European, Asian bird news update


This video says about itself:

27 October 2016

You probably have never seen a Spoon-billed Sandpiper. There are fewer than 500 remaining on the planet.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper chicks are remarkably independent. After hatching in their far northeastern Russian breeding grounds, the young leave the nest within a day and immediately begin feeding themselves. The father leads them away from the nest and attends to them until they fledge about 20 days later.

The mother bird doesn’t hang around to see how her brood turns out. She departs soon after the young hatch and begins migrating South to China’s Rudong mudflats in Jiangsu and Fujian’s Minjiang River Estuary, where the Spoon-billed Sandpipers fatten up each year before continuing on first to Zhanjiang in Guandong province, followed by Myanmar and Bangladesh for the winter.

After the chicks reach fledging age, the father departs too. All alone, the chicks then start their long journey South a few weeks later. No guide, no map, no GPS. But the baby birds instinctively know exactly where to go. The baby birds join millions of other migratory birds along the East Asian Australasian Flyway.

Unfortunately, the habitats along the flyway, from Korea to China, are under threat. Spoon-billed sandpipers’ habitats have shrunk dramatically, due to reclamation and industrial development in China, and when they reach their Southeast Asian winter homes, they then face the threat of hunters.

Spoon-billed Sandpipers are one of the most threatened species in the world.

But there is hope. The Chinese government is committed to building an Eco-Civilization that focuses more on the value of nature instead of GDP growth alone, and provincial officials are paying increasing attention to protecting the country’s coastal wetlands and mudflats. Efforts are underway to better preserve the Spoon-billed Sandpiper’s feeding grounds, the Rudong mudflat in Jiangsu.

The move to protect China’s wetlands is spreading. At a wetlands conference co-convened on Oct. 18 in Beidaihe by the Paulson Institute, the Convention on Wetlands Management Office of the People’s Republic of China, China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE), and the Hebei provincial government, Hebei’s provincial governor promised to protect his province’s threatened wetlands, too.

The Paulson Institute has launched a month-long campaign to raise awareness of the importance of coastal wetlands and the migratory birds they sustain. We hope to encourage the government officials, the scientists and experts, the NGOs, and the thousands of volunteers working to save these precious resources.

Watch this video, and please share!

It’s up to us to make a change.

From BirdLife:

7 Apr 2017

The Bird Bulletin – Vol. 3

By Gui-Xi Young

Welcome to the latest edition of ‘The Bird Bulletin’ – our new weekly news brief. Every Friday morning, we’ll bring you bite-sized updates from across Europe & Central Asia – now you can kick start every weekend with ‘what a little bird told me!’

TAKE ACTION – change the future of food and farming with 1 click! Only 3 weeks until the European Commission’s Public Consultation on the Common Agricultural Policy closes. We have launched a Europe-wide E-Action so citizens can support sustainable, nature-friendly farms. #LivingLand.

CZECH MATE – the Czech parliament has finally approved a new law that sets precise rules for protecting wildlife in national parks (from hunting, logging and other destructive acts). 117 deputies voted in favour, overturning the President’s veto. Well done to our partner CSO for championing this long fight!

From dusk till dawn – Birdwatch Ireland is co-sponsoring a landmark breeding Woodcock survey. The research group will monitor dawn and dusk ‘roding flights’ when males fly circuits above the woodland canopy in search of receptive females! Read more…

Happy Bird Day! – Last weekend Slovakians marked their annual ‘Bird Day’ with a traditional ‘welcoming of the cranes’. The magnificent birds stop in large numbers at the Senianske ponds during spring migration season. The event, organised by SOS-BirdLife Slovakia has become a festival of fun for the family, drawing over 1,000 visitors. See more…

SAVE SPOONIE – Every year, the Spoon-billed sandpiper attempts its epic 11,000km migration from Bangladesh to Arctic Russia – the most dangerous flyway in the world due to human interference. Its numbers have plummeted down to only 400 individuals. Help BirdLife protect key ecological sites on the Yellow Sea mudflats and save Spoonie’s resting habitat! Donate here…

Well that’s all for today’s ‘Bird Bulletin’ – tune in next week for more cheeps, chirps and chatter.

Bye Bye Birdies!

Citrine wagtail video


This is a citrine wagtail video.

I was privileged to see this beautiful European and Asian bird in Poland and the Netherlands.

Save spoon-billed sandpipers, other wading birds


This 2016 video is about a spoon-billed sandpiper nest in Siberia.

From BirdLife:

5 Apr 2017

“Waterbird’s paradise” shortlisted for World Heritage status

14 coastal sites across the Bohai Gulf and Yellow Sea of China have been added to a list of sites to be considered for future World Heritage status – it’s potentially fantastic news for endangered migratory birds such as the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, who depend on these sites’ rich resources to complete their epic journeys

By Alex Dale

It’s the question we’ve all been skirting during our ongoing campaign to #SaveSpoonie – why, exactly, does the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Calidris pygmaea have that distinctive, spatula-shaped beak – the same charismatic appendage that in no small way has helped bring the plight of this Critically Endangered wader to international prominence?

