Red Alert from Finland ??? Number of Threatened Bird Species Increases

Written by BirdLife Community

December 2010 proved to be a very sad month in Finland in terms of bird protection. The new Red List, indicating which species are threatened, showed that the number of threatened bird species in Finland had increased by almost 70%.

Birds are one of the best known animal groups in Finland (which has 248 breeding species) and the only group for which long-term population trends are recorded, for each species. The number of threatened bird species is now 59 (up from 35 at the last assessment in 2000), with 30 species listed as near-threatened.

Among mire-breeding species, 8 are now listed as threatened, up from just one a decade ago. Mire drainage which took place decades ago is still affecting these species, even in protected areas. In total, almost 5 million hectares of mires and bogs have been drained by ditching – this is some 55 % of the total area of peatlands in Finland.

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The Ruff was evaluated as Least Concern in Finland only 10 years ago. It is now Endangered following a population crash. © Jan Wegener

A large-scale restoration of mires is one factor needed to ensure a future for mire-breeding species. Mire birds also depend on wetlands during their non-breeding season, and the rapid decrease of some species such as the Ruff cannot be explained solely by habitat changes in Finland. This alarming situation  thus also reflects on the condition of wetlands in wintering grounds and migration stopovers.

Common wetland-breeding birds such as the Pochard, Horned Crebe and Garganey are also decreasing.

There is a lack of political will and therefore lack of resources for inland wetland management, which reduces the relevance of Natura 2000 wetlands for birds in Finland.

Not all new from the Red List is negative however – relative to 2000, the number of threatened forest birds has decreased slightly, and common farmland birds such as the Partridge are doing much better than they were.

A current focus for Finland should be on restoration of mires and better management of wetlands. BirdLife Finland and other NGOs will aim to lobby these into political agenda. Parliamentary election takes place in Spring 2011.

BirdLife Finland website

 

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Manomet Receives Funding for Chilo?? Island Shorebird Conservation

Written by Meredith Gutowski/WHSRN

The wetlands on the eastern coast of Chiloé Island, located in southern Chile’s Región de los Lagos, constitute the most important wintering area in the Western Hemisphere for two high-priority shorebird species: Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica) and Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus). The island supports up to 27% of the Hudsonian Godwit’s global population and 99% of its Pacific coast population; it also supports 61% of the Pacific coast population of Whimbrel. Both species breed in North America, and are considered a high conservation concern.

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Limosa haemastica. © Pablo Petracci

Recognizing Chiloé’s significance for these and other migratory shorebirds, an international coalition of partners has been working with their counterparts in Chile to develop a shorebird conservation plan for this area of global importance. The coalition includes The Nature Conservancy (TNC), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Audubon Society, and the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences’ Shorebird Recovery Project. In-country partners include Chile’s Ministry of Environment, the government of Región de los Lagos, the Center for the Study and Conservation of Chile’s Natural Heritage (CECPAN by its Spanish acronym), Conservación Marina, and several other local nongovernmental organizations and municipalities.

The first phase of the coalition’s project was completed in 2010 thanks to generous support from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. In that phase, led by TNC with direct participation from a broad range of local community representatives, partners identified and prioritized critical threats to shorebirds on the island, the sources of those threats, and strategies for abating them.

In December 2010, on behalf of the coalition, Manomet received a $250,000 grant from the Packard Foundation to begin the project’s second phase—implementing the Conservation Plan for Migratory Birds in Chiloé. Grant funds will support targeted priority actions including education and outreach, social marketing, awareness-building, long-term shorebird monitoring, land protection, and conservation infrastructure development. Partners will be working with the communities of Caulin, Putemún, Pullao, Chullec, Curaco de Velez, and Huildad-Yaldad on Chiloé.  

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Thanks to funding received in December 2010, Chiloé Island’s shorebird conservation plan will be implemented in six communities.

The full press release is available on Manomet’s website. 

For more information, please contact Diego Luna Quevedo (diego.luna@manomet.org), Southern Cone Program Coordinator, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, or Charles Duncan (cduncan@manomet.org), Director, Shorebird Recovery Project, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences.

New WHSRN Site in Mexico: Pastizales de Janos y Ascensi??n

Written by Meredith Gutowski/WHSRN

The WHSRN Hemispheric Council approved the nomination of Pastizales de Janos y Ascensión [Grasslands of Janos and Ascensión] as a WHSRN Site of Regional Importance in late August 2010. This site, located in the State of Chihuahua in northern Mexico, supports 2.4% of the world population of Mountain Plovers (Charadrius montanus), and up to 5.5% of the estimated population of Long-billed Curlews (Numenius americanus). Both are “Species of High Concern” in the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan. Additional shorebird species of conservation concern that rely on these grasslands are Snowy Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) and Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda).

