Good Chinese rare bird news


This video from Britain says about itself:

Snow Bunting at GodrevyWildlife in Cornwall.

Snow buntings have a rare relative in East Asia, about which there is news.

From BirdLife:

New breeding sites found for Asia’s rarest bunting

By Martin Fowlie, Thu, 05/12/2013 – 11:11

Three previously unknown breeding sites of Asia’s rarest bunting have been discovered by a team from the Beijing Bird Watching Society working with BirdLife’s China Programme.

Rufous-backed Bunting Emberiza jankowskii, also known as Jankowski’s Bunting has declined drastically because of conversion of its habitat to farmland, and it is now known only from a restricted area in north-east China.

In April and May this year, breeding buntings were found at six sites, including three new, in the Xing’an League of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China. At least 70 birds were identified, mostly singing males. At one previously known site near the Ke’erqin (Horqin) National Nature Reserve, the population had doubled to 41 birds since 2011 after the area was fenced to prevent livestock trampling in the breeding season.

In June 2012, BirdLife’s China Programme and the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society organised the first local workshop on the conservation of this species. Most of the recommendations have been implemented: production of education material; formation of a communication network of local government agencies, nature reserves and researchers; and surveys in suitable areas of sandy grassland with Siberian apricot bushes.

To further raise the profile of the bunting, a second workshop was held in November 2013, in Ulanhot, capital of Xing’an League. Key outcomes included agreements by the local government to work for the conservation of Rufous-backed Bunting and to provide information on Siberian apricot habitats to inform future surveys. The conservation of the species will be promoted during “Love Birds Week”, a nationwide event held every spring. Nature reserve staff and local volunteers will be trained to assist with surveys and conservation projects.

In addition, it has been recommended that Rufous-backed Bunting be listed as the official symbol of the Xing’an League. An award-winning documentary film by local wildlife photographers Mr Dong Guijun and Ms Du Shuxian will be used to promote this species within and outside China. Studies of the winter distribution of the Rufous-backed Bunting have been discussed with the National Bird Banding Center of China, including colour-ringing to monitor local movements.

“These discoveries are very encouraging. When new sites are found we must work with the local government and landowners to protect them” said Vivian Fu, Assistant Manager of the China Programme.

Terry Townshend, a BirdLife Species Champion, who has been campaigning for action for the species, attended the workshop and commented, “The outcomes of the workshop demonstrate a genuine commitment from the local officials in Xing’an to help protect and conserve this beautiful bird.  I am optimistic that, provided we can secure further support, Rufous-backed Bunting will be saved from extinction.”

This work has been aided by the Ernest Kleinwort Charitable Trust and Oriental Bird Club and is being undertaken with the support of the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.

If you’d like to help this important conservation action too please make a donation here.

Rare two-barred warbler in the Netherlands


This video says about itself:

Two-barred Greenish Warbler (Phylloscopus plumbeitarsus)

25 May 2011

Freshly arrived migrant, Two-barred Greenish Warbler, feeding in coastal trees at Lighthouse Point, Beidaihe, NE China.

Dutch Bird Alerts reports that on 23 November, a two-barred [greenish] warbler was ringed in Flevoland province in the Netherlands. It was a young female in winter plumage. See also here.

This species nests in Siberia and northern China and is very rare in western Europe.

Hand-reared spoon-billed sandpiper travels 8,000km


This video says about itself:

Journey of Spoon-billed Sandpiper

27 June 2013

The aim of the project was to promote the conservation of a Critically Endangered bird species called Spoon-billed Sandpiper. The population is now less than 200 pairs. Each year, this small shorebird has to fly from their breeding ground at Siberia, Russia down to South East Asia for wintering. The main threats it is facing are intertidal habitat loss throughout its migratory and wintering ranges, as well as bird trapping.

This project involved 500 children and helpers from 12 areas and 8 countries (Russia, Republic of Korea, Japan, mainland China, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and Bangladesh). Children helped colouring the animation one picture by one picture. About 1200 pictures were coloured.

The project was organized by the China Programme of BirdLife International/Hong KongBird Watching Society and was sponsored by the Eric Hosking Trust.

From Wildlife Extra:

A hand-reared sandpiper travels 8,000km

November 2013; A rare hand-reared spoon-billed sandpiper has been spotted for the first time in the wild, more than 8,000km from where it was released in Russia.

Twenty-five of the critically endangered birds have been raised over two years by an Anglo-Russia conservation team on the Russian tundra, before being released to join their wild-born counterparts in migrating to South-East Asia. However until now it was unknown whether any would be spotted until they return to Russia to breed aged two-years-old, so the news one has been seen in Thailand, on the coast near Bangkok, and another in southern China was welcomed.

