Species Profile and Threats Database

For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed marine
Listed migratory - Bonn, CAMBA, JAMBA, ROKAMBA
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Other EPBC Act Plans Background Paper to the Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2005c) [Wildlife Conservation Plan].
Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2006f) [Wildlife Conservation Plan].
Policy Statements and Guidelines Draft Significant impact guidelines for 36 migratory shorebirds Draft EPBC Act Policy Statement 3.21 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2009aj) [Admin Guideline].
Draft background paper to EPBC Act policy statement 3.21 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2009bc) [Admin Guideline].
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
List of Migratory Species (13/07/2000) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000b) [Legislative Instrument].
Declaration under section 248 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of Marine Species (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000c) [Legislative Instrument].
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - Listed Migratory Species - Approval of an International Agreement (Commonwealth of Australia, 2007h) [Legislative Instrument].
State Listing Status
SA: Listed as Rare (National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (South Australia): Rare species: June 2011 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Least Concern (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
VIC: Listed as Near Threatened (Advisory List of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna in Victoria: 2013 list)
Scientific name Calidris subminuta [861]
Family Scolopacidae:Charadriiformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author (Middendorff,1853)
Infraspecies author  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Calidris subminuta

Common name: Long-toed Stint

Other common names: Long-toed Sandpiper, Middendorf's Stint

The Long-toed Stint is a very small sandpiper and member of the Calidridinae family. The species has a length of 13–16 cm, a wingspan of 26.5–30.5 cm and an average weight of 25 g. The species is characterised by its distinctive shape; a small head, long slim neck, rounded belly, short rear-end, long legs (often held flexed), short straight bill tapering to finely pointed tip, folded primaries that fall level with the tail and show little or no primary projection beyond the tertials. The species also has long, thin toes (especially the middle toe) that give the impression of an awkwardly large foot. The species also has a distinctive stance. It is slightly smaller and more finely built than the Red-necked Stint, Calidris ruficollis. The species has yellow legs and feet, pale-brown or yellow base to lower mandible. It has a well streaked gorget and its flight call can be used to distinguish it from other stints. The juveniles are distinct and the immatures separable (Higgins & Davies 1996).

The Long-toed Stint is a regular summer visitor to Australia, but uncommon in the east. The species was first recorded in 1886 near Lukins Crossing on the lower Fitzroy River.

Queensland, South Australia and Tasmanian distribution
In Queensland the Long-toed Stint has been recorded at Mount Isa, Lytton, Cairns, Dynevor Downs. In Tasmania, only a single record exists at Moulting Lagoon. In South Australia there are frequent records from Bool Lagoon, west to Big and Little Swamps. It is also found on the southern end of the Eyre Peninsula, with most records from The Coorong, Langhorne Creek, St Kilda and the Price Saltworks. Inland records for the species are rare, however it has been sighted at Cannuwaukininna Bore, Birdsville Track and Oodnadatta. There is an unconfirmed record from Leigh Creek (Higgins & Davies 1996).

NSW distribution
The Long-toed Stint is irregular with widely scattered records in NSW. The species has been recorded at the estuary of the Richmond River, Kooragang Island, Pitts Town Lagoon, McGrath's Hill, Bushell's Lagoon, the Hawkesbury River, Shell Point, Botany Bay, Parkes, Fivebough Swamp, Tullakool Saltworks, Dareton, Mortanally Billabong, Wentworth and Cobar (Higgins & Davies 1996).

Western Australia and Northern Territory distribution
In Western Australia the species is found mainly along the coast, with a few scattered inland records. On the south coast the Long-toed Stint is found from Esperance to Albany and inland to Lake Cassencarry and Dumbleyung. On the south-west coast the species is known from the Vasse River estuary, Guraga Lake and the Namming Nature Reserve. The species has occasionally been recorded in the Gascoyne Region, around Lake Wooleen, Meeberrie Station and McNeill Claypan. It is widespread around the Pilbara region and the Kimberley Division between Karratha and Wyndham-Kununurra. Inland records include Lake Brown, Hannan Lake, Lake Biolet, Newman Sewage Farm and Lake Gregory. In the Northern Territory the species has been recorded at Harrison Dam, Daly Waters, Alice Springs Sewage Farm, Lake Sylvester and around Darwin (Higgins & Davies 1996).

The breeding distribution of the Long-toed Stint is poorly known, however, it is widely scattered in Siberia. The species is found east of the Chukotskiy Peninsula, Koryak Plateau, Komandorskiye Island, Kurile Island, the north coast of the Sea of Okhotsk; around Magadan, north Verkhoyanskiy Mountains, the Ob and Irtysh Rivers. The species is a passage migrant through eastern Asia. It is found in south-east China, through Indochina, Indomalaya and the Philippines. The species is found south of the Philippines, on the Malay Pensinula, Indonesia, west to Burman and Bangladesh. Small numbers have been reported on the Indian subcontinent. The Long-toed Stint is found in Nepal, west to Bihar and south to Sri Lanka. It also visits the Maldive Islands in small numbers. It is a regular but uncommon visitor to New Guinea and Australia. It is deemed vagrant in Sweden, east and south Africa, west Melanesia, north-west Hawaii, north-west USA and in the Bering Sea (Higgins and Davies 1996).

An estimated 25 000 Long-toed Stints occupy the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. The global population is estimated at 25 000–100 000. A total of 11 important sites have been identified globally. Note that an important site is calculated using the 1% criterion (i.e. a site is considered important if it is occupied by more then 1% of the bird's total population) (Bamford et al. 2008).

Site Country Max Count
Papar Malaysia 2230
Yancheng NNR China 1167
Kharchinskoe Lake Russia 1000
Inner Gulf of Thailand Thailand 777
Pattani Bay Thailand 681
Kato Sam Roi Yot NP Thailand 535
Brunei Bay Borneo 501
Bali Indonesia 500
Irrawaddy Delta Burma 394
Lososei Bay Russia 200
Dagiy Bay Russia 100

In Australia, the Long-toed Stint occurs in a variety of terrestrial wetlands. They prefer shallow freshwater or brackish wetlands including lakes, swamps, river floodplains, streams, lagoons and sewage ponds. The species is also fond of areas of muddy shoreline, growths of short grass, weeds, sedges, low or floating aquatic vegetation, reeds, rushes and occasionally stunted samphire. It has also been observed at open, less vegetated shores of larger lakes and ponds and is common on muddy frindges of drying ephemeral lakes and swamps. The Long-toed Stint also frequents permanent wetlands such as reserviors and artificial lakes. They are uncommon, but not unknown, at tidal estuaries, saline lakes, saltponds and bore swamps (Higgnis & Davies 1996).

The Long-toed Stint forages on wet mud or in shallow water, often among short grass, weeds and other vegetation on islets or around the edges of wetlands. They occasionally feed on open water, well away from the shore; this is more common in drying ephemeral wetlands. They roost or loaf in sparse vegetation at the edges of wetlands and on damp mud near shallow water. It also roosts in small depressions in the mud (Higgins & Davies 1996).

The diet of the Long-toed Stint is poorly known in Australia. The species is omnivorous; feeding on seeds, molluscs, crustaceans and insects. They mainly feed on fresh waters; singly or in small flocks. They have been sighted feeding in shallow water, on floating weed or algae, or in low vegetation with crouched or hunched posture (Higgins & Davies 1996).

Departure from breeding grounds
Migration to non-breeding grounds most likely begins in July where two distinct routes are taken by the east and west populations in Siberia. The west population crosses south-central Siberia (from Altay to Transbaikalia) and Mongolia. The east population moves through Ussuriland, Manchuria, Japan and Korea. Adults move through south-west Siberia in July, juveniles in late-July to late-August. They pass the Kamchatka Peninsula in August to late-October and Urruriland in mid-August. The two migration routes converge in China, where central passage occurs as far west as east Tsinghai, east Kansu and south Shensi provinces. They pass the coasts of Shantung and Chihli in mid-July to September. They also pass through the Jiangsu province, China. Small numbers pass through Kuantu, Taiwan in September–October and it is common in Taiwan from November. The species passes through Hong Kong from early-September to mid-October. It is common in Burma and passes through northern Cambodia. It is known to pass through Vietnam, entering Thailand from August. The Long-toed Stint is common along the west coast of the Malaysian Peninsula in January–February. It is rare in Sumatra, but known to pass through Borneo from August. They pass through the Port Moresby district in September and begin arriving in Australia from August (Higgins & Davies 1996).

