Stockton Shore Bird Spotted 8000km Away In Japan

A local shore bird has made the mammoth journey all the way to Japan.

The Bar-tailed Godwit shorebird from Stockton has been sighted in the Ramsar-listed Higashiyoka-higata mudflats in Japan.

It was spotted at the frequent lay over site for birds of its kind by a dedicated bird water who posted an image to a Facebook page showing a unique identifying band the bird had been fitted with last December as part of research.

The 8000km journey is nothing for this mighty bird, the species considered the Olympic champions of long-distance migratory flights, having the ability to fly from Alaska to Tasmania, non-stop in just 11 days. It is estimated that in their lifetime they will fly a distance equivalent to the moon and back.

University of Newcastle behavioural ecologist Dr Andrea Griffin, her research team and Hunter Bird Observers Club A-class banders have partnered to band shorebirds in the Hunter for the first time since the early 2000s as part of a national program.

This is the first time in decades that a bird banded the Hunter Estuary has been sighted overseas.

Dr Griffin said the international sighting of a migratory shorebird from the Hunter highlights the need for policy makers to consider the location of the proposed offshore wind farm on the Hunter coast, and possible threat this could pose to their flight paths.

                                                   Dr Andrea Griffin at work | Tom Wickert

The Hunter Estuary is recognised as the most important site for threatened shorebirds in NSW – it provides vital habitat for our native birds who breed in the far northern hemisphere to rest between October and March each year before flying North again to breed.

Although the Godwit has beaten her there, Dr Andrea Griffin will fly to Japan this month to celebrate the Kushiro-Port Stephens sistership which promotes the conservation and wise use of wetlands.

Dr Griffin will explore opportunities for student exchanges between Hokkaido University and the University of Newcastle.

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