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Asian Waterbird Census


September 2015

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Dear Reader,
We are very pleased to provide you with the latest Newsletter of the Asian Waterbird Census.
In this issue we include an update on the AWC data received so far, development of the IWC online database, interesting reports from the national coordinators, and a snap shot of some threatened species conservation planning and action. We also include information about the new Wetlands International Strategic Intent 2015-2025 that provides the basis for all our work.
We greatly appreciate the input and feedback from Coordinators and others in providing information for this issue.
Good luck in your conservation efforts and we look forward to continue working closely with you in this important endeavour.
With best regards,
Taej Mundkur and Tom Langendoen
AWC Core Coordination Team


AWC dates 2016

AWC regional update

IWC 50th count

Online IWC database

Our new Strategic Intent

Japan monitoring report

Sri Lanka 2015 report

News from Bhutan
Dates for the 2016 census

As always, the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) runs over the second and third weeks of January, which for 2016 are Saturday 9th to Sunday 24th. Counts from other dates are always welcome, but we strongly recommend using the official dates to avoid double counting birds.

Good luck with your preparations!

AWC regional update

We are now collating and collecting data for the AWC 2008-2015 summary report, which we will post on our website later this year. To date, 24 countries and regions have provided information for this report  (see Table below for regional overview of information we have received to date). Congratulations to everyone involved in the counts and thanks to the coordinators that have shared them with us.
Several countries have recently made positive steps to strengthen their monitoring programme. The China Coastal Waterbird Census Team who have been collecting information on a growing number of coastal wetland sites have just made their information available and this is being included in the overview. Bhutan joined the AWC in 2015 and their first counts will be included in the report. We are also awaiting counts from some countries and regions and are hopeful to include all late entries into this report. There are also some important geographic gaps (including large parts of mainland China, Indonesia, Taiwan and Vietnam as well as Laos, North Korea and Timor Leste) and we encourage local groups to participate in the annual census to ensure broader coverage of the regional monitoring effort.
Overview of sites counted 2007/8 to 2014/15 and received by Wetlands International. “X” indicates that counts have been received and are being processed, or we expect them to be sent shortly.
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IWC: 50 years and still counting!

2016 will mark the 50th anniversary of the International Waterbird Census (IWC) and the 30th anniversary of the Asian Waterbird Census. Brainstorming and planning is underway on ways to best celebrate these anniversaries and to recognise the long-standing efforts and successes of your national networks. We would like to encourage all partners to use these milestones to promote their good work and secure support for long term national monitoring and conservation action.

We are also looking for good examples of the impact of your work and invite you to send any to us, ideally with images to by 20 October 2015. Suggestions on how you might promote these anniversaries would also be welcomed. We will also be sure to keep you up-to-date with our plans and activities.
Location of sites in the IWC database.
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New online database for the IWC

An updated version of the International Waterbird Census online database was launched in July 2015. This allows national coordinators to upload and access their counts to a single global database. The system has been tested for countries in Africa and Europe over the last year on the basis of which bugs have been identified, fixed and the basic functionalities improved. The database now holds all the historic data for Africa and Europe from 1970s to date. Soon, historic core count data for Asia and the Neotropics will be progressively checked and uploaded. As this new database system uses an improved unique site identification coding system, consultation with coordinators is required to ensure that duplication/miscoding of sites is avoided - we will be in touch soon to start this process. Once the historic national data held by Wetlands International is entered into the system and checked, the database should be ready to accept the AWC 2016 core data from all national coordinators. This should help to streamline data submissions and increase the efficiency of all reporting. 

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Wetlands International Strategic Intent 2015 – 2025

