2011 is going to be an exciting year for WorldWaders

Written by Gyorgy Szimuly/WorldWaders

The name, WorldWaders, soon will be changed what will be one of the major event in 2011. We are all getting excited! The preparations having an organisation behind all of our projects has finished and the registry process will result the go live with the International WorldWaders Foundation. There will be more about the foundation when it is up and running but if we want to sum its role now, we have to say, it will be a supporting foundation with own and co-projects as well. The main target is to raise funds for shorebird conservation initiatives, no matter if those are running with WorldWaders or independently. We have a growing task list for the coming year and the results of these tasks will be visible through our website.

One of our most important challenges will be supporting local groups, individuals or even projects, targeting shorebird monitoring. The funding project will be focusing on long term monitoring efforts at shorebird sites of international and regional importance (guideline will be published later). As a part of this supporting project we’d like to learn more about the demand of optical or other gear needed for such projects to get the possible maximum result of field works.

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Spotting scopes are mandatory tools for proper shorebird identification and counting.

This preliminary survey will be used for setting or 2011 targets for fundraising. An online form will be soon published on WorldWaders website including a few questions of the planned or already running field works and about the need of optical equipments. By then, we ask our readers to think about the possibilities and discuss it with the organisation or project team. We don’t have to describe here the importance of shorebird monitoring and counts on important sites. We would love to get an insight of your work.

Type of optical equipments will be selected by the board of the foundation. The actual news item is just for rising interests and is not a promise! We are working hard already to get money what we can directly or indirectly allocate where it is needed the most – and there are a lots of important projects running already which are worth to support.

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The Bush Stone Curlew as a harbinger of death???and more

Written by Bob Gosford/Crikey

The Bush-Stone Curlew Burhinus grallarius is found across Australia apart from the drier parts of western Australia and the Simpson Desert. Once common in the settled and agricultural regions its presence there has been reduced by land-clearing and modern land-management practices.

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Bush Stone Curlew Burhinus grallarius. © Crikey

Like many Australian birds it has been given a bewildering variety of names – Bush Thick-knee, Southern Stone-Curlew, Weelo and Willaroo being among the most familiar.

These last two are most likely onomatopoeic derivatives from the bird’s very distinctive call, which has been described as akin to the call of a screaming woman or baby, and can lead to a very unsettled night in the bush if a mob of these birds are making their unique dueting calls nearby.

If you want to hear the Bush Stone-curlew’s call follow the link here.

Bush Stone-Curlews are active mainly at night and are more often heard than seen. As these photos show they have a very cryptic plumage and when they are hunched close to the ground at their daytime roost you can walk within a metre or so of them and not notice them as they blend into the leaf and ground litter that is their preferred roost and nesting habitat.

In many Australian Aboriginal cultures Bush Stone-Curlews have close associations with death.

One example is the story of the Curlew Wayayi on the Tiwi Islands to the north of Darwin. The following story comes from Munupi Arts & Crafts Association at Pirlangimpi (Garden Point) on Melville Island.

Mudungkala, an old blind woman arose from the ground at Murupianga in the South East of Melville Island. Clasping her three infants to her breast and crawling on her knees she travelled slowly north. The fresh water that bubbled up in the track she made became the tideways of the Clarence and Dundas Straits, dividing the two islands from the mainland.

PURRUKAPALI AND BIMA

Purrukapali was Mudungkala’s only son. Every day his wife Bima went out gathering food for him, accompanied by their young son Jinani. In the same camp lived an unmarried man, Japara, who used to persuade Bima to leave her child under the shade of a tree and go into the forest with him.

On one very hot day Bima neglected her son too long and he died in the hot sun. On hearing of the child’s death, Purrukapali became so enraged that he struck his wife on the head with a throwing stick and hounded her into the forest.

In an effort to help the anguished father, Japara promised to restore the dead child to life within three days, but Purrukapali was adamant and the two men soon became locked in a deadly struggle.

