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Jeroen Reneerkens reports about his remarkable 2018 field season in NE Greenland where excessive spring snowfall results in a non-breeding year for shorebirds. "What are the consequences of a non-breeding season for the Sanderling population??? This will depend on the scale at which the snow cover has affected Sanderling reproduction": Jeroen calls for a renewed effort on reporting the proportion of juvenile Sanderlings within flocks between August and November, following his standardised protocol. Read the full story "Excessive spring snowfall results in a non-breeding year for shorebirds in NE Greenland" on Global Flyway Ecology website: Featured image: 27 June 2018, the Zackenberg valley, Greenland. ©Jeroen Reneerkens.
Excessive spring snowfall results in a non-breeding year for shorebirds in NE Greenland

Jeroen Reneerkens reports about his remarkable 2018 field season in NE Greenland where excessive spring snowfall results in a non-breeding year for shorebirds. "What are the consequences of a non-breeding season for the Sanderling population??? This will depend on the scale at which the snow cover has affected Sanderling reproduction": Jeroen calls for a renewed effort on reporting the proportion of juvenile Sanderlings within flocks between August and November, following his standardised

Solar geolocation with open access tools

Registration for 1.5 day workshop at the IOC congress in Vancouver, 19-20 August 2018, is now open!
If you are interested in attending the course please visit this signup page to provide your contact information and to answer a few quick questions about your coding background.
Original post from Eldar Rakhimberdiev (Author of FLightR), Simeon Lisovski (Author of GeoLight) and Eli Bridge (Head Cheerleader):
Our apologies for the late notice but we want to announce that there will be a 1.5 day short course in geolocation analysis in association with the International Ornithological Congress in August. We have been unable to come to terms with the IOC organizers about the location of this course, but one way or another we will have it in Vancouver on August 19 (Noon to 6pm) and August 20 (8am to 5pm)—just before the conference. It is uncertain as to whether this course will be listed on the IOC website, so we wanted people to be aware of it as they make travel plans. Please share this announcement with anyone who may be interested. We have no intention of excluding anyone. For more details on the contents of the course, please see the attached description.
If you are interested in attending the course please visit this signup page to provide your contact information and to answer a few quick questions about your coding background:
We will probably ask for a $20 fee at some point to cover any room rental fees and other expenses (and to discourage no-shows). We have limited the course size to 40 attendees. If you have any questions, feel free to contact any of the organizers.
For those of you going to IOC we look forward to seeing you there. To everyone else, please excuse the intrusion.
Sincerely,
Eldar Rakhimberdiev (Author of FLightR)
Simeon Lisovski (Author of GeoLight)
Eli Bridge (Head Cheerleader)
Workshop on Solar Geolocation at IOC 2018 in Vancouver | Registration is now open!

Solar geolocation with open access tools Registration for 1.5 day workshop at the IOC congress in Vancouver, 19-20 August 2018, is now open! If you are interested in attending the course please visit this signup page to provide your contact information and to answer a few quick questions about your coding background. Original post from Eldar Rakhimberdiev (Author of FLightR), Simeon Lisovski (Author of GeoLight) and Eli Bridge (Head Cheerleader): Posted March 29 Our apologies for the late

2018 Workum, the Netherlands

http://www.waderstudygroup.org/conferences/2018/   Featured image: ©Frank Vassen, Uitkerkse Polders, may 2014.
2018 IWSG Annual Conference | Registration is now open!

2018 Workum, the Netherlands 28 September — 01 October 2018 In 2018 the IWSG Annual Conference welcomes you in Friesland, the Netherlands. The conference will be a part of the Leeuwarden European Capital of Culture 2018 events. Registration to the conference is now open on the conferences page: http://www.waderstudygroup.org/conferences/2018/   Featured image: ©Frank Vassen, Uitkerkse Polders, may 2014.