The answer: er, well, no-one really knows for sure (with less than a thousand Spoonies remaining in the world, chances to extensively observe its behaviour in the wild are less than plentiful). You might think that it would be used in the same manner as the similar-looking, but unrelated Spoonbill family, who use their flattened bills like a sieve, swaying it from side to side to filter out small invertebrates in the water. However, the Spoon-billed Sandpiper has never been seen to do this.

Most likely, as with many waders, the specialised shape of Spoonie’s bill is so it can use it as a tool to forage for food. The leading theory is that it uses it almost like a shovel, upturning the mud to reveal crabs, worms and other invertebrates hidden within.

But the downside of having such specialised feeding habits is this: when you need to make a fuelling stop in the middle of a long journey (such as Spoonie’s epic bi-annual migration between Siberia and south Asia), there are only so many ‘restaurants’ along the way that cater to your tastes.

And if you’re an Asian wading bird, there’s no restaurant more extensive or better-stocked than that of the Yellow Sea. This vast sea, surrounded by and shared between China and the Korean Peninsula, is the largest area of intertidal wetlands on the planet, and its extensive mudflats, sandflats and other costal habitats draw in waterbirds from all around the world faster than a five-star review from the LA Times.

As an example, a sizable population of Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica (Near Threatened) choose this area as their solitary pit-stop during their lengthy journeys between Australasia and Arctic Russia and Alaska. At the time of writing, over 10,000 individuals have already returned to one of the Yellow Sea’s estuaries, Yalu Jiang on the China/North Korea border.

Elsewhere, it’s estimated that as many as 60% of a sub-species of the world’s Red Knot Calidris canutus (Near Threatened) population stop over in the Luannan wetlands of the Bohai Gulf – an area of the Yellow Sea in close proximity to the Chinese capital, Beijing. We could go on: simply, it’s one of the most important areas in the world for migratory waterbirds by almost any metric you wish to use: be it size, numbers, diversity of species or the proportion of these species that are globally threatened with extinction.

But the future of these crucial habitats is currently anything but secure. Popular with humans as well as waders, the Yellow Sea is the most populated coastal area in the world, with an estimated figure of 200 million people and growing. The development needed to accommodate such a dense population of humans has resulted in the loss of critical habitats and feeding areas, with 27 species of waterbirds that frequent the East Asian-Australasian Flyway now threatened with extinction.

However, in a significant step towards the continued recognition and protection of this incredible natural resource, China has added 14 key coastal sites along their share of the Yellow Sea – including the aforementioned Luannan wetlands – to a tentative list of sites to be considered for World Heritage status. It’s the first step in the process of formally nominating these sites for inscription as a UNESCO site, which brings with it the highest form of global protection possible – greatly aiding the conservation of gravely-threatened birds who are dependent on these wetlands, such as Spoonie.

The Republic of Korea, meanwhile, is also making progress on securing World Heritage status for important wetlands in the region, and is very close to nominating several sites on its share of the coast, including Yubu Island, the world’s single most important site for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Together, this network of potential World Heritage sites has the potential to become a “wader’s paradise”.

“On behalf of our partners and collaborators, I would like to congratulate the Government of China on working so hard and so diligently to get these very important sites on to the World Heritage tentative list in such a timely fashion” says Spike Millington, Chief Executive of the East Asian – Australasian Flyway Partnership, an initiative bringing together 35 national governments and non-governmental organizations – including BirdLife International – to work for the conservation of migratory birds.

“The support of EAAFP partners, notably IUCN, BirdLife International, Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) and the work of the Paulson Institute, through the Coastal Wetlands Blueprint project, has been instrumental in promoting Yellow Sea intertidal conservation, culminating in this listing” says Millington.

It’s a hugely encouraging development which offers hope that the destruction and degradation that has ravaged the Yellow Sea’s wetlands in recent decades can be halted or even reversed. There’s still a long way to go before the future of these sites are secure, however – and there are many vital sites – such as Binhai New Area, in North China, which is visited by nearly the entire world’s population of the Relict Gull Larus relictus (assessed as Vulnerable) – which are not yet on the tentative list. BirdLife will continue its important advocacy work to ensure these vital areas are properly recognised and protected in the future, but until then, visit our campaign page to find out how you can help ensure that will still be plenty of mudflats left for Spoonie to dig into.

Olive-backed pipit video


This is an olive-backed pipit video. This Asian bird is a rare vagrant in western Europe.

