Subject: Satellite Tracking study of duck wintering in HK 衛星追縱港渡冬野鴨 [Print This Page] Author: lpaul Time: 22/01/2009 14:39 Subject: Satellite Tracking study of duck wintering in HK 衛星追縱港渡冬野鴨
Satellite tracking wild birds to study linkages between migratory birds and highly pathogenic avian influenza
After several years of planning, the Department of Microbiology of The University of Hong Kong (HKU), Asia Ecological Consultants (AEC), World Wide Fund For Nature Hong Kong (WWF),US Geological Survey (USGS), and the EMPRES-Wildlife Unit at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), with support from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government, China, have recently launched a study in wild bird migration from Hong Kong.
Wild birds are often blamed to have spread avian influenza, but at present, little is known about their migratory routes and if they are connected to the spread of avian influenza. In an effort to better understand the role of migratory birds in the ecology and epidemiology of avian influenza, HKU, WWF and partners trapped, sampled, and marked 24 wild ducks with satellite transmitters on the December 10, 2008. Swab samples collected from these birds were tested for avian influenza viruses and Newcastle Disease at the HKU and found to be negative.
We anticipate that this project to satellite track movements of wild ducks will reveal more information about the linkages between the migration of wild birds and their involvement, if any, in the spread of avian influenza viruses. Past ringing studies have demonstrated that ducks from Hong Kong, specifically Northern Pintail and Eurasian Wigeon, migrate to northeastern China and the Russian Far East in the spring. However, little information exists about their migration routes, stop-over sites, timing, or final destination. Small satellite radios, attached to these ducks with backpacks, record and transmit GPS locations to provide detailed ecological information about their movements. Scientists will be able to determine whether bird locations coincide with outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 along their migration pathways.
The study is important to Hong Kong as the Inner Deep Bay wetland, which is listed as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention, provides both wintering and stop-over grounds to waterbirds migrating along the East Asian Australasian Flyway. Last year around 89,000 migratory and resident waterbirds were recorded during winter from the Deep Bay area and 20,000 shorebirds during the spring/autumn migration periods.
To date, over 30,000 samples from healthy wild birds collected by HKU from the Deep Bay area since 2003 have been tested negative for HPAI viruses, suggesting that the direct risk to humans from these species of healthy migratory wild birds is negligible. However, it should be noted that dead migratory or non-migratory wild birds found anywhere in Hong Kong should not be directly handled by the general public, and the AFCD should be contacted to investigate the cause of death and to properly dispose of carcasses.
The FAO and USGS have five other such projects throughout East Asia. Movements of the Hong Kong satellite tagged ducks can be viewed online by visiting the USGS website ( http://www.werc.usgs.gov/sattrack/hongkong/index.html ).
[ Last edited by BWA at 30/01/2009 06:00 ] Author: ajohn Time: 30/01/2009 14:44
It is interesting that one of the birds has now left Hong Kong, and has moved across to the western side of the Pearl River Delta. It seems to be using an area of agriculture and fishponds near Zhongshan. The other birds are all still in the Deep Bay area. There is no sign yet of northward migration, which should start sometime in the next few weeks. Author: hkwongkit Time: 4/02/2009 22:05
03 Feb 2009
Mai Po Nature Reserve
What I want to know is when will these transmitters drop off by themselves? Hope these ducks don't have to carry them for life!!! Author: puppymic Time: 4/02/2009 22:40
Original posted by hkwongkit at 4/02/2009 22:05
03 Feb 2009
Mai Po Nature Reserve
What I want to know is when will these transmitters drop off by themselves? Hope these duck ...
[ Last edited by puppymic at 4/02/2009 22:43 ] Author: swing Time: 5/02/2009 01:04
In response to the concerns listed above please note the following comment from John Takekawa from USGS (one of the partners in the study)
"The ducks are marked with a small backpack (<3% of their weight) attached with ribbon, a method that has been used by waterfowl biologists for more than 3 decades. The ribbon should wear out in a few years or sooner, and the transmitter will fall off of the duck. We find that most birds adjust to the backpack and will nest and otherwise behave normally."
John Y. Takekawa PhD, Research Wildlife Biologist
USGS Western Ecological Research Center
I have also seen a number of the birds since the transmitters were attached and none seem to be affected by the transmitters.
Hopefully the results of the study will outweigh the minor inconvinience to the birds. Author: lpaul Time: 6/02/2009 14:25
One of the Pintail has just made a 150 km movement to the east along the Guangdong coast. It looks like they just beginning to start migrating north!
