World Bird News September 2013

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Rare sighting of marked Spoon-billed Sandpiper on migration

Rare sighting of marked Spoon-billed Sandpiper on migration

By smadmin, Fri, 06/09/2013 - 09:43

A rare sighting of a marked Spoon-billed Sandpiper on migration was reported last weekend from Rudong mudflats north of Shanghai.

The Critically Endangered bird was identified by a lime green plastic flag on its leg marked ‘01’ that was attached by scientists from Birds Russia on its breeding grounds this summer. Conservationists know that this bird ‘Lime 01’ fathered six fledglings this summer – three that were hand-reared by conservationists and three that he raised himself – which is 10 times the average for the species.

In all, this summer sixteen hand-reared spoon-billed sandpiper fledglings and eight adults were marked with the lime green plastic leg flags. Birdwatchers are being asked to report all sightings of Spoon-billed Sandpipers.

Rudong mudflats are the most significant known staging post in China for Spoon-billed Sandpipers where 106 individuals were counted last year in October. Demand for land is high in the region, which is only 150km from Shanghai, and land has already been reclaimed from the marshes at Dongling to the southern end.

Pavel Tomkovich of Birds Russia, who caught and marked the bird with Nikolai Yakushev, said: “When I marked “Lime 01” I wondered if anybody would ever see it on its travels, almost a quarter of the way round the world, as looking for Spoon-billed Sandpipers can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Looking for marked birds is even more difficult as we were only able to mark eight adult birds with these unique flags. Thanks to the reports of local birdwatchers, we’re learning their stopover points.”

‘Lime 01’ was seen leaving the breeding grounds on 4 August and was seen 5,000km away at Rudong on 31 August. Spoon-billed sandpipers can cover as much as 1,000km per day, leaving around three weeks during which it may have been staging elsewhere.

Zhang Lin of the “Spoon-billed Sandpiper in China” Team said: “The first Spoon-billed Sandpiper arrived at Rudong about two weeks ago since when I have been regularly scanning the increasing numbers of waders at the high tide roost at Rudong. When I glimpsed a bird on 31 August that looked like it had a lime green leg flag I knew something exciting was in front of me. On closer inspection it turned out to be ‘Lime 01’. I was over the moon as this is the first time that one of the birds marked in 2013 has been seen in China.”

“It is amazing to see how these little but Critically Endangered birds are connecting our key sites along the flyway between Russia and China. They are very important as they allow us to track whether efforts to save the species are working.”

BirdLife’s project to save Rudong and Minjiang Estuary, two key resting and feeding sites used by Spoon-billed Sandpipers in China, ‘Saving Spoony’s Chinese Wetlands’ is supported by a $100,000 grant from The Walt Disney Company, through Disney’s Friends for Change. Guidance on reporting spoon-billed sandpiper sightings is available from the East-Asian Australasian Flyway Partnership

Record season for Morocco’s Northern Bald Ibises

By SEO.BirdLife, Mon, 16/09/2013 - 12:45

The largest fully wild population of Critically Endangered Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita has had its second most successful breeding season on record, with the number of breeding pairs at its highest since surveys began in the 1980s.

The colonies at Souss-Massa National Park and nearby Tamri, in south-west Morocco, fledged 148 young, bringing the total population at the end of the breeding season to 443 birds. Once widespread in North Africa and Europe, the Northern Bald Ibis survives in two disjunct populations. Well to the east of the Moroccan birds is the semi-captive population at Birecik in Turkey, and south of that a tiny remnant population at Palmyra, Syria.

Management and conservation of the Moroccan population is supervised by SEO/BirdLife (BirdLife in Spain) in conjunction with High Commission for Water and Forest and Fight against desertification and GREPOM (BirdLife in Morocco). SEO/BirdLife has hired seven wardens to protect and monitor the colonies, with funding from HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, the Species Champion, through the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.

The wardens provide daily fresh water for the birds, and prevent disturbance. This year they succeeded in persuading a persistent group of anglers to move away from one sub-colony in the National Park, allowing the ibises to begin nesting.

The Tamri colony commenced breeding in early February. In contrast to 2012, when breeding at Tamri failed completely, possibly because of low rainfall, 60 pairs fledged 71 young. In Souss Massa National Park breeding did not begin until the first week of March.

One sub-colony of six pairs was prevented from nesting by a Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus, which flew so regularly over the nest ledge that the birds abandoned it. The remaining 53 pairs produced 77 fledglings. The success may be partly due to better weather, including 200mm of rainfall between September 2012 and April 2013, which improved prey availability.