Purrukapali picked up the dead body of his son and, walking backwards into the sea, he decreed that death should come to the whole world. As his son had died, the whole of creation would die and, once dead, never again would come to life. There was not death before this time.

The place where Purrukapali died, on the east coast of Melville Island, became a whirlpool so strong that anybody who approached it in a canoe would be drowned. When Japara saw what happened he changed himself into the moon. But he did not escape the decree of Purrukapali, for even though his is eternally reincarnated, he has to die for three days every month. One can see on the face of the moon man the wounds that he received in this fight with Purrukapali.

Bima, still bearing scars on her head, became Wayayi, the curlew bird that still roams the forest at night, wailing in remorse for her misdeeds and for the child that she lost.”

However there is another far bleaker picture of the contemporary manifestation of beliefs associated with Wayayi on the Tiwi islands.

In the mid-2000s the Tiwi islands, like many small remote Aboriginal communities across northern Australia were hit with a dramatic spike in the number of seemingly inexplicable youth suicides.

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You lookin’ at me? © Crikey

In 2006 Cathy Scott-Levy and Adrian Levy of The Guardian travelled to the Tiwi islands to examine how it was that two the small islands had what was then “the highest suicide rate in the world”. You can read all of this chilling report here but for present purposes I want to look at how they record the role of Wayayi in these extraordinarily disturbing events.

The land of the dead

On April 11, Gordon Pilakui had girlfriend trouble. According to his family, the 24-year-old had been arguing with her since they got together. He was jealous. She didn’t care. Their ability to make peace was skewed, his friends say, by too much beer and spliff. But no one expected Gordon Pilakui to die.

April 11 was a Saturday night and they are always the most volatile in Nguiu, capital of the Tiwi Islands, twin full stops of sand and swamp 26 miles off the coast of Darwin, north Australia. The evening began at 4pm with three hours at the town’s only social club, speed-drinking Victoria Bitter out of plastic skiffs. Afterwards, Gordon and his girlfriend took home a crate of Cascade beer. Then an improvised bong was sparked up in a bucket, and Gordon and his friends smoked until they entered a parallel world where most of the 2,500 islanders prefer to spend their time.

Within an hour and a half, according to his cousin Michael, Gordon was off his head and raging. He ran to an electricity pole and began climbing up towards the 11,000-volt cables. A crowd of children who had been drop-kicking plastic bottles nearby gathered to watch. For 10 minutes Gordon swayed and swore, babbling about being haunted by a curlew. Then he dived off, slamming into the ground, his skull splitting like a pomegranate.

The dreamtime story that everybody knows on the Tiwi Islands is The Death Of Jinani, a tale from Parlingarri, the time of their ancestors: Tiwis’ Adam and Eve, known asPurrukapali and Bima, fought af
ter the death of their baby son Jinani. The infant, so the story goes, had been left to die in the blazing sun after his mother abandoned him to have an affair with her husband’s brother. In revenge, Purrukapali struck Bima down and decreed that death would come to the whole world. Cradling his son’s body,Purrukapali committed suicide, walking into the sea, crying out shortly before drowning, “You must follow me. As I die, so must all of you.” Since those days, a curlew forever circles the islands, screaming in remorse – the bird that Gordon Pilakui, in his delirium, said he could hear moments before he killed himself.

The current wave of suicides began in June 2005 after William Holpumwurri hanged himself. Within three weeks there were 60 copycat attempts, but for each only the barest explanation is recorded. Anna Maria, 45, “felt lonely”. Marlene, 22, was “angry with her boyfriend”. Two days later, Francis, 46, who had attempted suicide on three previous occasions, was found next to Nguiu’s boat shed, threatening to cut his throat, screaming incomprehensibly “about spirits”. The day after, Georgina, 20, threatened to hang herself with a belt after her father “refused her a cigarette”.