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Pastizales de Janos y Ascensión, located in Chihuahua, Mexico, is WHSRN’s 83rd site.

Pastizales de Janos y Ascensión was declared a Biosphere Reserve in December 2009, bringing the site’s more than 544,000 hectares (1,300,000 million acres) of critical grassland habitats under federal protection. The area is also recognized as an Important Bird Area (AICA Janos–Nuevo Casas Grandes, in Spanish) because of the significant number and diversity of migratory birds it supports.

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Long-billed Curlew. © Steve Emmons

There are now 83 WHSRN sites in 13 countries, with partners conserving more than 31 million acres (12 million hectares) of shorebird habitat.It is our pleasure to congratulate and give a warm welcome to our partners at the Pastizales de Janos y Ascensión WHSRN Site, including Mexico’s National Commission on Natural Protected Areas (CONANP by its Spanish acronym), Pronatura Noroeste, The Nature Conservancy, Ejido Asensción, Ejido Ignacio Zaragoza, and private ranch owner Alfonso de Andar Armendáriz.

Beach Stone-curlew Chick hopes for a happy end!

Written by Birds Australia/Shorebirds 2020

Birds Australia 2020 Shorebird Scheme would like to thank National Park ranger Lori Cameron for her outstanding contribution in protecting a Beach Stone-curlew chick!

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Adult Beach Stone-curlew. © D. Ingwersen

When Lori discovered that a pair of this critically endangered bird species (only 10 nesting pairs exist in NSW) was nesting in her area, she immediately devised a strategy to protect this single chick. It hatched in early December, only one of five in Northern NSW. Lori organized her department to fence in the nesting site and to erect additional road barricades. She then engaged the help of members from local bird watching groups and prepared a roster for volunteers to assist her in keeping watch of the protected site, which is located in a Nature Reserve right in a popular beach and river front area for holiday makers. So far rangers and volunteers have already spent many hundreds of hours to protect this single chick. Foxes have been eradicated in a 1080 poison program. But the biggest single threat to the chick now are dogs. A number of signs positioned prominently at the Nature Reserve entry, prohibit dogs. Yet daily a number of people bring their dogs, some even unleashed. It would only take one uncontrolled dog to kill this helpless chick!

A big thank you also to the editors and reporters of the Northern Star and the Advocate for so accurately reporting this dog issue. In a number of articles the danger of uncontrolled dogs to shorebirds in general and to Beach Stone-curlews in particular is explained. These articles not only help in educating the public but also warn irresponsible dog owners that heavy on the spot fines apply.

We are not out of the woods yet. There are still 4 more weeks to go before the chick can fly. Many thanks again to all the volunteers who have already given so much of their time (and money), but especially to Lori for her selfless dedication to ensure this special chick will survive.

At Shorebirds 2020 we are all keeping fingers crossed that this chick (and of course its chicks and grand-chicks) will benefit from understanding dog owners and tireless volunteers and we can keep this species as a breeding bird in NSW.

 

New study reveals links between wader declines and land use

Written by RSPB Scotland

A new study exploring the causes of population change in upland waders has found that no single cause is connected with recent decreases in populations. Instead, the research by the RSPB suggests that different factors associated with varying land-use may be influencing changes in certain species.

In the first country-wide assessment of its kind, the study looked at five wading bird species — Northern Lapwing, Eurasian Curlew, European Golden Plover, Dunlin and Common Snipe — and explored changes in their populations across various upland habitats. 142 individual survey plots were identified for study within the following regions; East Flows, Exmoor, Lake District, Lewis & Harris, North East Scotland, North Pennines, North Yorkshire, South Pennines, Wales, West Flows. It found that where declines had occurred, they were linked with factors such as habitat cover, forest edge exposure, grouse moor management intensity and crow abundance.

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Eurasian Curlew on grassland. © Attila Seprényi

Wading birds were once a common sight on farmland and uplands, but in recent decades they have suffered dramatic population declines in many areas. The Repeat Upland Bird Survey carried out by the RSPB suggested declines of over 50% of Lapwing, Dunlin and Curlew over the last 25 years in many parts of the British uplands.

These losses have prompted further investigation to try to identify the reason behind them. Using data from these previous upland bird surveys, RSPB scientists, with support from Scottish Natural Heritage, were able to analyse changes in the abundance of waders over almost 1500 square kilometres across the UK’s uplands. This examined whether population changes could be linked to variations in land-use, such as the amounts of nearby forestry, or the intensity of grouse moor management, which involves burning heather and legal control of predators such as foxes, crows and stoats. Heather on moorland is burnt in strips to create a mosaic of young nutritious heather which acts as a food source for grouse, and older stands which provide nesting habitat and cover.

