World Bird News August 2009

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Malta: the return of 'common' birds

Malta: the return of 'common' birds

25-08-2009

A new report released by BirdLife Malta (BirdLife in Malta) highlighted how 2009 has been a remarkable year for breeding birds in Malta.
The results of the ‘2009 Rare Breeding Bird Report’ showed that nine rare breeding species, most of which are relatively common in other countries, increased their overall distribution in the Maltese islands compared to 2008, with a further four species recorded breeding in 2009 but not recorded last year.
The highlights of the study were the first confirmed breeding records of two pairs of Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus (right:Pic Robert Freeman) in 15 years and the colonisation of Malta by a species new to the island – Pallid Swift Apus pallidus. The first confirmed breeding record of a pair of Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea in almost 100 years and only the fourth confirmed breeding record of a pair of Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus were other important breeding records.
The report includes all rare breeding bird records that adhered to the strict criteria laid out by the European Bird Census Council and by BirdLife Malta for very rare breeding bird records.
BirdLife considers the ban of spring hunting during the past two years playing an important role in the establishment of these species due to less disturbance during the initial periods of breeding.
“The results highlight how important the ban on spring hunting over the last two years has been for the rare breeding species in Malta. Although illegal hunting was widespread, especially in the south during spring migration, the hunting intensity was much lower over this period due to the ban. Yet, with spring hunting now banned, the biggest problem for rare breeding birds is illegal shooting during the rabbit hunting season opened on 1st June”, said Dr Andre Raine, BirdLife Malta’s Conservation Manager.
Konstantin Kreiser, EU Policy Manager at the BirdLife European Division, commented: ”We are pleased to see these birds are returning to Malta, as in most other countries these species belong to the common birds! This is a great success, for BirdLife and the EU Birds Directive - which Malta finally seems willing to comply to”.
Unfortunately, in June and July, BirdLife Malta still received ten shot protected birds, including some of the birds that bred in Malta this summer.
“Despite those killings, this year has seen very positive changes, with Maltese villages hosting new colonies of breeding Common Swift, while the countryside is providing the food needed to raise young Common Kestrel. However, it is vital that a Wildlife Crime Unit is set up in Malta to provide rare birds with protection throughout the year, particularly during the breeding months in summer when these birds are particularly vulnerable to illegal hunting” concluded Dr Raine.

Quest launched to find 'lost' birds

Quest launched to find 'lost' birds

21-08-2009

BirdLife International is launching a global bid to try to confirm the continued existence of 47 species of bird that have not been seen for up to 184 years.
The list of potentially lost birds is a tantalising mix of species ranging from some inhabiting the least visited places on earth - such as remote islands and the western Himalayas – to those occurring in parts of Europe and the United States.
"The mention of species such as Ivory-billed Woodpecker (right .Pic Tomasz Cofta), Jamaican Petrel, Hooded Seedeater, Himalayan Quail, and Pink-headed Duck will set scientists' pulses racing. Some of these species haven’t been seen by any living person, but birdwatchers around the world still dream of rediscovering these long lost ghosts", said Marco Lambertini, BirdLife International's chief executive.
"History has shown us that we shouldn’t give up on species that are feared to have gone to their graves because some, such as Cebu Flowerpecker, have been rediscovered long after they were feared extinct, providing hope for the continued survival of other 'long-lost' species. Cebu Flowerpecker, of the Philippines, was only rediscovered at the eleventh hour just before the last remnants of its forest home were destroyed."
"The extinction crisis is gathering momentum, but that’s no excuse for humanity to allow even more strands from the web of life to disappear, especially without giving them a final chance of life."
The announcement of the quest to find lost species is being made at the launch of the 21st British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water. The event, which continues over the weekend, is expected to attract in excess of 20,000 birdwatchers from across the UK. Funds raised from this year's event will go to the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme to help fund these searches.
The RSPB's Martin Davies, co-organiser of the British Birdwatching Fair, said: "During the BirdFair's twenty-one-year history we have funded many conservation projects that have benefited species of bird threatened with extinction. It would be a great legacy if funds from British birdwatchers prove the survival of formerly lost species."
"We have chosen Cebu Flowerpecker as the emblem of this year's British Birdwatching Fair because it provides hope and inspiration not to give up on lost species. We are delighted that the Philippines Ministry of Tourism has today agreed to become the BirdLife Species Champion for this forest jewel."
The ministry of tourism's funding will provide initial financial support efforts by the Cebu Biodiversity Foundation to conserve the Critically Endangered Cebu Flowerpecker, which was feared extinct in the early 20th Century but was rediscovered in 1992.
Tim Appleton, of the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, has been a co-organiser of the British Birdwatching Fair since it started. He said: “The story of Cebu Flowerpecker is living proof that by focusing our efforts and resources, we really can make positive difference for the world's biodiversity. On reflection, this is a remarkable achievement, especially when you consider it's driven by 20,000 birdwatchers standing around in a few fields in Rutland for a weekend."

