Highest count ever for stopover site in Rudong, China

A summary of 2011 Autumn SBS survey at Rudong
by Li Jing, Tong Menxiu and Zhang Lin of Rudong Spoon-billed Sandpiper Survey Group

Figure 1.

Our highest count of SBS totalled 103 at Xiao Yangkou in autumn of 2011. This proves once again the importance of this site for staging migratory waterbirds; especially the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

The 2011 Autumn Survey at Rudong started on August 6 and ended on November 20, with a total of 53 days of fieldwork. Having observed SBS on 44 of the 53 days, peak counts were recorded from Sep 26 to Nov 7. During this period, a cumulative number of 810 SBS were recorded. See Figure 1.

The maximum number observed was on Oct 12, when Tong Menxiu counted a total of 103 SBS during the high tide period; as they stayed in a roost area. See Figure 2. The weather in August was bad for fieldwork. Thunder and heavy rains kept people indoors. However, forerunners of SBS arrived on August 27 with a first peak count of 21. The second peak count was that on Oct 12; which is similar to 2010. We guess SBS are passing by Xiao Yangkou in two waves. And the average stopover time is about 7-10 days. See Figure 3.

Figure 2. October 12th at high tide roost. Photo by Tong Menxiu © China Wild Tour.

Figure 3. Nov 16: 13 SBS in a flock of waders during high tide. Photo by Tong Menxiu © China Wild Tour.

Unfortunately, very few juveniles were discovered in Autumn. There were three first-summer birds in August. In September, only one Juvenile was noticed in 2 consecutive days. On October 12, among the 103 SBS, only one winter plumage bird was recorded. There were no juveniles in November. However, there might be more juveniles outside of our survey areas.

During the 2011 Autumn Survey at Rudong, we recorded a total of 97 species of waterbird/wetland-dependent birds, with a total number of 600,000 birds; 96% being waders. During September and October, about three-fourths of this total count were observed, including 9 species of Endangered waterbirds.

Xiao Yangkou is one of most important stopover sites for waterbirds, and a Conservation Action Plan should be prioritized promptly within the next 2 years. In 2011, construction increased along the 7 kilometers of survey area, see Figure 4; and we lost fresh water ponds twice in Spring and Autumn. We ask for an international team to work together for the future to conserve Xiao Yangkou and nearby wetlands.

Figure 4. Construction at the high tide roost area. Photo by Tong Menxiu © China Wild Tour.

I thank Tong Menxiu and Zhang Lin for their intensive fieldwork and detailed records of birds at Xiao Yangkou. We are thankful for Simon Buckell’s contributions in August. His records of flagged birds are vital to our work at Xiao Yangkou. Special thanks to Tang Zhenghua. His enthusiasm for waterbirds is a great encouragement to us all and we feel honored that a real local birder joins our team finally.

BirdLife International and Hong Kong Bird Watching Society’s conservation workshop was successful in August. We expect more conservation plans in 2012 and hope more people will involve to keep this unique bird with us for decades to come.

* Rudong Spoon-billed Sandpiper Survey Group is a sub team of China Coastal Waterbird Census Team (CCWCT); the latter has been working for the survey of China coast area since 2005.

For more information, please visit http://www.chinabirdnet.org/

Reference: [1] Simon Buckell, Yang Kou, August, 2011 [PDF] Sep 26th, 2011.

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