World Bird News November 2014

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Save the Spoon-billed sandpiper

Firsts for flamingos in Tunisia

This year, for the first time, a small colony of about one hundred Greater Flamingo nested successfully in the Korba Lagoons, northern Tunisia. Les Amis des Oiseaux (AAO, BirdLife in Tunisia) quickly mobilized its members and partners to help ring 45 young flamingos, making this also the first time flamingos have been ringed in Tunisia. Ringing the flamingos was a big communual operation involving 80 people, with some volunteers wading into the lagoon to herd the birds.
The project Development of eco-tourism activities for the conservation of Key Biodiversity Areas in northern Tunisia, implemented by AAO and four local Tunisian organisations, and funded by the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund (CEPF), largely contributed to the discovery and monitoring of this small colony of flamingos. Through the project AAO have increased local capacity for conservation activities, and now have Local Conservation Groups (LCGs) who survey and care for key sites such as the Korba Lagoons, an Important Bird & Biodiversity Area (IBA).

This new colony is exciting for AAO, who recorded the last successful breeding of flamingos in Tunisia in 2007 at Thyna Salines.
“Flamingos often return to their nesting site to breed”, said Hichem Azafzaf, Les Amis des Oiseaux (AAO). “So we hope that through our project to develop ecotourism, we can ensure that Korba Lagoons remain an attractive and biodiversity-rich wintering and breeding site for flamingos to return in the coming years.”
Ringing birds involves fitting a uniquely coded plastic coloured tag to a bird’s leg, which allows a vast network of observers to trace the bird’s movements for conservation science. Young flamingos are covered in grey feathers; it is only after 4 - 7 years that they finally develop their splendid pink plumage which they get from carotenoid pigments in the organisms that live in their feeding grounds.
The Secretary of State for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Mounir Majdoub, helped with the ringing and highlighted the importance of supporting environmental action. This operation also served to raise awareness of the importance of the lagoons and the need for the protection of critical ecosystems in the western Mediterranean.
AAO would also like to that Tour du Valat, who provided technical and scientific support; the Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas, who provided financial support; the Coastal Protection and Planning Agency and the Forestry Office, who provided support as managers of the site; and the Local Conservation Group, Association Tunisienne de Protection de la Nature et de l’Environnement de Korba.

Eurobirdwatch 2014 sees 2.5 million migrants in the air

Eurobirdwatch 2014 sees 2.5 million migrants in the air

By Elodie Cantaloube, Mon, 20/10/2014 - 08:18

On the weekend 4–5 October, over 23,000 people took part in the most exciting nature event of the autumn: the annual Eurobirdwatch. From Portugal to Kazakhstan, from Malta to Norway, BirdLife Partners invited people of all ages to discover and observe the fascinating migration of birds. The result of these two days of fun, exchange and learning was the observation of over 2.5 million birds as they migrated to southern countries in search of suitable wintering grounds.

In autumn, some species of birds, the so-called migratory birds, leave the north, where they breed in spring and summer and head to their wintering grounds in the south. The migration of several thousands of birds of different species is a unique spectacle; the BirdLife Partnership aims to offer everyone the opportunity to witness it.

Eurobirdwatch was created for this very reason: every year, on the first weekend of October when migrations reach their peak, BirdLife Partners organise a range of birdwatching events throughout Europe and Central Asia and encourage children, families, bird lovers and the simply curious to join them to enjoy the show.

This year, for the 21st anniversary of Eurobirdwatch, about 900 events were organised by BirdLife Partners in 40 countries. The most frequently seen species were Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris, Common Coot Fulica atra and Mallard Anas platyrhynchos.

Over the years, Eurobirdwatch has become increasingly successful, attracting growing numbers of participants, and becoming a magnet for VIPs wanting to participate. This year, the Diplomatic Core in Montenegro, the British Ambassador in Uzbekistan, the US Ambassador, the Deputy Minister of Nature Protection and special representatives of NGOs in Armenia as well as the Minister for Health and the Environment in Gibraltar all took part.

Find more information about the events, the ornithological highlights in every country and photos of the 21st Eurobirdwatch at

Renewable energy and migratory birds

By Martin Fowlie, Thu, 06/11/2014 - 16:16

The development of renewable energy is crucially important – but it must be in the right way and the right place. Without proper planning, energy developments, including wind turbines and power lines, can be a major threat to migratory birds. The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) provides a unique forum to gather best practice from around the world and share it amongst Parties, the energy industry, financial institutions and other stakeholders, helping to minimise the impact of renewable energy developments on migratory species.

At the 11th Conference of the Parties of CMS in Quito, Ecuador, BirdLife coordinated an event on Renewable Energy, Powerlines and Migratory Species. The draft Renewable Energy Technologies and Migratory Species Guidelines for Sustainable Development developed collaboratively between International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), CMS, AEWA and BirdLife were presented by Jan van der Winden, Bureau Waardenburg, followed by an update on the BirdLife Migratory Soaring Birds Project, which is mainstreaming considerations of migratory birds into the energy industry (Marcus Kohler, BirdLife International).

Examples of cutting-edge approaches were presented from Scotland (Colin Galbraith, Scottish Windfarm Bird Steering Group) and South Africa (Hanneline Smit-Robinson, BirdLife South Africa). The panel was joined by Gerhard Adams, Federal Ministry for the Environment Germany, who expressed Germany’s support for CMS work in this area.

