Saturday, December 30, 2006

My Sighting in Dec 2006
(Photo: A Nordmann's Greenshank flanked by closely resembled Common Greenshanks)
I managed to obtain a permit to visit Kapar Power Station Ash Ponds, Selangor, Malaysia to conduct survey on waders, particularly on my two main targets - Nordmann's Greenshank and Spoon-billed Sandpiper.
Kapar proves to be a very reliable site for NG. However, we did not manage to spot any Spoon-billed Sandpiper despite scanning thru > 300 Red-necked Stints. (The only official record of SPS in Kapar was a single bird in early 2002)

Kapar is only 1 hour expressway drive from KL. The highlights from 2 days survey on 26 Dec and 27 Dec 2006 during morning high tide are as following:-

Day One 26/12/2006

Ruff - single bird among black-tailed godwits. Orange leg (easily confused with Redshank), short bill and big eyes. Too bad I did not have enough time to ascertain its gender.

Eastern Curlew - one bird flying among a flock of 40+ Eurasian Curlews. Overall dark plumage with same dark rump.

Nordmann's Greenshank - At least 5 birds but hard to id because most stood with their heads tucked in. This is the 2nd time ever that I had observed Nordmann's Greenshank standing on dry ground. One NG held a twig and chased another NG - is this Courtship display?

Compare the head-bill pattern and unspotted plumage of the Nordmann's Greenshank (Centre) with Common Greenshanks (behind and left). The brown-headed wader in the far left is a Black-tailed Godwit

Day Two 27/12/2006
Nordmann's Greenshank - About 15 birds - 13 birds counted side by side among a large group of waders. There were a few individuals with more prominent white eyebrow. Could this be first wintering juveniles?

Red Knot - 3 birds among hundreds of Great Knots.

Caspian Tern - 31 birds, an unusually high count.

Common Redshank - strangely the most abundant wader in Kapar was very few (~20) on this date. Other common birds observed are:-

Eurasian Curlew
Bar-tailed Godwit
Black-tailed Godwit
Common Greenshank
Common Redshank
Common Sandpiper
Marsh Sandpiper
Terek Sandpiper
Great Knot
Curlew Sandpiper
Broad-billed Sandpiper
Grey Plover
Greater Sandplover
Mongolian Sandplover
Little Ringed Plover
Little Tern
Gull-billed Tern
Great Egret
Grey Heron
Intermediate Egret
Little Egret

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

An Endangered Bird Under Siege?

A juvenile Nordmann's Greenshank (Tringa guttifer) was spotted feeding on the soft coastal mud among the 'ferocious' crabs. It should be able to get out from such natural hostile environmet. But will it cope up with loss of habitat caused by uncontrolled modern development?
(Photo courtesy of Dr AL Chan, taken 17 Nov 2002 Kuala Gula, Perak, Malaysia. The first ever sighting record at the site.)

After reclamation of Saemungeum in South Korea in April 2006, an important staging site for many migratory birds, there will be negative impacts to migratory birds that winter in South East Asia and as far as Australia and New Zealand. Normann's Greenshank as an endangered species with estimated total global population of only 500-1000 individuals (less than Orang-utans and tigers!) should be rigorously studied and closely monitored to ensure its future survival. Other threats include conversion of coastal wetlands along its flyway in South Asia and South East Asia.

A treacherous journey along the most densely populated and polluted region in the world.
Nordmann's Greenshank (Tringa guttifer) Distributation Map(Source: Waterbird Population Estimates: 3rd Edition - Snipes, Sandpipers and Phalaropes, 2002) Yellow area represents breeding range; blue represents wintering range. Equally important staging sites along coastal areas in Korea Peninsula, China are not illustrated.

Left - A rare shot of Nordmann's Greenshank in flight, 29 March 2005, Bagan Tambang, Penang. A high count of 28 birds where 6 birds can be seen here together with Pacific Golden Plovers.(Courtesy and Copyright of David Bakewell)

Thailand - a well known wintering site
On the right is a photo taken in inner Gulf of Thailand. (Photo courtesy by Peter Ericsson, follow link to view his other bird photos, mostly from Thailand)

Inner Gulf of Thailand is also another important wintering sites for migratory birds including this Nordmann's Greenshank.

Thanks to supports from Nial Moores/Birds Korea and Taej Mundkur/Wetlands International, I now have more details to share. I also start to approach a few photographers from different countries to get their permissions to post more photos and information. Please come back later to check on the progress.
Photos courtesy of Nial Moore/Birds Korea at Saemungeum, 20 Apr 2006. A lone Nordmann's Greenshank roosting with its favourite 'friend' Grey Plover, just like in Malaysia.
With the reclamation of Saemungeum, the future is bleak for many shorebirds, including the Nordmann's Greenshank, Spoon-billed Sandpiper & Great Knot.

Latest photo from Nial Moores (From BirdsKorea) taken April 26, 2006, at the Geum estuary, next to Saemungeam. Even the future of this site is not optimistic after the damage of Saemungeum. (There are 4 Nordmann's Greenshanks in the photo, one in the middle left and 3 in far right. Other shorebirds are Grey Plovers and Far Eastern Curlews)

A stunning photo of 8 Nordmann's Greenshanks roosting at high tide at Bagan Tambang, Penang, Malaysia 10 April 2005. (Photo courtesy of Dr AL Chan). This inconspicuous muddy coastline has attracted international attention lately when 43 Nordmann's Greenshanks were reported by Mr CHOY Wai Mun on 08/11/2004.

Left - Nordmann's Greenshank caught in the flight. 29 March 2005 Bagan Tambang, Penang, Malaysia. Note the legs protude only slightly beyond the tail. (Copyright and Courtesy of David Bakewell)

Nordmann's Greenshanks are found reliably only in a few sites along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Even fewer are the sites that have protected status - these include Mai Po Wetlands Reserve in Hong Kong and Kapar Ash Ponds in Malaysia.

Nordmann's Greenshank assuming breeding plumage foraging in one of its popular stop over in Hong Kong en route to eastern Russia - Not at Lantau International Airport but at nearby Mai Po wetlands reserve. Photographed on 19/04/06. Courtesy of Owen Chiang.