Arrival in Australia
The Long-toed Stint makes regular but dispersive movements between temporary wetlands in Australia. The species arrives on the north coast, west of Darwin, Northern Territory, and occupy freshwater wetlands in the west Kimberleys and Pilbara, Western Australia. During summer they disperse across the continent, mainly between Pilbara and the coast of South Australia, with only a few moving farther east. They are recorded around Darwin, Northern Territory and Mount Isa, Queensland, in October. There are scattered records in NSW as early as August. They arrive at Gulf St Vincent, South Australia, in September, however the majority do not arrive until December. They are recorded in Victoria from August. During late summer the birds congregate around drying lakes in Western Australia (and possibly Lake Alexandrina, South Australia). Many are also believed to be faithful to permanent wetlands as long as conditions do not change. Only a few spend the winter in Australia (Higgnis & Davies 1996).

Return to breeding grounds
In Victoria the Long-toed Stint is not seen after February. In NSW the species leaves from mid-April and at Gulf St Vincent, South Australia, it departs in March–April. Most of the species leaves south-west Australia in February–March, arriving in the Kimberley Division, Western Australia, from March–May. Very few are recorded on northern migration in Papua New Guinea, with about 500 sighted in Bali from mid-March to early-April. They are known to pass through Brunei, Borneo and the Philippines in April–May. They pass through Malaysia in March–April and Vietnam in March. They pass through Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea in April–May. In Russia they pass through Transbaikalia, Ussuriland and the Kamchatka Peninsula in May. They arrive at the breeding grounds in late-May and early-June (Higgins & Davies 1996).

Global Threats
There are a number of threats that affect migratory shorebirds in the Flyway. The greatest threat is indirect and direct habitat loss (Melville 1997). Staging areas used during migration through eastern Asia are being lost and degraded by activities which are reclaiming the mudflats for development or developing them for aquaculture (Barter 2002, 2005c; Ge et al. 2007; Round 2006). This is especially evident in the Yellow Sea, where at least 40% of intertidal areas have been reclaimed. This process is continuing at a rapid rate and may accelerate in the near future (Barter 2002, 2005c). For example, in South Korea, the Mangyeung and Dongjin River estuaries each supported 5% of the combined estimated Flyway populations (and are the most important sites for this species on both northern and southern migration) but they are currently being reclaimed as part of the Saemangeum Reclamation Project (Barter 2002, 2005c). The 33 km sea-wall across these two estuaries was completed in April 2006, resulting in significant change in the 40 100 ha area (Barter 2005c).

Reclamation is also a threat in other areas of the Flyway, such as in Malaysia (Wei et al. 2006). In addition, water regulation and diversion infrastructure in the major tributaries have resulted in the reduction of water and sediment flows (Barter 2002; Barter et al. 1998).

Migratory shorebirds are also adversely affected by pollution, both on passage and in non-breeding areas (Harding et al. 2007; Melville 1997; Round 2006; Wei et al. 2006). Disturbance from human activities, including recreation, shellfish harvesting, fishing and aquaculture is likely to increase significantly in the future (Barter et al. 2005; Davidson & Rothwell 1993).

It is predicted that the rate of decrease in the intertidal area in the Yellow Sea will accelerate (Barter 2002). In addition, intensive oil exploration and extraction, and reduction in river flows due to upstream water diversion, are other potentially significant threats in parts of China where this species is present in internationally significant numbers (Barter 2005c; Barter et al. 1998).

Global warming and associated changes in sea level are likely to have a long-term impact on the breeding, staging and non-breeding grounds of migratory waders (Harding et al. 2007).

Hunting is still a very serious problem for waders in China, and this species is sometimes caught (Ming et al. 1998).

Within Australia, there are a number of threats common to most migratory shorebirds, including the Long-toed Stint.

Habitat loss
The loss of important habitat reduces the availability of foraging and roosting sites. This affects the ability of the birds to build up the energy stores required for successful migration and breeding. Some sites are important all year round for juveniles who may stay in Australia throughout the breeding season until they reach maturity. A variety of activities may cause habitat loss. These include direct losses through land clearing, inundation, infilling or draining. Indirect loss may occur due to changes in water quality, hydrology or structural changes near roosting sites (DEWHA 2009aj).

Habitat degradation
As most migratory shorebirds have specialized feeding techniques, they are particularly susceptible to slight changes in prey sources and foraging environments. Activities that cause habitat degradation include (but are not restricted to): (1) loss of marine or estuarine vegetation, which is likely to alter the dynamic equilibrium of sediment banks and mudflats; (2) invasion of intertidal mudflats by weeds such as cord grass; (3) water pollution and changes to the water regime; (4) changes to the hydrological regime and (5) exposure of acid sulphate soils, hence changing the chemical balance at the site (DEWHA 2009aj).

