2020 World Migratory Bird Day #LegflagChallenge Photo Contest

#legflagChallenge Photo Contest

The #LegflagChallenge Photo Contest aims to encourage birdwatchers, bird photographers and all kinds of citizen scientists to document and report sightings of waterbirds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway that carry leg flags, tags and other types of attachments. Birds carrying these leg flags and tags provide crucial information about their life histories for professional conservationists and researchers. The information drawn from these observations, in turn, are particularly valuable in helping conservationists develop plans and actions to conserve migratory birds.

Your sightings contribute to conservation!


• The #legflagChallenge photography contest is open to all participants regardless of age, gender, residence and nationality.

• All entries must involve images photographed in the countries under the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership’s and/or Oriental Bird Club’s region. These countries include, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China (including Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russia (Far East), Singapore, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Timor-Leste, USA (Alaska), Vietnam.


1.     Deadline: 15 November, 2020

2.     Information to be provided for each entry*:

  • Date photograph was taken
  • Description of location and GPS coordinates
  • Species
  • Information on legflags/tags
  • Caption of a maximum of 100 words on the story of the bird in the photograph

3.    Photos should be taken between 1 July 2020 to 15 November 2020.

4.    Each entrant may only submit one entry per species. Entrants may however submit multiple entries covering different species of waterbirds.

5.     All submitted photographs must be in JPEG format, and NOT exceed 5MB in file size. Rename the file name to: Photographer's name_MMDD (date of entry), e.g. Sam Park_0905,jpg.

6.     No signature, no logos, no watermark text should be present on submitted images.

7.     Check here for the detailed Rules & Regulation and photography ethics. For any inquiries,

please contact l[email protected].

*The contest organisers will convey information on the legflags/tags observed to scientists who can then provide us with feedback on the tracking history of the bird in question.

Examples of the different types of tags and attachments on migratory waterbirds

Waterbirds are defined here to include, but are not limited to cranes, waterfowl, shorebirds, rails, herons and egrets, gulls and terns. Please consult the EAAFP website for a full listing of all families of waterbirds.


1.     Best Photo of tagged Waterbirds

Photos of all tagged waterbirds are welcome. We are looking forward to receiving images of the following eight species of particular conservation concern:

  • Spoon-billed Sandpiper
  • Great Knot
  • Spotted Greenshank
  • Bar-tailed Godwit
  • Black-tailed Godwit
  • Far Eastern Curlew
  • Black-faced Spoonbill
  • Chinese Egret

2.     Highest number of entries submitted

Individual with highest number of entries (i.e. most number of species reported) submitted for this campaign

3.      Most votes and best caption story

It will be judged from the top 20 caption narratives with the most votes about the bird(s) captured in the photographs


  • Optical equipment, photography gears, bird books, membership of OBC, (more to come)
  • Winning photos will be published in EAAFP’s 2021 Calendar.

Results of the 2020 #LegflagChallenge Photo Contest

Nearly 120 images of tagged waterbirds were submitted by birdwatchers and photographers from 11 countries across the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. The “Best Photo of tagged Waterbirds” winner is Cheng Li from China capturing the Critically Engaged Spoon-Billed Sandpiper with a Lime green legflag engraved “87”. In total, 56 entrants participated in the photo contest, with the highest number from Japan (25%), followed by China (14%), then Malaysia and Thailand (13%), and India (11%). Click [here] to view details of the results.

Nationalities of the Participants

Winning Entries

Best Photo of Tagged Waterbird

Photographer:  Cheng Li
Species:  Spoon-Billed Sandpiper
Location: Leizhou, Guangdong, China
Date photo was taken: 9 November 2020
Tag Info: Lime Green “87”, banded in Meino, Russia on 2 July 2019.
Caption: “Lime Green 87 is an adult Spoon-billed Sandpiper banded by Russian researcher in July 2019. In 2019 there were sightings in Zhangjiang, the bird stayed till January 2020. This photo was taken on 9 November, 2020 in Zhangjiang, Leizhou. Fate links this little friend with Zhangjiang.”

Highest number of entries submitted

Photographer:  Saiko Iizuka
Species:  Kentish Plover
Location: Funabashi Sanbanze, Chiba, Japan
Date photo was taken: 31 October 2020
Tag Info: Blue “H79”, banded on 16 September 2019 in Sanbanze, Japan.
Caption: “It’s really nice to see you back in the same place a year later as a young bird. I hope you take it easy until March like you did last year.”

Best Caption Story

Photographer:  Sharron Krause
Species:  Bar-tailed Godwit
Location: Toorbul High Tide Roost in Queensland, Australia
Date photo was taken: 12 September 2020
Tag Info: “5RYBR” tagged in 2010 in New Zealand
Caption: “This bird is known as 5RYBR and had been missing in action since 24 March 2020 when she was seen leaving New Zealand. She was first metal banded in 2010 and colour-banded in 2013. She has been noted leaving on migration each year since in New Zealand but hasn’t been recaught to allow the information to be downloaded from the Geotag. It was my great pleasure to photograph her amongst hundreds of other Bar-tailed Godwits this day and to let New Zealand know their bird was alive and well.”