Some islanders were determined to die. In November 2005, Fidelis, 31, was found at home by police with a rope around his neck; once before, he’d swum out to sea hoping to re-enact Purrukapali’s death. On December 2, Freddy, 26, a paraplegic, wheeled himself into the forest with a rope but was unable to heave himself into the noose. Three days later, Deborah, 22, was thwarted, too, after arguing with her mother. On December 16, Marcus, 30, had to be talked down from an electricity pole near the club, raving about the sound of the curlew.

How did the story of Purrukapali come back to haunt the island? Boniface Alimankinnilooks grim. “By the time we were all proper drunk, the only story we could remember was about death – Purrukapali. But we even muddled up this history. Young people, feeling hopeless, began to tell each other to follow their ancestors and kill themselves like Purrukapali. But the real story said something else. The true story was about creation, how our first man died to create the curlew, from the spirit of our first woman, his wife, and how the moon was created from the spirit of Purrukapali’streacherous brother. This was the real story. How can we sort it out?” he asks. “How can we change the ending of the story?”

In other parts of Aboriginal Australia beliefs about the Bush Stone-Curlew are no less significant – but perhaps less malevolent.

For the Warlpiri people from the Tanami Desert to the north-west of Alice Springs in central Australia the Wirntiki – as the Bush Stone-Curlew is known to them – is a central ancestral being in their religious belief and practice. But beyond the sacred the Wirntiki – also known as the Ngamirliri – has other significance, including providing a relational link between two iconic species of the western desert:

Kajili yapangku purda-nyanyi Ngalmirliri wangkanja-kurra: “Kiwirlirli?”, ngulaju maliki panu kalu palka nyina.”

If someone hears the Stone-Curlews going “kiwirlirli” then there are many dogs around. There are many baby dingoes gathered at that place.

And this as a cautionary tale for mothers:

Ngamirlirli ka kiwirlirli-kiwirlirli-wangka mungangka. Kajilpa Ngamirlirli wangkayarla mungangka ngurra-wana kutu, kajilpa ngatinyanurlu purda-nyangkarla jamulu, kajika tururr-ngunamirra-jala kurduju – Ngamirlirli kajilpa kiwirlirli-kiwirlirli-wangkayarla.

The Ngamirlirli bird calls out at night going kiwirlirli-kiwirlirli. If it calls out like this at night somewhere near where people are sleeping and if a mother hears it and does nothing about it, then her child might throw a trembling fit – that’s if the curlew calls out.

If you have a story about the Bush Stone-curlew from your part of the country – and I’m aware that these wonderful birds are significant to all kinds of people for a variety of reasons – I’d love for you to share it with us all.

Source: Crikey

Artificially flooded farmlands for shorebirds in Louisiana

Written by Gyorgy Szimuly/WorldWaders

National Geographic posted a nice video on cooperative farmers who are helping wildlife to find suitable, ‘non-BP-affected’, feeding habitats during their southbound migration along the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico. The video shows nicely how fast shorebirds and wading birds are taking possession of new temporary habitats.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/09/100923-nsf-oil-flooded-fields-video/

Shorebird researchers document Red Knot’s record-breaking flight

Meredith Gutowski, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences

This past spring, a 6-ounce Red Knot (Calidris canutus) – a shorebird only two-thirds the size of a city pigeon – flew non-stop for six days and nights, covering 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) across the Amazon and the Atlantic Ocean between southern Brazil and North Carolina, shattering the previous known Red Knot record by nearly 700 miles. Late in the previous summer, the same Red Knot flew non-stop for eight days between Canada’s Hudson Bay and the Caribbean.

These are two of the fascinating results just published in the bulletin of the International Wader Study Group by a group of shorebird researchers from the United States, Canada, Argentina, Britain, and Australia. Lead author Dr. Larry Niles, a scientist with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, and his colleagues employed a relatively new technique – sunrise- and sunset-sensitive geolocators attached to the legs of Red Knots in New Jersey – to shed new light on the annual migration of this species of special concern. Red Knots winter as far south as Tierra del Fuego, South America, and breed in the Arctic.