Wetlands International has recently launched its Strategic Intent for 2015 – 2025, providing an overview of its vision for the coming decade. We have chosen five work streams and developed a vision and goal for each one. The work streams are Healthy Wetland Nature, Vibrant Coasts and Deltas, Blue Lifelines in the Desert, Replenished Water Stores from Mountains to Sea, and Peatland Treasures Safeguarded and Restored. The International Waterbird Census and Waterbird Population Estimates remains a priority activity of the Healthy Wetland Nature work stream.
According to Wetlands International CEO Jane Madgwick, “Wetlands need much more attention. Efforts to end poverty and boost local and global economies will go to waste if we don’t start safeguarding and managing wetlands better. It’s not a choice between environmental care and development gains. Healthy wetlands are part of the bottom line for healthy economies. Action is needed urgently by governments, the private sector and civil society from the Arctic to the tropics. As the global NGO working worldwide, we share knowledge and catalyse positive action for wetlands. We work with hundreds of partners and our work benefits millions of people. With this Strategic Intent as our guide, we aim to inspire others and add momentum to scale up wetland solutions.”  The document is now available online here.
Our overall goal is that wetlands are wisely used and restored for the role they play in improving human well-being and local livelihoods – conserving biodiversity, sustaining the water cycle and reducing climate change and its impacts.

We look forward to working with you all in achieving these goals.
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Japan monitoring report

The Ministry of the Environment, Japan (MOE-J) has been conducting long-term monitoring of important ecosystems since 2003, called “Monitoring Sites of Important Ecosystems” or “Monitoring Sites 1000″ in short. The aim is to continuously track changes in various ecosystems in Japan, at fixed points in more than 1000 sites nationwide over a long period of time (targeting 100 years). The monitoring started in 2004 and MOE-J summarizes survey results every five-years for each type of ecosystem. Under this programme, it has been collecting information on waterbird populations of Anatidae and Shorebirds and some other waterbirds that feed into the AWC regional overviews. While much of the information is targeted at a national audience and currently only available in Japanese, a useful English summary is available here.

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AWC 2015 Report from Sri Lanka

Mr. U. Sirivardana, AWC National Coordinator has kindly provided a brief report of the 2015 annual census that has been undertaken by members of the Ceylon Bird Club across the country. The report has been made available on our waterbird forum.

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News from Bhutan

Dr. Sherub works with the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation & Environment and last year agreed to establish a monitoring programme for waterbirds in Bhutan and to serve as the AWC National Coordinator. Sherub organised a training workshop in January and has submitted preliminary count information for about 16 wetland sites. We welcome Bhutan to the AWC family.

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Update on AWC India Coordinator

Dr. Asad Rahmani, after serving as the AWC India Coordinator on behalf of the Bombay Natural History Society for several years, retired as Director of the BNHS at the end July 2015. He continues his association with the BNHS as Senior Scientific Adviser. We are very grateful for all Dr. Rahmani’s hard work and efforts in promoting the census and improving the quality of information over the last decades and welcome his continued advice to the programme. 

Dr. Raju Kasambe (Important Bird Areas Programme Manager) who has ably assisted Dr. Rahmani in the coordination work over the last years, now takes over as coordinator on behalf of BNHS (the AWC in India being jointly coordinated by BNHS and Wetlands International). Raju will continue to strengthen the AWC and we look forward to working with him in this exciting work. Efforts are underway to identify state-level coordinators to improve coverage in parts of the subcontinent.
Dr. Kasambe (right) has taken over AWC coordination duties from Dr. Rahmani (left) for India
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New AWC Coordinator for Australia

Dan Weller has taken over national coordination duties for Australia. Australia contributes to the AWC through their long-running shorebird monitoring programme "Shorebirds 2020". Australia is the final stop for millions of shorebirds after their long southern migration. BirdLife Austrlia monitors 150 of the key shorebird sites, helping to assess population trends and drivers behind them. More information about the programme is available here. We greatly appreciate the efforts of Golo Maurer who has served as coordinator in the last years.
Dan Weller, new AWC coordinator for Australia.
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WWF shorebird Report

With support from the Yellow Sea Ecoregion Taskforce and the Shorebird Working Group of the East Asian – Australian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP), WWF-Hong Kong released a Collaborative Work Programme for the conservation of EAAF shorebirds on 17 August 2015. More information on this is available in a news article posted on the EAAF Partnership website. The Collaborative Work Programme can be downloaded from this link. Other project documents (e.g. Stakeholder Workshop Report, Shorebird Prioritization Report, etc.) can be accessed from the WWF-Hong Kong website. Doug Watkins, AWC Advisor has led the preparation of the document.

Based on information from Bena Smith, Mai Po Manager, WWF-Hong Kong

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Hope for the Philippine Duck?

