Helmeted Hornbill records sought

Helmeted Hornbill Rhinoplax vigil © Muhammad Alzahri

Bee Choo Strange of the Hornbill Research Foundation is on an urgent mission to collate all records of Helmeted Hornbills Rhinoplax vigil within the species’s geographic range in preparation for a report to delegates attending the Helmeted Hornbill Conservation Strategy and Action Plan workshop in Sarawak, Malaysia, in May 2017.

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Three tagged cuckoos reach Africa

Routes from Asia to Africa followed by Flappy (red), Skybomb (gold) and Meng (blue). Click on map to enlarge.

Flappy, the satellite-tagged Common Cuckoo sponsored by the Oriental Bird Club is currently in southern Mozambique, having crossed around 20 international borders on her migration south.

Flappy’s journey south, and that of two other satellite-tagged cuckoos, Meng and Skybomb, is shown in the map above.

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Flappy currently in northern India


Flappy’s position as on 8th September

Flappy, the satellite-tagged Common Cuckoo sponsored by the Oriental Bird Club has been making astonishing progress on her autumn migration and is currently in northern India, having crossed several international borders on her migration south.

Since the last update here on 15th July she crossed the Mongolian desert, arriving in Hebei Province, southwest of Beijing, on 1st August, where she stayed for a few weeks. Next stop ruled out Southeast Asia as a wintering destination, as she travelled an incredible 2,400 km southwest into Myanmar, arriving there on 1st September.

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Spoon-billed Sandpiper wintering site under threat


Spoon-billed Sandpiper photographed at Kock Kham. © Richard Thomas

Khok Kham, one of only two regular wintering sites in Thailand for the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper and other wader species of the East Asian-Australasian flyway is under threat from a solar farm development.

A number of Thai organizations and individuals are campaigning against the development. The Oriental Bird Club is offering our support to their efforts.

More information about the nature of the threat can be found in this article on the Birdguides website.

Flappy goes cuckoo and leads a merry dance

Flappy-24-may-2016-close-up1There was exciting news earlier this week when Flappy – or Flappy McFlapperson to give her full name: the female Cuckoo sponsored by the Oriental Bird Club through the Beijing Cuckoo Project—apparently began her southward migration.

Speculation was rife as to whether she would head towards Africa or South Asia. However, as the maps below demonstrate, she is not about to give her secret away just yet.


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Flappy makes a flying start


Close up of one of the tagged bird. Photo courtesy Beijing Cuckoo Project

An exciting new project is currently underway to find the wintering grounds of East Asia’s Common Cuckoos.

Through the Beijing Cuckoo Project, satellite transmitters have been placed on five Common Cuckoos in order to track their international movements.

The birds were all trapped in the Beijing area where local schoolchildren have chosen names for them and encouraged to follow their movements online as they move first to their breeding grounds then in the autumn to their as yet unknown wintering grounds.

The Oriental Bird Club has sponsored a transmitter on one of the cuckoos, which the pupils at Dulwich International School, Beijing, chose to name Flappy McFlapperson.

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Trade wiping out Indonesia’s bird species


Indonesia’s national bird – the Javan Hawk-eagle – is one of those most at risk © Chris R Shepherd / TRAFFIC

Jakarta, Indonesia, 26th May 2016 — A new study published in the latest issue of Forktail, the journal of the Oriental Bird Club, has revealed that 13 bird species—including Indonesia’s national bird, the Javan Hawk-eagle—found in Sundaic Indonesia are at serious risk of extinction because of excessive over-harvesting.

The study, Trade-driven extinctions and near-extinctions of avian taxa in Sundaic Indonesia, also finds that an additional 14 bird subspecies are in danger of extinction. The driver behind this crisis is the enormous demand for birds for the domestic pet trade.

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Volunteers sought to survey Yellow-breasted Buntings in Mongolia

Male Yellow-breasted Bunting © G. Amarkhuu

Populations of Yellow-breasted Bunting, Emberiza aureola, are rapidly declining across their range and the species has recently been classified as Endangered by IUCN. They were once common in the northern Palearctic from Finland and Belarus, eastwards to north-east Asia. Mainly due to excessive hunting in China and several other reasons, the species has declined across its range and become quite rare. However, ecological aspects of the decline remain unclear.

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Mixed news for Asia’s vultures

Slender-billed Vultures, Assam (c) James Eaton / Birdtour Asia

Slender-billed Vultures, Assam (c) James Eaton / Birdtour Asia

The latest issue of the IUCN’s Vulture Specialist Group newsletter (PDF, 200KB) has been published. Covering vulture news from around the world, the newsletter includes mixed news from Asia where, on the positive side, there is a growing prospect of the first releases back to the wild of Critically Endangered vulture species in Nepal and India.

Offset against this, however, are ongoing concerns over the continuing use of the vulture-killing drug diclofenac and derivatives thereof: one Indian pharmaceutical company is challenging in court the latest ban on multi-dose vials of the human formulations. Meanwhile a paper demonstrating that aceclofenac (a pro-drug to diclofenac) is indeed metabolised directly to diclofenac in cattle has been published this month, highlighting the urgent need for a veterinary ban.

Illegal cage bird trade threatens Black-winged Myna

Black-winged-Myna / Khaleb-Yordan

llegal trade is pushing the Critically Endangered Black-winged Myna towards extinction © Khaleb Yordan

Jakarta, Indonesia, 13th August—So rare that captive breeding centres have been robbed, the soaring prices and drop in availability of Black-winged Mynas in trade point to a species on the brink.

Black-winged Mynas are prized in the cage bird trade for their striking black and white plumage, lively behaviour and singing ability; today their extreme rarity in the wild adds to their desirability.

The species is native only to the islands of Java and Bali and is protected under Indonesian law. Despite this, illegal capture in the wild continues, while trade is carried out openly in Indonesia’s notorious bird markets.

Surveys by TRAFFIC and Oxford Brookes University researchers between 2010 and 2014 found significantly fewer Black-winged Mynas available in the three largest bird markets in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta: down by three-quarters since the 1990s. This coincides with a more than ten-fold increase in asking prices and the near complete decimation of the species in the wild.

The crisis facing the Black-winged Myna and other Asian songbirds is scheduled to come under expert scrutiny next month at the inaugural Asian Songbird Crisis Summit, taking place on 26-29th September 2015 in Singapore.

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