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Northern Lapwing on wet meadow. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Results, published in the journal Bird Study, found that numbers of Golden Plover and Snipe declined more in upland landscapes where there was more forestry in surrounding areas. The exact causes for this relationship are not known, but waders breed on the ground and as such are vulnerable to predation. The surrounding forest may well be beneficial to nesting crows or foxes, which are the main predators of eggs and chicks of upland waders. Other recent studies have shown that changes to upland wader abundance can be influenced by numbers of predators, and this study suggests that afforestation, in some areas, might be an important factor behind this relationship.

Declines in Lapwing numbers were greatest in areas dominated by heather. For this species, links to predation were also identified. Regionally, Lapwing populations fared better on areas with more intensive grouse moor management and worse where there were high crow numbers. The same was not true, however, for Golden Plover, which surprisingly suffered greatest declines in areas where grouse moor management was more intensive.

Dr Murray Grant, a principal conservation scientist with RSPB, said: “The decline of uplands waders has been a cause for concern for a number of years, particularly as the reasons for these changes were not clear cut. These are birds that many people will recognise and were commonplace three or four decades ago. This new research provides useful indicators on which factors might be important in driving declines in these splendid birds. The next task will be to use this information to dig a little deeper and determine the mechanisms for the declines and what we can do to help these species on areas where decreases are greatest.

Professor Des Thompson, Policy and Advice Manager for SNH, commented: “This research shows the complex nature of changes in our wader populations in the uplands, including vividly revealing the decline in Curlew and Lapwing numbers. Many people working in the uplands lament the loss of these birds, so we do need to intensify our understanding of what is happening — and then try do something about it.

This article was reposted from BirdGuides.

Uruguay: Developing the Laguna de Rocha WHSRN Site Management Plan

Written by Meredith Gutowski/WHSRN

Laguna de Rocha, a WHSRN Site of Regional Importance on the east coast of Uruguay, is a critical wintering area for 6.6% of the total biogeographic population of Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Tryngites subruficollis). This site is part of the National Protected Areas System and provides stopover and wintering habitat for several other migratory bird species of conservation concern.

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Buff-breasted Sandpiper, with flag and color-bands, at Laguna de Rocha, Uruguay. © Joaquín Aldabe

Partners are currently working on developing the design and implementation of a Management Plan that allows for productive development that is compatible with maintaining the ecological character of this valuable protected area. To help advance the effort, the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences and the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) have agreed to provide financial support to Aves Uruguay, a nongovernmental bird conservation organization, to collect the data needed to ensure that shorebirds are adequately addressed in the future plan. Aves Uruguay is generating updated information about shorebirds in the area and working to build local capacity for conservation. “The idea is to set the stage for action,” explains Joaquín Aldabe, Director of Conservation for Aves Uruguay.

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Laguna de Rocha WHSRN Site, located on the east coast of Uruguay, is part of the country’s National Protected Areas System.

The activities supported by Manomet and CWS include applying the WHSRN Site Assessment Tool; publishing and distributing a training manual about the shorebirds of Laguna de Rocha; conducting a series of informative workshops for local stakeholders; continuing a participatory monitoring system for Buff-breasted Sandpipers; and providing assistance to livestock owners about habitat management practices.

For more information, please contact Joaquín Aldabe (joaquin@aldabe.org), Aves Uruguay, or Diego Luna Quevedo (diego.luna@manomet.org), Southern Cone Program Coordinator, the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences.

Support blog launched for worldwaders users

Written by Gyorgy Szimuly/WorldWaders

A technical blog has just been launched especially for worldwaders.org users supporting their efforts to add records to any of the previously announced or future online databases. The blog will focus tricks and tips as well as on announcement of new developments, changes and project progress. Please find the blog under the following link:

http://worldwaderssupport.posterous.com

Should you have a question please leave a comment here in the blog.

Record flock of Sociable Lapwings discovered in Oman

Written by BirdLife International Amazing Journey Team

Exciting news has just reached us that a country record flock of 90+ Sociable Lapwings was present at Salalah in Oman on Christmas Day, 2010.

The record was submitted to the Amazing Journey team by Spanish birder Daniel Lopez Velasco who was on a birding trip with friends when they encountered the birds. You can see Daniel’s excellent images of part of the flock in this post and watch his short video of one of the birds feeding here.

“Having spent a couple of days searching for the BIG flock of Sociable Lapwings in south-eastern Turkey two Novembers ago without luck, I was very pleased to see this one!” reports Daniel. “We spent a couple of days birding Jarziz Farms, where the lapwings were located on the grassy, green, circular fields to the north west of the farm. They appeared fairly settled and were mainly feeding or roosting. During both our visits no one disturbed the birds which was good news!