WWT Head of Species Conservation Department, Baz Hughes said: “This is really exciting news. We now know that spoon-billed sandpipers, raised by our avicultural staff on the Russian tundra, can migrate with their wild counterparts to wintering areas a quarter of the way around the globe.”

Conservationists take eggs from wild spoon-billed sandpiper nests, prompting the parent birds to lay a further clutch. The hand-reared chicks are safe from predators and, with the wild-raised chicks from the second clutch, it increases the total number of birds fledging by up to ten times. The hand-reared birds are all marked with small white plastic leg flags. Marking birds allows them to be identified later and helps reveal information about their movements and behaviour.

Christoph Zöckler, Coordinator of the East Asian- Australasian Flyway Partnership’s Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force said: “We’ve learnt an enormous amount about spoon-billed sandpipers’ movements over the last few years but there are big gaps. While we still don’t know all the places they stop over on migration, we can’t protect them or address any threats they face there.”

Saving wetlands and their wildlife


This video from the USA says about itself:

(Recorded in 1989) A wacky and entertaining video featuring Bill Nye “The Science Guy” talking about the importance of wetlands. Produced by the Washington State Department of Ecology with funds from the National Oceanic Administration (NOAA) under the Coastal Zone Management Act.

From the University of Essex in England today:

Helping protect the world’s wetland landscapes

23 minutes ago

Action to help preserve some of the world’s most valuable ecosystems is behind a major international project, led by the University of Essex.

The culmination of the five-year project has been the development of an integrated action planning toolkit on wetland conservation and management, which can be adapted to help provide bespoke solutions to protect valuable ecosystems around the globe.

Launched today at events in China, India and Vietnam, the Wetland Resources Action Planning (WRAP) toolkit offers researchers, technical planners and policymakers a systematic approach to conserve and to sustainably manage wetland ecosystems and biodiversity. …

This major initiative focused on highlands in Asia as they often harbor endemic species not found elsewhere or species threatened with extinction globally, such as the marbled eel in China and the golden mahseer and snow trout in India. What is concerning environmentalists is that these valuable ecosystems are increasingly under pressure from deforestation, land-use change, overfishing, flooding and worsening climate change impacts.

Oldest mating insect fossils discovered


This image shows a holotype male, on the right, and allotype female, on the left. Credit: PLoS ONE 8(11): e78188. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078188

From Phys.org today:

Earliest record of copulating insects discovered

1 hour ago

Scientists have found the oldest fossil depicting copulating insects in northeastern China, published November 6th in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Dong Ren and colleagues at the Capital Normal University in China.

Fossil records of mating insects are fairly sparse, and therefore our current knowledge of mating position and genitalia orientation in the early stages of evolution is rather limited.

In this study, the authors present a fossil of a pair of copulating froghoppers, a type of small insect that hops from plant to plant much like tiny frogs. The well-preserved fossil of these two froghoppers showed belly-to-belly mating position and depicts the male reproductive organ inserting into the female copulatory structure.

This is the earliest record of copulating insects to date, and suggests that froghoppers’ genital symmetry and mating position have remained static for over 165 million years. Ren adds, “We found these two very rare copulating froghoppers which provide a glimpse of interesting insect behavior and important data to understand their mating position and genitalia orientation during the Middle Jurassic.”

Good Chinese bird news


This video is called Nordmann’s Greenshank (Yubu Island. October 9, 2013).

From Wildlife Extra:

New hope for two of the most threatened birds in the world

Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Nordmann’s Greenshank found in record numbers in China

October 2013. An international survey team found a sensational record total of 140 Spoon-billed Sandpiper and 1,200 Nordmann’s Greenshank, two of the rarest and most threatened birds of the world in Rudong Jinagsu Province on the Chinese coastline.

Entire world population

“We believe the entire world population of the adult population of both Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Nordmannn’s Greenshank are staging at the highly productive intertidal flats on the coast of Rudong” stated Dr Nigel Clark from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) in the UK, highlighting its vital importance for the survival of both species.

Special wetland reserve created

Representatives of the local and provincial government announced the creation of a special wetland reserve for Spoon-billed Sandpipers during a workshop following the survey. “This is a historic moment in the conservation of the species. For the first time since our efforts to conserve the species began in 2000, we can realistically hope to save the species from extinction” concluded Dr Christoph Zöckler, coordinator of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper (SBS) Task Force, who organized the survey and workshop with Jing Li and Tong Menxiu from SBS in China.