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From May 2009 to May 2010, a Red Knot (data-name, “Y0Y”) flew a record-breaking 16,600 miles (26,700 kilometers) total, based on data retrieved from his geolocator. The map shows the route and timing of his migration, which included going to the Canadian Arctic for the breeding season and spending his “winter” in Patagonia, Argentina./Courtesy of Larry Niles. (Click the image for larger view.)

In addition to non-stop intercontinental flights of up to eight days, the researchers learned that the birds sometimes make extensive detours around tropical storms during their southbound migration and discovered new migratory paths. Such information will help ongoing conservation efforts for this threatened bird.

“Red Knots have faced terrible population declines in the past ten years,” says Dr. Charles Duncan, Director of the Shorebird Recovery Project at the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences.  “The combination of new technologies in this exciting research with intensive conservation efforts makes us hopeful that, together, we can recover the populations of this amazing bird, one of the planet’s great travelers.”

In May 2009, geolocators were attached to the legs of 47 Red Knots that had been captured during their annual stopover on the Delaware Bay, where they “refuel” on horseshoe crab eggs prior to their final flights to their Canadian Arctic breeding grounds. Three of those birds were recaptured during their return to the Delaware Bay in May 2010, and their geolocators were retrieved. Analyzing the year-long geolocator data, the researchers found that the bird that flew nearly 5,000 miles non-stop for six days also covered one of the longest recorded distances in a year of any bird species: 16,600 miles (26,700 kilometers).

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The sunrise- and sunset-sensitive geolocator on this Red Knot’s leg records day-length wherever the bird goes during its annual migration cycle. Researchers then analyze these data recordings to track its journey. © Jan van de Kam

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Researchers demonstrated that the lightweight geolocators, seen here in detail, did not affect the Red Knots’ behavior or survival rates. © Jan van de Kam

“We’ve long known that reaching the Arctic in time for breeding requires long-distance northbound flights, thereby making quality stopovers, such as the Delaware Bay, critical for resting and refueling,” says Niles, the project’s chief investigator. “The surprise here was that after the breeding season all three birds with geolocators also made long-distance return flights, highlighting the importance of southbound stopover sites such as Cape Cod in Massachusetts, and New Jersey’s Atlantic coast.”

The data also revealed that during the 2009 southbound migration, tropical storms caused two of the birds to make long, energy-depleting detours. One bird detoured more than 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) to avoid Tropical Storm Danny in late August, and then in early September encountered Tropical Storm Erica before arriving in Brazil. The other bird detoured approximately 870 miles (1,400 kilometers) to avoid strong adverse winds while over the Atlantic before resuming its flight south. 

“Global warming models suggest increases in the frequency and strength of tropical storms,” says Niles. “If this happens it could be devastating to shorebirds’ southward migration.”

The study also found that the birds, which most likely were flying as part of a flock, took some previously unknown migratory paths. One bird flew straight across the Amazon, through habitat mostly inhospitable to shorebirds. The data not only re-validated the importance of a number of key, known stopovers (San Antonio Oeste in Argentina, the Maranhão region of northern Brazil, and the Delaware Bay in the U.S.), they also identified a number of previously little-known stopovers, such as the Churchill region of Hudson Bay and the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean.

Biologist Patricia González is an Argentine researcher who follows the knots to many places along their migratory route. “There are no borders for these birds,” she says. “This kind of project is only possible thanks to the enthusiastic network of researchers, volunteers, and communities that is being built throughout the American flyway. The knots are teaching us about collaboration.”

These results suggest that geolocators are likely to afford valuable new insights to our understanding of Red Knot migration strategies, as well as their breeding and wintering locations. Between May 2009 and May 2010, the research team fitted geolocators to 200 more Red Knots they caught in Canada, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Florida, Texas, and Argentina. The future recovery of some of these birds and their geolocator data will add even more knowledge to aid Red Knot conse
rvation.

