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WHSRN welcomes Delta del Estero Real as the 95th site in the Network, and 1st in Nicaragua! It was designated a Site of International Importance for supporting more than 10% of the biogeographic population of Wilson's Plover (Charadrius wilsonia). Nicaragua is now the 15th country to join WHSRN.   read more here.
1st WHSRN site in Nicaragua

WHSRN welcomes Delta del Estero Real as the 95th site in the Network, and 1st in Nicaragua! It was designated a Site of International Importance for supporting more than 10% of the biogeographic population of Wilson's Plover (Charadrius wilsonia). Nicaragua is now the 15th country to join WHSRN.   read more here.

The Humedales de Maullín (Maullín Wetlands), in the Llanquihue Province, becomes the 5th WHSRN site in Chile and 94th site in the Network. It was designated a Site of Regional Importance for supporting more than 1% of the biogeographic population of Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica). read more here.
5th WHSRN site in Chile

The Humedales de Maullín (Maullín Wetlands), in the Llanquihue Province, becomes the 5th WHSRN site in Chile and 94th site in the Network. It was designated a Site of Regional Importance for supporting more than 1% of the biogeographic population of Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica). read more here.

Based on having met WHSRN’s biological and landowner commitment criteria, the Bahía Blanca Estuary (Estuario de la Bahía Blanca) in Argentina was unanimously approved as a WHSRN Site of Regional Importance recently by the WHSRN Hemispheric Council. Located in the southwest portion of Buenos Aires Province, the new WHSRN site encompasses the entire ecosystem of the Bahía Blanca Estuary. It includes national, provincial, and municipal jurisdictions as well as private properties. The site, totaling 262,527 hectares, was proposed under the category of "regional importance" for supporting more than 20,000 shorebirds per year, including more than 1% of the biogeographic population of Red Knot (Calidris canutus rufa), White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis), Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica), Two-banded Plover (Charadrius falklandicus), and American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus durnfordi). Read more here. bahia_blanca_banadada_2_p._petracci Bahía Blanca Estuary supports more than 20,000 shorebirds each year. / © Pablo Petracci
Bahía Blanca Estuary: New WHSRN Site in Argentina!

Based on having met WHSRN’s biological and landowner commitment criteria, the Bahía Blanca Estuary (Estuario de la Bahía Blanca) in Argentina was unanimously approved as a WHSRN Site of Regional Importance recently by the WHSRN Hemispheric Council.

