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Range DescriptionThis species breeds in north-east Siberia, Russia, wintering mainly in Australia, but also throughout the coastline of South-East Asia and on the coasts of India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The Yellow Sea of North Korea, South Korea and China is a particularly important stop-over site on migration in both spring and autumn. The Yalu Jiang coastal wetland in the north Yellow Sea has been identified as a key site for the species during northward migration (Choi et al. 2014). It is thought that the southern Yellow Sea is used as a temporary stopover area whilst the northern Yellow Sea acts as a key staging site where birds refuel (Ma et al. 2013). The global population has been estimated at 380,000 individuals, of which 176,000 were thought to pass through South Korea (Wetlands International 2006). Since then the reclamation and development of wetlands in South Korea has led to a decline in the observed counts of non-breeding populations, mostly notably including dramatic declines at the Saemangeum wetland which previously held c.20-30% of the global population on migration (Moores in litt. 2009, Rogers et al. in litt. 2009). The population estimate has therefore been updated accordingly with the most recent population size thought to be 292,000-295,000 individuals in 2007 (Wetlands International 2015).
Despite there being no observed declines within the Chinese portion of the Yellow Sea, further declines at smaller staging grounds in Japan and at major wintering grounds in Australia (of c.90,000 individuals [Rogers et al. 2009]) make it clear that the population is declining overall (Amano 2006, Moores et al. 2008, R. Clemens in litt. 2010). These are supported by recent data from Australasia suggesting that the population has decreased by 77.8% over three generations (22 years) (Studds et al. in prep.).