We are pleased to announce that the Small Grants committee have awarded the 2017 grant. With the consent of the Executive Committee, we decided to award three grants in 2018, since there were many very good projects among the applications, and we hope to raise further awarness of the IWSG SMall Grants. The following were awarded this year: Christoph Himmel: On the migratory flyway in southern Azerbaijan, the group will be counting and colour ringing waders in order to get data on the migration connectivity of different species for the flyway. Satellite transmitters will be fitted to Black-tailed Godwits in order to reveal migration routes, wintering, and breeding areas of Central Asian population. This should help fill knowledge gaps of this population, contributing to the conservation priorities of the single species action plan. [caption id="attachment_10904" align="aligncenter" width="330"] Christoph Himmel regularly shares insights of his birding trips on the blog Birding Azerbaijan http://birdingaze.blogspot.fr. There a "Mixed flock of Kentish-, Ringed Plovers, Collared Pratincole and Little Stints." © C. Himmel, posted in Oct. 2017 on Birding Azerbaijan.[/caption] Ralitsa Georgieva: More than 80% of Albania is mountains, therefore, almost all potential breeding sites for many waders’ species (e.g. Pied Avocet and Kentish Plover) are concentrated along coast of the Adriatic and Ionian seas. Aiming to give better understanding of the condition of breeding waders in Albania and their main treats. This research could be a vital instrument for decision making and conservation actions.   [caption id="attachment_10908" align="aligncenter" width="330"] Ralitsa Georgieva currently works at the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds on a Life+ project to restore and secure Long-term preservation of the Atanasovsko Lake Coastal Lagoon in Bulgaria. Above one of her study sites, the Salinas of Narta - Bulgaria, were Pied Avocet and Kentish Plover breeds, ©Ralitsa Georgieva. Follow Ralitsa on ReasearchGate at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ralitsa_Georgieva4.[/caption] Sriman Delip Kumar Das: Aimiming to explore the unexplored islands and mudflats of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna delta, recognized as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) by Birdlife International. The objectives are to conduct shorebird survey in unexplored islands and intertidal mudflats, identify roosting and foraging sites, assess the quality of intertidal mudflats and threats to the shorebirds and their habitat. This study is going to explore a part of the wintering population (estimated 50,000) that is yet unknown and has never been counted before.   [caption id="attachment_10906" align="aligncenter" width="330"] The Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna delta was recognized as an IBA as wintering grounds of many globally threatened shorebirds including the Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Delip Das was highly involved in the Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project. He is presently assistant professor at the Department of Zoology of the Jagannath University - Bangladesh. Visit the Delip Das's ResearchGate page at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Delip_Das. Picture: ©Wouter van der Ham.[/caption]   The Small Grant Committee, International Wader Study Group
The 2017 IWSG Small Grants have been awarded!

We are pleased to announce that the Small Grants committee have awarded the 2017 grant. With the consent of the Executive Committee, we decided to award three grants in 2018, since there were many very good projects among the applications, and we hope to raise further awarness of the IWSG SMall Grants. The following were awarded this year: Christoph Himmel: On the migratory flyway in southern Azerbaijan, the group will be counting and colour ringing waders in order to get data on the migration