For more information or a copy of the report in the Wader Study Group Bulletin, Vol. 117(2), please contact Dr. Larry Niles at larry.niles@gmail.com.

Farmland bird populations in sharp decline, Government figures show

Written by RSPB

Overall farmland bird populations in England fell by 5 per cent last year to their lowest level for 40 years, according to official figures released in late July.

Statistics released by Defra covering 19 bird species which rely on farmland have shown the steep decline between 2008 and 2009. RSPB scientists say the one year decline may be down to factors including a cold winter and the loss of set-aside in the countryside.

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Northern Lapwing in breeding habitat pasture in England. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Some of the most worrying declines include Northern Lapwings (12 per cent decline), Corn Bunting (7 per cent) and Grey Partridge (23 per cent). Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) – the advanced environmental subsidy package for farmers – was designed to boost individual threatened farmland bird species like these.

Where HLS has been deployed, farmers have achieved great successes for wildlife – but it currently covers under ten per cent of farmland. And it is now under threat from the coalition Government’s proposed budget cuts.

“It’s difficult to draw any hard and fast conclusions from a short one-year time span, but this certainly makes for some depressing reading,” said RSPB director of conservation Dr Mark Avery.

“The winter before last was a moderately cold one which could have impacted on birds’ ability to find food. We may also be seeing the knock on effect of set-aside being abolished in 2007, removing valuable foraging and nesting habitats for wild birds in the farmed countryside.

“Northern Lapwings – known to some as the ‘farmer’s friend’ – are particularly vulnerable and their populations have been steadily falling for more than 30 years, so a decline of 12 per cent in one year across England is really bad news.

“Those farmers who are helping to save this beautiful, threatened bird through the Higher Level Stewardship are achieving some great results. So to cut this important environmental scheme now could be disastrous.”

The long term decline
The figures released today also show a new long term five-year decline of 10 per cent. Farmland bird researchers say this long term decline shows that the Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) scheme – the basic environmental subsidy package – is not working as well as it should be. 

While HLS was designed to save threatened species, ELS was designed to reverse the overall decline in farmland birds. 56 per cent of farmland in England is in ELS.

“The five year decline of 10 per cent is a real cause for concern. It indicates that ELS is not working as intended,” Dr Avery continued.

“On the RSPB’s own farm in Cambridgeshire we have seen bird numbers almost triple thanks to ELS, so we know it can be done. There are many different options in the ELS scheme but unfortunately we are not seeing the right options used in the right ways.

“Farmland birds need farmers. The NFU and CLA-led Campaign for the Farmed Environment aims to boost wildlife-friendly activities on farms. These results show how crucial this effort is. The Campaign has the RSPB’s full support, and we applaud those farmers who are adapting their farms to care for wildlife as well as producing high-quality food. We just need more people to join in.”

What can I do?
We’re celebrating the work the UK’s farmers do for wildlife
Find out more about the Nature of Farming Award

Arctic Shorebird Demographics Network

Written by Meredith Gutowski/WHSRN

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Existing shorebird monitoring efforts are aimed at providing population size and trend estimates, along with environmental data to help interpret the estimates. However, current programs cannot provide information to determine which life history stage(s) of shorebirds is (are) likely to be limiting overall population growth in declining species. Is it reproductive success? What about the rate of survival of the juveniles, or of the adults? Or perhaps it is some combination of these factors?

This summer, the ambitious and long-sought dream of being able to answer these important conservation questions became a reality with the launch of the Arctic Shorebird Demographics Network (ASDN). Under the leadership of Dr. Stephen Brown of Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, Dr. Rick Lanctot of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Alaska, and Dr. Brett Sandercock of Kansas State University, the ASDN currently connects the work of shorebird biologists at nine field stations and sites across the vast Arctic breeding grounds of North America, from western Alaska to eastern Canada. Scientists hope to further strengthen the network in 2011 with a total of 11 locations.

