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Rare bird species land to roost in Zhanjiang

Updated: 2017-12-01

The Zhanjiang Mangrove National Nature Reserve has increasingly become an ideal habitat for migratory bird species, with 15 spoon-billed sandpipers, five Saunders's gulls and three black-faced spoonbills spotted in the area recently.

Located on the tidal flat of Leizhou Peninsula, the 19,000-hectare nature reserve features a monsoonal and marine-based climate. It is home to 25 kinds of mangrove forest and 139 kinds of bird, of which seven are recognized as rare species under state protection.

Spoon-billed sandpipers are a small wader with a spatulate bill. It was included on the red list of threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2012, due to its rapidly decreasing numbers. As of October 2016, it was estimated that there were only 200 to 400 specimens remaining in the world.

Rare bird species land to roost in Zhanjiang

Spoon-billed sandpipers forage on a beach in Zhanjiang Mangrove National Nature Reserve. [Photo by He Tao/Zhanjiang Evening Post]

At the beginning of 2016, 43 spoon-billed sandpipers were recorded at the Mangrove National Nature Reserve, accounting for almost one tenth of its total population. According to statistics in recent years, Leizhou Bay has become the largest winter habitat for spoon-billed sandpipers with the exception of the Bay of Mottama in Burma and the seaboard of Bangladesh.

Saunders's gulls are a very small species of gull with a black bill and red legs, which have been rated as "vulnerable" by IUCN. The species suffers from a decreasing population due to habitat loss, as it is very dependent on saltmarshes dominated by seepweed. In recent years, several of them have spent the winter in the natural reserve.

Rare bird species land to roost in Zhanjiang

A Saunders's gull takes a stroll with a stick in its beak. [Photo by He Tao/Zhanjiang Evening Post]

Black-faced spoonbills were classified as an endangered species by IUCN in 2000, because of its very small population. It is expected to undergo a continuing decline in the near future owing to industrial development, land reclamation, and pollution.

Rare bird species land to roost in Zhanjiang

A couple of black-faced spoonbills search for food. [Photo by He Tao/Zhanjiang Evening Post]

The appearance of the endangered birds is a "barometer" of the ecological environment. As more and more such species are found in Zhanjiang, the city will conduct specific investigations and ramp up cooperation with international organizations to create a better environment for them.

 

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