's back in the Firth of Thames and no, I expect it to stay put now. Like the rest of us.

Other birds are doing well though, and we have birds around the Yellow Sea in Yalu Jiang Nature reserve in China, in the DPRK just north of the border with South Korea (aka Republic of Korea), and in South Korea itself, plus more on the way.

Cheers, Phil
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Re: Godwit satellite-tracking

Postby philbattley » Sat Mar 28, 2020 10:48 am

Update on the tracked godwits.
* Two birds are at Yalu Jiang, which is traditionally the main stopover site for godwits but where there has been a huge decline in shellfish numbers in recent years. It'll be interesting to see if they stay there or move around while refuelling (this is the main reason for the project).
* One is by the North Korea/South Korea (Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea/Republic of Korea) border.
* One arrived recently at the end of Shandong Peninsula in China, on the western side of the Yellow Sea.
* One is at the Geum Estuary in South Korea. This is the estuary adjacent to the Saemangeum reclamation. It's a well-known spot for NZ godwits and this bird was seen by a local birder two days ago (along with other marked godwits from NZ, Queensland and Victoria).
* Two are probably somewhere in South Korea or Japan - we tend to lose signals when the birds are on the ground and their solar panels get covered.
* One is approaching east Asia, having just passed the Okinawa Chain this morning. It looks to be heading towards Japan rather than face headwinds out of the Yellow Sea.
* Two are racing each other past the Solomon Islands so are only about halfway through their flights.
* One has been and returned.

It's likely there will be more departures yet - the winds are excellent out of NZ, even if the weather isn't... When looking at tracks, it can be good to call up the global winds at https://earth.nullschool.net/ to see what conditions the birds are in.

Cheers, and good online and garden birding, Phil

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