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.


Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Forktail 31 published

Front-cover-ForktailOBC Members will now have received, or shortly be receiving, their copy of 2015’s Forktail. Issue 31 appeared later than anticipated, for which the Club apologies. The delay was due to technical problems outside of our control.

However, we are sure members will consider it has certainly been worth the wait. The latest issue is packed full of 14 full papers and 7 short notes covering a wide variety of topics. Among the main papers is one documenting the extinctions or near-extinctions caused by excessive wild trapping and trade in a number of Asian bird species. This is an issue of growing concern, but there is gathering momentum for action to be taken.

A paper on the number of species and subspecies in the Red-bellied Pitta Erythropitta erythrogaster complex is certain to be of particular interest to pitta-listers.

Non-members will have to wait until 2018 before they can download all the papers from Forktail 31. The Club’s policy is to make the scientific information freely available three years after publication date. The papers from Forktail 29 will therefore soon be available on this website.

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.

Continue reading

BirdingASIA 24 published

CoverBA24Oriental Bird Club members should now have received their latest issue of BirdingASIA.

Featuring a superb image of a Rufous-bellied Niltava Niltava sundara by Jainy Kuriakose on the cover, the issue is packed full of bird news from around the region.

Articles include the latest taxonomic updates – splits and other changes – through to little known birding areas in the Philippines, together with all the latest conservation news.

For anyone with an interest in birds of the Oriental region, subscribing to the Oriental Bird Club to receive your biannual BirdingASIA and the Club’s Journal, Forktail, is an absolute necessity – so if you  haven’t done so already, subscribe today!

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.

OBC Autumn Meeting 2015

The OBC Autumn Meeting, incorporating the 31st AGM, will be held in the Wilkinson Room, St John the Evangelist, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 8RN on Saturday 5th September 2015.

The meeting starts at 11:00 and all are welcome – please bring your friends. Snacks, cakes and hot and cold drinks will be available all day.

Sales by WildSounds
Prize draw in aid of the OBC Conservation Fund
The AGM, at which only OBC members may vote, will be held at 12:00

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading