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Kakadu Beach bird roost count 25 Feb 2024

Dear reader


Surprisingly, given how quiet the Passage was because of the light rain, numbers were a little down at the roost today, with the vast majority being Bar-tailed Godwits (1760) and Great Knot (320).  It is possible that some birds are leaving on their great migration north for the breeding season on the Yukon tundra, but it maybe that the rain kept disturbing humans away and there was less incentive to come to the roost.  All of the Toorbul roost came over in one great mass of godwits and knots, but there are other sandbars up the Passage where birds can shelter as long as the tide is not huge and people do not disturb them.  However, my view is that some birds are leaving to travel north. The Curlews (51) are way down on the numbers (400+) that were present back in September last year, and many are in their deep golden brown breeding plumage, so perhaps some are already leaving for Siberia.


It is really disappointing that this year we have had very few smaller waders – sand plovers, stints, etc. And today we had no Australian terns and only 4 Pied Stilts, which are usually present in large numbers. 

Again, it may be the unusual weather patterns we are having, or the flood rains further north and west. However, it shows the value of long term observations to monitor the populations and see which species are under threat.


For some reason, possibly just the spatial distribution of the flock, we had a number of

very early leg flags today, with some old friends, AKA and ASE, who I have recorded numerous times since 2012. 


At this time of the year, when the birds are coming into breeding plumage, it is so much easier to determine which are males (those with chestnut underparts) and females (larger with a longer bill). The flocks are becoming very colourful, so take the opportunity to see them in resplendent spangled silver and black (knots) and chestnut and barred browns (godwits).

Warm regards


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