If you zoom in on Google Earth you will see that it has found what looks like a very nice bit of habitat, perhaps not too different to Mai Po! Author: WWF Mai Po Time: 6/02/2009 18:08
The Pintail is very loyal! The site it has stopped at is a WWF-HK wetland demonstration site (Haifeng) manged by our South China team.
Reserve Manager Author: Sze Time: 7/02/2009 00:06
Very good news - four of the male Pintail from Hong Kong have set off on migration in the last 2-3 days. These birds have now stopped at the Yantgze estuary near Shanghai. It will be interesting to see where they head now, and to see when other birds start to move. Author: tbob Time: 27/02/2009 14:37
It is interesting to see that one of the 4 birds that are now in Shanghai was the bird that originally left and went to the WWF-HK wetland demonstration site (Haifeng) and then returned to Hong Kong Author: sbena Time: 14/03/2009 15:15
8 Northern Pintail (7 adults and 1 juv.) now at the Chongming Dao Wetlands near Shanghai.
1 Northern Pintail (juv)  has gone to the southern tip of South Korea, ~20Km west of Haeman. Looks like it made a stop at a coastal wetland just north of Yuhuan Dao (East China). The statistics show this bird flew at an average of ~27Km/hr.
[ Last edited by sbena at 14/03/2009 20:03 ] Author: kmike Time: 14/03/2009 18:15
An adult male Pintail with transmitter was on Pond 20 about 2pm today
Mike K Author: WWF Mai Po Time: 19/03/2009 11:01
WWF has set up a web area for the project, please take a look . It contains project background information, duck profiles, a project updates page, and an interactive map where you can view the migration path and most current position of each duck. It is updated once a week (normally Wednesday's). A Chinese version will be available in the coming weeks.
WWF Mai Po OfficeAuthor: ajohn Time: 20/03/2009 14:32
So far 15 of the duck are confirmed to have departed on migration. Staging sites include the Yangtze estuary near Shanghai, Lianyungang on the coast of the Yellow Sea (in Jiangsu province) and sites on the cost of both North and South Korea.
Of the remaining birds, 3 are still in HK, 1 is on the western side of the Pearl River and 1 is at Haifeng. 4 tags have not sent a signal since at least February but we hope these will start again - the signals are apparently difficult to detect if the birds is in cover or in built-up areas.
It's certainly interesting to follow where these birds go. Author: Sze Time: 31/03/2009 23:54
Several of the ducks have spent sometime at Chongming 祟明島 earlier, we are lucky to hear from the staff there that one of the Pintail with the transmitter was photographed! Be reminded that Chongming is such a huge site compare to Deep Bay!
The HK ducks seem to now be approaching their final destinations on the breeding grounds. There are currently birds in NE China, Siberia, Eastern Mongolia and South Korea. It has been surprising that the northward migration has taken so long - the first birds left HK in late February and are still not on their breeding grounds, after long stop-overs around the Yellow Sea. Most birds have followed an extreme easterly route, but some are now starting to track slightly more west. Unfortunately, however, some tags have been lost - it is not known what has happened to these birds.
[ Last edited by Sze at 22/10/2010 20:35 ] Author: sbena Time: 10/12/2009 09:18
Yesterday at Mai Po (09 Dec 2009) the same team fitted satellite receivers to another 23 duck; Eurasian Wigeon and Northern Pintail. You will likely see these individuals around Mai Po and Deep Bay over the next few months, so please continue to post sightings or photos as a supplement to the satellite positioning data, thanks.
A press release related to the satellite tracking project will go out soon.
[ Last edited by sbena at 10/12/2009 09:19 ] Author: sbena Time: 10/12/2009 10:54
The Western Ecological Research Center web pages for these ducks is already up and running click hereAuthor: wgeoff Time: 10/12/2009 16:20
Have any of last year's ducks returned to the Hong Kong area yet this year? Author: Sze Time: 11/12/2009 00:05
Original posted by sbena at 10/12/2009 10:54
The Western Ecological Research Center web pages for these ducks is already up and running click here
Seem many duck come back to around Mai Po already!
Most transmitter from last winter (2008) http://www.werc.usgs.gov/sattrack/hongkong/maps.html haven't been sending signal for quite some time already. The last signal from one of the Pintail heading south indicated that it was on an island north of Hokkaido on 29-Nov-09.
The maps under this website http://www.werc.usgs.gov/sattrack/hongkong/maps09.html are NEW ducks (another 23 Pintail and Wigeon) which were fitted with satellite trasmitters this Wednesday (9-Dec-09). Two types of transmitter were fitted on these ducks so there are 2 Google Earth file for downloading.