Intertidal wetlands of outstanding international conservation importance

The survey, conducted by the conservation network SBS in China on October 15th-19th supported by an international team of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper (SBS) Task Force confirmed the outstanding international conservation importance of intertidal wetlands along the 120km of coastline between Dongtai and Rudong, Jiangsu Province.

Threatened by continuing reclamation for agricultural and industrial development

Many of the most important intertidal wetlands along the Jiangsu coast are threatened by continuing reclamation for agricultural and industrial development. However, local and provincial authorities now recognise the international importance of the area as shown by their announcement of the creation of a new protected area for spoon-billed sandpiper. This, together with two shellfish reserves which overlap with most of the wader feeding areas give the first protection to this vital link in the chain of wetlands that these two species depend on to get from their breeding areas in the arctic to the wintering sites in tropical SE Asia. It is hoped that these fledgling reserves will eventually achieve protection at provincial and national level.

“Our surveys confirm the intertidal wetlands of Rudong as the most important remaining stopover site for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper during its entire 8000km long migration route. Protecting these internationally important intertidal wetlands is vital for the sandpiper’s survival, and also for the maintenance of the shellfishery and other vital services provided by tidal-flats.” stated Jing Li (Coordinator of SBS in China).

As part of this work, Prof. Chang Qing, of Nanjing Normal University, who advises the Forest Department of the Jiangsu Province on environmental issues stated: “We now hope to create a working group of local government and NGOs that involves all stakeholders in the future planning of wetland reserves and their management.”

“I am very pleased to see so many Spoon-billed Sandpiper here in Rudong” concluded Dr Evgeny Syroechkovskiy of the Russian Ministry for Natural Resources, SBS Task Force Chair. He added: “I will encourage my ministry to include both, Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Nordmann’s Greenshank, which breed exclusively in Russia, into the recently signed bilateral agreement on migratory bird conservation between China and Russia.”

November 2013: The People’s Republic of China has designated five more Wetlands of International Importance, bringing its total to 46 Ramsar sites covering over 4 million hectares. Dongfanghong Wetland, located on the transition zone between the Wanda Mountains and the Ussuri River along the border with the Russian Federation, supports rare and globally threatened wildlife such as the critically threatened Baer’s Pochard duck and the endangered Oriental stork and tiger: here.

Waterbirds increase more rapidly in Ramsar wetlands than in unprotected wetlands: here.

Good spoon-billed sandpiper news


This video says about itself:

Spoon-billed Sandpiper: Hatch

Spoon-billed Sandpipers lay 4 eggs in a simple tundra nest comprised of a shallow depression, most often in mosses, lined with a few dwarf willow leaves. The nest is incubated by both adults on half-day shifts — the male most often during the day and the female at night. After 21 days of incubation the eggs begin to hatch in a process that takes a day or more to complete. When the young finally emerge from the nest they stumble about on well-developed legs and feet and begin to feed themselves. After the last chick emerges, the male begins his job of leading the chicks as they grow towards independence about 20 days later; the female soon departs and begins moving south. This piece captures the first moments of life at a wind swept Spoon-billed Sandpiper nest.

Video includes commentary by The Cornell Lab‘s Gerrit Vyn.

Filmed July 7, 2011 near Meinypilgyno, Chukotka, Russia.

Today, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA writes:

Spoon-billed Sandpiper Resighted, 10,000 Miles Later

Some unexpected good news has us looking back at this 2011 video of an endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper hatching its young in Russia. The adult male in this video was recently spotted in wetlands near Shanghai. In the intervening years, this one-ounce bird has flown the 3,200 mile journey between Russia and China three times and is still going strong—a symbolic moment of tenacity and hope for this critically endangered species.

Read the full story of videographer Gerrit Vyn’s encounter with this bird in Last of Their Kind, in our Living Bird magazine.

American rock song on Chinese traditional instrument, video


This 21 September 2013 music video is called Guns ‘N RosesSweet Child o’ MineGuzheng Cover.

From the Huffington Post in the USA:

This Unconventional Cover Of A Guns N’ Roses Song Is Beyond Awesome

Posted: 10/07/2013 11:19 am EDT

Vancouver musician Michelle Kwan rocks out with this most holy of covers, showing that nothing is more rock ‘n’ roll than an ancient Chinese string instrument.

You may not have guessed that a guzheng would so delicately capture the essence of Guns N’ Roses’ harmonious hit “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” In fact, you might not even know what a guzheng is.

For those of you who don’t know, a guzheng is a Chinese plucked zither, related to the Japanese koto, the Mongolian yatga, the Korean gayageum and the Vietnamese đàn tranh. If you don’t know what those are either, you’ll have to watch the video above to find out.

Enjoy the teenage musician’s unlikely hard rock ode and be warned: things get really intense around 2:37.