DOPPS  BirdLife Slovenia praised for Corncrake project

DOPPS – BirdLife Slovenia praised for Corncrake project

07-08-2009

The LIFE Nature project for the long–term conservation of Corncrake Crex crex (right.Pic Sergey Yeliseev) in Slovenia has been evaluated by the European Commission as one of the 26 Best LIFE Nature projects in 2007-2008. This project is of particular importance as DOPPS' data showed that the species has been declining since 2002. The project activities were conducted in three main Corncrake Natura 2000 areas in Slovenia including Ljubljansko barje, the main breeding area for Corncrakes, Cerknica lake and Nanošcica river basin, as in these areas its declining was particularly evident.
"Our LIFE project has finally opened some concrete discussions on the future of the agriculture policy in Natura 2000 sites in Slovenia", said Andrej Medved, Project manager and Director of DOPPS- BirdLife Slovenia. Natura 2000 is an ecological network of protected areas in the territory of the European Union.
To protect this Globally Threatened species, the LIFE project aimed to create several conservation tools for the successful long-term protection of Corncrake in Slovenia, and to fine tune the transposition of the EU Birds Directive into the Slovenian legislation.
In particular, DOPPS addressed the need for habitat management solutions and education tools for local farmers and land owners on how to manage habitats in a bird-friendly way, and how to obtain additional funding for such management. It also focused on raising awareness among the general public, local stakeholders and decision-makers.
The project resulted in changes to the Agriculture and Rural Development policy in Natura 2000 sites, and the inclusion of Biodiversity protection as a national priority within the Rural Development Programme. The Agri Environmental Scheme VTR, a new conservation tool, was created and offered to farmers in the most important Natura 2000 areas.

This scheme represents an important step forward in the Slovenian Rural Development and Nature Conservation Policy. Further one, it was possible to implement the Farmland Bird Index Monitoring Scheme and to include the Corncrake as an indicator species. This meant that finally the link between biodiversity and rural development policies was highlighted. A particular recognition of this fact, the Corncrake was chosen as the new symbol of Natura 2000 in Slovenia.
"Due to great communication activities, people in Slovenia started to think about Natura 2000 in a different way", added Andrej. "How to turn Natura 2000 into sustainable development opportunity? This is our next challenge".

