Monday 20th January 2014

Spoon-billed Sandpipers in Vietnam

The Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Eurynorhynchus pygmeus, is a critically endangered wader with a uniquely shaped bill. It breeds in Chukotka, a remote region in the far north-east of Russia, and migrates along the east-Asian flyway, wintering in scattered groups in Thailand, Burma, Bangladesh and north-eastern India. Recently a small group of perhaps five birds was found wintering in Vietnam, and two of these feature in this short video clip. Threats to this species include large-scale draining of their mudflat habitat, particularly at Saemangeum, South Korea, but also all along the coast of China, and hunting for food in Burma and Bangladesh. The bird is now the subject of a last-ditch attempt at captive breeding, coordinated by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) at Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, UK. My thanks go to Nguyen Van Thang, of Wildtour/www.birdwatchingvietnam.net, for showing me these very special birds.