“Our monitoring shows that the Northern Bald Ibis population at Souss-Massa contains the largest number of breeding pairs recorded since conservation of this species began in 1993, and certainly since the first surveys of the species in the early 1980s”, said SEO/BirdLife’s Jorge Fernández Orueta. “Only in 2004 was the number of fledged young higher, and if it were not for the territorial behaviour of the Lanner Falcon, this year would probably have exceeded it."

Parks Canada aims to make seabird island IBAs rat-free

By nick.langley, Fri, 20/09/2013 - 13:20

Following a pilot eradication on two smaller islets, Parks Canada staff are clearing invasive rats from two important seabird breeding islands in the north of the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site on the archipelago of Haida Gwaii, a dense chain of islands in the Pacific off the coast of British Columbia.

Rat bait containing a rodenticide is being dropped on the islands by helicopter, a technique first developed in New Zealand, and also used by BirdLife to restore seabird breeding islands in the South Pacific.

The Haida Gwaii archipelago includes many Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) recognised for their populations of breeding seabirds. Parts or all of nine IBAs are protected by the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site.

“Half the world population of Ancient Murrelet Synthliboramphus antiquus breed on Haida Gwaii, and approximately half of these breed within the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve”, said Laurie Wein, the project’s manager at Parks Canada.

Sudan government acts on ”killer power line”

By Julien.Jreissati, Sun, 22/09/2013 - 06:41

A workshop of the Migratory Soaring Birds (MSB) project led by BirdLife International and the United Nations Development Program has prompted the Sudanese government to replace one of the most deadly power lines in Africa for large migratory birds , the Port Sudan “killer line”.

In particular the 31-km long power line is estimated to have killed hundreds and perhaps thousands of Egyptian Vultures Neophron percnopterus since it was constructed in the 1950s.The most recent survey found, during the month of September alone, the carcasses of 17 Egyptian vultures along the power line. All the carcasses were found under power poles, 15 under metal poles and two under concrete poles, making electrocution the most likely cause of death.

The March 2013 workshop, funded by the MSB project, was presented by the Sudanese Wildlife Society (SWS) who is the local non-governmental partner in the project. The opening session was held at the offices of the Sudanese Company for Electricity Transmission. Guests included the Director General and senior engineers of the Electricity Transmission Company, the Director of the Sudanese Electricity Distribution Company, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, and the Director General of the Wildlife Conservation General Administration.

The President of SWS, Professor Ibrahim Hashim, gave a presentation about the impact of power lines on migratory soaring birds, with the emphasis on the Port Sudan “killer line”. He then introduced the MSB project guidance materials on bird-sensitive power line development [available here].

“Responses from the distinguished speakers were positive”, said Ibrahim Hashim. “All of them stressed the importance of solving the killer power line. The Director of the Electricity Company emphasised the impact of the killer line on birds, as well as the power loss due to electrocution, and he promised to solve the problem.”

The new power line will run parallel to the existing line. The 510 new poles will be insulated with XLPE insulated (AAC) aluminum conductors. The work is expected to take two months, after which the killer line will be removed.

“I was surprised and delighted when I was told that the Electricity Company is working on a new insulated power line that would be finished so soon”, said Professor Hashim. “We thank the Director for fulfilling his promise, which is important for the conservation of Migratory Soaring Birds in the Red Sea area.” The MSB project will follow and report on the progress of the new power line.

Because of nearby rubbish dumps, livestock farms and a slaughterhouse, the area around the power line has historically been an important stopover and wintering site for Egyptian Vultures, though much smaller numbers have been recorded in recent years. In the paper Persistent electrocution mortality of Egyptian Vultures Neophron percnopterus over 28 years in East Africa <Actinic:Variable Name = '1'/>,

Professor Hashim and authors from the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BirdLife in Bulgaria) and the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) suggest “this power line may have caused the death of sufficient Egyptian Vultures to partially explain population declines in the Middle East, from where the electrocuted birds may originate.” In 2007 the BirdLife/IUCN Red List status of the Egyptian Vulture was raised from Least Concern to Endangered as a consequence of widespread population declines.

Dr. Marco Lambertini, Chief Executive of BirdLife International welcome the decision “This is a great example on how evidence based science help governments, businesses and civil society work together to address drivers of biodiversity loss. The BirdLife International Partnership salutes the commitment of the Sudanese Government and the national Electricity Transmission Company and greatly look forward to the day the “killer line” will be replaced with the new insulated bird friendly power line.” F

or more information contact the Regional Flyway Facility or the Sudanese Wildlife Society here. <Actinic:Variable Name = '1'/> Angelov I, Hashim I, and Oppel S Persistent electrocution mortality of Egyptian Vultures Neophron percnopterus over 28 years in East Africa Bird Conservation International / Volume 23 / Issue 01 / March 2013, pp 1 - 6

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