Zipping from Broome to Taiwan

Sometimes the stars align or one’s prayers are answered or you happen to get 2 observers in the right place at the right time.

On Tuesday 20th April between 15:50 and 16:50 I was scanning for colourbands (CB) and engraved flags (ELF) at Wader Spit in Roebuck Bay. It was reasonably successful with 44 CB Red Knots recorded and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and 38 ELF Red knots and a handful of others. While I was scanning there was lots of excited chatter from some of the Red Knots and the Grey-tailed Tattlers present. Here in Broome shorebirds are relatively quiet on their roosts expect of they are thinking of migrating.

And sure enough as the whole flock was flushed from the roost when a White-bellied Sea-Eagle soared over a flock of 33 Red Knots separated out from the rest of the birds and circled up calling constantly. I watched them for few minutes as the circled and got in a Vee and split and formed a few times, typical of pre-migration behaviour. But, they didn’t leave but they landed in a distinct group when they returned. A quick scan though revealed 4 of them as CB birds. So I knew 4 individuals who I was very confident would migrate later that evening.

The Broome Bird Observatory migration watch team saw 587 birds leave that evening between 16:00 and 18:00 and of those 200 Red Knot left between 17:00 and 18:00. I’m confident the 4 I had identified were amongst those 200.

On Saturday April 24th at 10:00 Weiting Liu from Taiwan Wader Study Group was scanning shorebirds on Kinmen Island and saw and photographed 3RYBY. Yes, correct, one of the 4 birds in ‘my’ flock.

3RYBY kinmen Isalnd, Taiwan Image:W Liu

So, a minimum of 4,720 km in a maximum of 89 hours. Minimum speed of 53 km/hr. Nothing out of the ordinary for a migratory shorebird.

Will our luck continue and will the bird be seen again on its 2021 northward migration? Well it has been recorded in Nanpu, Bohai Bay, China in 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

So, over to you Katherine and the Bohai Team 2021.

This Red Knot is a regular on the northern shores of Roebuck Bay and has 123 resightings in total between Roebuck and Bohai Bays.

All without a satellite in sight!

The output from the database;

20-04-2021 Wader Spit, Roebuck Bay, Broome (-17.98, 122.33) Australia. piersmai (Chris Hassell) BP 7 Chris Hassell, MIGRATE TONIGHT?

24-04-2021 Kinmen Island, Taiwan (24.46, 118.30) Taiwan. BP 8, Weiting Liu, IMAGE

Thanks to Weiting for the resighting and image

Thanks to Emilia Lai for communication.

Chris Hassell


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