• World Migratory Bird Day 2023 highlights impact of the growing water crisis on migratory birds

    BOULDER/BONN/INCHEON, 13 May 2023 – Water and its importance to migratory birds – and the increasing threats to both water quality and quantity -  is the focus of this year’s World Migratory Bird Day, a global campaign that aims to raise awareness of migratory birds and the need for international cooperation to conserve them. Activities to mark the campaign will be held globally on two peak days in May and October under the theme “Water: Sustaining Bird Life” Water is fundamental to sustaining life on our planet. Migratory birds rely on water and its associated habitats—lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, swamps, marshes, and coastal wetlands—for breeding, resting, refueling during migration, and wintering. Yet increasing human demand for water, along with climate change, pollution, and other factors, are threatening these precious aquatic ecosystems. Headlines around the world are sounding alarm: 35 percent of the world’s wetlands, critical to migratory birds, have been lost in the last 50 years. Utah’s Great Salt Lake, the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere and used by more than a million shorebirds, is in danger of disappearing within five years. Across the Amur-Heilong Basin in Asia, climate change is amplifying the impact of habitat destruction by depleting natural water systems and depriving migratory birds of vital breeding and stopover site.  These sobering examples go hand-in-hand with recent reports that reveal that 48 percent of bird species worldwide are undergoing population declines. Another poignant example is that of the Aral Sea shared by Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.  Once the fourth-largest lake in the world,  it is widely regarded as one of the planet’s worst water-related environmental disasters. Soviet-era irrigation projects almost completely dried up the lake, which led to the loss of livelihoods for fishermen and farmers and the deterioration of public health due to toxic dust and reduced access to clean water.  The impact has been severe for the communities around the lake, but also for migratory birds, which lost important food sources and a critically important stopover point on their journey. Another example is the Sahel, a vast semi-arid region in Africa: Prolonged periods of drought, deforestation, and overgrazing in the Sahel have led to the degradation of the soil and loss of vegetation, threatening the survival of both the local human population and wildlife, including migratory birds. Lake Chad, one of the largest water bodies in Africa in 1960, lost 90 % of its area, depleting water resources for local communities and also for many migratory birds. World Migratory Bird Day serves as an international call to action for the protection of migratory birds, whose ranges often span multiple countries, and are facing many different threats worldwide. The annual campaign is organized by the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), Environment for the Americas (EFTA), and the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP). World Migratory Bird Day 2023 will be officially held on 13 May and 14 October. The two days of World Migratory Bird Day reflect the cyclical nature of bird migration as well as the fact that there are varying peak migration periods in the northern and southern hemispheres. Events to raise awareness of migratory birds and the importance of water will take place all over the world including in local parks, nature centers, museums, libraries, schools, and other locations on these peak days and throughout the year. To learn more about this year’s World Migratory Bird Day campaign and actions to take, visit www.worldmigratorybirdday.org  and EAAFP WMBD 2023 webpage: https://eaaflyway.net/world-migratory-bird-day-2023/ Also, please have a look of the Campaign Strategy for promoting World Migratory Bird Day, click [here]. For more resources, visit the Trello Board [here]. Message from the Partners of World Migratory Bird Day    Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) “Water is essential for people as well as for migratory birds and other wild species of animals. Yet around the world, the availability and quality of water is under enormous pressure, with deeply concerning implications.  The looming global water crisis requires urgent action by governments, businesses, local communities as well as individuals. Because migratory birds cross national borders and even continents, international cooperation is essential to ensure that actions are taken to conserve and restore important habitat for migratory birds, and to address the drivers of water loss, pollution, and climate change,” said Amy Fraenkel, Executive Secretary of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).     African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) “The water crisis recently highlighted by the UN 2023 Water Conference also has a tremendous impact on migratory birds. In the Sahel in particular, many wetlands on which migratory waterbirds rely during the non-breeding period are shrinking. Water is a vital resource for all, local communities as well as birds. By reducing our consumption, combatting climate change, and managing wetlands wiser, we can improve the situation,” said Dr. Jacques Trouvilliez, Executive Secretary of the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA).   Environment for the Americas (EFTA) “World Migratory Bird Day 2023 spotlights the vital role that water plays in the survival of our shared birds. The focal species illustrated on the campaign poster depict the intricate bond each bird shares with water. The diminutive Rufous Hummingbird thrives on nectar-producing flowers that rely on water for their blooms, and the Dickcissel scours the grasslands for seeds that hold the moisture they need. White Pelicans and Ospreys seek their prey in freshwater lakes, while the magnificent Wandering Albatross and Atlantic Puffin remain at sea. WMBD is an opportunity to unify our voices for the conservation of migratory birds and to celebrate their spectacular journeys,” said Dr. Susan Bonfield, Executive Director at Environment for the Americas (EFTA).   East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) “This year's WMBD theme serves as a vital reminder of the linkage of migratory birds to the importance of protecting aquatic ecosystems and conserving wetlands. As birds such as threatened Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Dalmatian Pelican, and Sarus Crane migrate, they rely heavily on wetlands for survival. We must take urgent actions and collaborate at all levels, from citizens to among governments, to tackle the problems of saving water and aquatic ecosystem, and ensure that migratory birds continue to thrive.” Ms. Yeounhee Ahn, Deputy Executive of East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP).  


