World Bird News November 2007

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Several new Special Protection Areas designated in Cyprus

Several new Special Protection Areas designated in Cyprus

14-11-2007
The BirdLife Partner in Cyprus has welcomed the decision that another twelve Special Protection Areas (SPAs) have been designated on the island, covering key habitats for Bonelli’s Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus, Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus, European Roller (left) Coracias garrulus and seven other priority species.
The new designations bring the number of SPAs in Cyprus to nineteen, but six Important Bird Areas (IBAs) still remain undesignated.
Among the new Natura 2000 sites for birds are valleys home to buzzards, Cretzschmar’s Buntings Emberiza caesia and Cyprus Wheatear Oenanthe cypriaca. Remote gorges host breeding European Roller and Bonelli’s Eagle. There are also flatlands which are important for breeding Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus and migrating Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus and European Bee-eater Merops apiaster. Cape Greco, another of Cyprus's new Natura 2000 sites, is an important area for migratory birds, being situated on the southeastern tip of the island. The twelve designations are the product of a long BirdLife lobbying campaign and come four months after the European Commission sent a first warning letter to Cyprus about inadequate designation of SPAs. Only four of the new SPAs are Important Bird Areas (IBAs) listed in BirdLife Cyprus’s 2004 inventory, the other eight being sites identified by the relevant government authority (the Game Fund) in close cooperation with BirdLife Cyprus, using more recent data.
Less encouraging is that six of the sixteen IBAs identified by BirdLife remain undesignated, almost four years after Cyprus's accession to the EU. Among the undesignated IBAs are three small wetlands important for breeding Spur-winged Plover Vanellus spinosus and Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus; a coastal strip used by migrating Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii; and the Akamas peninsula, a vital migration staging post for hundreds of Little Egret Egretta garzetta, Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides and Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus. The reasons for the non-designation of these five key IBAs are plainly socio-economic and can therefore not to be allowed under the Birds Directive.

Thousands of birds die in Black Sea oil spill

Thousands of birds die in Black Sea oil spill

13.11.07
Thousands of birds and fish have been killed as oil spills from a stricken tanker in the northern Black Sea. At least 30,000 birds have died, and thousands more are covered in oil and face death in the coming days. The main species reported to be affected are Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo (left), Common Coot Fulica atra, Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus and Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis. So far, 50km of Russian coastline is affected by the oil spills.
Dr Clairie Papazoglou, Head of BirdLife’s European Division comments: “BirdLife International is very concerned as this incident is an ecological disaster in an important area for wildlife.”
Two Important Bird Areas (IBAs), nearby, the Kiziltash Bay and the Tamanski and Dinskiy Bays, are under threat. Both are designated primarily for migrating and wintering birds. Up to 50,000 migratory waterfowl and other birds are known to use the sites during migration. Among these are Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus, listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla.
On Saturday night November 10th, a heavy storm brought severe damage to vessels stuck in the Kerch Strait between the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. One vessel broke in two, leaking at least 2,000 tonnes of oil in the Black Sea. At least three more vessels that sank carried potentially hazardous sulphur. Twelve ships in total were reported to have been affected by the storms, killing at least six sailors.
Due to the weather circumstances which are still difficult at the moment, information about the current situation in the area is sparse. BirdLife’s network representatives are therefore relying on local sources to receive updates.
Weather services have announced more storms for tonight which make it impossible to undertake large-scale rescue operations at sea or to start cleaning oil-covered birds.
Oiled Great Cormorant Picture Birdlife International

For books about Swallows click here

For books about Swallows click here

10-11-2007
Runway success for La Mercy swallows
As five million Barn Swallows migrate from across Europe to roost in South Africa’s Mt Moreland Reedbed, they will be greeted by more than just birdwatchers. In future air traffic controllers at La Mercy Airport will be among those watching the birds come in, if necessary informing pilots of the swallow flocks when coming into land so that collisions can be avoided.
The plan to protect the birds will be announced tomorrow (November 11) at a special ceremony at the reedbed, attended by BirdLife South Africa.
The decision – one of a number of key mitigation actions announced – was made in response to global outcry last November, when BirdLife outlined its concern about the expansion of La Mercy Airport, in preparation for South Africa’s hosting of World Cup 2010.
The threat that planes would pose to the adjacent roost – arguably Africa’s largest – was put across by conservationists and BirdLife Partners throughout Europe, most notably by the RSPB, BirdLife’s Partner in the UK, a country in which a number of the Barn Swallows breed.
The campaign was led by BirdLife South Africa: “This has been a fantastic result, and we’re delighted to report on this outcome after a year of negotiations and meetings. The support of so many people – via letters and petitions – has played an important part.” said Neil Smith, Conservation Manager at BirdLife South Africa.
“Since our campaign started, the Airports Company of South Africa [the organisation behind La Mercy] has really come on board, quickly realising the importance of this site as a reedbed of international significance.” Following BirdLife’s complaint, consultants were brought in to examine the roosting and flocking behaviour of the swallows, using advanced radar imagery. Their results confirmed that constant monitoring of the swallow movements during take-off and landing of aircraft would be required.
The Airports Company of South Africa has now listed a number of measures that it will take to ensure that the roost and the airport can coexist. These include employing environmental management staff to make sure that suitable management of the reedbed continues.
Perhaps most significantly, the same advanced radar technology used to study the movement of the swallows will also be installed in the airport control tower. This will mean that planes can take the option of circling or approaching from another angle when large flocks of swallows form over the reedbed site in the late evening.
“Losing such a valuable site could have affected breeding swallow populations across Europe”, said Dr Ian Burfield, Birdlife’s European Research and Database Manager. “Conserving migratory birds is about more than ensuring one site is protected or well managed. It takes global effort: at breeding sites, at stopover sites during migration, and at important non-breeding sites like this, where large numbers of birds roost.”
The Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica undertakes one of the world’s most remarkable migrations, with many individuals flying thousands of miles in spring to breed in Europe and then repeating the feat in the autumn, to spend the boreal winter in southern Africa. Numbers of Barn Swallows have declined across many European countries, largely as a result of agricultural intensification and simplification.

