Nial Moores PhD, Birds Korea, October 19
Today was the last full-day of survey by our team along this section of the Jiangsu coast before a two-day workshop on Spoon-billed Sandpiper conservation in Rudong. While fuller count details will be published later by SBS in China (SBS Task Force members in China) and the SBS Task Force, the international importance of the area to avian biodiversity cannot be over-stated. Today I was charged with counting one high tide roost area at Dongtai, with others counting several other close-by roost sites. “My” roost, located within a vast new reclamation area, today contained 11,200 small shorebirds and >500 Eurasian Curlew (Near-threatened) with 3+ Far Eastern Curlew (Globally Vulnerable). Further sample counts in this area included a single Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Globally Critically Endangered), 45 Nordmann’s Greenshank (Globally Endangered), five Oriental Stork (Globally Endangered), 53Dalmatian Pelican (Globally Vulnerable, and almost extinct in East Asia: see Birdlife Factsheet on the species), 280 Saunders’s Gull and a single Relict Gull (both Globally Vulnerable). There were also 52 Black-faced Spoonbill (Globally Endangered) there, including two colour-banded birds. One was Red over Blue over Red on one leg; the others was Yellow over Red on the left leg, and E05 on the right. According to the Black-faced Spoonbill Conservation Network website (at: http://bfsn.bfsa.org.tw/index.php), both were banded in the ROK: Red over Blue over Red (=E25) was banded on June 5th, 2011 and E05 was banded on June 30th, 2010.
While massive tidal-flats still remain at Dongtai, the vast majority are presently slated for impoundment by 2015 – potentially a(nother) Saemangeum on steroids. The presence of at least two Korean-hatched Black-faced Spoonbill there today is but one important reason why Birds Koreans and people in the ROK should care about the future of these tidal-flats. Last year’s IUCN Situational Analysis Report and the upcoming workshop here in Rudong both provide evidence of the growing awareness within the region and globally of the vital importance of the Yellow Sea’s tidal-flats – for biodiversity, fisheries, carbon sequestration and other ecosystem services. Decision makers and investors throughout East Asia now – more than ever – urgently need best information and the support of key stakeholders, tidal-flat specialists and the global conservation community if the Yellow Sea’s last remaining shorebird hot-spots are to retain their national and global importance.
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(October 19th, 2013), © Birds Korea