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  • “Year of the Terns” Flyway Story Series #18 – Interview with Ms. Edin Whitehead

    As EAAFP is designating 2022 the “Year of the Terns,” we are bringing great work and stories on tern conservation to you. The next story is from Ms. Edin Whitehead, who is a seabird scientist and conservation photographer in Aotearoa New Zealand. She was also a judge of the Year of the Terns Photo Contest (link).   Photo of her releasing a New Zealand storm petrel @Jochen Zaeschmar   EAAFP: Hello Edin, first of all, thank you once again for your effort as a judge to the Year of the Terns Photo Contest. Before we go deep, could you please tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? What brought you to studying seabirds and become a conservation photographer? Two things have always been constant in my life -  a love of the outside world, particularly birds, and a love of creating. I started out sketching and painting, and eventually started joining my Dad on birdwatching trips that have morphed into bird photography trips over the years. It’s something we both love to do. I actually started studying Fine Art at university before switching to biology – so I could go on field trips around Aotearoa! I fell in love with seabirds – particularly petrels and albatrosses – after going to sea for the first time. The science and photography parts of my life have just started to combine into a career, and I value being able to use my photographs to share seabird science stories, and advocate for their conservation. EAAFP: We heard that you have recently released a book, Brilliance of Birds. Could you please introduce it to our audience and are there any highlights you would like to share? The Brilliance of Birds was published in 2019 by Penguin Random House New Zealand. It was a collaborative project between me and Skye Wishart, and we like to call it a bit of a celebration of some of the unique bird species that call Aotearoa home. There’s a mix of native and endemic species, as well as some of the introduced ones that people see every day, and we tell stories about their behaviours and biology, as well as their histories and cultural importance. I had so much fun working on the photographs for that book – I spent a year travelling around the country on ‘birdventures’ to meet species I’d never seen before. One of my most special memories from that time was photographing tarapirohe – Black-fronted terns – in the early spring snow in the Eglinton Valley in Fiordland. EAAFP: We found that you have also prepared a report on “Threats to Seabirds of Northern Aotearoa New Zealand” could you share with us the background on why this report was prepared and the processes behind it? Additionally, do you have any key messages from the report you would like to share? Seabirds are the most threatened group of birds in the world, and for well-targeted local conservation management, it’s important to understand which threats are most impacting the birds in your region. The report was put together to collate all the information we had for seabirds in the Northern Aotearoa region, and highlight the knowledge gaps about seabird biology and threats to seabirds that needed to be filled. It has since spurred a number of research projects, which is great. I think one of the key messages from the report was that we need to consider the whole ecosystem when doing conservation management – there’s no point in trying to restore seabird populations on land by controlling predator species if there’s no food in the marine habitat to sustain them. EAAFP: What was the most memorable moment during your expeditions? That’s a difficult question! One of my favourite research expeditions in the past few years was volunteering on a project catching New Zealand storm petrel at sea for a genomics study – to understand if there might be hidden populations on different islands. At the