A couple has just had children. Almost immediately after, Mom’s life returns to normal. Dad cares for the children. Does this grab your attention? In human society, issues of who does what in parenting are alive and well. What if the parents aren’t human? Shorebirds have diverse parenting systems that range from both parents cooperating to one or the other sex taking full responsibility. Thus, for many species in the shorebird world, males caring for the chicks has long been the norm. For example, in most pair-forming sandpipers (socially monogamous Scolopacidae), both parents help when the chicks are very young and then one parent – usually the female – leaves. In Red Knots Calidris canutus, Purple Sandpipers C. maritima and Great Knots C. tenuirostris the female leaves as soon as the eggs hatch. However, a few Red Knot females may be bending the gender roles in a species that generally takes these roles to the extreme. In this issue of Wader Study, Tomkovich and colleagues describe rare cases of female knots attending broods (staying with the kids) for the first time1. Whenever rare or surprising things are found, scientists question a few things: (1) Are the methods strong enough to ensure the rare find is genuine? (2) If so, why haven’t we seen this before? (3) Why is this rare thing happening? The first question then, is how did Tomkovich and colleagues find these parenting-females in a species where males and females look alike and nests are notoriously hard to find because the birds breed over vast swaths of tundra? First, the researchers stuck to well-studied sites. They studied breeding C. c. rogersi knots near Meinypilgyno Village, Chukotka in Far-Eastern Russia and C. c. roselaari knots near Nome, Seward Peninsula in Alaska. [caption id="attachment_10754" align="alignnone" width="700"] Knot on nest at the study site near Nome, Seward Peninsula, Alaska, USA (photo:James Johnson).[/caption] The Chukotka site is 10 km2 of coastal dry-plain tundra and the Alaska site comprises 5 smaller locations over 18 km2 of montane dwarf shrub tundra. [caption id="attachment_10753" align="alignnone" width="700"] Knot on nest at the study site near Meinypilgyno Village, Chukotka, Russia (photo: Pavel Tomkovich).[/caption] To find birds, nests and young, the researchers conducted daily surveys during pre-nesting, occasionally during incubation, and every one to three days during brood-rearing. Two to five observers walked in parallel about 100 m apart to cover as large an area as possible. This systematic searching helped the researchers find the birds (and their broods), but how did they know which bird was which and – more importantly for this study – whether the one taking care of the brood was male or female? First, they had to mark the birds. This is one reason to use a well-studied site, where birds are already marked as a matter of course for other studies. The knots were individually marked with a numbered metal ring. In most cases, the birds also had an engraved leg flag or a unique combination of a flag and colour bands so that researchers could recognize them at a distance. To tell who was male and female, the researchers working in Alaska took blood samples when banding the birds and determined the sex using molecular techniques. The researchers working in Chukotka also used molecular sexing techniques in some cases, but they also noting mating behavior, measured cloaca sizes, and even watched birds lay eggs (if it lays an egg it’s a female). The hard work paid off and from 2009 to 2017 the researchers found a total of 62 broods in Chukotka, and 127 broods in Alaska. All broods were attended by a single parent. In four cases, the bird attending the brood was female: one female in Chukotka and two females in Alaska (one who attended broods in two successive years). Importantly, for all cases, molecular sexing from blood samples was used to confirm the sex of the bird. This brings us to the next question: Why haven’t we seen this before? This is the first report of such behavior in Red Knots. Are gender roles changing for these birds? In humans, parenting comes in many varieties: single parents, co-parents living apart, co-parents living together, same-sex parents, gender fluid parents. The variety does seem like a modern thing, though people have likely been coming up with interesting and successful ways to raise kids for a long time. Now though, we are more interested in studying it. As a result, we might be seeing, acknowledging and accepting more variety. Might this be true for birds too? In the paper, the authors list several earlier studies that report no female parenting in Red Knots. However, they note that the incidence of females caring for broods in their own study was very low (only ~2%) and that such rare females might always have been there, undetected. Why? Because males and females look the same, because observing techniques like nest cameras are new, and because molecular sexing is new. Perhaps more and better study is allowing us to see more variety. To really know whether knot behavior is changing, the researchers will have to keep watching. Then they’ll be able to see if this low level of female care stays the same or if it is increasing over time. Finally, we ask why this rare behavior is happening. This study can’t tell us the answer, but the authors discuss several possibilities. The most obvious is that the male deserted the brood or died, forcing the female to stay and raise the kids. This may have been the case for the Chukotka female. The authors report that from 2012–2015, she always paired with the same male and he stayed with the kids. But the year she was found with the chicks, he was not seen at all. Rare cases of females attending broods have also been found in Purple Sandpipers and a removal study on this species has shown that if the male is experimentally removed just before hatching, most female Purple Sandpipers assumed brood care2. So perhaps the females took care of the kids because they had to. Another possibility is that broods were split between the parents shortly after hatching and the male was attending the other chicks elsewhere. But the authors note that this seems unlikely. In the case of the female in Chukotka, she was taking care of a single chick and there were no other broods of the same age found in the area. In Alaska, in one case a female was attending four chicks, not a reduced brood. Whatever their reason for parenting, these rare single moms parented much the same as the common single dads. They were “good” parents: leading chicks to foraging areas, brooding chicks, and displaying strong anti-predatory responses if researchers (or other threats) came too near. Similar findings, that females can parent just as well as males, have also been found in Purple Sandpipers2. In knots, parenting didn’t seem to harm female survival either. All three females attending broods in Alaska and Chukotka were observed the following breeding season. This leads to the question of why female knots don’t parent more often. The authors themselves wonder “why female chick attendance is rare in Red Knots, and other socially monogamous sandpiper species, while they apparently are capable of successfully raising chicks”. Many wonder the same about humans, but the other way around. Single mothers far outnumber single fathers, even in places single fathers are on the rise3. Yet, dads are quite successful at raising children (some male mammals can even lactate4). Of course, there is also the larger question of why such a wide variety of parenting strategies exists at all5. We still don’t know – for shorebirds or humans – so we might as well enjoy the variety.
  1. Tomkovich, P.S., J. A. Johnson, E. Y. Loktionov & L. H. DeCicco. 2018. Brood attendance by female Red Knots. Wader Study 125(1): xx-xx.
  2. Pierce, E.P., L.W. Oring, E. Røska & J.T. Lijfeld. 2010. Why don’t purple sandpipers perform brood care? A removal experiment. Behavioral Ecology 21: 275–283.
  3. Webb, A. 2017. Single parents worldwide: Statistics and trends. Blog post in Spaced Out Scientist 18 Jul 2017 at https://spacedoutscientist.com/2017/07/18/single-parents-worldwide-statistics-and-trends/ with links to original OCED and census data.
  4. Swaminathanm N. 2007. Strange but True: Males Can Lactate. Posted in Scientific American 6 Sep 2007 at https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/strange-but-true-males-can-lactate/.
  5. Székely, T., G. H. Thomas, I. C. Cuthill. 2006. Sexual conflict, ecology, and breeding systems in shorebirds. BioScience 56: 801-808.
PDF is available for download here: http://www.waderstudygroup.org/article/10744
Spotlight: Shorebirds bending gender roles

