The four little shorebirds that could fly non-stop for 7600km

Leigh Dayton; 1/4/10

In one of the world’s greatest migratory feats, four little shorebirds flew non-stop from Victoria to Taiwan in just over six days, covering 7600km. En route, the ruddy turnstones, Arenaria interpres, cruised at an average speed of 50-55km/h. Those are two findings from the first monitored migration cycle of the stocky wader, which spends the Australian winter along the southeastern coast of Australia and in New Zealand. Birds then fly north for about six weeks of feeding and breeding in Siberia, via Taiwan, a one-way journey of 12,400km. After the breeding season, three of the four birds went home following the same Australasian “flyway”. But one went its own way, flying east to the Aleutian Islands, then south to the Gilberts and then home to Victoria via the northern NSW coast, a round trip of 27,000km.