moment, Te Hauturu-o-Toi (Little Barrier Island) is the only place they’re known to breed. Capturing these tiny birds at sea is really tricky! It was hard work, and we would work into the evening if the conditions were calm enough. One evening the sea was like a mirror, and being out in the dinghy to catch the birds was like floating inside a huge prism of pinks and purples, with these tiny black-and-white birds dipping along the surface. There were a few Antipodean albatrosses cruising past as well. I took lots of photographs, but none of them really do justice to how beautiful it was. We caught one last bird just after the sun had set.   Storm petrel at sea @Edin Whitehead   EAAFP: On your webpage it says you “combine science and storytelling to help people explore our natural world” could you share with us an example of one of these stories? One of my long-term projects is to illustrate and share the lives of the seabirds that live around northern Aotearoa – particularly in Tīkapa Moana, the Hauraki Gulf. There are 27 species of seabirds that breed here, and many of them are species that people will never see unless they go out on the water, sometimes quite far offshore. I want to share the wonder I have in this remarkable diversity, and get people excited about these birds – most people don’t even know that there is a species here that has come back from being thought extinct for over 100 years – the New Zealand storm petrel. I’ve been really lucky to be involved in some of the research on this beautiful little bird, so I get to share some of the behind-the-scenes of seabird science. It’s a topic I often speak on, and I even work it into my photography talks! EAAFP: As a conservation photographer, are there any tips or words of caution you would like to share with other photographers? I think in a world where photography seems to have morphed into a ‘content-creation’ craze on social media where people do anything for ‘likes’, it’s really important to look at what value your photography gives back to the ecosystems that you work in. Ethical wildlife photography, honesty in captioning, and advocating for conservation are all crucial to this. EAAFP: Seeing your online gallery, we see many photos of albatrosses, are they your favorite Seabird Species? Could you share about your favorite seabird? I do love albatrosses and petrels! Their lives fascinate me – how they live far out on the ocean and make huge migrations around the world. I find it hard to say I have one favourite species, but I do have a soft spot for tiny little storm petrels – like the New Zealand storm petrel or White-faced storm petrel. They live in the same wild seas that albatrosses do, but they’re so much smaller and I find their resilience truly remarkable. EAAFP: Lastly, we know you wear many hats as a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Auckland, a conservation photographer, a blogger, an explorer in expeditions and more. How do you balance everything? There is a lot of overlap! I spend time on my own research trips making photographs that I use to communicate conservation issues. Sometimes I do have to prioritise what is most important – my blog has fallen a bit quiet as I work on writing up my thesis at the moment.   Grey-faced petrel in purple bag @ Chris Gaskin


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  • “Tackling Impact on Seabirds by Light Pollution at Sea” Webinar

    Following the 2022 World Migratory Bird Day theme highlighting the impact of Light Pollution on…


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  • New Zealand Government launched a online tool of using birds to track light pollution at sea

    New research has expanded our understanding of which migratory bird species are most threatened by light pollution at sea. A fishing…


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  • Mark Barter Travel Award and Australasian Shorebird Conference 2022