A couple has just had children. Almost immediately after, Mom’s life returns to normal. Dad cares for the children. Does this grab your attention? In human society, issues of who does what in parenting are alive and well. What if the parents aren’t human? Shorebirds have diverse parenting systems that range from both parents cooperating to one or the other sex taking full responsibility. Thus, for many species in the shorebird world, males caring for the chicks has long been the norm. For

After becoming the 170th Contracting Party to the Convention on Wetlands, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea became the 36th Partner of the East Asian – Australasian Flyway Partnership on 11 April 2018 and has nominated the Kumya Wetland Reserve and Mundok Migratory Bird Reserve as their first two EAAF Network Sites. In recent years, the DPR Korea has been increasingly active in collaborating with international organizations to identify priority areas for the conservation of migratory waterbirds through survey and monitoring projects along their coastal and inland wetlands. The country has also initiated an inventory of their countries’ wetlands which will yield important information on the biodiversity of those areas and the services that they provide for people. Read the full announcement on EAAF website there :  http://eaaflyway.net Featured image: Rason Migratory Bird Reserve in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, ©RAMSAR.  
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea became the 36th Partner of the East Asian – Australasian Flyway Partnership

After becoming the 170th Contracting Party to the Convention on Wetlands, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea became the 36th Partner of the East Asian – Australasian Flyway Partnership on 11 April 2018 and has nominated the Kumya Wetland Reserve and Mundok Migratory Bird Reserve as their first two EAAF Network Sites. In recent years, the DPR Korea has been increasingly active in collaborating with international organizations to identify priority areas for the conservation of migratory

The 17th Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force (SBS TF) News Bulletin is now available here. To read previous news bulletins and find out more about Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Task Force Documents, Publications and Related Materials), visit the SBS TF page.     Fetaured image: Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Calidris pygmaea.®JJ Harrison, Pak Thale, Petchaburi, Thailand, January 2013.
Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force: News Bulletin No.18, April 2018

The 17th Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force (SBS TF) News Bulletin is now available here. To read previous news bulletins and find out more about Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Task Force Documents, Publications and Related Materials), visit the SBS TF page.     Fetaured image: Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Calidris pygmaea.®JJ Harrison, Pak Thale, Petchaburi, Thailand, January 2013.

