1118 GMT October 28, 2021
Towards the end of its life, it will have clocked up half a million flying kilometers, or further than from the earth to the moon, abc.net.au reported.
What is it? The red-necked stint, and it is just one of the perhaps more overlooked creatures making its home in Tasmania's wetlands, Australia.
"The more we know about our migratory birds and wetlands and saltmarsh birds the more remarkable they become," Birdlife Tasmania's Eric Woehler said.
Birdlife Tasmania is a busy state-wide organization whose activities range from a program of regular informal birding excursions through meetings with high quality guest speakers to long-term scientific observations.
According to Tasmania's environment department, the state has 10 internationally significant wetlands ranging in size from one hectare to almost 30,000. Eighty-nine are listed as important.
Some are wet all year round, others are seasonal while ephemeral wetlands can dry out for years at a time.
Wetlands full of 'biological richness'
Sunday was World Wetlands Day, a reminder of the contribution wetlands make to the environment said Dr. Woehler.
"Wetlands are incredibly important from a biological perspective," he said.
"They serve many functions and are highly productive when it comes to food production, they are often fish nurseries and they serve as filters for run off from the land.
That richness can be anything from birds that would fit into the palm of your hand, to white-bellied sea eagles and snakes, fish, and frogs.
Woehler said wetlands in Tasmania's far north-west were home to up to 20,000 migratory shorebirds every summer.
For him, the red-necked stint was the most impressive wetlands bird.
"They take about six weeks, in little legs, to fly all the way from Siberia down to Tasmania," he said.
"Each year they travel at least 25,000 kilometers."
More than reeds and mud
Parks and Wildlife Tasmania's Amber Travica is based at the Tamar Island Wetlands Center and said the beauty of wetlands was often overlooked.
The Tamar Island Wetlands sits on the side of the busy West Tamar Highway between Riverside and Legana in the state's north.
They have been open to the public for 20 years and contain 1.5 kilometers of boardwalk.
"We get locals coming in here saying they've lived here all their life and have never called in," she said.
"When they do call in they are amazed about what the wetlands have to offer.
"It's more than just mud and reeds."
Travica said wetlands performed many functions, such as helping stem high rainfall by acting like a sponge. "They also help filter out pollutants from our waterway," she said.
Wetland residents many and varied, including snakes
Travica said the Tamar Wetlands was the perfect place to overcome a fear of snakes.
"It's a relatively safe environment for people to view and experience snakes because you're on the boardwalk above them," she said.
"We always say to the visitors 'if you stay on the boardwalk they will stay down below'.
The elegant royal spoonbills may be the bird photographers' favorite, but Travica said it was the more common wetlands residents that left her in awe.
"I love watching the swans here, particularly when they are with their cygnets," she said. "They are a very graceful bird."
She said watching nature in action was a highlight.
"I also love looking out the window and seeing all the ducks in the lagoon take off," she said.
"You look up and you see a raptor above, like a white-bellied sea eagle. There could be 100 ducks out there and they all take off and you know there's something bigger out there."