Written by Larissa Smith/Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey
Once again migratory shorebirds, including the NJ endangered Red Knot, have returned to the Delaware Bay to feed on Horseshoe Crab eggs. This annual phenomenon brings people from around the world to the Delaware Bay beaches.
Beaches are closed during the migration from May 7th through June 7th to protect the shorebirds from disturbance when feeding. Just as the birds return each year so do volunteer Shorebird Stewards who educate the public about the beach closures, shorebirds and horseshoe crabs on nine beaches in Cape May and Cumberland County. Now is a great to come out to the beaches to view shorebirds and crabs and say “hi” to the stewards.
This year the hot spots for shorebirds in Cape May County are Reed’s, Cook’s and Kimble’s Beaches and Fortescue in Cumberland County.
I have just created a fundraising page for getting donations to keep the worldwaders.org website alive. Every small amount helps to cover the costs of the annual running. The website is currently down due to the lack of financial sources to cover the annual costs. I hope some of the WorldWaders long time (and possibly future) supporters can help and we can go live again.
Please find the fundraising page here:
Written by BirdLife Australia
Why is the Australian Painted Snipe being placed on the national Endangered List good news? It means that the beleaguered shorebird can finally receive the level of protection that it needs to survive.
It’s ironic that being listed as ‘Endangered’ is good news for the endemic Australian Painted Snipe. Fewer than 1500 of the birds are left in the wild and this week Australia’s Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke added it to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act’s ‘Endangered’ category following a nomination by researchers at BirdLife Australia.
“Wetlands are critical to the species’ survival. Over the last 50 years important wetlands have been disappearing from our landscape because of inappropriate water management and development,” said BirdLife Australia (BirdLife Partner) CEO, Paul Sullivan. “The population has nose-dived and this crucial listing will help us to protect remaining wetlands and restore important ailing wetlands to their former glory.”
Of immediate concern is a proposed expansion of a coal terminal at Abbott Point, near Bowen in Queensland, will cause significant degradation of important Australian Painted Snipe habitat. Up to 24 snipe were seen there last year.
“This is a large number for a bird that’s a bit of a loner” said Paul. “It highlights the importance of this internationally significant wetland for the species. It would be irresponsible to sit back and watch its destruction without a fight — the EPBC listing provides us with good ammunition. That’s what it’s there for.”
The Australian Painted Snipe is a nomadic species which occurs only in Australia. It has been recorded dispersing to swamps in all mainland states and territories in search of habitat, though its stronghold remains the Murray–Darling Basin.
Australian Painted Snipe relies heavily on temporary wetlands that provide a rich source of food after good rains. Once these dry out, the birds can be forced towards more permanent coastal wetlands.
With the long-term outlook pointing to more frequent and more severe droughts, coastal wetland refuges such as Abbot Point will become increasingly important in the fight to stop the species from becoming extinct.
Written by Bryan Watts & Fletcher Smith/The Center for Conservation Biology
Scientists at the Center for Conservation Biology have tracked 3 Whimbrels from wintering areas on the coast of Brazil on a nonstop, 4,000 mile (6,400 kilometer) flight to the Gulf of Mexico. This flight represents the third leg of a previously unknown loop migration route and connects four widely scattered locations in the conservation of this declining species.
The three birds named Mackenzie (for the river where they breed), Akpik (named for the cloudberry that the birds feed on in the fall) and Pingo (named for an arctic formation caused by permafrost) left their wintering grounds near Sao Luis, Brazil between 9 and 13 April. The birds flew nonstop for 95 to 100 hours averaging 40 miles per hour (67 kilometers per hour) before reaching the Gulf of Mexico. Originally captured and marked on the breeding grounds along the Mackenzie River in far western Canada in June of 2012, the birds took a bold fall migration route flying 2,800 miles (4,500 kilometers) to the east coast of Canada in mid-July to stage for 2 weeks before embarking on a marathon 4,300-mile (6,900-kilometer) flight out over the open ocean to the northern coast of South America. All three birds have spent just over 7 months in the extensive tidal system of the Gulf of Maranhao before initiating their migration north.