Recent information on the Philippine Duck Anas luzonica indicates that the species is threatened by loss of habitat including at some of its main sites. Endemic to the Philippines and with an estimated population of 5,000-10,000, the Philippine Duck is listed as Vulnerable under the IUCN Red List. The species has been fairly well covered by the annual waterbird census, but there is concern that conservation of the most important sites is a high priority (see our news page for more information).
The good news is that to address these conservation issues a new survey project is underway at the Candaba Marshes and nearby sites with funding from the Oriental Bird Club. For more information check out this blog. Hopefully the outcomes of this work will contribute towards finding new ways to address the conservation needs of this species.
Pair of young Philippine Duck at Candaba Marshes, 2006, Taej Mundkur
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Scaly-sided Merganser update

The Scaly-sided Merganser Mergus squamatus, a globally Endangered species of East Asia is being assisted through ongoing research and conservation efforts under the aegis of the Scaly-sided Merganser Action Plan and Task Force. The Task Force meets this month in Vladivostok, Russia to sign off on a Single Species International Action Plan for the species and to prioritise actions for development/ implementation of national Action Plans, coordinating surveys within key states; and providing direction to conservation breeding and research in captivity. The Task Force is chaired by Prof. Guanghun Lei of Beijing Forestry University.
While this international cooperative framework moves ahead, great progress has been made on the ground, including efforts to support safe breeding of the birds in Russia and China. This year, a set of artificial nesting boxes were placed used in the Changbai Mountain National Nature Reserve. Surprisingly, these were made from old car batteries kindly provided by General Motors, and have proved a great success! More information on this website.
Based on a note prepared by Dr. Diana Solovyeva, Scaly-sided Merganser Task Force Coordinator.

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Saving the Baer's Pochard

The Baer’s Pochard Aythya baeri was formerly a relatively common and widespread duck in Asia, although it has possibly not been abundant for a long time, and in fact there has never really been a good understanding of its population size. This species has always been somewhat overlooked by ornithologists, partly owing to difficulties visiting and surveying the areas in which it occurs. Following an assessment that strongly suggested a population of fewer than 1,000 individuals (possibly only a few hundred remain) the IUCN Red List uplisted its status to Critically Endangered in 2012.
The species occurs predominantly within China, during both the breeding and non-breeding period. Small numbers of breeding birds are also known to remain in southeast Russia, and a few individuals have been observed in the non-breeding period in Myanmar, Bangladesh Japan and the Philippines. Historically, the species had a much wider distribution, with important wintering concentrations in southern Asia, particularly Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and Thailand. 
Under the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP), a Task Force for the Baer’s Pochard has recently been established to oversee the implementation of the Species Action Plan that was endorsed at the 8th EAAFP Meeting of Partners in Kushiro, Japan (16-21 January 2015). The Plan envisages implementation of a range of activities within the range states of the species to understand the causes of decline and address the most critical threats.
This Plan has been developed under the lead of Richard Hearn of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, who also serves as Chair of the Wetlands International /IUCN SSC Duck Specialist Group. The Chair of the Task Force is to be appointed and to date, Prof. Lei Cao has been appointed as Coordinator for China. For more information check out the BP-TF web page.

All sightings of the species are very important. While information generated through the Asian Waterbird Census is feeding into this process, please do provide all your observations. Details of sightings, or requests for further information, can be sent to
Baer’s Pochard ©Zhang Ming (Source: EAAFP Website)
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Great success in restoring colonies of Chinese Crested Tern

The Chinese Crested Tern Thalasseus bernsteini is one of the rarest birds in the world. Only rediscovered about 15 years ago, after its assumed extinction for six decades, this Critically Endangered seabird has a very small population size and only three breeding sites are known.
The BirdLife International Partnership including the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society are proud to announce the wonderful news that the Chinese Crested Tern has had its most successful breeding season since its rediscovery, thanks to a project to restore a breeding colony on Tiedun Dao, in the Jiushan Islands – where over 70% the global population (at least 52 birds) were attracted and stayed to breed! The birds breed amongst the more numerous Great Crested Tern Sterna bergii.

The original article is available here.
Chinese Crested Tern (left) and Simba Chan, Senior Conservation Officer of BirdLife Asia Division (right)
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International Conference on the waterfowl of Northern Eurasia:
30th November - 6th December 2015

2015 Annual Wader Study Group Conference: 2nd - 5th October

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