Looking forward to see these new ducks' departure.
[ Last edited by lkatherine at 11/12/2009 13:00 ] Author: ajohn Time: 11/12/2009 14:10
The results from last winter showed some interesting results: birds were very mobile around Hong Kong (and elsewhere in southern Guangdong!) in winter, and were often associating together while in HK. Many birds seemed to leave HK at the same time (possibly in a single flock) and fly to important stopover sites around the Yellow Sea; some stayed in this area (in Korea) for a surprisingly long time. They also ended up in a wide range of locations, with birds spread from the deserts of Inner Mongolia to the tundra of north-east Siberia! One bird was recorded on southward migration and was following a different route. Overall the results create as many questions as they answer but were certainly more effective than hoping for ringing recoveries.
It is unfortunate that the tags from last year have all stopped. We don't know the cause but probably some were hunted, some tags have fallen off and others may simply have stopped transmitting. I understand that a signal was received from one of the Wigeon last week, but was not good enough to calculate the location.
Among the birds trapped this week were two Wigeon which had been previously ringed in HK (one in 2005, one in 2006), so we know that these birds do return to HK in successive winters.
As Katherine mentioned, there are two types of tag this year: an Argos tag (which is the same as used last year) and a GPS tag. The GPS tag should give more accurate locations, but is heavier so can only be fitted safely to the larger birds (>750g). So far most of the tags have sent a transmission, but most of these are fairly weak, probably because the solar panels are not yet fully charged. It is expected that more accurate locations will be received in the next few days.
We have also collected feathers from all birds trapped, which will hopefully be used in stable isotope studies to help establish the breeding ranges (or moulting locations) of these individuals. It will be interesting to see how this fits with the results of satellite tracking.
Hopefully the tags will keep working again (hopefully until at least the southward migration next year), and we can gain more understanding of where ducks from HK are going to breed. Author: Sze Time: 12/12/2009 00:13
Katherine and John! Thank you very much for your useful information! Author: John Holmes Time: 21/12/2009 15:17 Subject: Tagged Pintail at Nam Sang Wai
Interesting to find out that one of the Pintail has flew west to Beihai 北海 in Guangxi, where there are fishpond/shrimp pond and mangroves.
[ Last edited by lkatherine at 22/12/2009 11:36 ] Author: ajohn Time: 22/12/2009 13:26
In fact it is one of the Wigeon which has flown to Guangxi. An interesting mid-winter movement. Author: tbob Time: 22/12/2009 14:34
John, Interesting photo from Nam Sang Wai because looking at the Argos and GPS tracks no birds seemed to have landed anywhere near the photography points, maybe they will show up on the next download. But for the 21st Dec as your photo says I can't see a track, maybe somebody more clued into the project can help
A WWF press release on the project put out today: EnglishChineseAuthor: wmartin Time: 20/01/2010 11:50 Subject: H5N1 and cash for bird studies
Well, as replies in this thread help show, this study might arise from H5N1 related study, but mostly of interest re birds and bird migration.
As we well know around here, just codswallop blaming wild birds for spreading dangerous human flus around the planet. But, led to negative things re bird conservation, inc fear of birds in Hong Kong; even reports of birds scared and killed in Russia at least.
The overblown fears led to monies for various researchers n studies.
Worst I've seen was some bloke banding yellow-billed magpies in US (good grief!).
Nice to have money for such things; but - cf Wildlife Conservation Soc - hope that don't muzzle people who should be speaking up for birds, which of course have no voice of their own.
Anyone heard from Robert "half the world population will die" Webster lately? He has a lot to answer for re wild birds and flu fears. Author: sbena Time: 26/02/2010 22:11
Three duck from Phase II have now left Hong Kong; all are Northern Pintail (see GPS data file). The date is exactly the same as Phase I! Author: Sze Time: 27/02/2010 00:30
[ Last edited by Sze at 27/02/2010 00:36 ] Author: ajohn Time: 27/02/2010 12:31
It's interesting to see that these have now moved. When I checked yesterday afternoon, the locations outside Hong Kong were not shown. Also interesting to note the similarity of date and of direction to the first birds last year.
One of the questions remaining from last year was whether birds migrated directly overland or took a coastal route. It seems from this year's data that this may depend upon individual - one seems to have gone directly overland, while the other two look like they may have followed the coast. The GPS locations are sent more frequently than the Argos locations (although only one is added each day on the website), so these should help to clarify the situation.
