Spoon-billed Sandpiper nearing exctinction

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    Martin W

      Grim news from Birdlife International – sadly, liable to be more reports like this, and some of species actually becoming extinct.

      Populations of one of the world’s strangest birds have crashed over the last decade, and surveys this summer of its breeding grounds in the remote Russian province of Chukotka suggest that the situation is now critical. The charismatic, and rather aptly named, Spoon-billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus pygmeus, is now worryingly close to becoming extinct. With only 200-300 pairs left, conservationists are calling for urgent help to tackle the decline.

      “We’ve seen a 70% drop in the number of breeding pairs at some sites over the last couple of years. If this decline continues, these amazing birds won’t be around for much longer,” says Evgeny Syroechkovskiy, Vice President of the Russian Bird Conservation Union (BirdLife in Russia).

      The reasons for these losses are complex, involving changes to habitat during migration and loss of breeding areas. What is clear is that nest predation by foxes and disturbance by people and dogs could prove to be the final nail in the coffin for the few birds left.

      “Action to safeguard the remaining breeding pairs needs to be taken now for there to be any chance of saving them. We are planning to put wardens in place at these critical sites. Once they are protected and the birds are successfully fledging young, we can get on with the task of trying to save areas that they use whilst on migration,” Evgeny adds.

      Unique spoon-billed bird facing extinction


      From BBC News:

      a specialist team of bird experts are flying to the sandpiper's home in northeast Russia to collect and incubate eggs and set up a captive breeding population.

      The captive population of spoon-billed sandpipers will be housed in Moscow Zoo for quarantine purposes, then moved to a specially built unit at the headquarters of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, UK.

      Bid to save sandpiper at risk of extinction in Russia

      This sandpiper's sad tale is part of broader story, as wetland birds in east Asia decline, with wetlands damaged and destroyed by ill-considered and even stupid developments (yes, Saemangeum in S Korea, I mean you); even ridiculously sited wind farms may be adding to pressures. Bit by bit the story moves on, with "development" here, and something else there. The hunting mentioned in article would likely not be a severe issue without the widescale destruction. Changing weather patterns may not help: witness China's drought (and now rain causing floods…)


      On BBC website:


      Endangered spoon-billed sandpipers arriving at their wintering grounds in China are being threatened by nets designed to trap shorebirds.

      The spoon-billed sandpiper is one of the world's rarest birds.

      Recent sightings of the bird at several new sites along the coast of southern China indicate the species is more widespread than thought.

      But the study also found evidence of large-scale shorebird trapping using "mist nets" in some of these key areas.

      According to BirdLife International: "Illegal bird-netting now poses a major threat to spoon-billed sandpipers and other shorebirds."

      In 2003 the team discovered a spoon-billed sandpiper caught in a bird trapper's net in Zhanjiang.

      And during their recent survey the team of conservationists recorded a total of 460 mist nets in use beside shorebird roost-sites on fishponds, paddyfields, marshes and sandbars on the coast.

      Spoon-billed sandpipers threatened by trapping in China



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