Spoon-billed Sandpiper (SBS) Survey, Rudong, Jiangsu (October 15 – 22, 2013) Part 1

Nial Moores PhD, Birds Korea, October 16

A very quick update from Rudong – one of the most important remaining tidal-flat areas for shorebirds anywhere in Asia (or the world!).  This is a still vast area – with massively wide sandy-mud mix tidal-flats which historically were probably tens of km wide. Organised by SBS in China (SBS Task Force members in China) with the SBS Task Force, a multinational team of counters arrived in Rudong on the 14th to conduct five days of survey along much of this coast, before holding a two day high-level workshop (thanks to government officials) on SBS and shorebird conservation.

The need for data collation and due process do not permit at this time a detailed review of counts and species recorded so far (count data will instead be released in a full post-survey report by the Task Force). Nonetheless, along with tens of thousands of other shorebirds (predominantly Kentish Plover and Dunlin) substantial / as expected numbers of Spoon-billed Sandpiper have already been found (with one or two also well-filmed); globally record-breaking numbers of Nordmann’s Greenshank have been found; and other threatened waterbirds so far observed using this extremely important (and threatened) area include a flock of Dalmatian Pelican, in addition to a single Relict Gull and at least seven Black-faced Spoonbill.

In this vast landscape of tidal-flats, spartina marshes, reclamation areas and wind-farms, wooded areas also have much potential for attracting large numbers of migrants. After Beaufort Force 6-7 northerlies on 15th, moderate north-northwest winds on 16th  produced a substantial fall – with e.g. an estimated 400 Rufous-tailed Robin and 40 Siberian Rubythroat found in one area of small coppices and parkland. A long list of interesting landbird species were recorded in the same area and along sea-walls in all areas that were surveyed. In addition to locally “common species” including Spotted DoveLong-tailed Shrike, Light-vented Bulbul and Red-billed Starling, local scarcities recorded on 16th included  Von Schrenck’s Bittern (1), Amur Falcon (3), Japanese Bush Warbler (1) and Hume’s Leaf Warbler (2). Personal landbird highlight for the day, however, were three stunning Reed Parrotbill – a regional endemic and another reason why many people understand that natural wetlands in Rudong are extremely important not only to people and biodiversity in China but also to the world.

DSC_0299-sShorebirds streaming out from their roost back to the tidal-flats: Rudong, October 16th

DSC_0350-s“Typical” landscape, Rudong, October 16th

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