Migratory shorebirds inhabit many countries on their annual journeys. These journeys are awe-inspiring, but the migratory lifestyle of shorebirds puts them into a legal predicament that has resulted a complex conservation challenge. In a way, they have multiple “citizenships”. As stated eloquently by Watts and Turrin in their paper in this issue of Wader Study1, “states have sovereign rights over all wild animals that fall within their jurisdictional boundaries but no jurisdiction over animals outside of these boundaries”. This means that migrating shorebirds are subject to the policies of all of the countries they visit, in succession. When these policies include hunting, it is easy to imagine how sustainable limits could be crossed. Shorebird hunting is legal in many jurisdictions in the Western Hemisphere. Although each jurisdiction might set sustainable limits, there is not enough information on the cumulative number of individuals killed along an entire migratory route – the collective harvest – to assess whether per species limits are sustainable across a flyway. Estimates of sustainable mortality limits for 36 species using the Western Atlantic Flyway showed that hunting pressure might already be too high for several species2. Too many birds are being taken – perhaps not in any one country, but across a flyway – to maintain population sizes necessary to meet biological and social needs. To set sustainable limits across a flyway, we must first understand the policies that govern shorebird hunting for each jurisdiction within that flyway: whether or not shorebirds can be hunted, when during the year, by whom and in what numbers. Watts and Turrin present a benchmark assessment of shorebird hunting policies in the Western Hemisphere. Their study area including jurisdictions within the primary shorebird flyways of the Western Hemisphere: the Western Atlantic Flyway, the East Pacific Flyway, and the Mississippi or Interior American Flyway. How does one go about finding out what shorebird hunting policies (both domestic policies and international conventions and treaties) are over such a large area? First the researchers focused on 45 migratory shorebird species, excluding sedentary species, short-distance migrants (species that exhibit only local movements) and vagrants. Then they decided to categorize three levels of protection: 1) not protected, 2) seasonally protected, and 3) fully protected. Finally, they narrowed their focus to policies on subsistence, commercial, and sport/recreational hunting, excluding the killing of shorebirds for nuisance/control or scientific collecting. With these limits in mind, the researchers systematically searched for legislation from each jurisdiction, using government databases, national official gazettes, national hunting calendars, peer-reviewed journal articles, government agency reports, websites of international conventions and treaties (CITES, CMS, SPAW), and reports by independent scientific or conservation organizations such as BirdLife International and the Caribbean Environment Programme. Finally, when they could not find information on details such as bag limits or seasons in the legislation, they consulted local contacts, provincial or state hunting calendars, and local online news sources. The researchers identified a total of 57 jurisdictions in the Western Hemisphere, including 35 independent nations and 22 dependent territories or other entities. The dependencies included overseas departments and collectivities of France, constituent countries and special municipalities of the Netherlands, overseas territories of the United Kingdom, and unincorporated organized territories of the United States. Most of these diverse jurisdictions (96.5%) participate in at least one international treaty designed to protect migratory birds and of these jurisdictions, nearly 90% have established corresponding domestic laws. The researchers found that most of the domestic wildlife policies (91.2%) fell into two categories: policies that protect all or nearly all (>90%) migratory shorebirds, or policies that protect very few (<10%). In many ways, the heterogeneity reflects the political histories of the jurisdictions, many of which are political units of European countries. For example, the majority of jurisdictions that are overseas territories of the United Kingdom have complete prohibitions on shorebird hunting, while the majority of overseas departments and collectivities of France have relatively liberal hunting policies. Of the 27 jurisdictions that authorize some form of shorebird hunting, 22 (81.5%) require a hunting license, 14 (51.8%) specify a hunting season and 12 (44.4%) have bag limits for at least a portion of the hunted species. Commercial hunting is not acknowledged in the policies of most jurisdictions. It is explicitly authorized in Venezuela and prohibited in 23 jurisdictions. Recreational hunting of shorebirds is legal in 16 jurisdictions, but only occurs in practice in 11 of these, 10 of which are within the Western Atlantic Flyway. Finally, subsistence hunting has legal status in 16 jurisdictions, including 10 where all other forms of shorebird hunting are prohibited. Subsistence hunting is widespread throughout rural communities and is accepted in many cultures regardless of national policy. Therefore, it may have the largest collective impact on shorebird populations. [caption id="attachment_7925" align="alignnone" width="631"]Young boy with shorebirds hunted for subsistence in the Bay of Martaban, Myanmar, Jan 2010 (Photo provided by the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association of Myanmar). Young boy with shorebirds hunted for subsistence in the Bay of Martaban, Myanmar, Jan 2010 (Photo provided by the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association of Myanmar).[/caption] An example of how even moderate subsistence hunting can have a large impact on a vulnerable species is found in the story of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper in Myanmar. Bird hunting provides the poorest in Myanmar society with a reliable source of protein and sometimes a small livelihood. But it has a devastating effect on some shorebirds. Previous research by an international team of scientists from the United Kingdom, Myanmar, Russia and Thailand has shown that hunting in Myanmar is probably the main cause of the decline of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper3. How to balance the needs of the birds with the needs of the poorest people in Myanmar? Interventions by the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association of Myanmar (BANCA) and the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Recovery Team may hint at an answer. BANCA carried out education and awareness raising activities in the villages concurrent with a socio-economic intervention that provided villagers with assets such as livestock, fishing boats and building materials so that they could begin replacement livelihoods. In exchange, the villagers vowed to stop bird hunting. Early reports indicate that the intervention may be having a positive effect for both the birds and the people4. The example of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper shows success by working from the bottom up. Success is also possible working from the top down and Watts and Turrin’s benchmark assessment of shorebird hunting policies brings us one step closer to such success. Now that we have a synthesis on hunting policies across the Western Atlantic Flyway, more information is needed on the collective, legal harvest of all shorebirds. Putting together information on current policies, collective harvests, and the mortality tolerances of different shorebird species will bring us closer to the conservation objective of hunting policies that ensure the future health of hunted populations by limiting take to, or below, the limits of what populations are capable of withstanding.
  1. Watts, B.D. & C. Turrin. 2016. Assessing Hunting Policies for Migratory Shorebirds throughout the Western Hemisphere. Wader Study 123(1): 6-15.
  1. Watts, B.D., E.T. Reed & C. Turrin. 2015. Estimating sustainable mortality limits for shorebirds using the Western Atlantic Flyway. Wader Study 122(1): 37–53.
  1. Zöckler, C., T. Htin Hla, N. Clark, E. Syroechkovskiy, N. Yakushev, S. Daengphayon & R. Robinson. 2010. Hunting in Myanmar is probably the main cause of the decline of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Calidris pygmeus. Wader Study Group Bulletin 117(1): 1–8.
  1. http://www.birdlife.org/asia/news/targeting-hunters-save-spoon-billed-sandpiper
PDF version can be downloaded here.
Spotlight: Assessing hunting policy for multi-citizenship birds