All three birds are currently staging in different locations. Akpik is staging in Laguna Madre within the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico a site known to be a critical wintering area for the closely related long-billed curlew. Mackenzie is near the Demieres Isles in southern Louisiana. Pingo is in and around Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge south of Houston, Texas the site of a recently discovered spring staging area of hemispheric importance to Whimbrels. Understanding the connectivity of this site to breeding areas has become a high priority for the research community. The bird appears to be using farm fields that have been managed over the winter for migrating shorebirds.
Mackenzie, Akpik and Pingo, all from the same breeding location, have now linked sites in far-flung, unexpected regions in their orb of conservation. Important in their own right, each of these sites must be considered collectively for conservation efforts to be effective. Mackenzie, the bird fitted with the recycled transmitter of Machi (a bird shot on Guadeloupe in September of 2011) is now staging in the heart of the area impacted by the Deep Horizon Oil Spill. The spill began on 20 April, during the time of Whimbrel staging in 2010. Such events highlight the fragility of conservation networks and the importance of locations and cultures working together toward common goals. Through these birds we now know that an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may impact a breeding population on the Mackenzie River, or a staging area in Nova Scotia, or a wintering area around the mouth of the Amazon. Understanding these linkages is a critical step in protecting these networks and the species that depend on them.
The three Whimbrels are part of a larger project that has included 20 additional birds that have been tracked to better understand migratory pathways and locations that are critical for this declining species. The study has tracked Whimbrels for more than 200,000 miles (322,000 kilometers) since 2008. The broader tracking project is a collaborative effort between The Center for Conservation Biology, The Canadian Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, and Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences.
Follow the migration routes of these Whimbrels and others at the Seaturtle.org Wildlife Tracking page.
This short blog post is linked to the previous one on the bird massacre in Lebanon. Peter Ericsson (Thailand) informed me about a group named, ‘GREAT LEBANESE BIRD HUNT‘ which actually promotes himself on Facebook. One of the strange and scary post on their wall shows the poster of the World Migratory Bird Day to be held in 11-12 May with the advertising text: Great Lebanese Bird Hunt. I reckon it is not a name of a classic birding race for ‘hunting’ (seeing) as many bird species as possible.
They are fully aware of the fight of different organizations against the population decreases of migratory bird species and it seems that they organize a massive hunting as a ‘celebration’ of this day. I wish I was wrong…
Arctic Shorebirds in North America
A Decade of Monitoring
Jonathan Robert Bart & Victoria Helen Johnston
Hardcover, 320 pages
University of California Press
Price: $80.00, £55.00
Each year shorebirds from North and South America migrate thousands of miles to spend the summer in the Arctic. There they feed in shoreline marshes and estuaries along some of the most productive and pristine coasts anywhere. With so much available food they are able to reproduce almost explosively; and as winter approaches, they retreat south along with their offspring, to return to the Arctic the following spring. This remarkable pattern of movement and activity has been the object of intensive study by an international team of ornithologists who have spent a decade counting, surveying, and observing these shorebirds. In this important synthetic work, they address multiple questions about these migratory bird populations. How many birds occupy Arctic ecosystems each summer? How long do visiting shorebirds linger before heading south? How fecund are these birds? Where exactly do they migrate and where exactly do they return? Are their populations growing or shrinking? The results of this study are crucial for better understanding how environmental policies will influence Arctic habitats as well as the far-ranging winter habitats used by migratory shorebirds.
