Waterbird Conservation in the African-Eurasian Flyway

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As a joint effort between BirdLife International and Wetlands International, and supported by UNEP-GEF (the United Nations Environment Program -Global Environment Facility) and a number of donors and partners, Wings Over Wetlands was the first international wetland and waterbird conservation project to take place in the African-Eurasian flyway region. The project initially ran over four years (2006-2010) and enlisted the aid of international conservation organizations and national governments to support migratory waterbirds in the African-Eurasian region.

Wings Over Wetlands (WOW) also supported field projects in eleven wetland areas in twelve countries within the region – Haapsalu-Noarootsi Bays in Estonia; Biharugra Fishponds in Hungary; Nemunas River Delta in Lithuania; Banc D’Arguin National Park in Mauritania; Namga-Kokorou Complex in Niger; Hadejia-Nguru Wetlands in Nigeria; Saloum-Niumi Complex in Senegal and Gambia; Wakkerstroom Wetlands in South Africa; Dar Es Salaam Wetlands in Tanzania; Burdur Gölü in Turkey and Aden Wetlands in Yemen.

While the original WOW project has run its course, leading international conservation organizations dedicated to protecting of waterbirds and their habitats developed the Critical Site Network (CSN) Tool giving easy access to information on the sites deemed critical for waterbird species. As one of the major achievements of the WOW project the CSN tool provides information for more than 300 migratory waterbird species, highlighting what can be achieved when like-minded conservation organizations work together. This wealth of information assists authorities at local, national and international level to identify the network of sites essential to specific waterbird species, thereby enhancing conservation efforts.

The WOW project also strengthened the implementation of AEWA – the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement – which lists 255 species of birds that are dependent on wetlands for their annual migration and breeding cycle. These include many species of pelicans, grebes, cormorants, divers, herons, rails, storks, ibises, flamingos, spoonbills, ducks, geese, swans, waders, cranes and gulls. Parties to the agreement are required to implement conservation measures set out in the AEWA Action Plan, including habitat conservation, research and education projects and management of human activities. The 5th session of AEWA representatives was held in La Rochelle, France on 14-18 May 2012, under the theme of “Migratory Waterbirds and People – Sharing Wetlands”.

2011 Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua

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The 10th Annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua will be an amazing combinations of birds, field trips science, art and music. The mission of this event is to increase understanding and appreication for the bird life of Mono Basin, educating the public with regards the the importance of the area for people and birds. A large number of presenters and leaders have already been confirmed for the event, as well as special guests Dayan Kai and Keith Greeninger.

Date: 17 to 19 June 2011
Location: Lee Vining
State: California
Country: United States of America

Birdlife Cheese and Wine 2010

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The Birdlife SA association will be hosting the Birdlife Cheese and Wine 2010, to raise funds for bird conservation and birdlife awareness projects. Guest speakers such as David Chamberlain, Mark Anderson and Alan Knott-Craig will captivating audiences with their fascinating information on birds, photography and bird watching adventures that wait to be discovered. It is an opportunity to support the conservation efforts in South Africa and to be educated on the beautiful birds of the country.

For more information, visit the Birdlife SA website at http://www.birdlife.org.za/page/6090/fundraisers.

Date: 17 August 2010
Venue: Irene Country Lodge
City: Irene
Country: South Africa

The Americas IBA Directory

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The conservation of rare birdlife has been the focus of Birdlife International for many years. In 1995 they began a project by the name of IBA, or Important Bird Area Program, to pinpoint areas across the globe that are home to endangered species, identifying the various species and protecting those areas to assist in conserving vital birdlife. At present, more than ten thousand of these areas have been identified, and conservation and environmental initiatives have been implemented. Now a new program has been established, namely the Americas IBA Directory.

Hundreds of bird species will benefit from the Americas IBA Directory, as it will be a guideline for both conservationists and for authorities. The directory covers 57 different countries and has 2 345 of the most significant areas listed that need to be protected at all costs. Authorities will be able to refer to the directory to find out which of their areas are vital to the survival of birdlife, which bird species are located in that area and the biodiversity of the area, to enable them to take the right steps in protecting the natural habitat and the birds. Some areas that have been listed are significant in the migratory patterns of certain species, while others are crucial nesting sites for numerous endangered birds. Due to a number of these areas being inhabited by local communities, also relying on the natural resources such as water, authorities can assist these communities with sustainable development that will not only benefit the communities but the birdlife as well.

Hundreds of organizations have provided support and assistance in the compiling of the Americas IBA Directory. President of Bird Studies Canada, George Finney, explained: “From breeding grounds in Canada, to wintering sites in the south, and all points in between, it is imperative that we understand what is happening to bird populations and the forces that drive change. Bird Studies Canada is proud to work closely with our international partners on this issue, so that better management decisions and conservation actions can be taken.” A large number of agencies will be working together as IBA Caretakers, tracking migratory patterns and data in regard to bird populations, to note changes being made by the birds, and keeping the IBA Directory as up to date and accurate as possible.