Migratory shorebirds inhabit many countries on their annual journeys. These journeys are awe-inspiring, but the migratory lifestyle of shorebirds puts them into a legal predicament that has resulted a complex conservation challenge. In a way, they have multiple “citizenships”. As stated eloquently by Watts and Turrin in their paper in this issue of Wader Study1, “states have sovereign rights over all wild animals that fall within their jurisdictional boundaries but no jurisdiction over

With Disney-Pixar’s newest animated feature Finding Dory right around the corner, fans have been wondering just what the new animated short will be before the main feature starts. The newest member of the Pixar family is an adorable, big-eyed beach bird named Piper.   kflsflsdafssf-800x400 According to Pixar, the inspiration for the six minutes short film (about a hungry baby Sandpiper overcoming it’s fear of the water) came from Emeryville, California where Alan Barillaro, a veteran Pixar animator and director of Piper, would gleefully run alongside the shore and noticed thousands of birds fleeing from the water, but returning almost immediately between the waves to eat.
“Seeing the way these sandpipers react to waves and run, I always felt, ‘Gosh, that’s a film, that’s a character,” says Barillaro, who began toying with animation software as a personal challenge to design a non-speaking character who was afraid of the water yet had to venture into it to eat. “It’s always fun to show a world we’re familiar with but from a different perspective. We’ve all been to the beach, but have we ever viewed water from just an inch off the sand? That could be very fearful from a bird’s perspective.”
As the story took on a life of it’s own, Piper became a story of a child learning the ways of the food chain through a parent, and then a child learning from another child, as Piper meets and befriends a tiny hermit crab who teaches her how to get the job done.
“It’s the kid at the playground feeling,” says Barillaro. “You fall down and you feel so small, but you look and see someone even smaller than you brush themselves off and tackle something, and learn from that in your own way. It was important to me to stay in the kid world and see the world from Piper’s eyes, and not be from the human perspective.”
as seen in Inside the Magic.
Meet “Piper”, Pixar’s adorable new short film star

With Disney-Pixar’s newest animated feature Finding Dory right around the corner, fans have been wondering just what the new animated short will be before the main feature starts. The newest member of the Pixar family is an adorable, big-eyed beach bird named Piper.  

Tough waders those Turnstones. Or maybe not so much? Read on in Graham Appleton's WaderTales! https://wadertales.wordpress.com/2016/02/17/why-do-turnstones-eat-chips/ Photo courtesy: Allison Kew  
Why do Turnstones eat chips?

Tough waders those Turnstones. Or maybe not so much? Read on in Graham Appleton's WaderTales! https://wadertales.wordpress.com/2016/02/17/why-do-turnstones-eat-chips/ Photo courtesy: Allison Kew  

