Chinese waterbirds counted

This video, showing various wader bird species, is called China-Jiang Su-spotted greenshank-2012 September.

From BirdLife:

China Coastal Waterbird Census wins Ford Green Award

Fri, Jan 25, 2013

China lies at the centre of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, and vast numbers of migratory birds pass through the country every year on the journeys between their breeding and non-breeding grounds. In the past seven years the China Coastal Waterbird Census has gathered a wealth of new information on the populations of the waterbirds that migrate along the coast of China, including many globally threatened species.

In late 2012, the team of volunteers that runs the China Coastal Waterbird Census was awarded the second prize in the Nature Conservation Pioneer Award category of the Ford Green Awards 2012. The extra resources provided by the award will be used to recruit new surveyors and cover additional sites, and to provide training to enhance the skills of the team.

The China Coastal Waterbird Census is a long-term project initiated by a group of keen birdwatchers in September 2005 with an aim of monitoring the distribution, numbers and seasonal movements of waterbirds through monthly surveys along the Chinese coast. It was also hoped that the results of the China Coastal Waterbird Census would assist with the conservation of the country’s biodiversity and Important Bird Areas.

Getting baseline data

The China Coastal Waterbird Census is coordinated by representatives from the different survey sites and to date more than 150 volunteers from Chinese birdwatching societies, nature reserves and other organisations have participated in the census work. At present, waterbirds are counted at thirteen coastal intertidal wetlands every month, in Liaoning, Tianjin, Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Fujian, Guangdong and Hong Kong.

The results of the monthly surveys are providing important baseline information on the biodiversity of the thirteen coastal sites and the distribution, populations and migratory movements of individual waterbird species in China. Since the start of the project, a total of 21 globally threatened species (four Critically Endangered, six Endangered and 11 Vulnerable) has been recorded, as well as 71 species that have been counted in internationally important numbers (exceeding 1% of their global or flyway population at one or more sites).

The China Coastal Waterbird Census has made some exciting discoveries, notably that Rudong in Jiangsu is a key stopover site for both Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Critically Endangered) and Spotted Greenshank (Endangered), that the Min Jiang Estuary in Fujian support a wintering population of Spoon-billed Sandpiper and that Lianyungang in Jiangsu is a key wintering site for Eurasian Oystercatcher.

Reporting back

Two reports have been published on the results of the China Coastal Waterbird Census – in Chinese with an English summary – covering 2005-2007 and 2008-2009, and the data have been cited in both national and international studies. A new report covering 2010-2011 will be published shortly. A leaflet about the China Coastal Waterbird Census was produced to promote wetland and waterbird conservation to the general public.

A meeting of the China Coastal Waterbird Census participants is held every year or two, to review the previous year’s counts and plan for the following year. Training courses have been held on survey techniques, the identification of difficult waterbird groups and site conservation, which has helped to build the capacity of the Chinese birdwatching societies. The Ford Green Award provides an important opportunity to expand the China Coastal Waterbird Census, and provide further training to increase the skills of the participants.

Since it was established in 2005, the China Coastal Waterbird Census has received support from The Hong Kong Bird Watching Society, BirdLife International, Darwin Initiative, Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong, Ernest Kleinwort Charitable Trust, Tolkien Trust and Asian Waterbird Conservation Fund.


More Bahraini torturing royals

Left to right: Khaled Bin Hamad Alkhalifa and Nasser Bin Hamad Alkhalifa (two torturing sons of the king of Bahrain)

From RT:

Royal treatment: Bahraini princess & princes accused of torturing activists

25 January, 2013, 15:35

A Bahraini princess is in court for the torture of three pro-democracy activists in detention. The princess’s case is the latest in a string of cases of torture and violence has seen the light in a report issued by Bahraini opposition.

Princess Nora Bint Ebrahim al-Khalifa who serves in Bahrain’s Drugs Control Unit, allegedly collaborated with another officer to torture three activists held in detention following a pro-democracy rally against the island kingdom’s monarchy. …

As Muslim women have never before been known to take part in interrogations and tortures, Nora Al-Khalifa stands out as the grossest character in the human rights activists’ report, RT’s Nadezhda Kevorkova said.