Disturbance can result from residential and recreational activities including; fishing, power boating, four wheel driving, walking dogs, noise and night lighting. While some disturbances may have only a low impact it is important to consider the combined effect of disturbances with other threats. Roosting and foraging birds are sensitive to discrete, unpredictable disturbances such as loud noises (i.e. construction sites) and approaching objects (i.e. boats). Sustained disturbances can prevent shorebirds from using parts of the habitat (DEWHA 2009aj).

Direct mortality
Direct mortality is a result of human activities around the migration pathways of shorebirds and at roosting and foraging sites. Examples include the construction of wind farms in migration or movement pathways, bird strike due to aircraft, hunting, chemical and oil spills (DEWHA 2009aj).

Governments and conservation groups have undertaken a wide range of activities relating to migratory shorebird conservation (AGDEH 2005c) both in Australia and in cooperation with other countries associated with the Flyway.

The Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (AGDEH 2006f) outlines national activities to support the Flyway shorebird conservation initiatives and provides a strategic framework to ensure these activities and future research and management actions are integrated and remain focused on the long-term survival of migratory shorebird populations and their habitats.

Since 1996–97, the Australian Government has invested approximately $5 000 000 of Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) funding in projects contributing to migratory shorebird conservation (DEWHA 2007e). This funding has been distributed across a range of important projects, including the implementation of a nationally coordinated monitoring programme that will produce robust, long-term population data able to support the conservation and effective management of shorebirds and their habitat, migration studies using colour bands and leg flags, and development of a shorebird conservation toolkit to assist users to develop and implement shorebird conservation projects.

Birds Australia is currently co-ordinating the Shorebirds 2020 project, which aims to monitor shorebird populations at important sites throughout Australia. Birdlife International is identifying sites and regions which are important to various species of birds, including shorebirds, and the processes that are affecting them. The aim of these activities is to inform decisions on the management of shorebird habitat. It may be possible to rehabilitate some degraded wetlands or to create artificial wader feeding or roosting sites to replace those destroyed by development, such as by creating artificial sandflats and sand islands from dredge spoil and by building breakwaters (Dening 2005; Straw 1992a, 1999).

The Significant impact guidelines for 36 migratory shorebirds Draft EPBC Act Policy Statement 3.21 (DEWHA 2009aj) provides guidelines for determining the impacts of proposed actions on migratory shorebirds. The policy statement also provides mitigation strategies to reduce the level and extent of those impacts. The policy aims to promote ecologically sustainable development that allows for the continued ecological function of important habitat for migratory shorebirds (DEWHA 2009aj).

Australia has played an important role in building international cooperation to conserve migratory birds. In addition to being party to international agreements on migratory species, Australia is also a member of the Partnership for the Conservation of Migratory Waterbirds and the Sustainable Use of their Habitats in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (Flyway Partnership), which was launched in Bogor, Indonesia on 6 November 2006. Prior to this agreement, Australia was party to the Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Strategy and the Action Plan for the Conservation of Migratory Shorebirds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway and the East Asian-Australasian Shorebird Site Network.

The East Asian-Australasian Flyway Site Network, which is part of the broader Flyway Partnership, promotes the identification and protection of key sites for migratory shorebirds. Australia has 17 sites in the network (Partnership EAAF 2008):

  • Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory (1 375 940 ha)
  • Parry Lagoons, Western Australia (36 111 ha)
  • Thomsons Lake, Western Australia (213 ha)
  • Moreton Bay, Queensland (113 314 ha)
  • Hunter Estuary, NSW (2916 ha)
  • Corner Inlet, Victoria (51 500 ha)
  • The Coorong, Lake Alexandrina & Lake Albert, South Australia (140 500 ha)
  • Orielton Lagoon, Tasmania (2920 ha)
  • Logan Lagoon, Tasmania (2320 ha)
  • Western Port, Victoria (59 297 ha)
  • Port Phillip Bay (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria (16 540 ha)
  • Shallow Inlet Marine and Coastal Park, Victoria
  • Discovery Bay Coastal Park, Victoria
  • Bowling Green Bay, Queensland
  • Shoalwater Bay, Queensland
  • Great Sandy Strait, Queensland
  • Currawinya National Park, Queensland

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Pollution:Airborne Agricultural pollutants:Pesticide drift Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2006f) [Wildlife Conservation Plan].

Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH) (2005c). Background Paper to the Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Department of the Environment and Heritage. Available from:

Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH) (2006f). Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Department of the Environment and Heritage. Available from:

Bamford M., D. Watkins, W. Bancroft, G. Tischler & J. Wahl (2008). Migratory Shorebirds of the East Asian - Australasian Flyway: Population estimates and internationally important sites. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Wetlands International-Oceania. Available from:

Barter, M.A. (2002). Shorebirds of the Yellow Sea: Importance, Threats and Conservation Status. Wetlands International Global Series No. 8, International Wader Studies 12. Canberra, ACT: Wetlands International.

Barter, M.A. (2005c). Yellow Sea-driven priorities for Australian shorebird researchers. In: Straw, P., ed. Status and Conservation of Shorebirds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Proceedings of the Australasian Shorebirds Conference 13-15 December 2003, Canberra, Australia. Sydney, NSW: Wetlands International Global Series 18, International Wader Studies 17.

Barter, M.A., D. Tonkinson, J.Z. Lu, S.Y. Zhu, Y. Kong, T.H. Wang, Z.W. Li & X.M. Meng (1998). Shorebird numbers in the Huang He (Yellow River) Delta during the 1997 northward migration. Stilt. 33:15-26.

Barter, M.A., K. Gosbell, L. Cao & Q. Xu (2005). Northward shorebird migration surveys in 2005 at four new Yellow Sea sites in Jiangsu and Liaoning Provinces. Stilt. 48:13-17.

Davidson, N. & P. Rothwell (1993). Disturbance to waterfowl on estuaries. Wader Study Group Bulletin. 68.

Dening, J. (2005). Roost management in south-East Queensland: building partnerships to replace lost habitat. In: Straw, P., ed. Status and Conservation of Shorebirds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Proceedings of the Australasian Shorebirds Conference 13-15 December 2003. Page(s) 94-96. Sydney, NSW. Wetlands International Global Series 18, International Wader Studies 17.

Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) (2007e). Migratory Waterbirds Information Page, Departmental Website. [Online]. Available from:

Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) (2009aj). Draft Significant impact guidelines for 36 migratory shorebirds Draft EPBC Act Policy Statement 3.21. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia. Available from:

Ge, Z.-M., T-H. Wang, X. Zhou, K.-Y. Wang & W.-Y. Shi (2007). Changes in the spatial distribution of migratory shorebirds along the Shanghai shoreline, China, between 1984 and 2004. Emu. 107:19-27.

Harding, S.B., J.R. Wilson & D.W. Geering (2007). Threats to shorebirds and conservation actions. In: Geering, A., L. Agnew & S. Harding, eds. Shorebirds of Australia. Page(s) 197-213. Melbourne, Victoria: CSIRO Publishing.

Higgins, P.J. & S.J.J.F. Davies, eds (1996). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume Three - Snipe to Pigeons. Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

Melville, D.S. (1997). Threats to waders along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. In: Straw, P., ed. Shorebird conservation in the Asia-Pacific region. Page(s) 15-34. Melbourne, Victoria: Birds Australia.

Ming, M., L. Jianjian, T. Chengjia, S. Pingyue & H. Wei (1998). The contribution of shorebirds to the catches of hunters in the Shanghai area, China, during 1997-1998. Stilt. 33:32-36.

Partnership for the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (Partnership EAAF) (2008). East Asian-Australasian Flyway Site Network: October 2008. [Online]. Available from:

Round, P.D. (2006). Shorebirds in the Inner Gulf of Thailand. Stilt. 50:96-102.

Straw, P. (1992a). Relocation of Shorebirds. A Feasibility Study and Management Options. Sydney, NSW: Unpublished report by the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union for the Federal Airports Corporation.

Straw, P. (1999). Habitat remediation - a last resort?. Stilt. 35:66.

Wei, D.L.Z., Y.C. Aik, L.K. Chye, K. Kumar, L.A. Tiah, Y. Chong & C.W. Mun (2006). Shorebird survey of the Malaysian coast November 2004-April 2005. Stilt. 49:7-18.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Calidris subminuta in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Thu, 31 Jul 2014 05:50:51 +1000.