This is a call by John Goss-Custard & Richard Stillman to add your observation of feeding oystercatchers and your data about the site to their project. Fig. 1 shows data for estuaries and coastal flats in Britain where most of the Eurasian Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus during the non-breeding season obtain most of their food from the shellfish, common cockles Cerastoderma edule and blue mussels Mytilus edulis. It shows the proportion of oystercatchers foraging on mussel beds as a function of the proportion of the shellfish beds (i.e. beds of cockles and mussels combined) that is comprised of mussels. If this function is widely applicable, we could estimate the numbers of oystercatchers in a site that forage on either cockles or mussels without actually having to count them. All that would be needed would be estimates of (i) the total number of oystercatchers; (ii) the total surface area of mussel beds, and (iii) the total surface area of the cockle beds. This could be useful for estimating, for example, the contribution made by each shellfish species to the total consumption of oystercatchers over the entire non-breeding season. It could also be used to demonstrate the special importance of mussel beds to oystercatchers when Environmental Impact Assessments are made. GOSS-CUSTARD Estimating mussel-feeder numbers_Fig1 Fig. 1.  The proportion of oystercatchers foraging on mussel beds in relation to the proportion of the shellfish beds that consists of mussels. The large dots show the data for particular, named sites. The small dots show the expected hypothetical trend if the density of oystercatchers on the beds averages 30/ha. Inevitably, the two points at the extremities – the Ythan and Dee estuaries – coincide with expectation as only one shellfish species is present! What matters is the region in between where there is a mixture of cockle and mussel beds and, at present, there are only three estimates. A larger sample size is required to test the expectation. Hence this request! If you think you might be able to contribute a data point or two, please read on!! Before describing how you might contribute, an explanation of how the expected curve in Fig. 1 was calculated. It was made for a series of hypothetical sites with approximately the same surface area and oystercatcher numbers as the Exe estuary but with the relative proportion of cockle:mussel bed areas varying from 0.9:0.1 to 0.1:0.9. The first assumption in calculating the expectation is that oystercatchers generally occupy mussel beds preferentially because of the large size and energy content of mussels compared with cockles. The second assumption is that, when the mussel beds are fully occupied, the remaining birds feed on cockle beds. The third assumption is that mussel beds are fully occupied when the average density of oystercatchers on them is 30/ha. This value is based on data from the three sites shown in Fig. 1: using densities of 20/ha or 40/ha to calculate the expected curve does not make much difference anyway. Here is an example of the simple calculations involved. The mussel beds cover a combined area of 20ha out of the 100ha where shellfish of either or both species are present. The shellfish beds (cockles and mussels combined) support 1,500 oystercatchers. The proportion of oystercatchers on the mussel beds is therefore 0.4 ((30x20)/1,500) and the proportion of the site covered by mussels is 0.2 (20/100). So in this case, 0.4 of the shellfish-eating oystercatchers occur on the 0.2 of the combined shellfish beds that consists of mussels. This is what is required for one site/occasion (year and season) for you to contribute a data point to the graph:
  1. Data from a site where, during part or the whole of a given non-breeding season, most of the oystercatchers over the low water period obtain most of their food from cockles and mussels. The site could be a whole estuary or coastal flat or a large enough part of a huge site to be considered a ‘unit’ within which most of the birds are likely to spend most of their time: g. the east side of the Wash or south side of the Solway Firth.
  1. Numbers of oystercatchers that typically forage on the mussel beds over the low water period. [If this is not available, it can be approximated by subtracting the number of oystercatchers on cockle beds (item 3) from the total numbers foraging on the mussel and cockle beds combined.]
  1. The numbers of oystercatchers that typically forage on the cockle beds over the low water period. [If this is not available, it can be approximated by subtracting the number of oystercatchers on mussel beds (item 2) from the total numbers foraging on the mussel and cockle beds combined.]
  1. The fully-exposed surface area of all the mussel beds combined.
  1. The fully-exposed surface area of all the cockle beds combined.
  1. The fully-exposed surface area of the entire intertidal area of mudflat and sand flat (excluding saltmarsh).
Item 6 is included because the area occupied by cockles (item 5) may not always be known. The current indications are that expressing the area of the mussel beds as a proportion of the entire intertidal area of mud and sand – including those parts without cockles – may still yield a usable function (Fig. 2). GOSS-Custard Fig2 Fig. 2.  The proportion of oystercatchers foraging on mussel beds plotted against the proportion of the total surface area of intertidal mud-and sand-flats that are covered by mussels. When we have acquired the data, we will prepare a manuscript and add your name and address to the list of authors, and circulate the manuscript for feed-back. If Figs. 1 and 2 are confirmed, they will prove to be very useful in a range of circumstances. So please do make the time to contribute if you have the data to do so! John D. Goss-Custard* & Richard A. Stillman Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Bournemouth, Poole, UK *Corresponding author: johngc66@gmail.com Please address all correspondence to John Goss-Custard at: johngc66@gmail.com.  
Eurasian Oystercatchers, blue mussels and common cockles: an invitation to contribute data to a graph and to share authorship of a paper

