Monday, 2 January 2012

New Year - new beginning

Brinkmanship for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper.
via wikipedia
Once upon a time, a clutch of small eggs collected on the far Eastern Tundra in Russian were popped into a warm bag and taken on a ship to the UK. Whilst on the boat they were kept warm in an incubator where 13 little bedraggled birds hatched. Birds on the critically endangered list, the spoon-billed sandpiper. These 13 birds represent 5% of the worlds population, and they have now taken up residence, locally, at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust founded by Sir Peter Scott.
When the birds feathers turn red it indicates that they are in the breeding season, as featured below.
Dutch artist John Gerrard Keulemans (1842-1912) via wikipedia
If prizes were awarded for the world's unluckiest bird, the spoon-billed sandpiper would be a leading contender. It breeds along the coast of Chukotka province, in easternmost Russia, where snow, floods and predators may foil its short window of opportunity to raise a family. If any chicks do survive, they must undertake one of the most perilous journeys of any migratory bird: 8,000km (5,000 miles) to their wintering grounds in Myanmar and Bangladesh. On the way they pass through the world's industrial powerhouses – Japan, China and South Korea – where the reclamation of coastal wetlands for economic development is proceeding at a terrifying rate. To make matters worse, if the sandpipers do reach their wintering grounds, poor local communities trap them for food. It's hardly surprising the spoon-billed sandpiper is heading for extinction.
apologies for poor image
via wikipedia
Breeding plumage
The 13 little birds have settled very happily in their new enclosure, and if they breed successful, the plan is to re-introduced them to the wild, then hopefully they will not end up like the poor old Dodo.
 via wikipedia
Dodo reconstruction at Oxford University Museum of Natural History
Moral of this story - Don't put all of your eggs in one basket

12 comments:

  1. i love your stories. and your moral is perfect for my planned direction for the new year. i hope yours is a wonderful one!

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  2. Dear Annette - that is a really kind and encouraging comment - thank you very much. I shall look forward to following your planned direction during 2012. May things go well for all of us.

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  3. Can you imagine walking around, surrounded by birds that looke like the dodo in your post?? I wonder if they really did look like that.

    Did you know that in the Thursday Next books by Jasper Fforde, the heroine has a pet dodo named Pickwick? All he does is make the sweetest noises, but he is memorable nonetheless. :)

    Thanks for this lovely, informative post on the Spoon-billed Sandpiper. An unlucky bird, for sure. But maybe these eggs will have the desired effect on the population.

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  4. It certainly was an extraordinary looking bird Yvette. They do actually have a skeleton of one put together from bones found in a marshy pool on Mauritius. It is in the Natural History Museum, London.
    No, I did not know about the heroine in the Thursday Next books having a pet dodo as unfortunately I have not read them.
    I am hoping to go and see the young Sandpipers in the Spring.

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  5. i won`t. i promise. that might be my only resolution this year actually ; )

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  6. Good idea Demie - I see that you now have a little snow in Norway.

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  7. An interesting story, beautifully illustrated. Now I wonder whether the birds that are turned loose will revert to their historic migratory pattern and experience the same unfortunate cycle, or perhaps adapt to England and stay put. You've started the New Year with a story of hope!

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  8. We have been pondering the same question Mark - we intend to go and see the little birds, at the moment they are only visible on CCTV. I suspect that they cannot be released back in Russia where the pattern would just start all over again. For the time being they are provided with an artificial habitat at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust which in time will hopefully encourage breeding.

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  9. Rosemary it struck me that 13 is obviously unlucky only for some. Nice to read of hope hatching out in a small spot of England. The future hibernation routes of these birds also intrigues me
    Happy 2012
    Laura

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  10. Laura lets hope you are right and all 13 grow up to be breeding adults. Thanks for your visit.

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