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The little-known Bristled Grassbird Chaetornis striata is thought to be declining due to the loss of grassland habitats throughout its range, and is currently classified as globally ‘Vulnerable’. In order to investigate the current status and possible causes of the presumed decline, we assessed population density of Bristled Grassbird in Padma and Jamuna river systems of Bangladesh. The study was conducted during the breeding seasons of the Bristled Grassbird in April and May in 2016–2019, using distance sampling and habitat suitability modelling. We also examined habitat preferences and responses to environmental changes based on vegetation structure and habitat modifications at point count locations. We detected a total of 39 birds with a mean group size of 1.44 individuals. We estimated 4.52 (95% CI: 2.65–7.73) individuals per km2 with an encounter rate of 1.48 detections per point count station and 341.15 birds within the study area. Our habitat suitability model projected a total of 167.41 km2 of suitable habitat and a total of 756.7 birds in floodplain grasslands of Padma and Jamuna river systems. The Bristled Grassbird was positively associated with grass height and grass density with 92.31% of 39 detections at Saccharum spontaneum dominated grasslands. We did not find a significant effect on Bristled Grassbird detections with increasing human activities, although the detection rate decreased linearly with increasing agricultural intervention and grass harvesting. These findings indicate that the Bristled Grassbird is more widely distributed throughout Bangladesh, and may be less vulnerable to grassland modifications, than previously thought.
Pallas's fish eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus was recategorized from Vulnerable to Endangered on the IUCN Red List in 2017 because of evidence that there is only a single population, which is declining as a result of continuous, widespread loss and degradation of freshwater wetlands. To determine the species’ status in Bangladesh, we conducted a large-scale community-based interview survey in north-east Bangladesh in 2017–2020. We also examined nest site habitat characteristics through field surveys and remotely sensed data. We conducted a total of 955 interviews in an area of 4,150 km2, through which we were able to determine the presence of 53 breeding pairs at a mean density of 1.2 nests per 100 km2. There was a higher nest density (3.7–4.8 nests per 100 km2) in some locations, which we identify as priority conservation areas. The majority of nests (62.2%) were close together and on tall trees with an open canopy structure. Nests were located within or close to (< 100 m) human settlements, and within 500 m of wetlands and rivers. Felling of nest trees, removal of nests by local people and loss of permanent wetlands (14.6% during 2010–2020) appeared to be the main threats. High nesting density in our study area suggests that the freshwater wetlands in north-east Bangladesh possibly hold the largest population of Pallas's fish eagle globally.
The Spoon-billed Sandpiper Calidris pygmaea is a ‘Critically Endangered’ migratory shorebird. The species faces an array of threats in its non-breeding range, making conservation intervention essential. However, conservation efforts are reliant on identifying the species’ key stopover and wintering sites. Using Maximum Entropy models, we predicted Spoon-billed Sandpiper distribution across the non-breeding range, using data from recent field surveys and satellite tracking. Model outputs suggest only a limited number of stopover sites are suitable for migrating birds, with sites in the Yellow Sea and on the Jiangsu coast in China highlighted as particularly important. All the previously known core wintering sites were identified by the model including the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta, Nan Thar Island and the Gulf of Mottama. In addition, the model highlighted sites subsequently found to be occupied, and pinpointed potential new sites meriting investigation, notably on Borneo and Sulawesi, and in parts of India and the Philippines. A comparison between the areas identified as most likely to be occupied and protected areas showed that very few locations are covered by conservation designations. Known sites must be managed for conservation as a priority, and potential new sites should be surveyed as soon as is feasible to assess occupancy status. Site protection should take place in concert with conservation interventions including habitat management, discouraging hunting, and fostering alternative livelihoods.
The Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper Calidris pygmaeus is one of the most threatened migratory shorebirds in the world, breeding in Russia and wintering in Asia. The global population is declining rapidly and is projected to be extinct within a few decades without intervention. Here, we present the results of shorebird surveys in previously unrecognised site in Bangladesh along the Meghna Estuary, identified for the first time by using species distribution models. Counts and habitat preference of Spoon-billed Sandpipers and other endangered shorebirds are described here with notes on the global importance of the newly discovered site. The sum of the peak counts for each shorebird species across the two surveys was 25,993 including a minimum of 48 Spoon-billed Sandpipers. The majority of the Spoon-billed Sandpipers were observed during low tide while foraging (66.6%) and logistic regression testing for effects on the presence of foraging Spoon-billed Sandpiper indicate that they mainly preferred to forage on shallow mud. We summarise the threats to Spoon-billed Sandpipers and other birds in the new site that is currently not recognized as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention, although it fulfils several Ramsar Criteria. We also propose conservation and monitoring measures for long-term protection of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper and its habitat.
The Yellow Sea region is of high global importance for waterbird populations, but recent systematic bird count data enabling identification of the most important sites are relatively sparse for some areas. Surveys of waterbirds at three sites on the coast of southern Jiangsu Province, China, in 2014 and 2015 produced peak counts of international importance for 24 species, including seven globally threatened and six Near Threatened species. The area is of particular global importance for the ‘Critically Endangered’ Spoon-billed Sandpiper Calidris pygmaea (peak count across all three study sites: 62 in spring  and 225 in autumn  and ‘Endangered’ Spotted Greenshank Tringa guttifer (peak count across all three study sites: 210 in spring  and 1,110 in autumn ). The southern Jiangsu coast is therefore currently the most important migratory stopover area in the world, in both spring and autumn, for both species. Several serious and acute threats to waterbirds were recorded at these study sites. Paramount is the threat of large-scale land claim which would completely destroy intertidal mudflats of critical importance to waterbirds. Degradation of intertidal mudflat habitats through the spread of invasive Spartina, and mortality of waterbirds by entrapment in nets or deliberate poisoning are also real and present serious threats here. Collisions with, and displacement by, wind turbines and other structures, and industrial chemical pollution may represent additional potential threats. We recommend the rapid establishment of effective protected areas for waterbirds in the study area, maintaining large areas of open intertidal mudflat, and the urgent removal of all serious threats currently faced by waterbirds here.
Declines in populations of the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper Calidris pygmaeus have been rapid, with the breeding population now perhaps numbering fewer than 120 pairs. The reasons for this decline remain unresolved. Whilst there is evidence that hunting in wintering areas is an important factor, loss of suitable habitat on passage and wintering areas is also of concern. While some key sites for the species are already documented, many of their wintering locations are described here for the first time. Their wintering range primarily stretches from Bangladesh to China. Comprehensive surveys of potential Spoon-billed Sandpiper wintering sites from 2005 to 2013 showed a wide distribution with three key concentrations in Myanmar and Bangladesh, but also regular sites in China, Vietnam and Thailand. The identification of all important non-breeding sites remains of high priority for the conservation of the species. Here, we present the results of field surveys of wintering Spoon-billed Sandpipers that took place in six countries between 2005 and 2013 and present species distribution models which map the potential wintering areas. These include known and currently unrecognised wintering locations. Our maximum entropy model did not identify any new extensive candidate areas within the winter distribution, suggesting that most key sites are already known, but it did identify small sites on the coast of eastern Bangladesh, western Myanmar, and the Guangxi and Guangdong regions of China that may merit further investigation. As no extensive areas of new potential habitat were identified, we suggest that the priorities for the conservation of this species are habitat protection in important wintering and passage areas and reducing hunting pressure on birds at these sites.
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