Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Me and my Spoonbill

Me and my Spoonbill

Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Image from Wikipedia (anyone want to donate one?)
For some time I have assured those that understand this ‘sport’ that the only bird I would actively twitch was the Spoon-bill Sandpiper. So when reports (at first I didn’t believe) started coming in that there was one in Qigu (just 20 minutes north of my home) there was no stopping me.

The Spoon-billed Sandpiper is a critically endangered (a population of fewer than 2500 mature individuals) small wader which breeds in northeastern Russia and winters in Southeast Asia. The main threats to its survival are habitat loss on its breeding grounds and loss of tidal flats through its migratory and wintering range. Extensive efforts are being made to avoid its extinction. Its most distinctive feature is its spoon-shaped I need to say that?

It was first reported on October 15th and then again on the 16th in a pond in Sangu 500 meters west of the ‘seafood restaurants’. A couple hour’s searching on the 17th afternoon and I found it in a pond with hundreds of other waders about 200 meters to the south (just west of #71, behind an ice factory). It was reported in the area on the 18th, but not seen by me again on visits on the 18th or 19th.

Along with the Island Thrush, Fairy Pitta, and reliable pheasants, a major highlight of the year (so far).

Spoon-billed Sandpiper    Eurynorhynchus pygmeus
Little Stint    Calidris minuta