    Following the announcement of the Australasian Shorebird Conference (ASC) organized by Australasian Wader Study Group and Queensland Wader Study Group, to be held virtually on 29-30 October 2022 (link), please mark the date and stay tuned for further information about the program, registration arrangements, and call for abstracts will be forthcoming in the near future. In line with the ASC, the Mark Barter Travel Award nomination has been launched. Mark Barter Travel Award The AWSG Committee will again be offering an Award to honour the late Mark Barter. Shorebird workers and others will be aware of the tremendous contribution that Mark made to the understanding and conservation of shorebirds in the East Asian- Australasian Flyway over many years. In view of Mark’s substantial contributions through monitoring, training and education focused on the Yellow Sea region, this Award seeks to build on Mark’s work by encouraging the further experience and development of young people who have demonstrated an interest in this work. Scope of Award The recipient of this Award will be sponsored to participate in the 2022 Australasian Shorebird Conference (ASC) which will be held online 29th – 30th September. The Award will cover the cost of registration for the recipient. Selection Criteria As the Award is focused on the Yellow Sea region, applications are sought from interested people from China, the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Applicants should have a demonstrated interest in shorebirds and supporting their conservation through a scientific approach. The successful applicant is strongly encouraged to give an oral or poster presentation to the ASC. Applications Applications with supporting information should be forwarded to [email protected]   by 1 August 2022. At least two referees should be nominated in the application. Mark Barter. Photo courtesy:  Australasian Wader Study Group


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  • Announcement of 12th Australasian Shorebird Conference

    The 12th Australasian Shorebird Conference will take place from 29-30 October 2022, hosted jointly by the Australasian Wader Studies Group and the Queensland Wader Studies Group. We are pleased to announce that the Conference will be an online event, in hopes of encouraging broad participation from around Australia and across the East Asian – Australasian Flyway. The theme for this Conference is “Global Strategies Local Actions” and through the Conference program, we will look at what has been happening across the East Asian – Australasian Flyway since the 11th Australasian Shorebird Conference held in 2018. We have developed an exciting program on shorebird natural history, counting, research and local conservation action over the last 4 years to give you a fascinating insight into the knowledge and understanding of shorebirds as well as the work being done towards their conservation. We know of the many ongoing challenges that shorebirds face, including loss of habitat, hunting, pollution and competition for food resources. Add to that the increasing threats from climate change and greater impacts from a growing human population in the Flyway, their world becomes more and more uncertain. Strong efforts are being dedicated at the global and local level to understanding, raising awareness for, and addressing the problems facing shorebirds. You will see this reflected through the range of exciting sessions during the two days. Knowledge and action go hand in hand, and we will see all the efforts that have been put in to achieving better outcomes for shorebirds. All keen “shorebirders” will find the program of interest however you are engaged with our amazing shorebirds. We encourage you to register and join the Conference to learn more about and be part of the wonderful world of shorebirds and those seeking to ensure their conservation. Conference official website, visit here. Abstract submission deadline: 15 August, 2022 Participation registration deadline: 30 October, 2022 Mark Barter Travel award information, check here.


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  • EAAFP MOP11 – 4th Notification to Partners

    With regards to the continuing COVID-19 global pandemic situation, international travel measures and restrictions imposed in many Partner countries, the Australian Government and BirdLife Australia have proposed revised dates regarding the hosting of MoP11 to the 12th -17th March, 2023 in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The EAAFP Management Committee has accepted the generous hosting offer from the Australian co-hosts. The Management Committee also endorsed the Secretariat organizing a series of webinars to increase dialogue with and between Partners. This is also an opportunity for Partners to be briefed on important issues to be tabled for consideration at MoP11, including Activities of the Secretariat; Draft Guidelines for National/Site Partnerships and Sister Site Programme; Migratory Waterbird Conservation Status Review; Update on the ADB Regional Flyway Initiative; Briefing on the proposed Partner Reporting Template for MoP 11, etc. The webinars are proposed for June, 2022. Further notification and details will be announced in due course. The EAAFP Secretariat regrets any inconvenience caused by the postponement of MoP. The Secretariat will continue its work and update Partners, Working Groups and Task Forces on issues and the proposed decision papers related to MoP11 via email, the MoP11 webpage , and social media channels. Please feel free to contact the Secretariat at [email protected] for any relevant inquiries.


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  • International Travellers to New Zealand

    In New Zealand international travel for people is virtually halted because of…


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  • EAAFP and Partners participated in 11th INTECOL, New Zealand

    The 11th International Association of Ecology (INTECOL) International Wetland Conference held from 10-15 October 2021 was hosted in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 11th INTECOL focuses on ‘traditional knowledge…


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