Are you free in mid-April, want to experience the world-class migration along the Yellow Sea coast AND support the local conservation effort? If so, keep reading…
A local NGO called Spoon-billed Sandpiper in China (SBSC) is organising a special eleven-day tour for birders to showcase the spectacular migration of the Yellow Sea, connecting with some very special birds, including Spooner, whilst contributing to the effort to preserve this globally important habitat.
For background, the East Asian Australasian Flyway is the greatest flyway on the planet, stretching from the Taimyr Peninsula and Alaska in the north through China, Japan and the Koreas to Australia and New Zealand in the south. In total, the flyway passes through 22 countries and is used by more than 50 migratory species. The Yellow Sea is of vital importance to these birds, comprising a series of stopover sites where they can refuel, rest and moult their flight feathers during these mind-boggling journeys.
As most readers will know, much of the important intertidal mudflats along this stretch of coast have been reclaimed, causing the populations of many shorebirds to decline, most prominently the ‘Critically Endangered’ Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Thankfully, there is a large conservation effort dedicated to saving what remains of the intertidal mudflats and, importantly, there are an increasing number of local organisations and NGOs leading this effort. One such organisation is “Spoon-billed Sandpiper in China (SBSC)”, a Jiangsu-based NGO led by the impressive Li Jing. Established in 2008, SBSC focus on conserving the biodiversity along the Jiangsu coast. The team conducts regular waterbird surveys, promotes birding and nature observation activities, introduces people to the unique marine culture and improves conservation awareness among local communities, including schools, fishermen unions and business.
SBSC is a key partner of the China Coastal Waterbird Census Group (CCWCG). The Census Group was established in 2005, training birdwatchers in bird identification and counting methods. Surveys have been conducted by volunteers every month since September 2005, and it is widely recognised as the most successful example of citizen science in China.
To help promote the area to international birders and raise money to support the conservation effort, Li Jing and her colleagues have arranged a special tour for birders this April. Running from 11-21 April, the tour will start and finish in Shanghai and will take in Rudong, the most important site in the world for Spooner, as well as a day’s pelagic trip and visits to nearby sites in Wuyuan, Nanjing hills and Huangshan. The mouthwatering list of species likely to be encountered includes Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Nordmann’s Greenshank, Asian Dowitcher, Little Curlew, Far Eastern Curlew, Great Knot, Saunders’s Gull, Black-faced Spoonbill, Reed Parrotbill, Blue-crowned Laughingthrush, Masked Laughingthrush, Hwamei, Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler, Short-tailed Parrotbill, Dusky Fulvetta, Chinese Bamboo Partridge and many others including Pied Falconet.
Participants will have the added bonus of being guided by the best – Li Jing, Chen Tengyi, Han Yongxiang and Shanghai’s finest, Zhang Lin. These birders have been surveying this part of the coast for more than 10 years and discovered the importance of Rudong for Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Birders could not be in better hands!
At the time of writing there are 6 places available on the trip and interested birders are invited to contact Li Jing via email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
It promises to be a wonderful experience and, as well as seeing some special birds, participants will be helping the local effort to save these globally important sites.
Cover photo of Spoon-billed Sandpiper by Chen Tengyi.