It’s a global campaign and it’s dedicated to raising awareness of migratory birds and the need for countries around the world to co-operate in their efforts to save them.
This year, the theme is “Birds Connect Our World”.
It was picked to highlight how important it is to conserve and restore the ecological connectivity and integrity of ecosystems which support the natural cycles that are essential for migratory birds to survive and thrive.
The day gives us all an opportunity to discover more about migratory birds and be in awe at their amazing feats.
Migratory birds need networks with stops
Migratory birds travel far. They need to be able to stop to rest and feed and breed. If you like, you could liken it as a journey along a motorway system and every so often, they need to stop for a break to fill their tummies and have a break.
Birds need networks of sites
They need a network of sites along these routes to breed, to feed, to rest and spend the winter. They need different sites and habitats, irrelevant of which country they are in. They can cross incredible distances and over impossible terrains such as deserts and open seas. They cross national borders and soar above any national agenda. What they do need is for countries to co-operate to ensure their routes are kept open and safe for them.
Examples of migratory birds’ routes
The East Asian – Australasian Flyway goes from the Russian Far East and Alaska through East Asia and South-East Asia, down to Australia and New Zealand – 22 countries in all. The Flyway is home to over 50 million migratory waterbirds from over 250 different populations. They need a system of wetlands to rest, feed and build up the energy they need for the next part of their journey.
RSPB has information about the Arctic tern who travels a rather amazing 22,000 miles a year – the longest migration of all – as they move continually between the Arctic summer and the Antarctic summer.
So you can see how important it is that countries work together to give these birds the flight paths they need, with all the facilities along the way.
What can be done at a national/international level:
Increase action globally via environment treaties such as the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Africa-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA). These are vital to protect migratory birds on their international flight paths.
Creating habitat corridors which are protected and which go across boundaries would really help animals who migrate and fly over national boundaries.
Networks of crucial sites which are imperative to migration needs must be safeguarded and managed properly. Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas as described by BirdLife International give migratory birds all they need during their long flights - necessary feeding, breeding, nesting and sheltering grounds.
What individuals like you & me can do:
Have a bird-friendly garden with safe shelters and a bird bath. Give them bird food. Put feeders out of reach of cats.
Spread the word about how important it is to protect migratory birds.
Download and use birding apps – it’s a great way to connect to like-minded bird lovers.
Sometimes you see something on the internet or on television that really hits you hard and makes a point extremely well.
I saw this video, this afternoon, and I wanted to share it with you. Please share it with everyone you can.
The ultimate message is that we SHARE this planet. It demonstrates how dominant the human race has become - and how selfish. I am not going to tell you anymore about it - please just watch it for yourself. Here it is:
WLT are working with Fundacion Biodiversa Colombia to save 260ha of lowland forest and wetlands.
They need to raise £295,000 to ensure these habitats are safe. The area has already suffered from extreme deforestation and degradation – a whopping 90% of the original forests have been lost, so it’s vital to protect the remaining 10%.
Many endangered species live there, from the American Manatee and Magdalena River Turtle to the Lowland Tapir and Jaguar. There are a lot of monkeys there – the White-footed Tamarin, the Brown Spider Monkey and the Varied White-fronted Capuchin.
The World Land Trust works closely with local conservation organisations and it speaks very well of FBC’s track record of conservation.
In the run up to World Oceans Day (8th June every year), Environment Secretary Michael Gove has created 41 new Marine Conservation Zones.
This represents the most significant expansion of England’s Blue Belt of Protected Areas to date.
Stretching from Northumberland (where eider ducks live) to the Isles of Scilly off Cornwall (basking sharks, seabirds and fish) , the action Gove has taken safeguards 12,000 square kilometres of marine habitat. A substantial number of additional zones were created in waters away from the coast – some in the deep sea – thus giving protection to habitats and species such as coral gardens, fan mussel and sea pens.
Vulnerable marine wildlife will now have an opportunity to recover. And if there are richer habitats for marine life, so there life will be better for those whose livelihoods depend on a healthy coastline and sea.
WWF has discovered that in marine protected areas, fish breed more readily and populations recover. In the Apo Island (Philippines), communities depend heavily on fish. After a marine protected area was created, catch per unit increased 50%. Fish populations tripled. Fisherman were able to save fuel and spend less time at sea.
The UK now has over 350 Marine Protected Areas, covering 220,000 square kilometres – that’s twice the size of England.
The areas protected include wildlife such as worms, seahorse and oyster. Sand, tidal mud, rocky reefs and gravel will be protected. Each as a role to play in the balance of nature.