Government of Cambodia declares Sarus Crane Reserve

05-11-2007
One of the most globally important sites for the South-east Asian race sharpii of Sarus Crane Grus antigone – the fastest declining of the three races of this Vulnerable species – has been declared a reserve after several years of active lobbying by the Wildlife Protection Office of the Forestry Administration in partnership with BirdLife International in Indochina.
The Council of Ministers of the Government of Cambodia has now approved a proposal to protect nearly 9,000 hectares, comprising 919 ha of core area and 8,305 ha in total, of seasonally inundated grassland in Takeo Province in south-eastern Cambodia. The process to complete the notification of the Boeung Prek Lapouv Sarus Crane Conservation Area was recently completed upon signing of a Prime Ministerial Decree by His Excellency Hun Sen.
The site is used by up to 300 Sarus Cranes, nearly 40% the global population of the race sharpii. The Sarus Cranes arrive in December and remain until February when the site dries-up. There are only three other sites regularly used by this sub-species during the non-breeding season. Of these two are in Cambodia and the third in Vietnam. All three of these sites are under conservation management but only two are currently protected by law. BirdLife and the Forestry Administration are now working to have the third Cambodian site at Kampong Trach, also protected by law.
“BirdLife has been working with our colleagues at the Forestry Administration to establish Boeung Prek Lapouv as a protected area for about five years,” said Jonathan C. Eames, Programme Manager for BirdLife International in Indochina.
The Forestry Administration (FA) is part of Cambodia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and the work which has resulted in the “gazettement” of the the IBA as a protected area was led by Mr Seng Kim Hout, who was seconded to BirdLife from the Wildlife Protection Office of the FA, and his colleague Mr Men Phymean, Director of the Wildlife Protection Office.
Eames said that the proposal had been through many iterations, and the final area approved was somewhat smaller than BirdLife had lobbied for. “However, the site is located in one of the poorest and most densely populated parts of Cambodia. It is a tribute to the Cambodian Government that they put conservation first over allocation of the land to rice cultivation, which they could easily have done.”
Bou Vorsak, Cambodia Acting Programme Manager for BirdLife’s work in Cambodia, said this was a landmark decision for BirdLife. “This is the first protected area in Cambodia that we have proposed and succeeded in having the government gazette. We are proud of this achievement.”
Since 2003, Boeung Prek Lapouv has been patrolled by a Site Support Group established by BirdLife, which has successfully prevented incursions by dry season rice farmers and hunters (particularly from Vietnam as the sites lied very close to the international frontier), as well as raising awareness of the importance of the area’s biodiversity, and the benefits of sustainable use, among the local communities. Other threats faced by the site include water draw-off for rice irrigation and the spread of the invasive plant Mimosa pigra.
Directory of Important Bird Areas in Cambodia click here

Flamingo threat put on temporary hold

Flamingo threat put on temporary hold

A temporary lifeline has been thrown to the one million lesser flamingos of Tanzania’s Lake Natron, threatened by huge industrial development on their most important breeding site in the world.
The plan to build a soda ash plant on the lake, in northern Tanzania in the Great Rift Valley, has been thrown out for now and the developers, Lake Natron Resources, have been ordered to produce a new and better environmental statement and consider other sites for soda ash extraction. The firm is jointly owned by the Indian company TATA Chemicals and the Tanzanian Government.
Dr Mike Rands, Chief Executive of BirdLife, said: “The proposal to develop Lake Natron for soda ash extraction is misguided and the decision today is a victory for conservation and for common sense.
“The flamingos are not safe yet. The developers should choose another location for extracting soda ash and abandon their plans for Lake Natron”.
Groups reporting to Tanzania’s environment ministry called time early on today’s meeting to assess the developer’s obligatory environmental assessment for the soda ash plant.
Of the 14 bodies present, including conservation groups, national parks and the EU, representing donors, most said the development should be rejected because of the risk of driving away the flamingos, harming other species and irreversibly damaging Lake Natron, which is protected by international law.
Lota Melamari, Chief Executive of the Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania, who was at today’s meeting said: 'The survival of the lesser flamingo must not be jeopardised.”

The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | World Bird News | World Bird News 2007 |  World Bird News November 2007

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