CMS COP is considering a draft resolution on renewable energy and migratory birds, based on a comprehensive review of impacts and mitigation approaches. The draft resolution, strongly supported by BirdLife, proposes the establishment of a global Energy Task Force, initially to focus on African-Eurasian birds. This will help implement global guidelines on renewable energy which it is hoped COP11 will adopt, together with previously endorsed guidelines on powerlines.

Hopes are raised as global agreements aim to make world a safer place for migratory birds

By Martin Fowlie, Mon, 10/11/2014 - 16:03

Two new global agreements have been reached that will help save migratory bird species across the world.

The Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) agreed a set of guidelines to tackle causes of poisoning and ratified a ground-breaking action plan to save more than 400 bird species.

The Poisoning Resolution to reduce and minimise poisoning of migrating birds includes a ban on veterinary diclofenac, the phasing out of all lead ammunition, and action on rodenticides, insecticides and poison baits.

These five groups of poisons were identified as the most significant poisoning risks to migratory birds and the agreement marks a key milestone in ending this threat.

Melanie Heath, BirdLife’s Director of Science Policy and Information said, “The CMS is to be congratulated on this hugely positive outcome. Although not legally binding, this agreement clearly signals governments’ commitment to ending poisoning from lead ammunition, diclofenac and other key sources. BirdLife looks forward to working alongside governments, NGOs and others including hunters and farmers.”

The poisons covered by the guidelines are collectively a huge threat to migratory birds. Diclofenac, for example, nearly wiped out vultures in India before being banned for veterinary use. Later this month, the European Medicines Agency will announce their ruling on the recent authorisation of this same drug in the EU.

Iván Ramírez, BirdLife International’s Head of Conservation for Europe and Central Asia said, “Lead ammunition and veterinary diclofenac are dangerous and pose an unnecessary threat to wildlife and people. We do have safe and cost-effective alternatives for both and we expect immediate action from both the European Commission and all EU Member States.”

Also ratified at the Conference of the Parties, the African-Eurasian Landbird Action Plan sets out ways to improve the conservation status of more than 400 different species of bird that use the flyway. It identifies the need for landscape-scale protection and recognises how groups working together can make a real difference.

The conservation of migratory landbirds needs to be tackled on a broad front, in a very different way to waterbirds, where connected sites can be protected. What is needed is to influence large scale land use decisions for the benefit of both migratory birds and local people.

A particular focus of this implementation will to be trying to influence land use in Africa, in collaboration with poverty alleviation, food and water security, anti-desertification and climate change mitigation communities.

“If we get this right then it’s a win-win situation for birds and people”, said Nicola Crockford, International Species Policy Officer at the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK). “These frameworks should also substantially assist the European Union’s efforts to conserve migratory birds within its territory, and to ensure that these efforts are not undermined through damaging activities elsewhere along the flyway.”

Hundreds of important sites for nature threatened with destruction

Hundreds of important sites for nature threatened with destruction

By Martin Fowlie, Fri, 14/11/2014 - 22:38

More than 350 of the planet’s most important sites for nature are threatened with being lost forever according to a new report by BirdLife International.

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) are places of international significance for the conservation of the world’s birds and other nature, with over twelve thousand having been identified worldwide. IBAs are the largest and most comprehensive global network of important sites for nature conservation. Now, 356 of these – known as ‘IBAs in Danger’ – have been identified in 122 countries and territories as being in imminent danger of being lost. About half of these are legally protected, which highlights the importance of improving the management effectiveness of protected areas.

“‘IBAs in Danger’ provides an essential focus for governments, development agencies, the international environmental and conservation conventions, business and wider civil society to act to prevent the further damage or loss of these sites of international significance”, said Melanie Heath, BirdLife’s Director of Science, Policy and Information.

“Collectively we must work together to mitigate these threats, strengthen the implementation of national and local laws and policies ensuring environmental safeguards are implemented at the earliest stages of development, as well as enhancing the management of these sites”.

Serbian Bird Crime Task Force working at putting an end to the illegal bird trade

Serbian Bird Crime Task Force working at putting an end to the illegal bird trade

By Alessia Calderalo, Tue, 18/11/2014 - 11:40

Many bird species in Serbia are subject to poaching and captivity for commercial reasons.

Autumn and especially winter are not particularly welcoming seasons for many bird species, reason why they fly across the world to escape inclement. Sadly, small passerines and other similar bird species in Serbia will not be as lucky, as many of them are subject to poaching and captivity for commercial reasons.

The Bird Protection and Study Society of Serbia (BPSSS; BirdLife Partner), counts on the support of its Bird Crime Task Force to help tackle this worrying issue. In 2014, this Task Force assisted environmental inspectors and the Serbian police at two fairs in the city of Panc(evo, on the banks of the Danube and Tamiš rivers.

These events have become a place for the hidden trade of wild birds, including many migratory species, and they take place all over Serbia. Traders attend these fairs under the pretext of being bird lovers. However, in 2014 three people were detained for the possession of 111 wild birds according to Milan Ružic', vice-president of BPSSS.

After arresting these three criminals, the next step will be raising public awareness to stress the seriousness of these activities. Currently, it is not unusual to find advertisements in Serbia displaying the sale of wild protected species. Also there is evidence that some poachers are killing the female birds, because “females do not sing”.

A more sophisticated and continuous surveillance is urgently required at these types of public events, where illegal activities often occur. BPSSS, with its Bird Crime Task Force, will continue to work with the police and environmental inspectors in preventing wild bird crime in Serbia.

The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | World Bird News | World Bird News 2014 |  World Bird News November 2014

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