Wednesday 19 November 2014

Waders and Saving the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Part 2

Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Bangladesh
Photograph taken by and copyright Baz Scampion

A Young Birder’s view on Waders

I love of waders (shorebirds), which are really special to me. They are my dad, Chris Craig’s, favourite birds and through years of watching and studying them, he is amazing at identifying these extreme migrants. That love and appreciation for waders has rubbed off on me.

Waders migrate huge distances along nine flyways, which are their migratory ranges, from breeding grounds through stop over points to wintering grounds.  The ones that fly along the East-Asian Australasian Flyway are particularly at risk due because of the destruction of sites in Asia.  

Gerard C Boere & David A Stroud 2006

My Wader Guest Blog

In October, I wrote a 3 Part Guest blog post for Wader Quest about my 2012 South American wader search.

Andean Avocet, Junin Lake, Peru
Photograph taken by and copyright young birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Diademed Sandpiper Plover, Ticlio Bog, Peru
Photograph taken by and copyright Alejandro Tello, Kolibiri Expeditions

Wader Quest have looked for waders around the world, trying to promote them.  They have organised a World Wader Watch weekend for 29th and 30th November 2014. The plan is for as many waders as possible to be recorded around the world. For further information see: 

World Shorebirds Day

An organisation that is raising money for Spoon-billed Sandpiper, is World Shorebirds Day, who has chosen this stunning wader for their Shorebird of the Year 2014. They celebrate waders and those trying to conserve them each year on World Shorebirds Day on the 6th September. Also, the day is to show how important bird surveying is. So that people who don’t normally count birds can improve and that the number of people across the world involved in counting waders increases. 

For 2014 World Shorebirds Day, which was the first ever event, 413 birders sent in their records over 450 sites, although 1000 sites were registered. Most likely, a lot more people took part but didn't send their lists in. Of the 225 waders on the IOC world list, 123 were seen worldwide. USA had the most results recorded at 28, with Britain only having 11 lists sent in.  It would be really great if we can increase the number of people taking part in 2015 and make it the first huge global birding event.

Wintering shorebirds (Dunlin, Little Stint, Kentish Plover) Salinas of Ulcijn, Montenegro
Photograph taken by and copyright Gyorgy Szimuly

Spoon-billed Sandpiper

I wrote a blog post about Saving the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Part 1 in March 2014: 

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Sylhet, Bangladesh
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

As a young Bangladeshi birder, I am really proud of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper and the efforts to save this amazing bird from extinction.   It breeds in Russia and winters in Bangladesh and Burma, stopping off in China and Thailand, migrating a massive 8,000 km each way.

The following is a Facebook Page about the conservation project in Bangladesh
Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project

Sayam U Chowdhury, Sonadia Island, Bangladesh March 2011
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Craig

This wader is a flagship species that lots of organisations are involved with under the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force. 

I have read Mark Carwardine describe the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, in an article in the August 2014 BBC Wildlife Magazine, as the Giant Panda of the bird world.  I think what he is saying is that it is just one species amongst 2,445 that are Critically Endangered, but with its cute bill, it has all the publicity and money?  However, this comparison does not take into account that all endangered wader species along the same flyway will benefit from the conservation work.  For example, Spoon-billed Sandpiper is a species of the inter-tidal wetlands and so if their habitat is protected, it will help other birds living in the same habitat.  Also, stopping hunting of Spoon-billed Sandpiper in an area will also stop the hunting of all birds at that place.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper in summer plumage, Russia
Photograph courtesy of Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project Facebook Page

In Saving Spoon-billed Sandpiper Part 1, I wrote about “headstarting” where eggs were taken from the nest, incubated and newly fledged chicks released back into the wild after about 23 days.  The fantastic news is that the first headstarted female returned to the Russian breeding grounds this summer and bred successfully.   You can read about this in the following website:

Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Bangladesh
Photograph taken by and copyright Baz Scampion

My trip to help Spoon-billed Sandpiper

I think that saving the Spoon-billed Sandpiper is really important as we do not want any more wader species to become extinct in the same way as Slender-billed Curlew and Eskimo Curlew.

I am going to Bangladesh in February 2015 to take part in Spoon-billed Sandpiper survey work on Sonadia Island, a major wintering site. Also, I will be meeting villagers on the island including ex-hunters and school children who have been part of the education programme.   I am really excited about this and hope to be able to understand the issues better.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Bangladesh
Photograph courtesy of Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project Facebook Page

Working with children to educate them about Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Bangladesh
Photograph courtesy of Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project Facebook Page

Next: Saving Spoon-billed Sandpiper Part 3

About the writer

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig on Scilly
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Craig

Mya-Rose Craig is a 12 year old young birder, conservationist, writer and speaker.    She is based near Bristol and writes the successful Birdgirl Blog, with posts about birding and conservation from around the world.  She was the youngest person to see 3,000 birds in 2013 and she hopes to see her 4,000th bird in Antarctica, her 7th continent, in 2015.  Please like her Birdgirl Facebook Page and follow her on Birdgirl Twitter

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