Understanding the potential factors limiting the populations of so many declining species at this enormous scale is critical to targeting conservation efforts at the right times and places. Dr. Brown underscores the enormity of this project in saying, “we are starting the most ambitious effort ever undertaken to measure survival and reproductive rates of shorebirds, which will allow us to determine when and where their populations are limited.” The ASDN focuses on migratory shorebirds that breed in the Arctic but migrate and winter throughout the Western Hemisphere.  Such migratory species directly experience and are affected by environmental changes occurring throughout their annual range, thereby serving as indicators of that change to scientists. 

The full article and site list is available in the 10 September 2010 issue of WHSRNews.

For more information, contact Dr. Stephen Brown, Director of Shorebird Science, Shorebird Recovery Project, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences; Dr. Rick Lanctot, Shorebird Coordinator–Alaska Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; or Dr. Brett Sandercock, Associate Professor of Wildlife Ecology, Kansas State University.

Climate Change and Shorebird Habitat: A New Assessment Tool

Written by Meredith Gutowski/WHSRN

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Along the U.S. Atlantic coast, at risk from climate change are more than 100 nests of the Federally threatened Piping Plover at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Virginia; valuable acres of habitat for Red Knots at Monomoy NWR in Massachusetts; and prime nesting habitat for American Oystercatchers at Edwin B. Forsythe NWR in New Jersey. All three sites are members of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN). While managers know that these sites and species are vulnerable, until recently they haven’t had any systematic way of assessing or prioritizing habitats and strategies for climate-change adaptation actions.

Thanks to Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences’s new “Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for Shorebird Habitat,” managers now have that capability. This innovative, Excel-based assessment and decision-making tool is the product of a partnership agreement between Manomet and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Northeast Region’s Division of Refuges. This partnership enabled Refuge Biologist Dorie Stolley to work for Manomet for a year, funded by the generosity of individual Manomet donors concerned about the impacts of climate change on shorebirds.

Refuges comprise more than half of the 83 WHSRN sites to date, therefore partnering with USFWS was a natural choice. With input from refuge managers and biologists, Stolley successfully designed the tool and piloted it at the three coastal refuges mentioned above. Participants at each workshop included federal, state, non-profit, and academic partners, as well as local refuge volunteer groups.

The full article about this new tool is available in the 10 September 2010 issue of WHSRNews.

A video of Dorie Stolley presenting an overview of the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for Shorebird Habitat at the USFWS Northeast Regional Office can be viewed via the USFWS Video Archives (45 minutes, .wmv file; Note: there is a glitch between the 3- and 6-minute marker).

For more information, please contact Dorie Stolley; or, Meredith Gutowski, Conservation Specialist, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences; or, any of the three National Wildlife Refuge pilot sites.

Birding for Banded Shorebirds – Updated!

Written by Meredith Gutowski/WHSRN

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Updated Note from the Editor of WHSRNews (newsletter of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network): Our previous issue (14 April) coincided with the increase in northbound shorebird migration in the Northern Hemisphere, and the information in our original article about banded shorebirds reflected that geographic emphasis. Subsequently, our partners in South America provided additional information about shorebird banding and data collection efforts in the Southern Hemisphere. Given the success of our original article, we have updated it with this information and a few clarifications, and are providing it anew to coincide with the southbound migration now occurring in the Northern Hemisphere. Many thanks (again) to Jeannine Parvin, Database Manager for BandedBirds.Org; Kevin Kalasz, Wildlife Biologist for Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife; and Danny Bystrak, Wildlife Biologist for U.S. Geological Survey’s Bird Banding Lab, as well as to Patricia González, Shorebird Researcher and Conservationist for Fundación Inalafquen and the Global Flyway Network, for providing the information for the updated article.

The full article with photos and diagrams is available in the 10 September 2010 issue of WHSRNews.