Now it will be really interesting to see where these ducks end up and how this compares with last year's data. Author: ajohn Time: 1/03/2010 10:30
Five Pintail have now departed - four with GPS tags and one with an Argos tag.
I have received some more complete data from our American colleagues on this project (data not avilable on the main website). This shows that two of the Pintail have been flying in excess of 100km/h: one bird covered a distance of 228 km in a two-hour period (an average of 114km/h)! Author: ajohn Time: 1/06/2010 14:06
The latest results of the satellite-tracking project show, for the first time, that one of our Pintail has crossed into the arctic circle. This is the most northerly record so far of a bird ringed in Hong Kong (of any species). This individual is now approximately 5,700 km from Hong Kong and still seems to be heading north, so may reach the arctic coast!
Seven ducks are still transmitting regularly, currently all in locations in north-east China or eastern Siberia. One transmitter is still sending signals but has almost certainly become detached from the duck.
As well as the Pintail mentioned above, we now have our most northerly ever record of Wigeon (a bird in Eastern Siberia 4,300 km from Hong Kong). Interestingly, 2 male Wigeon which remained in HK until early May are migrating together and have now reached the border of Heilongjiang, still together. Also of interest, one of the Pintail is currently using sites in and around the outskirts of Beijing.
Although several transmitters have stopped, the GPS transmitters being used this year seem to be lasting better than the previous Argos transmitters. Hopefully these will last and we will continue to get data on these ducks for some time yet. Author: ajohn Time: 22/09/2010 11:17
Southward migration of the satellite-tagged ducks has now started. After spending the summer in the Arctic Circle, one Pintail has now moved south, covering a distance of at least 1700km in just three days, probably in a single flight. The average speed was at least 23 km/h, but detections along the route suggest it may have been flying at as much as 45-50 km/h.
This Pintail is now on the Siberian coast, at Khabarovsk opposite Sakhalin. Three tagged Wigeon are also in the same general area, which is presumably an important stop-over for Hong Kong ducks.
Among the other birds, one Pintail is still in the Arctic Circle and one Wigeon is in Heilongjiang. No other tags have transmitted a signal recently.
Three duck are still sending regular signals. The latest available data shows one is in North Korea (Eurasian Wigeon), one in South Korea (Eurasian Wigeon), the other in Japan (Northern Pintail).
Around this time last year we only had one duck sending signals, it reached Northern Japan then signals stopped. With any luck these 3 birds will complete their southern migration and we can find out where they over-winter. Would be great if they came back to Mai Po! Author: ajohn Time: 30/10/2010 20:12
I've been expecting the birds to move this week as temperatures have been dropping in eastern Siberia (where the birds have been). There seems to have been problems with the website all week, though, so it's good to see it back online today.
In fact, four birds are still transmitting. In addition to those mentioned previously, there is a Northern Pintail in South Korea. The southward routes for all four birds are further east than the routes taken in spring, especially for the bird currently in Japan. It will be interesting to see if they return to Hong Kong, or winter somewhere else... Author: lkatherine Time: 2/12/2010 12:02
Happy to find that one of the Pintail is heading south now.
After spending 1.5month in nothern Japan, it flew south for around 600km to a river in the middle part of Japan.
It then flew >1,300km arcoss the sea, with speed of 52km/hr to coast of Zhejiang Province, and has been staying around Taizhou Wan (an IBA) for >5days now.
The cold front coming next week may push it to fly south again, very much looking forward to see if it will come back to Mai Po!
[ Last edited by lkatherine at 2/12/2010 12:04 ] Author: ajohn Time: 2/12/2010 13:51
It seems that I am not the only person checking the website regularly - there had been no update for about 2 weeks until today, and Katherine has reported the change straight away!
There are still 3 birds transmitting. In addition to the Pintail mentioned, there are 2 Wigeon - 1 each in North and South Korea. It's certainly good news that the transmitters are still working and we are still able to get information on the movements of these individuals.
It is interesting that the birds are still so far north. Many ducks have already returned to Mai Po, and these birds were trapped last year on 9th December, only a week from tóday's date. I had expected them to return by now - I wonder if they will come back here, or will winter somewhere else. Author: Sze Time: 3/12/2010 21:55
Thanks katherine and john.
I also very much look forward to see the ducks come back to Mai Po! Author: lkatherine Time: 24/12/2010 20:19
Although the Goolge Earth file haven't show any of the duck in HK at the moment, one of the tracked female Pintail was seen at the Education Center this morning at around 10:30.