Princess Nora’s case is the latest in a series of torture scandals highlighted in a report by the Bahrain Forum for Human Rights.

A 55-pages report titled ‘Citizens in the Grip of Torturers’ is based on the nine interviews with named and anonymous witnesses. It was published both in English and Arabic.

The report states that two of the Bahraini King’s sons Nasser Bin Hammad Al-Khalifa and Khalid Bin Hammad Al-Khalifa, as well as two other members of the royal family, Khalifa Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa and Nora Bint Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, directly took part in torturing the activists.

Torture stories include rare details that Muslims usually prefer to shun for ethical reasons, Bahraini opposition activists told Kevorkova.

After getting numerous letters from torture victims who mentioned the four members of the royal family among the arresters and torturers, the report’s authors decided it was vital to get an investigation going, RT’s Kevorkova said.

Included in the report are short CVs of those four members of the Bahrain’s royal family accused of human rights violations.

Nasser Bin Hamad, the fourth son of the King Hamad, is a colonel and commander of Bahrain’s royal guard. Bin Hamad, his 23-year-old brother, has also held a number of senior positions despite his young age and is married to the Saudi Arabian King’s daughter.

The other two Al-Khalifas directly responsible for cases of torture and violence as stated in the report are Colonel Khalifa Bin Ahmed, a high-ranking police officer dismissed from his post in September 2011, and Lieutenant Nora Bint Ebrahim Al-Khalifa of Bahrain’s Drug Enforcement Administration.

Tortured for reading verses

Poet Ayat Al-Qurmozy was arrested in March 2011 after reciting a poem against the Bahraini regime during a peaceful demonstration in Pearl Roundabout. She was detained by masked men dressed in civilian clothing. On her release, al-Qurmozy told of tortures used on her by both men and women. One of the women involved was identified as Nora al-Khalifa.

The report states that Nora spat on al-Qurmozy and into her mouth, slapped her in the face repeatedly, administered electric shocks and shouted anti-Shia slurs.

On the eighth day of her arrest, al-Qurmozy was brought blindfolded into a room full of men, documents the report. They shouted abuse at her and demanded she tell them by whom she was given the verses and how much she was paid for reading them.

“I was surprised by a woman grabbing me and slapping me hard in the face… When she was screaming, cursing and slapping me hard on my face, the blindfold came down off my eyes and I saw her face a bit but they rushed to lift it,” al-Qurmozy later said, as cited in the report.

Al-Qurmozy was then brutally beaten, and Nora gave her electric shocks every time she lost consciousness, the report says. After that Nora allegedly went on torturing the young poet every night, beating her on the face and spitting on her every time she found her without a blindfold.

Threatened by rape, the poet girl was forced to confess to her ‘guilt’ in front of a camera. But her torture continued after al-Qurmozy was thrown into a car, the report says, elaborating on how Nora slapped her on the head, threatened to cut out her tongue, spat and put a wooden bathroom broom into her mouth and beat her continually. All these abuses were witnessed by another arrested woman, Jalila Salman, who was put in the same car.

Tortured for taking part in demonstration

Sheikh Mohammad Habib al-Mekdad, president of Zahraa Association for Orphans, was arrested at home in April 2011 by a group of 50-60 people wearing civilian clothes and masks. He was still in detention at the time of the report.

Al-Mekdad was stripped naked and beaten, and then put in pitch-dark prison cell, where he was continually tortured, the report says. According to al-Mekdad, he was hung head down, beaten for hours, and had sensitive body parts exposed to electric shock.

Prince Nasser Bin Hamad came to interrogate al-Mekdad and other detainees, making sure they recognized him before their questioning, the report says. On learning that al-Mekdad took part in a Safriya protest march in front of the Bahraini king’s palace, where some people shouted “Down with King Hamad,” the prince began beating him.

Prince Nasser then supervised the torture in person, Al-Mekdad said at the February 2012 court trial according to the report. There he showed more than 50 electric shock traces on his body and told the judge he was tortured by a drill piercing his leg and humiliated by spitting in his mouth. Prince Nasser forced al-Mekdad to kiss pictures of the royal family in between the torture sessions.

