New flufftail site

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Local conservation group discover new flufftail site

Local conservation group discover new flufftail site

The Berga Bird Lovers IBA Local Conservation Group has found a third Ethiopian breeding site for the threatened White-winged Flufftail, greatly extending the scientific knowledge of this elusive bird's behaviour in and out of the breeding season.
Although known with certainty from Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, the White-winged Flufftail is confirmed to breed only in Ethiopia. "No one knows whether the birds in these three countries are part of one population or are distinct," said Aster Tefera, community project coordinator for the Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society (EWNHS, BirdLife in Ethiopia). "What is for sure is that they do not spend all their time in any of the sites where they are known to occur."
In 1995 scientists from EWNHS rediscovered White-winged Flufftail in Ethiopia, at the Suluta Valley Wetlands. Two years later, a breeding site was discovered at Berga wetlands. A second, larger breeding population was discovered in 2001 at Wersebi wetlands near Addis Ababa. The birds at Berga stay perhaps just six weeks during July and August, after which the site begins to dry out and human disturbance resumes.
Members of the Berga IBA Local Conservation Group patrol the site during breeding to prevent grass cutting and cattle trampling, and monitor the birds and their nests.
"The IBA Local Conservation Group approach seems to be a winner not only for involving local people in conservation, but also in harnessing their traditional knowledge to improve scientific knowledge of species." —Aster Terefa, EWNHS
Aster Tefera discovered the new site while checking the source of freshly-cut grass and sedge she had found awaiting transport by the roadside near Berga, during the breeding season. The grass proved to come from a permanent marsh near the Bilacha river, close to Berga. At her instigation, two members of the local group, Kuma Gemeda and Teshone Dinku, began surveying the site, and found three adult White-winged Flufftails in July, and three eggs towards the end of August. Regular monitoring revealed newly constructed nests in September (a maximum of 19), October and November, with both freshly laid eggs and hatched shells in evidence throughout.
"These findings show the birds breed well into the dry season, stay over four months within Ethiopia, and may very well wander around within Ethiopia rather than migrate after the main breeding season," Aster Tefera said.
Establishing the Berga Bird Lovers IBA Local Conservation Group not only helped with conservation of the site, but improved the livelihoods of local people, many of them landless, who raise income working in a tree nursery, and supplement their diet growing vegetables. The group is on its way to becoming self supporting, and early in 2005 registered as the Berga Bird Lovers Saving and Credit Cooperative.
The White-winged Flufftail is officially classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List
Photograph by Alistair McInnes. News Birdlife International

White-winged Flufftail  Sarothrura ayresi

White-winged Flufftail Sarothrura ayresi

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world.
Family/Sub-family RALLIDAE

Species name author (Gurney, 1877)

Taxonomic source(s) Dowsett and Forbes-Watson (1993), Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993)

Identification 14 cm. Tiny rail. Adult male has chestnut head. Both sexes have black-barred chestnut tail and white wing-patches (very obvious in flight, not visible at rest). Similar spp. No other flufftail Sarothrura has white wing-patches. Female paler below than other female flufftails Voice Soft, double-noted hooting, not unlike call of distant Grey Crowned-crane Balearica regulorum. Hints Most easily seen during wet season in upland marshes in central South Africa and Ethiopia.
Details of this book can be found by ckicking here

The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | World Bird News | World News archive. | Bird News archive for Africa | Ethiopia Bird News |  New flufftail site

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