28 July 2013

Meet the Locals #7

Grey Tailed Tattler (Tringa brevipes)

Another east Asian specialty, something to post about when the birding has gone quiet.

This is a common passage visitor throughout Japan and unlike most waders it is as common in spring as it is in autumn. It is the 'default' medium sized wader of the region, similar to the Redshank back in the UK. It breeds in Siberia and winters in SE Asia and the south Pacific.

In Hokkaido they appear in a variety of habitats but they seem to prefer rocky coasts. Having said that I have seen them on sandy beaches, mudflats, inland on rivers and lakeshores and even once on the moat in Goryokaku park. They were the first wader species I saw in Hokkaido.

They first appear around Hakodate in late April, a few linger on into June. These photos are all in May and (like all the photos in the post) were taken invarious locations in Hokkaido, mainly the southwest.

They often appear in small loose flocks and sit around on the rocks. Their slightly eerie call is one of the most familiar sounds on the jettys and harbours in spring and autumn...........

I first saw this species in late 1994, bobbing up and down on a pole in the mangroves near Cooktown, FNQ. A few months ago I saw this individual in Kamiiso.

I sent an email to the relevant folk quoting the number on the tag and got this reply.............

A Grey-tailed Tattler Heteroscelus brevipes was sighted by Stuart Price at:
Hakodate Hokkaide, Japan 41deg 46min 8sec N, 140deg 43min 43sec E  on
13/05/2013 with flag(s) as follows:

      LEFT leg: nothing/unknown on tibia (upper leg) above nothing/unknown
on tarsus
      RIGHT leg: green engraved flag on tibia (upper leg) above
nothing/unknown on tarsus

This bird was flagged Manly Boat Harbour, Moreton Bay, approximate
co-ordinates 27deg 27min S, 153deg 11min E, which uses the flag combination
Green Engraved.

The resighting was a distance of approximately 7804 km, with a bearing of
350 degrees, from the marking location.

They return again in early August and the first ones to pass through seem to be adults...................

They are especially common in September, I think all these are juveniles but I'm not 100% sure. They all have the white markings on the back anyway...............

By the end of September they have moved south although I usually see a few stragglers into October.

Thanks for clicking this link.......


  1. Hi These are all fantastic shots although I like the one with its bill open and the next one. I wonder hat h is looking at?

    1. Thanks for the comment Margaret, it was just preening after having a yawn i think.................

  2. Wonderful post Stu. Excellent pictures and fascinating information. I will send links to my friends in oz who I'm sure will be most interested. I really have to brave the coasts of Niigata. Incredible creatures aren't they?

    1. Hi Ruseell, well the coasts will be heaving with them in 2 or 3 weeks................

  3. We also get some as far south as Melbourne.

    1. I'm sure the beaches are much nicer down there........even the Tattlers must know that!

  4. Great series of Tattler shots.... always interesting to see leg-flagged ones, too. The individual lettering makes the leg-flag monitoring much more interesting, I think.

    1. Hi John, I guess you see lots of tagged waders at Mai Po?

  5. A fabulously photogenic species Stuart. Great pictures - I wish all waders were so obliging.


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