None of these words were taken down in the court, and the judge asked al-Mekdad to remain silent, saying that “this court has its respect,” the report states.

Tortured for SMS

This is what happens in Bahrain if the king’s son finds a suspicious SMS in your phone, RT’s Kevorkova said, citing the story of the man speaking on condition of anonymity.

According to the report, the man was stopped at a checkpoint near Safriya Palace in May 2011 while driving in a car with his wife and children. He recognized one of the patrolmen as Prince Khalid Bin Hamad. Unsatisfied with the fact that nothing was found in the car, the prince started searching through text messages on the man’s phone, and found an old SMS on the Pearl Roundabout demonstration.

The prince then ordered the man’s brother be called to take the woman and children home, but on his arrival both were arrested, the report says. They were thrown to the ground, beaten and forced “to repeat the royal greeting,” with Khalid Bin Hamad ordering to beat them again for every royal family member’s name they didn’t know.

The men were also forced to eat hot chili peppers and insult some opposition figures. The reports states that the police has also started beating the men on coming to the scene.

Both were sentenced to 60 days in prison and dismissed from their jobs.

Another man cited in the report was also arrested at a checkpoint after policemen noticed his car was parked near Pearl Roundabout and took the car’s number down.

For that he was put in al-Qalaa prison and tortured daily with the use of special devices and techniques, including chaining, limb piercing and beating with clubs, the report claims. He was also deprived of sleep and his religious practices, the report adds.

Prince Nasser Bin Hamad allegedly supervised the man’s torture, which was carried out by foreigners.

“This is not Iran, we came to you from Iraq, and we are Saddamists,” they shouted as they tortured him, according to the report.

The man was cited as saying that his friend Karim Fakhrawi, who was also detained, died during one such torture session.

RT sent a letter to Bahraini Information Affairs Authority last week asking for the comment on the report, but has so far not received an answer.

­RT’s Nadezhda Kevorkova contributed to this report

Bahrain: Tear gas and stun grenades fired as protests erupt: here. And here.

Seychelles paradise flycatchers helped by schoolchildren

Seychelles paradise flycatchers, male and female

From BirdLife:

Water for birds: Club installs bird baths for Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher

Wed, Jan 23, 2013

Eight bird baths were installed around the the island

An after school clubs called the Friends of the Flycatcher is helping to keep Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone corvina watered. The club based on La Digue, Seychelles third largest inhabited island, has installed eight bird baths on different locations on the island for the benefit of the iconic bird locally known as the Veuve. The baths were set up at the Veuve Reserve, the La Digue School, the Flycatcher Lodge, Villa Veuve, and the Community Centre at La Passe.

A source of water is as important to birds as is food. Apart from drinking, water also removes dust, loose feathers, parasites and other debris from a bird’s plumage. Bird baths are man-made shallow pools from which birds can drink, bathe, preen or cool off. They are normally made in the form of a basin.

Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher favours native Badamier Terminalia catappa and Takamaka dominated Calophyllum innophylum broad-leaved plateau woodland in proximity to wetland areas for its habitat. The wetlands and marshes are also important as breeding grounds for insects, which the birds eat.

But in the dry season the marshes dry up, and the birds have been observed going to domestic sources of water which places them in danger of drinking detergent and being caught by cats while on the ground, says Josiana Rose of the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA), and the education officer at the Veuve Reserve.

“Provision of water baths for the flycatcher will give them safe and easy access to water for drinking and bathing during the dry season that persists for many months,” she says.

Nature Seychelles (BirdLife Partner) and the SNPA have been promoting the conservation of the Critically Endangered flycatcher through an advocacy and education project whose aim is to help protect the species in its stronghold on La Digue. The project is part of the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme and is supported by Species Champion, Viking Optical. It’s under this partnership that the Friends of the Flycatcher was started at the school.

Although still in its infancy, the club has been involved in a number of activities including cleaning up the island on World Clean-up Day and planting trees in the Veuve Reserve.

The baths are made of fibre glass and stand up to four feet above the ground on a wooden base.