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Newsletter September 2010 The uniqueness of The Rare Bird Club Meet the Member – Stephen Eccles How BirdLife is conserving tropical forests - with Roger Safford Think Pink appeal update – Thank You! BirdLife in brief Picture Story - BirdLife keeps sea birds off the hook Trip report – Cambodia 2010 by Jane Fenton Dates for the diary Species needing an RBC member – Royal Penguin (see back cover)

Newsletter September 2010

The Rare Bird Club / Newsletter September 2010

Meet the Member – Stephen Eccles For the first of our ‘Meet the Member’ series, we’re talking to Stephen Eccles - Member of Honour and Former Treasurer of BirdLife International.

Why and when did you join the RBC? I joined the RBC shortly after I became the first Treasurer of the newly formed BirdLife International in 1994. It just seemed natural to find a way to give a little financial support to the new organisation as well, as I believed strongly in the shift from the old International Council for Bird Preservation.

Why did you choose the Cuban Conure as your RBC bird?

and Partners manage to do with so little money. It compares very favourably indeed with what I was used to during my employment years (at the World Bank), so I never begrudge giving BirdLife additional funds or hesitate encouraging others to do so. Secondly, I’d like to say the BirdLife Secretariat has been blessed with great leadership and dedicated staff. How many organisations have been lucky enough to have been led by the likes of Christoph Imboden and then Mike Rands? And now we seem to have struck it lucky again with Marco Lambertini, who has made a terrific start in difficult times. Let us RBC members continue to give him and the staff our every support. And, talking about leadership, I have been most impressed by (and thankful for) the efforts made by our own joint leaders - Margaret and Graeme - who have been so generous with their time and their articulateness! Finally, although I won't mention any names, we have some incredibly generous RBC members, whom I admire as they give so much, so usefully, with so little fanfare.

I had lived in Cuba for a couple of years, where I met my wife Magda. I had no interest then in birds and don't remember seeing any at all! But it was natural to choose a Globally Threatened species from Cuba which had not already been 'adopted'. I finally saw 'my' species this March on my first bird-watching trip back to Cuba.

The uniqueness of The Rare Bird Club There are many things that make The Rare Bird Club special, but none more than you – the members. You are a very special group of people from all walks of life, who enjoy one another’s company, share the same passion and dedication, and perhaps most important of all, the desire to make a difference. As a result of your commitment BirdLife can count on a very special type of support, different from any other BirdLife supporter. Much closer and more personal. A close relationship that produces invaluable advice and contacts, and provides resources to support our urgent action and activities which would otherwise be difficult to resource. We are committed to honour your trust in BirdLife by delivering ground-breaking conservation programmes. But we also want to increase your sense of being an integral part of BirdLife. This is why we are launching new opportunities and tools to keep you closer to BirdLife, to report more regularly on the activities BirdLife undertakes as a result of your backing, and to make you feel proud to be part of The Rare Bird Club and of BirdLife. We are certainly grateful for your support and your outstanding dedication to BirdLife and our mission. Thank you. Marco Lambertini Chief Executive BirdLife International

What was your most memorable RBC trip or event & why? This is impossible to answer as I have attended so many interesting RBC events. But I will restrict myself to mentioning three trips which were simply outstanding: the Seychelles, including a visit to the amazing Aldabra archipelago where I saw the first European Beeeater ever recorded there; Papua New Guinea, led by an RBC member and including great looks at the RBC signature bird, the Blue Bird of Paradise; and the cruise to the Canadian Arctic, with wonderfully close views of the Ivory Gull at a Polar Bear seal-kill. Apart from experiencing the birds and nature generally, these trips were also attractive because of the pleasant company provided by fellow RBC members!

Which aspects of BirdLife’s work are you most interested in? As I am passionate about protecting the world's birds, everything about BirdLife interests me. If I were to pick out just one element, it would be development support to BirdLife Partners in the poorer parts of the world. It has been most interesting to me to attend several World Conferences over the years and to see how so many of these Partners have matured. And I visit as many of these as I can during my world travels.

Stephen finally saw his RBC species the Cuban Conure this March

How do you feel about your RBC membership supporting BirdLife’s conservation work? The area which other donors tend to neglect is the day-to-day overheads of the Secretariat, so I am particularly pleased that the RBC funding is not restricted to just the glamour projects!

