Archive for the ‘Nature Activity’ Category

Migratory Wading Birds on Moreton Island

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

The Mirapool area of Moreton Island is a most important area for large accumulation of waders to feed and gather for migration. Twenty-four of the 214 world species of migratory waders visit Moreton Bay each year between April and September. That this habitat remains a safe haven is critical for the birds continued survival.

Most species come from as far away as Siberia and Alaska to Moreton Island a distance of 13,000k’m. At the beginning of Autumn the waders moult into breeding colours and group for the long flight to Artic areas to breed. They almost double their weight to provide enough energy to reach the stop over areas. Singapore is thought to be one of the first stops with up to three million birds congregating at times. After resting and fattening on warm summer shores they migrate in the Autumn to the Siberian and Alaskan tundra, and the deserts of Mongolia and far North China to breed during the short nothern hemisphere summer. The only migratory waders that do not leave Mirapool are the very old and young. The young birds are too young to breed and will wait for the return group next year. The birds rely on havens at Mirapool to provide the high energy food required for their long journey north.  Waders are small (stints-12cm.) to large birds (curlews-60cm.) that inhabit wetlands or shoreline areas. They can be seen feeding on marine crustaceans, worms and small fish on mud or sand flats in summer months. The migratory birds include, eastern curlew, whimberal, bar-tailed godwit, red-necked stint, mongolian sand plover, pied stilt, red knot, and sharp-tailed sandpiper.

Most species of waders migrate between their Arctic or Subarctic breeding grounds and warm temperate or tropical regions. At the end of the breeding season they begin their long journey south along various routes within Asia to southern Asia, Australia or New Zealand.  The migration consists of a series of long uninterrupted flights stopping only to rest before the next stage of the journey.  The birds begin to arrive at Moreton Island in Spring.

Waders are attracted to the pristine banks at Mirrapool as they are undisturbed, and  remain a very good habitat to  ensures the survival of the world’s waders, which has become an international issue.