New Flyway Network Site: ???Yubu-do Tidal Flat??? in Seocheon County, Republic of Korea

Written by EAAFP

Based on the recommendation of the Secretariat and review panel, the ‘Yubu-do Tidal Flat’ in Seocheon County is now designated in the Flyway Site Network (FSN) as an internationally important habitat for migratory waterbirds on the East Asian-Australasia Flyway.

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© 2011 Partnership for EAAF

Classified as intertidal flat and islands, it is located in the centre of the western coast in Korea, and is an important staging and non-breeding habitat for many migratory waterbirds such as Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus), Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola), Lesser Sand Plover (Charadrius mongolus), Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica), Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata), Far Eastern Curlew (Numenius madagascariensis) and Dunlin (Calidris alpina). It also regularly supports appreciable numbers of Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpipers (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus).

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South-east Asia provides very important staging sites for Artctic breeder shorebirds. © Neil Fifer

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Chilean Ministry of Environment and Manomet Center Sign Shorebird Agreement

Written by Meredith Gutowski/WHSRN

The Chilean Ministry of the Environment has signed an agreement with Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences to collaborate on shorebird and wetland conservation efforts on the critically important island of Chiloé. Under the newly signed Memorandum of Understanding, the Manomet Center and the Chilean government will work together to implement the National Strategy for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Wetlands of Chile as well as the Migratory Shorebird Conservation Plan for Chiloé.

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(Hudsonian) Whimbrel is a wintering shorebird along the Chilean coastline. © György Szimuly

Chiloé Island, located off the coast of southern Chile, is home to a great number of migratory shorebirds that fly more than 9,300 miles from the northern hemisphere every year to winter within the island’s coastal wetlands. These wetlands support 99% of the Pacific Coast population or 27% of the global population of Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica) and 61% of the Pacific Coast population of Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus). Both shorebird species breed in North America and are considered of high conservation concern. The entire system of wetlands in eastern Chiloé was designated as a WHSRN Site of Hemispheric Importance in January 2011.

Wetlands are a strategic resource for Chile, providing a wide range of environmental goods and services that allow us to sustain biodiversity and contribute to the welfare of our communities,” said Ricardo Sanchez Irarrázabal, Chile’s Assistant Secretary for Environment. “This new partnership with the Manomet Center will allow us to leverage resources and facilitate access to information for making effective conservation decisions for the wetlands of Chiloe as vital ecosystems to sustain populations of migratory birds.

The Chilean Ministry of the Environment and Manomet Center are working with local governments to prepare effective regulations that will protect Chiloé’s wetlands and designate municipal reserves on the island.

The partners also are promoting awareness and pride among local communities towards their island’s unique shorebird and wetland resources, through projects such as “Chiloé: Birds and Cultural Heritage.” The Ministry’s Regional Secretariat for the Lakes Region, together with the Municipality of Castro, is leading and coordinating the “Chiloé Wetland Roundtable: Everyone’s Heritage.” This public-private forum is designed to strengthen local capacity to promote and implement conservation actions.

Diego Luna Quevedo, Manomet Center’s Southern Cone Program Coordinator, added that shorebird conservation could also provide an economic boost to the community. “Beyond the importance of biodiversity, conserving wetlands as critical habitat for migratory shorebirds in Chiloé adds value to the area overall that will attract, expand, or enhance opportunities for tourism,” said Quevedo. “The work of this partnership will benefit the overall quality of life of the communities on the island.

For more information, please contact Diego Luna Quevedo (diego.luna@manomet.org), Southern Cone Program Coordinator, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences.

Working for nature after oil spill

Written by Forest & Bird

Forest & Bird’s Seabird Conservation Advocate Karen Baird is used to seeing petrels and shearwaters skimming over the waves at sea, rather than having to identify their dead bodies encased in black tar-like lumps of oil.

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New Zealand Dotterel is in breeding plumage. The future local breeding population along the Bay of Plenty is uncertain. © Neil Fitzgerald

Karen has been working in conservation for around 25 years and has never before been involved in a similar operation to the Bay of Plenty oil spill disaster.

Since the disaster unfolded, some of her work has been at the Oiled Wildlife Response Centre in Mt Maunganui, identifying dead birds that have been washed ashore in the Bay of Plenty. “When you start doing this work, it is really shocking, they don’t look like birds, they are totally covered in oil.”

