Co-ordinated efforts by conservationists, including the hand-rearing of chicks and ringing and tagging of birds, are giving researchers an unprecedented insight into the annual cycle of the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper.
This autumn, a juvenile 'Spoonie', which was reared by a WWT conservationist in Russia as part of the organisation's long-standing 'head-starting' programme, was re-sighted by a colleague 5,000 km away in Jiangsu, China.
The young bird, known as 'White 4H' after the colour and code on its left flag, was raised in Russia in August by aviculturalist Jodie Clements. Then, a month after being released into the wild, Kane Brides observed the bird in the field in China, while monitoring shorebirds at a key site along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Accompanied by an international team of conservationists from the UK, New Zealand, Hong Kong and China, they caught a total of 15 Spoon-billed Sandpipers and observed 100 of the Critically Endangered waders among a large mixed-species flock, with White 4H being one of them. Kane said: "I can't believe we came across White 4H which my mate Jodie had helped care for four weeks earlier, in a completely different country. It's like finding a message in a bottle!"