This is a call by John Goss-Custard & Richard Stillman to add your observation of feeding oystercatchers and your data about the site to their project. Fig. 1 shows data for estuaries and coastal flats in Britain where most of the Eurasian Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus during the non-breeding season obtain most of their food from the shellfish, common cockles Cerastoderma edule and blue mussels Mytilus edulis. It shows the proportion of oystercatchers foraging on mussel beds as a

This is the first time that  Bar-tailed Godwits are being tracked within the West Asia-East African flyway. DSCN0889-450x338 The intertidal ecosystem of Barr Al Hikman in the Sultanate of Oman is one of the last large pristine wetlands in the Middle-East. Barr Al Hikman is of major importance as a nursery and feeding area for shrimps, fishes, crabs and green turtles and it is the most important wetland for shorebirds in the Middle-East. With our study we aim for an advanced understanding of the ecological processes that are shaping this unique system. Click here to learn more about the bar-tailed godwit project, and here to learn about the crab plover project.
Tracking Bar-tailed Godwits and Crab Plovers in Oman

This is the first time that  Bar-tailed Godwits are being tracked within the West Asia-East African flyway.

The large wader stopover in Khairusova-Belogolovaya estuary on the Western coast of Kamchatka peninsula is not very famous and scientists have started investigate this area only several years ago. The last expedition in 2015, the estuary was found to host 31 wader species. During the peak of migration, in the end of July, we counted about 26 000 waders. Most numerous in this area are Great Knots (up to 23 000), Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwits, Red-necked Stints and Dunlins. Also we often recorded there rare species – Spoon-billed Sandpipers and Far-Eastern Curlews. From middle of June till the middle of August 2016 we are planning to continue our field work in this area and looking for volunteers. We are planning the following activities:
  • Wader counts
  • Reading individual flag codes on Great Knots and Godwits
  • Maybe ringing waders and taking benthos samples.
We are looking for people with experience with wader counts and reading leg flags. The volunteers, preferably bringing their own scopes, can participate the whole field period or for the part of it. Main activities – wader counts and reading leg flags. Large part of Great Knots and some Godwits have individual leg flags, mostly from Australia. Logistics Travelling via Petropavlovsk to Ust-Khairusovo by plane. In the study area we live in field tent camp. Camp is protected with electric fence from bears. Main vehicle is motor boat. It is necessary to have all field equipment – rubber boots, rain jackets and pants, warm clothes etc. Unfortunately our expedition this year is not able to pay for expedition costs. The deadline of the applications is 20 March 2016 Are you interested, or do you have questions, please contact Dmitry Dorofeev dmitrdorofeev@gmail.com   -------------------In 2013 we published an article about our study in English------------------------ Dorofeev, Dmitry S., and Fedor V. Kazansky. "Post-breeding stopover sites of waders in the estuaries of the Khairusovo, Belogolovaya and Moroshechnaya rivers, western Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia, 2010–2012." Wader Study Group Bull 120.2 (2013): 119-123. Click here for PDF
Looking for wader watchers – Western coast of Kamchatka, Russia

The large wader stopover in Khairusova-Belogolovaya estuary on the Western coast of Kamchatka peninsula is not very famous and scientists have started investigate this area only several years ago. The last expedition in 2015, the estuary was found to host 31 wader species. During the peak of migration, in the end of July, we counted about 26 000 waders. Most numerous in this area are Great Knots (up to 23 000), Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwits, Red-necked Stints and Dunlins. Also we often

Read this nice report about one of the delights of NW Europe winters at www.waderquest.org. Wader Quest also published their January 2016 Newsletter, stock-full of global news on waders. It is available to Friends of Wader Quest, for details see this page.
Wader Quest: great spectacle of plovers and lapwings

Read this nice report about one of the delights of NW Europe winters at www.waderquest.org. Wader Quest also published their January 2016 Newsletter, stock-full of global news on waders. It is available to Friends of Wader Quest, for details see this page.