Do you have anything you’d like to tell the RBC members? Yes! Four things, in fact. Firstly, during my time as BirdLife Treasurer, and subsequently, I have been impressed with how much the Secretariat


Credit / Pete Morris

The Rare Bird Club / Newsletter September 2010

BirdLife in brief Celebrating Natron's Flamingos with action The 2010 World Wetlands Day celebrations in Tanzania focussed on a meeting to support the conservation of Lesser Flamingo through the completion of a National Single Species Action Plan. "This is an important step in ensuring the protection of this important species not only for Tanzania but also for the world", said Lota Melamari - CEO of Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania (WCST, BirdLife Partner). Credit / Disneynature

Think Pink appeal update - Thank You! Our recent appeal to help BirdLife save the Lesser Flamingo at Lake Natron in Tanzania has so far raised over £15,000 from The Rare Bird Club and World Bird Club members. “Thank you so much to The Rare Bird Club members who were so generous in their support for our Think Pink campaign to save Lake Natron”, said BirdLife’s Jane Gaithuma. “We’re now working with our BirdLife Partner in Tanzania (Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania) to accelerate a new project to improve the protection status of the lake, and to work with local people to alleviate poverty. We’re also keeping a keen eye on any proposed developments at the lake and its vicinity to ensure we stop any further threats to the Lesser Flamingo's home”. Jane Gaithuma - BirdLife International

Doubling the size of Harapan Rainforest The Indonesian Forest Minister has announced that he will double the Sumatran forest managed by Burung Indonesia (BirdLife Partner), the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) and BirdLife International to a total area of 101,000 ha. "Harapan Rainforest breaks new ground in Indonesia”, said Dr Marco Lambertini – BirdLife’s Chief Executive. “We hope it will act as a model in other countries across the tropics". Making fisheries safer in for seabirds in South Africa Working on the high seas to protect seabirds, BirdLife South Africa (BirdLife Partner) recently achieved a major conservation success by improving the methods used by commercial fishermen in the south-east Atlantic Ocean to avoid killing seabirds. This critical region for seabirds is now a much safer place for them. Petitioning for change in Europe On World Oceans Day a 23,000-strong petition was presented by BirdLife International and the RSPB (BirdLife Partner) to Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime affairs and fisheries asking for the halting of millions on seabirds in EU waters. Identifying conservation priorities in the Americas Birds getting a helping hand at sites across the Western Hemisphere, with the launch of BirdLife’s Americas Important Bird Area Directory. The landmark publication identifies 2,345 top-priority conservation sites in all 57 countries and territories in the Americas. Holding the world to account World leaders have failed to deliver commitments made in 2002 to reduce the global rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, and have instead overseen alarming biodiversity declines. This is according to a new paper in the leading journal Science. "Biodiversity is still being lost as fast as ever", said BirdLife's Dr Stuart Butchart - the lead author. Celebrating 25 years of global success Since it was conceived and initiated by BirdLife International back in 1985, the Conservation Leadership Programme has gone on to train over 2,500 conservationists of the future, and fund over 480 projects. "It's amazing to see how the programme has grown”, said Robyn Dalzen - CLP Executive Manager. “Here's to 25 more successful years!"


BirdLife’s Global Seabird Programme

Credit / Oli Yates

BirdLife keeps seabirds off the hook Every year longline fisheries set about three billion hooks, killing an estimated 300,000 seabirds. BirdLife’s Global Seabird Programme is currently testing a new ‘hook pod’ that prevents seabirds from accessing baits before a pressure sensitive valve operates at a predetermined depth to release baited hooks.

Credit / Meidad Goren

The Rare Bird Club / Newsletter September 2010


Credit / Henning / Flickr

How BirdLife is conserving tropical forests - with Roger Safford I work in the Conservation Department, a team whose job it is to coordinate, manage and support global conservation programmes of the BirdLife Partnership. I’ve been at BirdLife for ten years, working on a mixture of projects mainly focussed in the forests and wetlands of the tropics. In Papua New Guinea, I was privileged to work in a lowland rainforest. One could fly over in a light plane and see nothing but forest in all directions. It is daunting to think that one could do the same thing in Sumatra only 20 years ago, yet only a few thousand square kilometres of lowland rainforest remain there now. Tropical forests are disappearing at a rate of one football pitch per second - more than 10 million ha per year. These losses are driven by global demand for timber, paper and land for food crops and bio-fuels. BirdLife's work has shown that 913 species worldwide are threatened by forest destruction and degradation; that's almost one in ten of the world's birds. Now is the time to stop it, and to begin to repair the damage we have done. BirdLife, through the unique structure of the Partnership, has a major role to play, not only in showing how to do it on the ground, but in linking these efforts


to national and global policy-making, so that successes are replicated and multiplied. Forests are far more than just stores of biodiversity. Carbon emissions caused by deforestation and forest degradation are greater than those of all the cars, trucks, planes, ships and trains worldwide, and more than four billion people depend partly or wholly on water supplies maintained by forests. BirdLife's forest work is also helping to promote respect and support for the rights of local and indigenous peoples. We have to find ways to ensure that the costs as well as the benefits of conserving forests are shared fairly. We need to find new ways to conserve large areas of forest, using every legal, governance and long-term financing tool at our disposal. If models and tools do not exist, we must help to create them. One striking success is in Sumatra, where a consortium of the BirdLife Partners Burung Indonesia and RSPB with the BirdLife Secretariat is working in the 101,000 ha Harapan Rainforest. This has resulted in a completely new type of forest management licence being created by Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry, specifically for forest restoration. Millions of hectares of forests that could otherwise have been lost are being considered for restoration licences, and this figure is still increasing.

