As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Monday, 31 October 2016

New Zealand conservationists work to save Rarotonga Flycatcher

Posted on: 15 Oct 2016

In August, the conservation of Rarotonga Flycatcher – locally known as Kakerori – got a boost through hands-on training of local staff from visiting predator-control specialists from New Zealand.

Te Ipukarea Society project officers Liam and Alanna got up close and personal with the rare birds in the Takitumu Conservation Area (TCA), where they joined staff of New Zealand Department of Conservation (DoC) as they traversed rat-baiting tracks, which are crucially important in keeping rat populations low enough to ensure Kakerori’s survival. The two young officers learnt valuable techniques from the New Zealanders, including the setting up of mist nets and learning how to catch, measure, weigh and ring the birds, before releasing them back into the forest.

Kakerori is the main character in an inspiring Cook Islands conservation story. It was formerly common around Rarotonga, yet by the 1900s it was assumed to be extinct. However, in the 1970s and 1980s, surveys found that Kakerori persisted in small numbers on the southern side of Rarotonga.

In the spring of 1987, Rod Hay and Hugh Robertson from New Zealand and Cook Islands biodiversity expert Gerald McCormack launched the Kakerori Recovery Programme, under the auspices of the Cook Islands Conservation Service, with volunteers. The first two breeding seasons established that a total population of 38 Kakerori were restricted to an area of about 150 ha in the headwaters of adjacent valleys, and that their eggs and nestlings were being destroyed by rats, the most common being Black or Ship Rat.  That population decline was very much accelerating.

Tiny bird causes euphoria among twitchers

11:36 Monday, 10 October 2016 | Written by Hans J Marter 

BIRD WATCHERS from across the country are on their way to Shetland to catch a rare glimpse of a Siberian accentor, the first ever recorded in Britain.

The tiny bird was discovered at Mossy Hill, near Scousburgh, on Sunday afternoon by Shetland Wildlife guides Judd Hunt and Hugh Harrop.

"We were just checking the quarry at Mossy Hill, which is good for migrants now and then, when Judd set eyes on this bird and got very excited," Harrop described the moment they realised the "magnitude" of their discovery.

"Judd said 'I think I got a Siberian accentor'," Harrop continued. "It was total euphoria; we were both physically shaking."

The news soon made its way around the bird-watching community and by Monday morning around 100 twitchers were flocking to the site.

Among them was Britain's top bird watcher Steve Gantlett, from Norfolk, who arrived in Shetland on Monday morning after driving overnight to Aberdeen to catch the first flight north.

Harrop said the recent calm weather with steady easterly winds has been "producing lots of good birds".

"With any rare bird there is always an element of luck and pure chance," he said, "however the Siberian accentor is one of those birds that is on your radar as a bird watcher

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Saving a rare duck an urbanization dilemma

2016-10-09 09:42
CCTV Editor: Feng Shuang 

Urbanization often pits development against the environment. And in Xinjiang, one of the victims is the white-headed duck. The duck is one of the rarest birds in the world. Bird-Life International, the world's largest nature conservation partnership, estimated in 2008 that the duck's world population was only somewhere between 8,000 to 13,000. A small group of these ducks have been found at a small lake, just ten kilometers from the regional capital Urumqi.

In today's episode, reporter Han Bin meets a group of conservation volunteers. Their struggle with local developers and ordinary people, will decide the fate of this endangered species in China.

Hidden among the densely populated urban areas, is a small patch of wetland. The lake is home to some one hundred species of birds. At least one of them is under threat.

"The white-headed duck is on the world's list of endangered species. It's not been registered in China, so cannot be protected by law. It's also a star species, as it's the prototype of Disney's Donald Duck," Yan Xi, volunteer from Wild Xinjiang, said.

"How can we have such a fine-looking species? -with a white head, blue bill, and stiff tail," Da Xiang, volunteer from Wild Xinjiang, said.

This habitat provides the ducks with the resources to reproduce. But someone else wants their home. Construction is rapidly eroding the wetland.

There have been so many vehicles, people who go to the lake for outings, or even to play with slingshots.

Yan Xi and Da Xiang belong to a group of local volunteers who have appointed themselves the ducks' protectors. Their short-term goal is to have all 24 ducks make it to migration season at the end of October.