Chinese lesbian student sues government about homophobic textbooks


This 11 November 2013 video is about the Hong Kong LGBT Pride parade.

From the BBC today:

China: Gay student sues ministry over textbooks

A university student is suing China’s education ministry over academic textbooks that describe homosexuality as a “disorder”, it’s reported.

Chen Qiuyan launched the legal action after she found the books in her university library, some of which suggested gay people could be “cured” with electroshock therapy, Xinhua news agency reports. A court in Beijing has accepted the case, which calls for the textbooks to be removed. “Homosexuals are already under great pressure,” says Ms Chen, who filed the case under an alias but has since spoken to US media using her real name. “Additional stigma from textbooks will cause direct harm. The ministry should bear the duty to monitor and supervise such content.”

Ms Chen, who studies at a public university in southern Guangdong province, had been consulting the library books after feeling confused over her own sexual orientation. “I thought textbooks must be authoritative,” she tells the New York Times in a telephone interview. “After reading them, I was terrified. I was even more afraid to admit that I’m gay.”

China stopped categorising homosexuality as a mental illness in 2001, but dozens of textbooks published after that time still describe it as a “disorder”, Xinhua says citing an investigation by a regional NGO. Last year, a Beijing court issued a landmark ruling against a clinic offering “gay conversion therapy”, the first case of its kind in the country.

Amur falcon, first ever in France


This video says about itself:

5 June 2012

Male Amur Falcon on temporary territory in Hebei, China. Filmed using a Swarovski Scope, 25x50WA Lens, DCA and Panasonic Lumix G2.

From the Tarsiger Twitter account today:

Amur Falcon, Falco amurensis 2[d] c[alendar] y[ear] male at Assais-les-Jumeaux, Deux-Sevres, W France – the 1st record for France and 12th for W[estern] P[alaearctic] if accepted

One would expect these birds, nesting in north Asia, to migrate to India and to South Africa rather than to France.

Good Chinese crested tern news


This 2014 video is called The Bird of Legend: Chinese Crested Tern.

From BirdLife:

Brave efforts pay off in doubly-successful project to restore colonies of Chinese Crested Tern

By Shaun Hurrell, Thu, 13/08/2015 – 10:39

The Chinese Crested Tern Thalasseus bernsteini is one of the rarest birds in the world. Only rediscovered 15 years ago, after its assumed extinction for six decades, this Critically Endangered seabird has a very small population size and only three breeding sites are known.

But the BirdLife International Partnership including the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society (BirdLife Partner), are proud to announce the wonderful news that the Chinese Crested Tern has had its most successful breeding season since its rediscovery, thanks to a project to restore a breeding colony on Tiedun Dao, in the Jiushan Islands – where over 70% the global population (at least 52 birds) were attracted and stayed to breed!

Also as part of this successful project, conservation groups and volunteers from mainland China, Hong Kong and USA successfully initiated the first ever tagging operation of Chinese Crested Tern and other seabirds on Jiushan Islands, where 31 birds were fitted with numbered bands on their legs so more can be learned about the species in order to continue to save them from extinction.

Simba Chan, Senior Conservation Officer of BirdLife Asia Division, braved a severe typhoon to ensure the colony’s breeding success: for the second year running he physically stayed on the island throughout the season to monitor and protect the birds, and dissuade illegal egg-collectors.

As a result, at least 25 breeding pairs of Chinese Crested Tern formed and at least 16 chicks hatched and successfully fledged. The >52 birds were attracted to this safe nesting site by the team’s decoys and sound playback system as in 2013 and 2014.

In addition, 2015 is the first year that birds have been attracted to all three known breeding sites: the Jiushan Islands and the Wuzhishan Islands of Zhejiang Province, and the Mazu Islands along the coast of Fujian Province each having successful breeding records, as compared to only the Jiushan Islands in 2014.

Chinese Crested Tern is listed as Critically Endangered by BirdLife International as the authority on birds for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, now has an estimated population of less than 100 individuals. Taking the figure of 13 (minimum estimation) chicks fledged from Tiedun Dao in 2014, within two to three years the number of breeding Chinese Crested Terns could have doubled from the original number when project was initiated in 2010 – when the global population was no more than 50 birds!

