Author: Christoph Zöckler (SBS Task Force Coordinator)
The male Spoon-billed Sandpiper ‘01’ has bred not far from the village Meinypilgyno in Chukotka, Russia since at least 2010, but possibly for much longer. It is named ‘monument’ SBS as it always breeds near an old monument set up by the villagers, but as it happens, the bird’s achievements are actually monumental.
It was only marked with ‘01’ engraved lime green flag in summer 2013 in Chukotka and subsequently observed in late August in the coastal Rudong wetlands of China. It stayed there for more than a month, moulting and fattening up for the onward journey into the wintering grounds. This bird is remarkable, as it has produced with its partner ‘02’ (recorded wintering in Khok Kam, Thailand!) a total of 17 chicks since 2011.
From eggs taken in 2013 three chicks were reared for head-starting and from a replacement clutch the pair managed to raise a further three chicks, of which one (EA) was observed in the Gulf of Mottama in Myanmar. The pair produced another two chicks for head-starting and raised another three from the replacement clutch in 2014. One of this couple’s chicks (M9) from the head-starting Programme has already been trapped on the West coast of Kamchatka this August!
This amazing ‘saviour’ of its threatened population of only 300-400 remaining in the wild has now safely returned to Rudong on 4 September 2014, joining ‘09’ a newly marked bird that was spotted in Rudong already on 17 August. The infamous ‘01’ arrived in Rudong just in time for World Shorebird Day https://worldshorebirdsday.wordpress.com/ joining 13 more SBS including ‘09’ and a juvenile bird (Jing Li, Luke Tang and others). A further two adults and one juvenile were on Yubu Island in South Korea, according to Yu Yong Ki and B. Cooper.
The Task Force very much supports the World Shorebird Day initiative and we are delighted to see that the Spoon-billed Sandpiper has been voted as Shorebird of the Year 2014 and would like to make the best use of its prime celebrity ‘01’ to highlight the urgent need to conserve the Rudong mudflats.
The EAAFP Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force is a joint conservation effort of many national and international organisations and individuals. The colour-flagging project has been implemented by Birds Russia with support of the RSPB and WWT and flags were observed by Task Force members from SBS in China, Birds Korea, BCST in Thailand and BANCA in Myanmar.