For more information, please contact the Editor, Meredith Gutowski, Conservation Specialist, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, Manomet, Massachusetts USA.

A great breeding season for UK???s Avocets: record-breaking year at RSPB’s Read’s Island

Written by WildLife Extra

The bird that is the logo of the RSPB – and a symbol of bird conservation – has had a good breeding season, with record-breaking numbers at one UK reserve and the return after a 16-year break at another.

A failing breeding Pied Avocet colony on the Humber has enjoyed a dramatic reversal in fortunes with its most successful season ever, thanks to a major restoration project.

The RSPB estimates that at least 200 Pied Pied Avocet chicks have fledged this year on its reserve Read’s Island. Not only is this about 25 per cent higher than its previous best season, it is the first time any young have fledged on the site for three years. Situated near the south bank of the Humber, Read’s Island used to be one of the UK’s most important breeding sites for the Pied Avocet, but the river’s strong tide eroded the pools where the birds breed, causing the colony’s productivity to collapse.

A grant of almost £50,000 from SITA Trust enabled the RSPB to rebuild and protect 10 hectares of Read’s Island in the hope of securing a future for the Pied Avocet colony. Deep feeding pools were created, capable of holding water during the breeding season and islands were built for the birds to nest on. In addition, existing banks were repaired to help protect the Pied Avocet nests from high spring tides.

Prior to the restoration project, the number of breeding Pied Avocet pairs on Read’s Island had shrunk to a mere 50 pairs. This season there are in excess of 200.

Pete Short, the RSPB’s Humber Site Manager said: “The project has been a huge success and we are delighted that the island has regained its former glory as one of our most important Pied Avocet breeding colonies.’

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PERFECT ENVIRONMENT: Pied Avocets have returned to Pensthorpe Nature Reserve in Norfolk for the first time since 1994. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Conservation work has paid off
Meanwhile, Pied Avocets have bred for the first time in more than 15 years at Pensthorpe Nature Reserve in Norfolk. Partly as result of the work undertaken on the reserve’s wader scrape last winter, the habitat is perfect for the breeding Pied Avocets and this year the birds have returned to the reserve and bred successfully for the first time since 1994.

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SYMBOL OF SUCCESS: Pied Avocets have enjoyed a fantastic breeding season. © Jan Wegener

‘The work on the scrape has really paid off this year, which has been the best yet for waders, including Wood, Green and Common Sandpiper, Ruff, Common Redshank, three pairs of Little Ringed Plover and Black-tailed Godwit, says Pensthorpe’s zoo and conservation manager Tony Durkin. ‘The adult pair and their fours eggs were watched by millions on this year’s Springwatch series and after successfully avoiding trouble from their wildlife neighbours, the chicks have fully-fledged from the scrape.’

There are many theories about why there has been a 16-year break from Pied Avocet breeding at Pensthorpe, but the Wensum Valley, which the reserve sits in, acts as a migration corridor for birds and over the past few years Pied Avocets have been seen regularly, only to disappear in mid May.

‘We are delighted that the Pied Avocets have finally bred at Pensthorpe after such a long absence and hope they will return next year,’ says Tony.

Call for applications to the Asian Waterbird Conservation Fund

Written by The Partnership for the East Asian-Australasian Flyway

The ‘Asian Waterbird Conservation Fund’ has been established to provide financial support to projects at sites of importance for migratory waterbirds in the East Asian – Australasian Flyway. Cathay Pacific placed an initial donation of HK$500,000 (approx. US$65,000) into the Fund which is administered by WWF Hong Kong. At present, the maximum amount that can be applied for each project shall not exceed US$4,000. Eleven projects have been funded since the first round of applications in June 2006. You may visit our website for details. There will be a single call for applications to the Fund each year with the deadline currently being 31 October 2010. For the application form and further information, please check here or contact the AWCF Secretariat by e-mail awcf@wwf.org.hk.

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