Every year, dozens of bird species use the East Asian Australasian Flyway (EAAF), travelling up to 13,000 klms between Russia to Australia and New Zealand and back. Each stop over is vital to the animals’ survival.
Despite legislative protection and several international conservation agreements, many of these shorebirds have suffered massive population declines in the last 30 years.
Shorebirds are dying in crisis numbers all along the flyway. Loss of habitat is resulting in an 82% drop in species like the Eastern Curlew.
Disturbances, including some human recreational activities, severely disrupt their ability to rest and build up strength.
Australian wetlands, in particular the Western District (also a breeding site for pelicans), Gippsland and Bellarine/Port Philip, provide critical rest and feed to these vulnerable animals.
Whilst March should see the birds starting their homeward journey, many delay their departure to ensure sufficient feed and rest. Sadly, this puts them in the line of fire of shooting with cases reported of migratory birds caught fatally in the crossfire.
“Every country along the migration route of these birds must protect habitat and reduce hunting to prevent these birds declining further or going extinct.” (Associate Professor Fuller)
In 2007 a female bar-tailed godwit tied with a small satellite device took o from Alaska on 30 August and was tracked to New Zealand where she landed on 7 September, having own 11,680 km in eight days. The bird, known as ‘E7’, from her coded leg band, probably only weighed about 600g.