Christmas Bells

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Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Monday, January 03, 2011

Flagged Pied Oystercatcher traced

I am pleased to report that the Pied Oystercatcher I reported as seen on 28 December 2010 at Shoalhaven Heads ocean beach has been traced.

Flagged Pied Oystercatcher #35 Yellow, right tarsus
Today I received this email back from Clive Minton, from the Victorian Wader Study Group.

Dear Denis,

Many thanks indeed for reporting the Oyc with yellow flag 35. This is a bird banded at Barry Beach in Corner Inlet (near Wilson's Promentory) on 26th April 2008. It is yet another nice example of a bird in a Corner Inlet flock which had travelled up the New South Wales coast, often remaining there to breed.

There is some confusion from some people about the Oystercatcher colour-flag codes used in eastern Australia. Yellow is used by the Victorian Wader Study Group for birds flagged in Corner Inlet, the flag being on the right tibia. A yellow flag is also used on Oystercatcher chicks on the northern New South Wales coast by Greg Clancy, but his flags are all put on the left tibia. His engravings at the moment only range from A1 down to about K9 whereas a much wider spectrum is used. Populations do seem to overlap a little around Sydney!
Do please report any further sightings of colour-marked  Oystercatchers , including yellow 35 if it continues to remain in the same area for any length of time.

Many many thanks,

Clive Minton. 


So, there we have it. Corner Inlet is 600 Kms south-west from Shoalhaven Heads. Add a bit more for following the coastline, precisely as an Oystercatcher would do.

Re the "confusion" over colour flag protocols, I was following the published "Protocol" codes for the Eastern Australian Flyway, as controlled by the Asian Pacific Shorebird Network.

With regard to the comment about likely breeding on the NSW coast, I can confirm this bird was happily "paired off" with another Pied Oystercatcher.
"Flagged" Pied Oystercatcher on right, with a mate.

I can also confirm that this bird did have a metal (numbered) band on the left leg - which was not visible in the other images.

This chance "sighting"of an identifiable bird (number on coloured Flag legible) came about because of a "beached" Whale. But there are many people walking along the NSW coast at present, so Clive and his colleagues elsewhere in Australia and overseas who "flag" waders are delighted to receive reports such as mine.

So, if anyone else sees this bird, or another "Flagged" wader, Clive Minton of the Victorian Wader Study Group can be contacted via 

The Wader Study people can and will trace such reports and provide feedback to the reporter. And it adds a piece to the jigsaw of knowledge of the lifecycle of wading birds.  

As my blogging colleague Mick has discussed previously, this applies even to birds flagged overseas, such as her beloved Bar-tailed Godwits, but also the smaller Waders, Stints, Turnstones and Plovers. Take note of the colour and position (Left leg, right leg, tarsus or tibia) - (see diagram if in doubt) of all "flags", and the order (top down) of the coloured flags if two or more are present - e.g. black flag over silver as in one of Mick's flagged bird photos.


Le Loup said...


Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Le Loup,
Thanks Le Loup.
It was very satisfying indeed.
The family history of banding makes this an added bonus - for me.

Miss Eagle said...

I think these birds look like older gentlemen out for a walk: reflective clerics or austere academics perhaps.

Happy New Year
Blessings and bliss

Denis Wilson said...

Yes, Austere Academics, out for a stroll, but ready to stick their beaks into anybody's "fishy business", especially pippies (and Oysters).

Gaye said...

Fabulous Denis ! And I can see how excited the banders would be to receive these sighting details well after the banding.

Well done.


mick said...

A very interesting sighting Denis and I am glad you were able to track down where the bird was first flagged.

Beth said...

Hi Denis
I saw a pair of Pied Oystercatchers in Victoria last week at Port Fairy just past the lighthouse on the walk back to town. I didn't notice any tags but it was great to see the pair!!

catmint said...

How wonderful to participate in the study and tracking of these birds. I was recently in Canberra and saw a water dragon with a large monitor on its back. cheers and happy new year Denis, from catmint

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Gaye, Mick, Catmint and Beth.
Sorry to be slow to respond. Thanks for comments - all of you.
Yes, the Banders are always thrilled to get feedback, and I was able to share that feeling, having banded so many birds, with my father, when I was a kid.
Catmint, the Water Dragons at the Botanic Gardens are amazing. They disappear in Winter, presumably true hibernation. In summer you can see the big ones on the big rocks, and little ones get relegated to small rocks. Very funny. Very predictable.
Beth, Port Fairy is my ancestral home. Remind me to tell you about the family connections when you get back.