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.

Thursday 16 May 2019

White-winged Flufftail's call recorded for the first time

23 Apr 2019

With a population of 250, this secretive bird has always been hard to study, but advances in technology have helped us to discover more than ever. Last year, we found new breeding grounds - then its call was identified for the first time. Is this the final piece in the puzzle to protect this bird?
In December last year, the call of one of the world’s rarest birds was identified and recorded for the first time by our Partner BirdLife South Africa. With fewer than 250 mature individuals remaining in the wild, the White-winged Flufftail Sarothrura ayresi is Critically Endangered, and at severe risk of extinction. Restricted to high-altitude wetland habitats in South Africa and Ethiopia, the flufftail’s secretive nature makes it hard to monitor the species’ behaviour, which in turn makes it harder to know how best to protect it.
Before the call was discovered, surveying an area for the bird meant trying to flush it out, either on foot or by using a rope. This method, however, was intensive, slow, and yielded few sightings. Then in 2016, BirdLife South Africa developed an innovative method to survey the species called the BirdLife South Africa Rallid Survey Method. It uses a camera trap system to record the flufftail’s behaviour.  In February last year, the camera traps discovered surprising evidence that the species, which was thought to only breed in Ethiopia and visit South Africa, was actually breeding in South Africa as well.

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