The thoughts of the colony were paramount in Simba Chan’s mind when a super-typhoon hit Tiedun Dao in the midst of the breeding season:

“Although the typhoon was very strong and hit us directly, less than 5% of the colony were casualties because we maintained vegetation to shelter the colony, and tried to discourage the chicks from moving down to the shore before the typhoon hit the island. This shows how we could apply our scientific observations from the previous year to improve the survival rate of the terns.”

A Partnership of hope for Chinese Crested Tern and more

Initiated by the Xiangshan Ocean and Fishery Bureau, the Zhejiang Museum of Natural History and the Wild Bird Society of Zhejiang in 2010, the project shows the benefit of a team of partners working to secure the future of this species.

“The main reasons for the success of the project are sound scientific methodology, good planning, and commitment from all sides,” says Simba Chan.

The decoys and audio playback technology to attract the birds to the safe island were developed by Dr Stephen Kress of Cornell University and the National Audubon Society (BirdLife in the USA) and proved very effective from the outset.

Regarding follow-up work, Simba Chan added: “This year, we will work with Burung Indonesia (BirdLife in Indonesia) to promote awareness at potential wintering sites for the recovery of these birds. Suitable transmitters are being considered for tracking the migration of Chinese and Greater Crested Terns in the coming years to reveal their migratory route.”

“We also aim to encourage cooperation between China and other countries in Asia for joint actions in seabird study and conservation”, said Vivian Fu, Assistant Manager BirdLife/Hong Kong Bird Watching Society China Programme.

The regular monitoring and banding of terns was documented by China Central Television. The documentary will be shown throughout China on major television channels in late 2015 and will bring a greater awareness of bird conservation among the general public in China – important for all the depleted seabird populations along China’s coast.

“The restoration project is not only important to save Chinese Crested Terns from extinction, but also has significance to wildlife conservation in China,” said Simba Chan.

“It has clearly shown local communities have a strong wish to revert the dire situation of many endangered species.”

“With all this we are bringing a species that was believed to be extinct only 16 years ago back into recovery.”

The Chinese Crested Tern restoration project was initiated by the first international seabird symposium in China in 2010. After the abandonment of breeding colony of Chinese Crested Tern on the Jiushan Islands because of illegal egg-collection in 2007, the Wild Bird Society of Zhejiang and the Xiangshan Government worked with BirdLife on a public awareness programme to stop seabird egg collection and consumption. Ground work started using decoys and audio attraction in 2013 to bring the birds back and was very successful from the start.

The project consists of a team of partners working together to save the Chinese Crested Tern from extinction: the Xiangshan Ocean and Fishery Bureau, the Zhejiang Museum of Natural History, the Wild Bird Society of Zhejiang, BirdLife International, the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society (BirdLife Partner), and the tern restoration team from Oregon State University.

This project was only made possible with the generous support of the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation Hong Kong, the Endangered Species Fund from the State Forestry Administration of China, and the BirdLife International Preventing Extinctions Programme supporter Mark Constantine.

The Xiangshan Ocean and Fishery Bureau and the Zhejiang Museum of Natural History also provided significant logistical support which helped make the project such a resounding success.

Gibbon discovery in Hainan, China


This video says about itself:

30 October 2014

On today’s China View, we’ll go to a rainforest reserve in south China’s Hainan Province to meet endangered Hainan gibbons. As one of seven extant gibbon species, they are endemic to Hainan and are found nowhere else. It is recorded that about 23 of the animals remain in the world, making them extremely rare.

From Wildlife Extra:

World’s rarest ape: new family group found

The future of the world’s rarest apes look just a little bit brighter given the recent discovery of a new family group in Bawangling National Nature Reserve in China.

Until last month, it was thought that there were just 25 Hainan Gibbons (Nomascus hainanus) living in three social groups on an island off the Chinese mainland.

The discovery of a new fourth group, by a team led by international conservation charity the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), has increased the known population by almost 12 per cent.

The group consisted of a mating pair with a young baby, sighted within Bawangling National Nature Reserve, Hainan Province.

The existence of this fourth breeding group increases the reproductive potential of the population, which could be vital for the long term survival of the Critically Endangered gibbons.

ZSL researcher Dr Jessica Bryant, who led the expedition that made the discovery, says: “Finding a new Hainan Gibbon group is a fantastic boost for the population.

“We had hoped to locate at least one or two solitary gibbons, but discovering a whole new family group complete with a baby is beyond our wildest dreams.”

The new social group brings the estimate of the total population of Hainan Gibbons to around 28 individuals.