The Woodcock and Snipe Specialist Group has just released its Newsletter n°43. The issue of this newsletter Compiled and edited by David Gonçalves (CIBIO/InBIO, University of Porto) were full of information. It contains among others a compilation of the last migration & ringing reports of local Woodcock & Snipe groups and a current list of recent Woodcock and Snipe publications. Very informative!,  I'll leave you to discover those on your own:    
Woodcock and Snipe Specialist Group | Newsletter 2017 n°43

The Woodcock and Snipe Specialist Group has just released its Newsletter n°43. The issue of this newsletter Compiled and edited by David Gonçalves (CIBIO/InBIO, University of Porto) were full of information. It contains among others a compilation of the last migration & ringing reports of local Woodcock & Snipe groups and a current list of recent Woodcock and Snipe publications. Very informative!,  I'll leave you to discover those on your own:    

The Wader Study Group joined BirdLife International to support the celebration of the World Curlew Day the 21st April! By Mary Colwell. "This time last year a ground-breaking assessment of the threats facing the Numeniini group was published that collated the views of over 100 wader experts from around the world made shocking reading. . It concluded that the main threat internationally is the loss and destruction of coastal estuaries and wetlands, which are under increasing pressure from development and disturbance, particularly in Asia. The Numeniini group are 13 wader species including upland sandpiper, four godwit and eight curlew species. It is shocking that over half of these species are of global conservation concern which makes this family one of the most threatened in the world. April 21 was chosen to be World Curlew Day because of a delightful, traditional Welsh tale that identifies the first curlew conservationist. St Beuno, was a 6th century abbot from Wales. Legend has it he was sailing off the coast when he dropped his prayer book in the sea. A curlew flew over and rescued it and took it to the shore to dry. The grateful St Beuno decreed that from then on, the bird be given special protection and that its nest must be difficult to find; which is indeed the case.
We hope that conservation organisations, government agencies, land-managers and nature enthusiasts from around the world will come together to support this remarkable but very threatened group of species. Whether it is publishing a press release, giving a talk, holding a curlew cake and coffee morning and/or going for a curlew walk.
We want to know what you will be doing for curlew on the 21st; so please share your stories and pictures on social media using the hashtag #WorldCurlewDay2018 Sadly, Eskimo curlew, a former widespread and abundant species in the Americas is probably already extinct while there has been no sighting of the Slender-billed Curlew for over 20 years.
The world has likely lost two species in the last century!
We need to do all that we can to ensure that we don’t lose anymore!"   World Curlew Day Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/WCDApril21/   Featured image: Curlew Numenius arquata, 13 December 2010, ©Ken Billington  
World Curlew Day – 21st April

The Wader Study Group joined BirdLife International to support the celebration of the World Curlew Day the 21st April! By Mary Colwell. "This time last year a ground-breaking assessment of the threats facing the Numeniini group was published that collated the views of over 100 wader experts from around the world made shocking reading. . It concluded that the main threat internationally is the loss and destruction of coastal estuaries and wetlands, which are under increasing pressure from

The Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network WHSRN reports results of the last aerial surveys in Tierra del Fuego. This winter a very low numbers of Calidris canutus rufa were recorded with only 9,840 ind when 13,127 ind. were recorded in January 2017. This is the second lowest record since the surveys began (after 2011 with 9,850 birds). Poor feeding condition in Delaware Bay recorded in May 2017 resulted in lower survival would be involved. Low water temperatures have delayed the ashore coming of Horseshoe Crabs to lay their eggs. Read more about results of the 2018 annual aerial survey on the WHSR website: https://www.whsrn.org/red-knot-low [caption id="attachment_10595" align="aligncenter" width="330"] The survey crew for Bahía Lomas flight. Left to right: Capt. Francisco Esquivel, Dr. Guy Morrison, Sra. Jocelyn Velasquez, Sr. Antonio Larrea. ©Guy Morrison for the WHSRN[/caption]     Featured image : Red knot rufa ©Breese Greg, USFWS    
Red Knot rufa wintering population crashes to a new low

The Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network WHSRN reports results of the last aerial surveys in Tierra del Fuego. This winter a very low numbers of Calidris canutus rufa were recorded with only 9,840 ind when 13,127 ind. were recorded in January 2017. This is the second lowest record since the surveys began (after 2011 with 9,850 birds). Poor feeding condition in Delaware Bay recorded in May 2017 resulted in lower survival would be involved. Low water temperatures have delayed the ashore