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Record Sociable Lapwing flock, Salalah, Oman December 2010. Image curtesy of BirdLife International

Oman is one of the best watched countries on the Arabian peninsula and there have 105 previous records of single birds or small flocks of Sociable Lapwings occurring there between 1974 and 2010. Nearly all of these have been from three farms with large, irrigated fields. This latest flock is the largest ever recorded – 48 were found present at Sahnout Farm, Salalah on 9th January 2010 and 29 at Jarziz Farm on 22nd January 2010. There is also a record of 24 at Jarziz Farm on 30th November 2008.

Although it is not possible to separate the apparent increase in records from greater observer effort and coverage, there does seem to be an increase in numbers since 2001. This corresponds with the encouraging population recovery now being experienced in Kazakhstan and is mirrored in the increasing number of winter records from India too.

Historical records show that Oman has always been a wintering area for small numbers of Sociable Lapwings. The possibility of it just being a stopover site for birds then moving on to north-east Africa via Yemen is unlikely (only three Yemen records) and it is likely birds stay there until the end of February at least.

The increase in numbers in recent years suggests that the region is becoming increasingly important as a regular wintering area alongside East Sudan and India.

It is now possible to keep abreast of recent bird records in Oman by visiting the Birds Oman website run by Jens & Hanne Erikson. If you are fans of stunning Sociable Lapwing pictures check out their incredible photograhs here.

Dakota Grassland Conservation Area Proposed

Written by American Bird Conservancy

An important program to protect key grassland and wetland complexes in the core of the U.S. Prairie Pothole region has been proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It is called the “Dakota Grasslands Conservation Area”, and would dedicate $588 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to protect more than 240,000 acres of wetlands and 1.7 million acres of privately-owned grasslands in North Dakota, South Dakota, and eastern Montana.

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Marbled Godwit. © Jan Wegener

Conservation would occur through the purchase of conservation easements from willing landowners. This program is meant to serve as a critical piece of a broader conservation strategy targeting more than 10 million acres of grassland habitat in the Prairie Potholes over the next few decades. Without such efforts, it is estimated that one-third to one-half of these critical habitats will be converted to other uses within 35 years.

Prairie potholes are seasonal, primarily fresh water wetlands found in North and South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and other states in the upper Midwest and into Canada. This formerly glaciated landscape is pockmarked with an immense number of depressions which fill with snowmelt and rain in the spring.

In addition to being known as North America’s “duck factory“, the Prairie Pothole region is the core of the global range of several U.S. WatchList birds. Ninety percent of the global population of Baird’s Sparrow breeds in the Prairie Potholes, and 86% of the Sprague’s Pipits. These areas are also crucially important to the Short-eared Owl, Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Nelson’s Sparrow, and McCown’s Longspur. Most of these birds have seen significant declines in available habitat throughout their ranges.

It will be impossible to stem the tide of grassland bird declines without implementing widespread conservation strategies in the Prairie Pothole region,” said Dan Casey, Northern Rockies Coordinator for ABC and primary author of the Prairie Potholes Joint Venture’s Landbird Implementation Plan. This plan is designed to identify strategies for implementing biologically-sound landbird habitat protection and enhancement in the Prairie Potholes Region.

Working with willing landowners to acquire conservation easements will not only protect these crucial wetland and grassland habitats, it will help maintain traditional land uses and lifestyles of the prairies. Similar work is needed throughout the range of these birds wherever native prairie can still be found,” Casey said.

Although the official public comment period for the project’s initial environmental analysis ended in mid-January, the opportunity to comment will continue for those on the mailing list for the draft land protection plan. Email dgca_comments@fws.gov to request to be added to this list. A fact sheet on the project is available at: www.fws.gov/audubon/dakotagrassland.html.

Shorebird Job Opportunity: Florida Shorebird Partnership Coordinator

Written by Nancy Douglass/Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Title: Florida Shorebird Partnership Coordinator
Agency: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Pay: $20.00/hour (starting)
Location: Lakeland Florida
Start Date: mid-February
Closing Date: when filled

Description: This is an exciting opportunity to make a significant contribution to conservation of shorebirds in Florida. This position is directly responsible for the continued development and management of a statewide network of partners focused on conservation of shorebirds and seabirds (shorebirds) in Florida, The Florida Shorebird Alliance (FSA). The position maintains the content of the FSA website (www.FLShorebirdAlliance.org), promotes and supports local and regional partnerships, designs and coordinates surveys and monitoring efforts, works with agency staff to develop shorebird conservation measures, and assists with data management and management of the agency’s online database (www.myfwc.com/shorebirds).

Requirements: Seeking a candidate with the skills and enthusiasm to expand this successful program. Intimately familiar with the identification, biology, and conservation of seabirds and shorebirds. Excellent communication and coordination skills. Adept at use of websites and social networking as communication tools. Masters degree or minimum 3 years professional experience in wildlife conservation. Must be self-motivated and able to work with minimal supervision.

Application: Send resume and cover letter to Nancy Douglass (Nancy.Douglass@MyFWC.com).