The ZSL-led project team, including international gibbon experts along with staff from Bawangling National Nature Reserve Management Office, set out to try and find any surviving lone gibbons in the reserve to gain a greater understanding of the total number of Hainan Gibbons that remain.

Gibbons are typically located by the sound of their daily song. Due to the low population density of the Hainan Gibbon, they are less likely to sing as there are few other gibbons to advertise their territory to, making detection of solitary individuals or groups extremely challenging.

By utilising new acoustic techniques that prompt gibbons to investigate and call, the team were able to locate this new group.

Dr Bryant adds: “The success of our discovery is really encouraging. We now want to learn more about this new group, and also hope to extend the investigation to perhaps even find additional solitary gibbons or other groups.

“Today is a great day for Hainan Gibbon conservation.”

‘End Japanese militarism’, USA, UK, China declared in 1945


This video says about itself:

Shock Doctrine in Japan: Shinzo Abe‘s Rightward Shift to Militarism, Secrecy in Fukushima’s Wake

Democracy Now! is broadcasting from Tokyo, Japan, today in the first of three special broadcasts. At a critical time for Japan and the region, we begin our coverage looking at the country’s rightward political shift under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was re-elected just over a year ago. As head of the Liberal Democratic Party, Abe is known as a conservative hawk who has pushed nationalistic and pro-nuclear policies.

In December, he visited the controversial Yasukuni war shrine, which honors Japanese soldiers who died in battle, including several war criminals who were tried by the International Military Tribunal after World War II. The visit sparked outrage from China and South Korea, who consider the shrine a symbol of Japanese militarism, and its refusal to atone for atrocities committed in the first half of the 20th century. We speak about Japan’s increasingly pro-nuclear, nationalistic stance with Koichi Nakano, professor at Sophia University in Tokyo and director of the Institute of Global Concern.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

China: Scholars: In the spirit of Potsdam, back peace

Monday 27th July 2015

CHINESE scholars marked the anniversary of the Potsdam Proclamation yesterday by calling for countries to “safeguard justice and peace.”

The proclamation was issued by China, the United States and Britain on July 26 1945 and called for the unconditional surrender of Japan, then occupying vast areas of Chinese territory.

Jin Yilin, deputy director of the Institute of Modern History at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, pointed out that it “stipulated the elimination of militarism in Japan and defined its territory.”

These “safeguards” had now been violated by the forcible “nationalisation” of the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands and by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s determination to overturn the “peace constitution” and allow Japanese troops to fight abroad again, Lyu Yaodong of the Institute for Japanese Studies warned.

The Japanese right was “trampling on the victory of world anti-fascist efforts,” Mr Lyu said.

Japan surrendered less than a month later after the Soviet Union entered the war in Asia and the US dropped two atomic bombs on civilian populations.

This video says about itself:

New Nationalism: Far-right voices get louder in Japan

10 January 2014

Some parts of Japanese society want to drag the pacifist nation to the right. Nationalist groups are growing louder in their calls for the country to take a harder-line against enemies [at] home and abroad.

Spoon-billed sandpiper in China survey


This video is called Spoon-billed Sandpiper: Courtship.

From the RSPB site in Britain, with photos there:

Continuing the international effort to survey the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper in China

Guest blog from James Phillips on a very successful Spoon-billed Sandpiper Survey in May 2015 on the Yellow Sea coast, China

Rudong County is just 2 hours’ drive north of Shanghai. The mud flats along this part of the Yellow Sea coast, in China’s Jiangsu Province, are a critically important staging post in the spring and autumn for migrating spoon-billed sandpipers (‘Spoonies’) and for the tens of thousands of migrating shorebirds that move along the East Asian-Australasian flyway between their breeding grounds in the Arctic and their wintering grounds far to the south.

In recent years, important numbers of spoon-billed sandpipers have been recorded in this area during spring and autumn, and international teams have carried out coordinated surveys here each migration season since autumn 2013.

We continued this approach and surveyed in the first half of May 2015 using a now established and agreed survey methodology.

The Team

It was a truly international team again this year with a fantastic group of observers all passionate about their waders and Spoonie conservation!

A group of field ornithologists at the top of their game! The team from left to right were Zhang Jun (China), Richard Gregory (RSPB UK), Andrew Baksh (USA), John Mallord (RSPB UK), James Phillips (Natural England UK), Adam Gretton (Natural England UK), Xiaohui Ge (Student at Nanjing Normal University, China), Professor Qing Chang (School of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, China) and Wei Liu (Student at Nanjing Normal University, China) not in shot but who is taking the actual team photograph!