They are brought into the centre in bags and you might find half a dozen stuck together in a tar-like mess.

But Karen realises the identification work she and other scientists have been doing is essential to try to gauge the impact of the Rena oil spill and its likely long-term effects. “From a conservation point of view, it is important to have an idea of how many birds of a particular species died, especially for some of the more endangered ones,” she said.

We know where the breeding colonies are, so it will be important to check the colonies of some of the worst affected species.
The impact of the oil spill is likely to be felt well into the future.

Many birds from the species that are breeding locally will lose this breeding season and there is the potential to lose next season as well, because some surviving birds are likely to remain in poor health or have damaged breeding ability.” 

The dead birds brought into the Oiled Wildlife Response Centre are the tip of the iceberg. “Most of the birds that get covered in oil probably sink and disappear from sight forever,” she said. By late Thursday, more than 900 dead birds had been identified, comprising 23 species. These included 458 diving petrels, 198 fluttering shearwaters, 92 Buller’s Shearwaters, 38 White-faced Storm Petrels and 20 Little Blue Penguins.

Many are likely to have died by drowning, while others probably were killed by cold after the protective waterproof coating on their feathers was stripped away by the fuel oil. Among the victims of the spill, there have been some surprises. The species have included mottled petrels, blue petrels and Antarctic Prions, which are rarely found in the Bay of Plenty area. The response centre was treating around 100 live birds Friday, and looking after three penguin chicks and three seals.

There were also 13 unharmed New Zealand Dotterels being held in a temporary aviary after being taken off their beaches after the oil pollution spread east along the Bay of Plenty coast. New Zealand Dotterels are endangered, with around only 1,500 birds known to exist, and some of their main habitats are found along the Bay of Plenty coast.

New Zealand must wake up to oil spill dangers

Written by Kevin Hackwell/Forest & Bird

Forest & Bird said today the unfolding oil spill disaster in the Bay of Plenty is a stark warning about the potential catastrophe that could result from deep sea oil drilling in our waters.

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Forest & Bird seabird advocate Karen Baird identifying a diving petrel killed in the Tauranga oil spill. © Kim Westerskov

Forest & Bird believes the Rena disaster raises serious questions about our preparedness for an oil spill anywhere in our waters,” Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell said.

In light of this disaster, the government needs to urgently rethink its plans to expand offshore oil and gas drilling.”  

Maritime New Zealand has a responsibility under the Marine Transport Act to maintain the ability and equipment needed to respond to marine oil spills of all types and sizes.

The apparent inability to deal with an oil spill close to Tauranga – initially in good weather – raises important questions about how well Maritime New Zealand has met its statutory responsibilities.

Authorities were unable to prevent New Zealand’s worst ever maritime environmental disaster unfolding from a grounding of a ship close to New Zealand’s busiest port,” he said.

The Rena oil spill suggests New Zealand would be incapable of coping with an oil spill resulting from deep sea oil exploration or production.

Clearly we would not have the resources to cope with a major oil spill involving an oil tanker running aground or as a result of oil drilling accident offshore,” Kevin Hackwell said.

When the immediate crisis is past, it is crucial we have a full inquiry into why the response was apparently so slow to get underway. We need to learn the necessary lessons to ensure we are better prepared in the future.

There should be a moratorium on all deep sea oil drilling proposals until the results of an inquiry were known and its recommendations implemented.

The damage to the Bay of Plenty’s coastal environment will be long lasting and it will be a long time before the area loved by so many New Zealanders is restored to the way it was.

The ongoing financial and environmental costs will be a bitter but important lesson for us all.

Contact: Kevin Hackwell, Advocacy Manager, 04 801 2215, 021 227 8420

Editor: WorldWaders is in touch with the local NGOs and will report more news on the topic, especially because shorebirds are also affected by the disaster.

 

Migratory Bird Festival at Lagoa do Peixe WHSRN Site, Brazil

Written by Meredith Gutowski/WHSRN

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The Lagoa do Peixe National Park, located on the southeast coast of Brazil, is hosting the IX Festival Brasileiro das Aves Migratórias [9th annual Brazilian Migratory Bird Festival] in the Municipality of Tavares on 13–16 October, 2011. The festival will include a wide variety of mini-courses about migratory birds, such as ecology and conservation, effects of climate change, citizen-science monitoring, photography techniques, bird-based tourism, and more. Participants will also be able to attend field trips and cultural activities.  