Runners Up

Photographer:  He Jutao
Species:  Black-faced Spoonbill
Location: Zhuang He, Dalian, China
Date photo was taken: 4 July 2020
Tag Info: Leg band “T69” tagged in Tainan, Taiwan, China in 2015
Caption: “Black-faced Spoonbill T69 was taken in Zhanghe, Dalian on 4 July 2020. T69 was released after rescue in Tainan due to bateria infection, since than it travel between Zhunaghe and Tainan.”

Photographer:  Chris Walker
Species:  Bar-tailed Godwit
Location: Moreton Bay Ramsar site near Toondah Harbour, Australia
Date photo was taken: 23 October 2020
Tag Info: Green legflag engraved “BUJ” – banded at Geoff Skinner Wetlands, Wellington Point, Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia on 10 Jan 2016
Caption: “This part of Moreton Bay in Queensland is being considered as the site for a residential development project which would, if approved, result in 3,600 apartments being built on tidal flats which are currently used as feeding grounds by vulnerable Bar-tailed godwits and critically endangered Eastern curlews. Bar-tailed godwit BUJ was flagged by the Queensland Wader Study Group at nearby Manly Harbour in April 2018. Since then, BUJ has been regularly seen at the Oyster Point high tide roost located a few hundred metres south of Toondah Harbour. This was the bird’s first sighting in the proposed environmental destruction area.”

Photographer:  Avinash Bhagat
Species:  Great Knot
Location: Akshi Beach, Raigad District, Maharashtra, India
Date photo was taken: 8 November 2020
Tag Info: Green flag over orange flag. One of the 3 juvenile Great Knot banned on 26, Aug, 2020 in Yalujiang, Liaoning, China.
Caption: “The western coast of India being one of the wintering grounds always spring surprises. Akshi beach at Raigad is a favourite haunt for shore birds. So wasn’t surprised to see Great Knots an endangered specie late evening amongst the large flock of mixed small waders. What was unexpected was to see a green and orange leg-flagged bird for the first time, as I have been tracking them for the past few years. The bird was very comfortable, actively feeding within a flock of 13. Guess 13 is a lucky number for me as my birth date is also 13th.”

Photographer:  Takashi Someya
Species:  Sanderling
Location: Sanbanze mudflats, Chiba, Japan
Date photo was taken: 9 September 2020
Tag Info: Blue legflag “H76”, with white legflag below on left leg. Banded in Yatsuhigata, released in Sanbanze, Japan in September 2019
Caption: “Finally! Japanese food after a whole year away! Yum!”

Photographer:  Katanyou Wuttichaitanakorn
Species:  Lesser Sandplover
Location: Khok Kham, Mueang Samutsakorn, Thailand
Date photo was taken: 11 November 2020
Tag Info:  Black and green legflags tagged on left leg in Inner Gulf of Thailand, Thailand
Caption: “It may think that the legflags tagged on its leg is daunting without knowing how important it is.”

View Submitted Entries


#LegflagChallenge Photo Contest Judges

With a background in ecology and environmental education, wildlife photographer Chien C. Lee has been based on the island of Borneo since 1996. His primary focus is in documenting the rich flora and fauna of Southeast Asian rainforests, and his work has been widely published internationally.

Mr. David Li has been involved in nature reserve and wetland conservation issues since the 1990s when he was seconded to the Wildlife Department in the Ministry of Forestry in Beijing. David joined Wetlands International-Asia Pacific Office in Kuala Lumpur in 2001 and pioneered work to coordinate the Asian Waterbird Census programme. Currently, David is based at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve under the National Parks Board, Singapore where he works on shorebird conservation and research. He is also actively involved in shorebird conservation across Asia, including coordinating the work of the EAAFP Shorebird Working Group.

Mr. Doug Watkins is currently the Chief Executive of EAAFP Secretariat. He has been involved in migratory waterbirds and wetland conservation in the EAA Flyway for 30 years with active roles in EAAFP Monitoring Task Force, Yellow Sea Task Force and EAAFP Management Committee. Mr. Watkins has previously worked with EAAFP Partners including Wetlands International, Australasian Wader Study Group (AWSG) and Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF).

Mr. Greg Baker is a retired business executive and has been birding for nearly 40 years, both in the UK and worldwide. He has a particular interest in videography and photography with an emphasis on identification, sexing and ageing of species. He is a regular contributor to the HBW Internet Bird Collection website, and he has his own YouTube channel. Mr. Greg Baker is also the Publicity Officer for the Northwich Photographic Society.