The evidence about the importance of these new sites was gathered by volunteer divers who dive for Seasearch, a programme co-ordinated by the Marine Conservation Society. Divers spent hours diving very diverse seabed habitats to record the marine plants and animals living in our inshore seas. There were extensive consultations with local fishermen too, and members of the public.
This citizen science enabled groups such as the Marine Conservation Society to make a case for protecting many of these sites, and they will now be involved in developing management and monitoring plans for these newly protected areas.
After all, protection must be active if it is to mean anything. It’s no good allocating a protected status to an area if action isn’t taken to ensure that the area IS protected.
The UK government has called for 30% of the world’s oceans to be protected by 2030. It has co-chaired the creation of the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance with Vanuatu.
Later this year, the government will publish an international strategy setting out more action to conserve the ocean and use it in a sustainable way.
Meantime, its next step closer to home is to stop damaging activities in the Marine Protected Zones which affect wildlife. Beam trawling, dredging for scallops and langoustines are among these – and surely there must be some action to stop some leisure activities, too.
But this is a great start, and the fact that citizen scientists (e.g. willing volunteers) and world-class marine scientists have worked together to contribute towards such an outcome is heart-warming.
The fifth largest salt lake in the world, Mar Chiquita is South America’s second largest water body. And it’s home to most of the world’s Chilean flamingo (about 318,000 of them, they are Nearly Threatened) and nearly half of its Andean Flamingo (18,000 in winter (Vulnerable) and Puna Flamingo as well (and they’re Near Threatened).
In addition, there are tens of thousands of American Golden Plover, White-rumped and Lesser Yellowlegs who migrate here.
Oh, and don’t forget the 600,000 Wilson's Phalaropes – about a third of the world’s population.
So let’s move away from the Little Sea (as Mar Chiquita means) to grasslands. These are home to the Greater Rhea, Bearded Tachuri, a Maned Wolf and Sickle-winged Nightjar (Near Threatened). The swampy areas have Dot-winged Crake, and Dinelli's Doradito, while Crowned Solitary Eagles Buteogallus coronatus fly over Chaco forest.
Unfortunately dear reader, that is not the case. It’s in danger. Why? Well, the human race is at it again.
Water extracted from the lake at an unsustainable lake
The lake is polluted, thanks to local industry
Above average deforestation rate
And action is needed urgently. Which is where the supporters of Birdfair in the UK come in and the human race is working to put things right.
Aves Argentinas is a partner of BirdLife International. It has undertaken bird surveys, raised awareness, improved management of the area and clarified land ownership at Mar Chiquita for years.
Then came its light bulb moment – a plan to create what should become Argentina’s largest national park.
Creating a national park to keep the area safe
The plan has been developed with provincial and national authorities. Back in 2017, a concordat was signed by Argentina’s environment minister, National Parks Administration and the governor of the Córdoba province. And the Ansenuza National Park will protect up to 800,000 hectares which will be managed at the national level.
Crucial to the plan is the involvement and engagement (how I hate that word but I can never think of another) of the local community.
Planning involving them, empowering local stake holders and establishing a network of local conservation guardians has been a key part of Aves Argentina’s strategy from the start.
And there’s more – bolstering the local economy through nature-based tourism is essential to the project’s success. So the Ministry of Tourism is very pleased indeed. Ecotourism will lengthen the tourist seasons and help provide sustainable livelihoods over a wider area. That should also help local communities commit to the long term conservation of the area.
And the lake’s colloquial name in the national park title says a great deal.
The British Birdwatching Fair helps in two key ways:
An international event like this is vital in building political awareness back in Argentina as to why this area needs to be protected. It will help build support from the bird world and show that the Ansenuza really is a birding paradise.
As a bird lover, I want to go and see birds in a beautiful, natural environment. I don’t want to go to see a polluted lake where a lot of the water has been sucked out and drive through an area where local forests have been destroyed to get there.
Raising funds to support the project
In 2017, the theme was ‘Saving paradise in the Pacific’. The aim was to remove invasive predators from the French Polynesian island of Rapa Iti. Last year, Birdfair raised a jaw-dropping £333,000 was raised towards the work.
The 2018 project is an ambitious one. A project to create and protect a national park and all its wildlife, whilst helping locals through eco-tourism. And surely a model for other conservation organisations to look at?
BirdLife International - BirdLife International is a global partnership of conservation organisations (NGOs) that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources. 121 BirdLife Partners worldwide.