The 34,400-hectare (85,004-acre) Lagoa do Peixe was designated a national park in 1986 mainly for its importance to shorebirds; prior to this, plans existed to develop the area for tourism and shrimp farming. It was designated a WHSRN Site of International Importance in 1990 and a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in 1993. The park provides critical stopover habitat to thousands of long-distance migrants, including 10% of the Atlantic coast population of Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica) and at least 10% of the rufa subspecies of Red Knot (Calidris canutus rufa)—both species of high conservation concern.

For more information, view or download the Festival Schedule (PDF, 550 KB, in Portuguese) or contact Jordano Pires Lopes (jordanopires@hotmail.com), Park official, Lagoa do Peixe National Park.

Highlights from the 4th WHSG Conference, Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Written by Meredith Gutowski/WHSRN

From 11–15 August, Simon Fraser University-Burnaby near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, became the Western Hemisphere’s “headquarters” of shorebird conservation. During this time, more than 150 professionals and advanced-degree students gathered to attend Western Hemisphere Shorebird Group (WHSG) Conference IV. Participants came from 11 countries in this hemisphere, plus Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand. The WHSG was formed in 2006 by a range of partners to collaboratively advance the work of shorebird scientists and conservationists throughout the hemisphere.

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The event was a major success, thanks in large part to the inexhaustible dedication and efforts by conference coordinators Dov Lank and Ron Ydenberg. Both are professors at the University’s Centre for Wildlife Ecology and active members of WHSG. Dov and Ron, together with their many graduate students, colleagues, and local partners, masterfully handled a dizzying array of logistics to provide an excellent forum for advancing the work of WHSG.

Throughout the 5-day conference, there was a constant hum of activity in the meeting halls from participants attending and giving presentations, renewing old and making new friendships, and, through introductions, shrinking the distance between potential partners from opposite latitudes to that of a handshake; but above all, sharing ideas and learning from one another.

The conference had several purposes: to bring together in one location scientists from throughout the Western Hemisphere who are studying all aspects of shorebirds’ lives; to promote their collaboration, especially on range-wide studies and conservation actions for any given species; to integrate science into the implementation of various shorebird conservation plans and actions; and to generate enthusiasm and camaraderie among the shorebird community to ensure collaborative research and conservation into the future.

Several groups took advantage of the opportunity for its members to meet in conjunction with the conference, such as the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan Council and the Shorebird Recovery Project (SRP) team from Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences. For some on the SRP team it was their first time meeting in person!

In addition to the excellent plenary talks and presentations, the conference included an evening poster session, field trip to Boundary Bay, social gatherings, and a silent auction. As always, proceeds from the auction will go towards travel awards that will help Latin American students attend the next conference.

We appreciate the many colleagues and students who, during their presentations, thanked WHSRN, Manomet, or an SRP team member(s) for supporting them, for sharing ideas, for catalyzing a project.

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Charles Duncan presents a plaque to 2000 Pablo Canevari Award winner Patricia Gonzalez. / Courtesy of Diego Luna Quevedo

Charles Duncan, Director of the WHSRN Executive Office at Manomet, had the honor of introducing Argentine biologist Patricia González for the final plenary talk of the conference, entitled “Science and Conservation of Migratory Shorebirds, A Case Study of Red Knots in Patagonia, Argentina.” Charles took the opportunity to also clear a long-overdue debt and presented Patricia with the plaque that now accompanies an award she received from Manomet in 2000! Patricia was the first recipient of the Pablo Canevari Memorial Award, but it was not until recently that we created a plaque to go with the award. She graciously received her plaque 11 years belated with both surprise and grateful tears.

The next WHSG conference will be in 2013 in Santa Marta, Colombia, at the generous invitation ofAsociación Calidris. The Manomet SRP/WHSRN team is looking forward to participating in the WHSG Conference V, collectively shaping the way forward for shorebird conservation at an enormous geographic scale. We have all committed to the requisite team challenge to learn (or relearn) to dance salsa by then—will you?

For more information, please contact Dov Lank (dlank@sfu.ca), Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, or visit the WHSG Conference IV website.