“This is a massive coordinated effort to gain a robust understanding of the population dynamics and trends of arctic nesting shorebirds. Highly recommended.” — Choice
“This volume represents a major milestone for the monitoring of wader populations in the Western Hemisphere. . . . It will serve as a point of reference for those developing new monitoring initiatives in North American Arctic and elsewhere.” — British Trust Ornithology (BTO)
“Arctic Shorebirds in North America represents a study that is one of the remarkable achievements of wildlife fieldcraft, like those done by Aldo Leopold in the 1930s and by the Craighead Brothers in the 1960s. To conduct a study of this scientific caliber in the great expanse and harsh climate of the Arctic makes it one of the great wildlife investigations whose value will only grow with time.” – Larry Niles, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey
“It is most timely that Jonathan Bart and Victoria Johnston have gathered information on shorebirds that breed in the Arctic regions of North America. Data on these birds is generated at a wide range of locations by many different individuals and teams, and this book puts it into perspective. It is particularly valuable to have this treatise when so many shorebird species worldwide are in marked decline.” — Clive Minton, Australasian Wader Studies Group
“When the PRISM program for pan-Arctic shorebird monitoring was introduced, everyone agreed with its laudable aims, but it seemed impractical. How could shorebird biologists with limited time and resources acquire robust data on the size and trend of shorebird populations across the American Arctic? Now, the credibility gap has been bridged. Arctic Shorebirds in North America presents the rigorous, practical methods that will be the foundation of Arctic shorebird monitoring for years to come. I look forward to Arctic PRISM becoming the keystone of shorebird conservation in the Western Hemisphere.” — Humphrey Sitters, editor of Wader Study Group Bulletin
I have been planning to write something enthusiastic for the readers of the WorldWaders News Blog as there would be a reason for celebration. Today WorldWaders celebrates its 3rd birthday. I set this blog up to raise public awareness of the many different conservation issues, related to shorebirds, as well as the importance of the shorebird conservation research. I also aimed to share great achievements which we had several times.
Today is a bit different. Today one of our supporters drew my attention to several photographs which chased away all my intention to celebrate. When a bird conservationist sees images of mass ‘hunted’ birds, the remained enthusiasm vanishes. Just two days after I posted to my personal birding blog about the great project named ‘From Billions to None‘, I found these images…
There are many more similar images published on the hunter Facebook page, but I don’t need to publish all of them to see the critical level of bird slaughter in the Middle East, just like in the Mediterranean. This hunting behaviour is far beyond the ‘hunting for living’ philosophy. It is simply a sport, a way of spending time and money by a hunter. Apparently these hunters have nothing to do with starvation and such a mass killing of those birds is way unnecessary.
However these images are not simply about a hunting issue which should be solved but the legislation and implementation of relevant laws. I mean the LACK of relevant laws. Do those hunters know the conservation status of any of the shot species? Do they even know the international conservation status of each species exists? Does the government of Lebanon and other Middle East countries fully aware of species status of shot birds? Looking at those images am not sure anymore. While the western countries are spending millions of Euros, Pounds or Dollars for fancy conservation projects, a simple Malta case cannot be resolved for more than a decade now. Are we, NGOs, strong enough to make a difference if issues cannot be sorted out by the European Parliament? The conservation of the modern era is not about installing nest boxes for tits in a tiny forest. Today conservation is pure politics, unfortunately. It requires aggressive lobbying to make some achievements. The Malta case clearly represents it. There could be arguments with my possibly unpopular comments but I think a different approach is needed today to make a difference. Different approach from both the governmental as well as from non-profit organizations.
I am not a real and effective lobbyist but what I, and many other like-minded, see is that the illegal (we say that) hunting is a very hot issue what nobody dare to scratch. What if these images are the mirrors of the Passenger Pigeon story. We cannot fully blame global warming as the main root cause of population declines of shorebirds. Place population trends next to the images of these dead birds and think about how on Earth we could kill 2-3 billion Passenger Pigeons within a few decades?
Will Northern Lapwing be the next ‘Passenger Pigeon’? We far do not have a billion Northern Lapwings!!!
By the way: Thanks for your great support to follow this blog initiative. Here in the comment field tell us what you think of this blog! Sorry for the bitter taste celebration…