World Wildlife Day today, save spoon-billed sandpipers


This video says about itself:

27 October 2016

You probably have never seen a Spoon-billed Sandpiper. There are fewer than 500 remaining on the planet.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper chicks are remarkably independent. After hatching in their far northeastern Russian breeding grounds, the young leave the nest within a day and immediately begin feeding themselves. The father leads them away from the nest and attends to them until they fledge about 20 days later.

The mother bird doesn’t hang around to see how her brood turns out. She departs soon after the young hatch and begins migrating South to China’s Rudong mudflats in Jiangsu and Fujian’s Minjiang River Estuary, where the Spoon-billed Sandpipers fatten up each year before continuing on first to Zhanjiang in Guandong province, followed by Myanmar and Bangladesh for the winter.

After the chicks reach fledging age, the father departs too. All alone, the chicks then start their long journey South a few weeks later. No guide, no map, no GPS. But the baby birds instinctively know exactly where to go. The baby birds join millions of other migratory birds along the East Asian Australasian Flyway.

Unfortunately, the habitats along the flyway, from Korea to China, are under threat. Spoon-billed sandpipers’ habitats have shrunk dramatically, due to reclamation and industrial development in China, and when they reach their Southeast Asian winter homes, they then face the threat of hunters.

Spoon-billed Sandpipers are one of the most threatened species in the world.

But there is hope. The Chinese government is committed to building an Eco-Civilization that focuses more on the value of nature instead of GDP growth alone, and provincial officials are paying increasing attention to protecting the country’s coastal wetlands and mudflats. Efforts are underway to better preserve the Spoon-billed Sandpiper’s feeding grounds, the Rudong mudflat in Jiangsu.

The move to protect China’s wetlands is spreading. At a wetlands conference co-convened on Oct. 18 in Beidaihe by the Paulson Institute, the Convention on Wetlands Management Office of the People’s Republic of China, China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE), and the Hebei provincial government, Hebei’s provincial governor promised to protect his province’s threatened wetlands, too.

The Paulson Institute has launched a month-long campaign to raise awareness of the importance of coastal wetlands and the migratory birds they sustain. We hope to encourage the government officials, the scientists and experts, the NGOs, and the thousands of volunteers working to save these precious resources.

Watch this video, and please share!

It’s up to us to make a change.

Today is World Wildlife Day.

From BirdLife today:

Dear Friend,

The Spoon-billed Sandpiper – or ‘Spoonie’ to her friends – is about to make the hardest journey of her life.

It’s almost the season of love, so she’s getting ready to make the perilous journey north from Bangladesh to Arctic Russia in a bid to find a mate and to build a family. Some of her companions won’t make it, and many of those who do will be so exhausted, that the journey will have been in vain.

Every year this nearly already impossible journey gets harder still. As humans continue to alter the natural wilderness on the coast of the Yellow Sea, in North East Asia, the mudflats Spoonie depends upon during her journey are being transformed into cities, factories and farms.

Without them, Spoonie has nowhere to rest, recover and refuel during her epic 11,000km journey. When, or if, she arrives, she’ll be so thin and debilitated that she simply won’t be able to produce an egg. All her energy will have depleted and she will be forced to spend her time north recovering before flying back to Bangladesh, with no baby, no next generation in tow.

🐦 Donate and help save Spoonie 🐦

It’s no surprise that Spoonie’s numbers have diminished over the last three decades. Today, there are only around 400 of these beautiful birds left. They’re not alone in their plight; over 50 million water birds use the East Asian-Australasian Flyway annually with 27 species being forced towards extinction as a result of habitat loss.

This is one of the most rapidly developing areas of the human world with over 50% of intertidal habitat converted into urban, industrial and agricultural land since the ‘60s. Because of this The East Asian-Australasian Flyway is the most dangerous flyway in the world, and it’s only going to get harder for Spoonie if we don’t act now.

Urgent action is required to save the passengers on this flyway before it is too late. Will you help these special birds survive their journey this year?

Our goal is to not only stabilise, but increase the species population by 50% by 2025.

To do this BirdLife intends to:
– Ensure the conservation of key ecological sites in the Yellow Sea
– Support local conservation awareness and action
– Improve the scientific knowledge base for conservation
– Secure a World Heritage recognition for the Yellow Sea

We have the science and the skills to make this happen, all that’s lacking now is the financial resources. And you can help. Please, donate now and help us save this flyway and secure a future for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

Donating now couldn’t be easier:

Donate online now here.

Post a cheque to: EAAF Appeal, BirdLife International, The David Attenborough Building, Pembroke Street, Cambridge, CB2 3QZ, UK.
Call me on +44 (0)1223 747553.

Thank you for your passion and commitment. I know I can count on your support this World Wildlife Day.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Grimmett
Director of Conservation

Red-flanked bluetail video


This is a red-flanked bluetail video. This North European and North Asian bird is a rare vagrant in Western Europe.

Eastern black redstart video


This video is about the eastern black redstart, a black redstart subspecies from Asia.