Preachers and teachers help conserve Turkish wetland

03-08-2009
Lake Burdur is internationally important for wintering and passage waterbirds, and has been threatened in recent years by pollution, urban development and unsustainable agricultural practices. In response, Doga Dernegi - the BirdLife Partner Designate for Turkey - recently drafted a sermon to educate the local community of Burdur on the importance of conserving their lake.
“…Water is one of the countless blessings and a source of life for us, as well as for all of Earth’s creatures”, said Burdur’s Provincial Mufti. “A world without it would be very terrifying and we should be grateful for being blessed with water. We should especially learn appropriate irrigation techniques and farming practices in line with our soil characteristics and implement them wisely”.
It is estimated that through the sermon Doga Dernegi reached approximately 52,000 people across over 1,000 mosques in all the villages, towns, districts and provincial centre of Burdur. The first of its kind in Burdur, the sermon highlighted the responsibility of humans in protecting the environment and wildlife, and was a collaborative effort between Doga Dernegi, Burdur’s Provincial Mufti and the Burdur Centre Ulu Mosque Imam Nuri Çinar.
Lake Burdur is an Important Bird Area (IBA) and one of twelve Ramsar wetlands of international importance in Turkey. It is very important for wintering waterbirds, and is the single most important wintering site for Endangered White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala - over two-thirds of the world’s wintering population occur at Burder Lake.
The Lake is facing degradation pressure due to the unrestricted use of water resources which feeds the basin which is leading to its rapid retreat and a marked decrease in crop productivity and soil quality. Poor management of water resources continue to threaten the ecosystem’s balance, its ecological integrity and the species which depend on it.
To raise awareness about the ecological importance and natural assets of Lake Burdur, and to achieve conditions for sustainable management of the site in the long-term, Doga Dernegi implemented the ‘Conserving Lake Burdur Project’ with support from the Wings Over Wetlands (WOW) Project. The recent sermon has been the latest activity to educate local people about the importance of the lake, its unique ecology, and how it should be managed.
Through the WOW project, Doga Dernegi and its partners have been actively raising awareness about the lake’s importance across Burdur and have trained 1524 farmers from 44 villages on the use of drip irrigation systems. “Doga Dernegi is not only fighting to reverse the retreat of the lake, but is also aiming to make Turkey an example in the wise-use of water”, said Lale Aktay - Project Manager at Doga Dernegi.
Doga Dernegi have also been working with the Ministry of Education, local volunteers, bird watchers and teachers, to create a special education programme tailored for children ages 6 through 14 years. Initially rolled-out in four elementary schools, the education programme includes a multitude of activities to foster an appreciation of wetland habitats and wetland-dependent species. This includes an art exhibition featuring over 200 pictures, a poster and bird checklist for use the school’s garden and a school-wide water conservation campaign.
Hanife Göktas from Ilyas Primary School in Burdur said: "if the lake vanishes, then our life is gone. We not only have to conserve Lake Burdur, but also tell everyone who does not know about it of its importance and its value”.

Their collaborative approach to conservation is crucial in helping the demonstration project deliver significant benefits, both for the community and the environment, in a place where critical habitat and bio-diversity are threatened. “Human activity can either conserve or devastate our lake”, added Lale Aktay.

Waterbirds need an unbroken chain of wetlands to complete their annual life-cycles. Wetlands which also benefit people by providing clean water and opportunities for fishing, agriculture, recreation and tourism. However, despite their importance, wetlands are amongst the world’s most threatened ecosystems.
BirdLife believes migratory waterbirds can only be effectively conserved through international cooperation across the entire flyway. In response to these worrying declines, BirdLife is a key partner in the WOW project, and has launched the Born to Travel Campaign to protect migratory waterbirds, soaring birds and songbirds along the African-Eurasian flyway. Born to Travel is a perfect example of how effectively our unique BirdLife Network meshes together as a united force to take action for conservation.

Recommended reading:The Birds of Turkey

Recommended reading:The Birds of Turkey

Turkey is a popular destination for birders and tourists, and although there has been much published on its birds over the past 40 years, there has never been a comprehensive avifauna. The Birds of Turkey redresses this. It contains a detailed account of every species on the Turkish list, with a full breakdown of records and status, distribution in Turkey, and taxonomy. There are also authoritative introductory chapters on geography, climate, habitats, history of ornithology and conservation. Format Hardback 512 pages. 240x170 mm. Illustrations 32-page colour section.

Click here for ordering details.....

The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | World Bird News | World Bird News 2009 |  World Bird News August 2009

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