World Bird News June 2009

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Hope for Seychelles' last Critically Endangered species


The first Seychelles Paradise-flycatcher Terpsiphone corvina chicks to fledge successfully outside La Digue Island, Seychelles for over 60 years is flying on Denis Island, a coral island in the inner Seychelles group. The newly-fledged birds are flying well, very noisy, and being fed by their parents –"typical normal and healthy flycatcher chicks", according to Nirmal Shah, Director of BirdLife Partner Nature Seychelles, the Species Guardian for the paradise-flycatcher.
The paradise-flycatcher is the only Seychelles species still listed as Critically Endangered. Formerly Critically Endangered Species including Seychelles Magpie-robin Copsychus sechellarum, Seychelles White-eye Zosterops modestus and Seychelles Scops-owl Otus insularis have all been downlisted as a result of conservation action. The population of the paradise-flycatcher has been steadily increasing in recent years. In 1996 there were 69-83 pairs; this had risen to 104-139 pairs by the last comprehensive survey in 2000.
Seychelles Paradise-flycatchers, probably "overspill" birds from the population on La Digue, are regularly seen on neighbouring islands, but have been unable to establish viable populations. The reintroduction to Denis Island is part of a three-year project, funded by the UK Government's Darwin Initative, and carried out by Nature Seychelles together with the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) and the collaboration of other organisations and the Seychelles Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.
Seychelles Paradise-flycatcher requires mature stands of indigenous badamier Terminalia catappa and takamaka Calophyllum innophylum trees. However, its habitat requirements may be less strict than previously thought. As the population on La Digue has increased, a number of birds have established territories in open woodland with housing encroachment, and an increasing number of tree species are used for nesting.
Nature Seychelles began ecosystem restoration on Denis Island in 2002, with funding from two Global Environment Facility projects facilitated by the World Bank and with the collaboration of the island owners, and this work has continued under the current Darwin Initiative-funded flycatcher project. The island is free of alien predators.
Last November, 23 Paradise-flycatchers were translocated from La Digue to Denis Island by Nature Seychelles and DICE, in collaboration with the La Digue Development Board and other partners. Nature Seychelles currently knows the whereabouts of 21 of these birds, with the recent reappearance of a male which had been replaced or ousted from his territory by another young male.
It is believed that the population on Denis could reach 40-50 birds. Other islands are being assessed for their suitability for future translocations.
"We predict that we will have a large enough population to downlist it to Endangered in the next two years or so", said Nirmal Shah. "This will be another huge triumph for Nature Seychelles with its international partners BirdLife, the RSPB and DICE."

BirdLife grant helps Endangered shorebird

BirdLife grant helps Endangered shorebird


A grant from the BirdLife International Community Conservation Fund is helping establish a new population of Endangered Shore Plover Thinornis novaeseelandiae on Mana Island, off the west coast of Wellington, New Zealand.
The project is showing early signs of success. A pair from among 41 juveniles introduced to the island in 2007 hatched and fledged a chick during 2008, and five more young Shore Plovers have fledged in 2009.
The first chick was born to one-year-old parents. Shore Plovers normally breed from two years.
The sole natural breeding population of Shore Plover is on Rangatira (South East) Island in the Chatham Islands. The species was once widespread around the coast of New Zealand’s South Island, but had been extirpated by the 1870s. Their global population is estimated to be less than 250 birds, with a total range of just 4 km2.
The Mana Island translocation is the latest in a series of releases of Shore Plover. Ten pairs are held in captivity, mainly at the Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre in northern Wairarapa. Young birds produced by the captive flock are released on to predator-free islands as soon as they are old enough to fly.
A local community NGO, the Friends of Mana Island (FOMI), is funding and providing volunteers for the five-year translocation project, which includes intensive monitoring of the newly introduced birds. The BLICCF grant, together with local support and the proceeds of an art auction held in London last year by the New Zealand Society and New Zealand’s Department of Conservation, has provided FOMI with sufficient funding to complete the project.
“It’s great for visitors to see one of the world’s rarest shorebirds as soon as they get off the boat,” said Colin Ryder - FOMI President and Forest & Bird (BirdLife in New Zealand) regional committee member. “It’s hard to believe that they are only 30 to 40 minutes from downtown Wellington.”
FOMI was set up to assist the Department of Conservation in implementing the restoration plan for Mana Island. Mice have been eradicated from the island, which is now predator-free, over half a million native trees have been planted, a wetland restored, and threatened reptiles and invertebrates reintroduced. Forest & Bird has also been heavily involved in the island’s restoration, most importantly having initiated and resourced the mouse eradication project.
The island is a scientific reserve, and Shore Plover joins other successful introductions of New Zealand’s endemic bird species that are rare on the mainland, including two more Endangered species - Takahe Porphyrio hochstetteri and Brown Teal Anas chlorotis.
“The BirdLife grants are supporting the recovery of a number of Globally Threatened bird species in New Zealand and elsewhere in the South Pacific”, said Mr Ryder. “FOMI is extremely grateful that our project on Mana Island was selected for funding and I can assure the donors that their contribution has made a real difference.”