Key aims of the Survey

This year we wanted to continue to build our knowledge and understanding on the number of Spoonies passing the Jiangsu Coast and gauge how long individual Spoonies actually stay here. We also wanted to see what areas were used by Spoonies on the different states of the tide. Gathering this information would help identify those areas that might be afforded further protection in the future to provide suitable stopover sites. Finally we wanted to find as many individually marked Spoonies as possible, particularly head started birds. You can read more about our Spoonies project on our Saving the Spoon-billed sandpiper website.

Which parts of the Jiangsu coast to survey?

The team surveyed three areas of mud flats along the southern Jiangsu coast. We focused on those areas that past surveys have shown to be of particular importance for spoon-billed sandpipers. As well as Spoonies we also wanted to get a handle on the number of migrating shorebirds using the different sites. As well as being important for spoon-billed Sandpipers these mudflats are critically important staging posts for many species of shorebird……….Including bar-tailed godwit, for which the Yellow Sea is their only refuelling station on their mammoth migration between Australasia and their Siberian or Alaskan breeding areas.

This video says about itself:

6 May 2014

Red Knots have recently been arriving in the Yellow Sea. These birds have spent the last few days feeding after their long journey from Australia. The entire population of a subspecies of Red Knot use this one site in Bohai Bay, China to refuel before their flight to their Arctic breeding grounds. If we lose this site we lose these birds.

The James Phillips blog post continues:

When was the best time to survey?

We chose the dates 3rd of May to the 12th May as these coincided with a very good high tide sequence and crucially this is the time when (we think) the majority of spoon-billed sandpipers pass through the Jiangsu coast on their way north to their breeding grounds on the Chukotka peninsular in the far north of Siberia.

What was our field work strategy?

For each site we surveyed, it was all about team work with each team member working in close proximity. We split the survey area into sections, with no more than 300m between each observer. This allowed us to get good coverage of a stretch of mud flat. On both the rising and falling tides it was all about finding Spoonies and recording everything we could for each bird we found. On the different tides we would also note the directions that waders were moving in and where they were going to. On the high tide the focus was slightly different, trying to find roosting flocks and get counts of each species present and if possible locate and count any Spoonies present within these flocks.

The timings of our surveys were based completely around the tide times. We would always be on site, ready and in position 2 hours before the high tide point resulting in some extremely early starts!

What information did we record for every Spoon-billed Sandpiper we saw?

We wanted to gather as much information as possible on all the birds we saw. This included:

The date, time and GPS location for each bird
The Plumage score 1-7 (A seven being a full adult bird in breeding plumage)
Whether and how the bird was marked (Which leg it was marked on, the colour of flag or rings and whether the flag was inscribed)
And if possible we would try and get a photo of every marked bird

What did we see and how many birds did we see!

Well we did very well. We recorded a minimum of 62 individual spoon-billed sandpipers during the survey period with a total of over 250 different sightings, including flocks of 33 and 13 birds! We recorded some 12 flagged birds including a number of head started birds which was very exciting. These birds are so important to the future recovery of the species and the fact we were seeing a number of these birds returning back north means that the strategy of head-starting chicks on their Siberian breeding grounds is truly working!

Heading back north!

It wasn’t just spoon-billed sandpipers! We also recorded some 40 species of wader during the survey period with the team regularly recording between 40,000 and 70,000 waders at the different sites we surveyed!

The coastal mudflats and areas of coastal reclamation are also important for Black-faced spoonbill currently IUCN Red listed ENDANGERED (EN) and Saunders’s Gull and Chinese Egret which are both currently IUCN Red listed VULNERABLE (VU). Whenever we saw these species we recorded them.

We had a great trip and the whole team would like to thank Zhang Jun and Jing Li for their help in making the arrangements and helping it all run so smoothly. We also like to thank the Links Hotel www.linkshotel.cn where the team were based throughout the survey period and to all the staff there for looking after us so well during our stay. The hotel is in a superb central location for all our survey work at the various sites along the southern Jiangsu coast.

Read more about our Spoonie research in a series of blogs ‘Spoonies in a haystack 2‘, ‘Spoon-billed sandpiper update from Rudong China‘ and ‘Spoon-billed sandpiper more from the survey team in China‘.