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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 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.
The spoon-billed sandpiper Calidris pygmaea is a Critically Endangered shorebird that breeds in the Russian arctic and winters in coastal and estuarine habitats in South-east Asia. We report the first formal estimate of its global population size, combining a mark–resighting estimate of the number of leg-flagged individuals alive in autumn 2014 with an estimate of the proportion of birds with flags from scan surveys conducted during the same period at a migration stop-over site on the Jiangsu coast of China. We estimate that the world breeding population of spoon-billed sandpipers in 2014 was 210–228 pairs and the post-breeding population of all age classes combined was 661–718 individuals. This and related methods have considerable potential for surveillance of the population size of other globally threatened species, especially widely dispersed long-distance migrants.
A small colony of Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita breeding in the Syrian desert is the only wild remnant of the eastern population of this ‘Critically Endangered’ species. Since its discovery in 2002, the colony has not increased in size despite being protected on the breeding grounds and exhibiting good productivity until recently. Although it appears that the population is being limited during migration and/or wintering, maintaining maximum breeding productivity is a priority for saving this colony to offset poor survival away from Syria. The ibises have a large home range but forage at a relatively small number of sites within it, despite having access to larger areas of apparently suitable habitat. We sampled potential prey using transects, pitfall traps and searches under stones at sites used by the birds to compare with unused sites. Analysis showed that used sites were twice as rich in vertebrate and invertebrate prey than the surrounding areas. Prey levels halved over the course of the breeding season, but we found that they remained higher in the preferred locations compared with the unused areas. Sites closer to the breeding cliff tended to have lower levels of prey available, which perhaps explained the long commutes that the adults undertook when foraging.
This work highlights the vulnerability of the birds at this site. Degradation of the patches they use could reduce food supply below critical levels and alternative sites may be hard for the birds to identify, being relatively scarce. The birds are also vulnerable to shortening of the season in which adequate food is available. There is already little time post-fledging to prepare for migration. Low food availability later in the season makes the birds dependent on key resources found around local reservoirs and these have failed recently. Breeding failures in 2008 and 2009 may have been mitigated by improved feeding conditions on the breeding area. The successful management of the site for ibises should include measures to improve their food security through range management, and possibly reservoir rehabilitation.
Ornithological surveys were carried out in the remnant forests of the island of Negros, in the central Philippines, over five weeks in the summer of 1991. From this work it is concluded that, without the implementation of immediate conservation measures, the global extinction of four bird species is likely to occur in the near future. These are Negros Fruit-dove Ptilinopus arcanus, Negros Bleeding-heart Gallicolumba keayi, Writhed-billed Hornbill Aceros waldeni and White-throated Jungle-flycatcher Khinomyias albi-gularis. Another four species restricted to the lowlands of Negros and the adjacent island of Panay, Visayan Tarictic Hornbill Penelopides panini, White-winged Cuckoo-shrike Cora-cina ostenta, Flame-templed Babbler Stachyris speciosa and Visayan Flowerpecker Dicaeum (australe) haematostictum, must be considered under extreme threat, and the endemic Negros Striped-babbler Stachyris nigrorum is under considerable pressure. A further twelve species listed as globally threatened are also in serious danger of extinction on Negros. This paper details the results of fieldwork and presents our conclusions and suggestions for conservation, which must include the direct preservation of the last fragments of lowland forest on the island.
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