WWF waterbird survey along Yangtze River
(posted to the Ramsar Forum, 31 March 2004)
From Mark Barter (email@example.com):
PRELIMINARY RESULTS OF THE WWF WATERBIRD SURVEY OF THE MIDDLE AND LOWER REACHES OF THE YANGTZE RIVER
Fourteen teams, consisting of about 60 people, worked over a two-week period, shortly after Chinese New Year, to count waterbirds in as many wetlands as possible along the floodplain of the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River stretching through Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui, Jiangsu to Shanghai. The teams consisted of staff from nature reserves, provincial and county forestry bureaus, universities and expert volunteers from non-government organisations.
The count started and was timed to take place when waterbirds are present in maximum numbers and human disturbance is at a minimum.
The exceptional importance of the floodplain wetlands is shown by the very large number of waterbirds recorded and major concentrations of threatened species.
The survey teams counted 515,896 waterbirds of 83 species. Individual Province counts were: Anhui - 171,841, Jiangxi - 138,643, Hunan - 133,306, Hubei - 47,469, Jiangsu - 15,796 and Shanghai Municipality - 8,841.
Thirteen globally-threatened species and one near-threatened species were found during the survey.
The most common species group was the Anatidae (ducks, geese and swans) comprising 66% of the waterbirds counted; next were shorebirds (17%), gulls (7%), and egrets and herons (5%).
The counts of Swan Geese (60,886 individuals) and Lesser White-fronted Geese (16,937) exceeded current estimates of their respective global (55,000) and regional (14,000) populations.
Large numbers of cranes were seen: 93% of the global population of the Siberian Crane (2,784 individuals counted), 93% of the regional population of the Hooded Crane (933 individuals), and 68% of the regional population of the White-naped Crane (2,716).
57% of the global population of the Oriental White Stork (1,697 individuals) was counted.
Other globally-threatened species seen in smaller numbers were: Baer's Pochard (630), Scaly-sided Merganser (31), Baikal Teal (28), Saunders's Gull (10), Black-faced Spoonbill (2), Red-breasted Goose (1) and Swinhoe's Rail (1). Seven individuals of the near-threatened Ferruginous Duck were counted.
Other waterbird species
The most common waterbird recorded was the Bean Goose (79,758). Other species counted in large numbers were Common Black-headed Gull (32,114), Dunlin (40,709), Common Teal (36,483), Tundra Swan (30,925), Greater White-fronted Geese (25,241), Spot-billed Duck (22,562), Falcated Duck (18,364), Spotted Redshank (15,274), Grey Heron (10,900) and Pied Avocet (10,538).
A detailed report on the count, which will also contain information on the status of the different wetlands visited, will be prepared over the next few months and it is intended to write papers for publication in Chinese and international journals.
Funding for the survey was provided by WWF Netherlands. We are very grateful to the State Forestry Administration, the Provincial Forestry Bureaus, Nature Reserve staff and the members of the counting teams for their assistance in the planning and execution of the project.
For more information please contact Chen Liwei firstname.lastname@example.org
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