Shore Plover photograph from Click here

Neotropical migratory bird grants link sites and people along the Americas flyway

Neotropical migratory bird grants link sites and people along the Americas flyway


The work of BirdLife Partners throughout the Americas will benefit from $4.8 million in US Fish and Wildlife Service grants for projects supporting Neotropical migratory bird conservation.
Companies, institutions and individuals have contributed a further $18 million in matching funds to support habitat restoration, environmental education, population monitoring and other priority activities in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, and 12 Latin American and Caribbean countries.
A $90,200 grant, with matching funds of $271,140 from Kennecott Utah Copper Corporation-Rio Tinto and BirdLife Partners, will enable BirdLife International and Partner Aves Argentinas to assess the role of Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Argentina and Chile in conserving Neotropical migrants. This project also seeks to advance the conservation of four high priority sites in Argentina, Chile and Peru which are linked through shared migratory species of conservation concern to Great Salt Lake, Utah. The approach of linking the communities at the IBAs with each other and with the community of Great Salt Lake has already proved successful in Canada and Mexico.
Work by BirdLife Partners SalvaNatura (El Salvador) and ProNatura (Mexico) to identify and manage priority wintering sites will also benefit. There will be funding for 40 existing monitoring stations throughout Mexico, Central and South America, and another ten will be established to fill gaps in the network.
SalvaNatura and ProNatura have received further funding for their work in the pine-oak forests of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and northern El Salvador, which provide critical winter habitat for the Endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler Dendroica chrysoparia and 55 other Neotropical migratory species.
"This is brilliant news for Neotropical birds and IBAs. The Partnership's great work on migratory species will reap the benefit from these grants", said Dr Rob Clay, Senior Conservation Manager for BirdLife in the Americas.
IBAs that will benefit directly from support for monitoring, management and public education include Bahía de Asunción (Paraguay), which is of international importance for migratory shorebirds. BirdLife Partner Guyra Paraguay's work at Bahía de Asunción will include developing tools to increase local awareness about the environment, reducing harmful behaviour, and involving the community in conservation projects.
Aves & Conservación (BirdLife in Ecuador) will use its grant to strengthen local capacities in research, monitoring and ecotourism at two artificial salt lakes in the Santa Elena Peninsula, establishing Site Support Groups, and building alliances with local universities.
ProNatura has also received funding for conservation work at the El Ocote and Chimalapas IBAs, and at the Calakmul, Mapimí and Sierra de la Laguna Biosphere Reserves, which are all of immense importance for Neotropical migrants. There is further funding for the Veracruz River of Raptors initiative, which seeks to improve protection for the five million raptors of 25 species which migrate via a geographic bottleneck between the Sierra Madre Oriental and the Gulf of Mexico.
The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act of 2000 established the matching grants program to fund projects promoting the conservation of Neotropical migratory birds in the United States, Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean. By law, at least 75% of the money goes to projects in Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada, while the remaining 25% can go to projects in the United States. A number of the grants will enable Audubon (BirdLife in the USA) to restore habitats and improve the protection of migration corridors within the United States, and Audubon is also involved in many of the projects outside US borders.
"These grants will support important multi-national partnership projects throughout the hemisphere so future generations of people in North, Central and South America can enjoy and appreciate these remarkable birds", said US Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

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

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