Monterey Bay Birding Festival 2009

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The Monterey Bay Birding Festival 2009, will be held from the 24th to the 27th of September 2009, and will be the fifth successful festival for Monterey. The Watsonville Civic Plaza is the headquarters of the festival where bird lovers can book their guided tours and day trips to various bird watching destinations and activities. A variety of well known guest speakers will be hosting workshops during the festival during the day and in the evenings.

First time bird watchers and avid birding enthusiasts will be able to enjoy this festival that is focused on sharing the spectacular birdlife of Monterey with visitors. For more information, kindly visit the festival website at http://www.montereybaybirding.org/ .

Date: 24 – 27 September 2009
Venue: Watsonville Civic Plaza
City: Monterey
Country: North America

Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival

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Bird lovers looking for a fantastic long-weekend getaway should look no further than the 15th Annual Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival. The festival will take place, as always, in Harlingen, Texas, and will provide plenty of great, nature-orientated activities for young and old.

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Unbelievable Birding Opportunities in Kenya

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With an unbelievable variation in habitat and no less than eleven nature reserves, Kenya is a very worthwhile part of the world for birding enthusiasts to visit. The varied habitats ensure that each day of bird-watching is a rewarding adventure, while the hospitable Kenyans ensure that birders have all they need for a memorable trip. Bird watchers can expect to see around 350 species in the space of two weeks, with some specialized birding tours reporting sightings of between 500 and 600 species within a two week period. Clearly there are plenty of birds in Kenya.

Primarily due to its abundant wildlife, Kenya is a popular tourist destination, and there are many different types of organized tours available, with the classic wildlife safari being the most sought after. The main objective of going on a classic wildlife safari is to spot the “Big Five” – lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhino – and while this in itself is exciting, the focus is on the animals and not the birdlife, which can be frustrating for the keen birder.

Appreciating the fact that many people visiting Kenya want to focus on bird watching, a number of tour companies offer specialized birding tours and the trick is to find the tour that is right for you. Do you want to stop and watch the birds in a relaxed manner, seeing how they interact with one another in their natural habitat? Or do you want to spot as many species as possible in the shortest period of time possible? While given the number of species resident in Kenya, the latter may be tempting, the first option is considered by many birding enthusiasts to be the most rewarding. Whichever choice you make, make sure that the tour you pick will suit you.

From a birding point of view, one of the most popular of the eleven reserve areas in Kenya is Lake Baringo, which is situated about 290 kilometers north of Nairobi. It is not uncommon to spot around 300 different species of birds in the Lake Baringo area in a single day. Birding enthusiasts can expect to see Vereaux’s Eagle, Heuglin’s Courser, Three-banded Courser, Lichtenstein’s Sand-grouse, Spotted Thick-knee, Paradise Flycatcher, African Fish Eagle, Marabou Stork, Hemprich’s Hornbill, African Skimmer and much more.

Tsavo is Kenya’s largest game reserve and one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in the world. In addition to the fascinating wildlife that are resident in Tsavo, birders can look out for Golden-breasted Starlings, Evergreen Forest Warbler, Kenyan Ostrich, Common Ostrich, Somali Ostrich, Hartlaub’s Bustard, Sooty Falcon and Eleonora’s Falcon.

Many of the lodges in Kenya have a resident guide who is knowledgeable with regard to local birds and can give guests an informative tour of the lodge area. The best time for birding is between October and April each year when over 120 Northern hemisphere migrant species arrive for the summer. Between April and October migrants from the southern hemisphere and Madagascar flock to Kenya, many of which are in breeding plumage at that time.

Kenya certainly has plenty to offer birding enthusiasts, and many birders return year after year to explore a new area each time – and are never disappointed.

Climate Changes Affect Bird Populations in Europe

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Terms such as global warming, carbon footprint and climate change are becoming part of every day vocabulary as people become more aware of the far reaching consequences of mankind’s abuse of the planet. Researchers at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Durham University and Cambridge University have been monitoring the effect of climate change on bird populations in the United Kingdom and have reached some disturbing conclusions.

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Birding in the fascinating Republic of Malta

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The Republic of Malta consists of an archipelago of seven islands in the Mediterranean Sea of Southern Europe. With its warm Mediterranean climate and varied habitats, Malta is a superb birding destination. As the islands lie along one of the main European-African migration flyways, it is an ideal location to observe annual bird migrations. The country is also rich in history and culture, having been occupied by a number of ancient cultures through its history, including Sicilians, Romans, Phoenicians and Byzantines, all of which left their mark on the island, making it a fascinating place to explore.

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New Subspecies Discovered in Columbia

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The more than 100 kilometer long Serrania de los Yariguies Mountain Range in Columbia has remained unexplored until fairly recently when, under the auspices of Fundacion ProAves, researchers began a survey focusing mainly on the birdlife in the area. So far, these efforts have yielded two new bird species and a new species of butterfly. The first new bird discovery has been named the Yariguies Brush-Finch, while the latest discovery has been named in honor of conservationist Robert Giles – Scytalopus griseicollis gilesi.

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