Throughout the Partnership, BirdLife is striving to increase its effectiveness in promoting and implementing forest conservation. This is why BirdLife launched the Forests of Hope programme, which began with Harapan. Another Forests of Hope site is Western Siem Pang, which The Rare Bird Club members visited recently (see Trip Report) and I visited a few weeks later. This is one of the last areas of the dry and semievergreen forests of mainland South-East Asia, where one can find five Critically Endangered species. The site is threatened by concessions that could see most of it converted to biofuel or rubber plantations. Support is urgently needed for our work on the ground at Western Siem Pang, and our advocacy at national level in Cambodia. I hope The Rare Bird Club members who visited Western Siem Pang were struck by what a special place it is, and by the knowledge, dedication and passion of the team working there. Thanks for your support to this wonderful site, and for supporting BirdLife's efforts to ensure the world's tropical forests remain a source of hope for people and our planet.

Credit / Dave Watts

The Rare Bird Club / Newsletter September 2010

Trip report – Cambodia 2010 by Jane Fenton

Dates for the diary Credit / Jonathan Eames

It was with some trepidation that I joined this braveheart expedition into the wilds of Cambodia to discover five Critically Endangered birds: White-shouldered and Giant Ibis, along with White-rumped, Slender-billed and Red-headed Vulture.

We were rewarded with good views of Whiteshouldered Ibis, White-rumped and Slenderbilled Vulture. Later we enjoyed celebrating with traditional Khmer indigenous tribe dancing to drums around a fire. A few of us joined in, which they loved, although we were less sure about sharing their bewitched wine.

We started in comfort at the Raffles Royal Hotel in Phnom Penh as guests of honour of Cambodia’s Minister of Forestry. But this was the calm before the storm, and we spent the next day driving north-east along increasingly rural roads - stopping to experience deep fried Giant Spiders at Skun Market (only for the intrepid!) and to drink coconut milk.

The next morning was our last opportunity to find the Giant Ibis. With only 200 individual birds left in the world – and declining – we were all anxious as we silently followed the talented local tracker Mem Mai. Befriended by BirdLife, Mem Mai used to be a hunter but is now a committed guardian of the birds.

I shall never forget my first sight of the mighty Mekong River reflecting the blue of the sky with giant fishing nets stretched across it between the fishing boats. We stopped to photograph the threatened Irrawaddy River Dolphins from small boats before following the river’s course. That evening we were hosted by the Provincial Governor in his lovely house at Stung Treng which overlooked the river.

Credit / Jane Fenton

We were incredibly lucky. Not only did one huge bird fly past us, but it actually turned round and settled in a tall tree facing the sun for twenty minutes, allowing everyone a magnificent view for cameras and telescopes. The memories of the long journeys, the hot slogging and weary limbs all vanished in an instant. It was a never-to-be-forgotten experience for those of us who went. Together we shared hardship, fun and friendship in equal measure. Our reward for those who could stay longer was a visit to the extraordinary 12th century temples at Angkor Wat followed by a memorable boat trip on the largest freshwater lake in South-East Asia. I would not have missed it for the world, nor everything else we encountered in Cambodia, and sincerely hope that BirdLife continues to be successful. I also hope that our visit will help to encourage the authorities to provide better protection for these beautiful birds on the very edge of extinction.

Credit / Jason Tavares / Flickr

We would be delighted to see you at any or all of the following events, designed for your enjoyment and the opportunity to meet other members. Full information and costs of each one will be sent to you in due course. Profits made from The Rare Bird Club events help to further the conservation work of BirdLife International.

20th – 24th September 2010 Lion Camp Zambia – an opportunity to experience and see up close the big game and birds of Africa in the comfort and privacy of a private reserve owned by one of BirdLife’s Founder Patrons and Rare Bird Club member.

1st – 3rd October 2010 Weekend birding in the Netherlands – on the private estate of Club members – Luigi and Denise Prins – with dinner in Amsterdam, a visit with overnight stay on Texel Island to see the amazing numbers of waders and migrants.

November 5th 2010 Jane Fenton

The next morning we exchanged our vehicles for two wooden boats which were to take us up to our final destination of Siem Pang. The river was low and the skill of our two helmsmen powering around hidden rocks never ceased to fascinate while we birdwatched. The small fishing village of Siem Pang is home to BirdLife's Cambodia Programme office. The villagers were excited by our arrival, greeting us warmly with local Khmer food. The following morning our search started in earnest. We were led by local guides together with Hugh Wright, a PhD student from England studying White-shouldered Ibis. He had taken the trouble to learn the local language and was obviously much respected and liked by the local community.

General Meeting and Dinner in London Hosted by Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson – A new type of event to hear about the Club’s achievements combined with the opportunity to socialise with other members over dinner.

1st – 10th April 2011 Trip to Jordan and Syria – a visit to see at first hand the conservation work undertaken by BirdLife Partners in these Middle Eastern countries with lots of different opportunities you and your partner to enjoy the local culture and visit sites of wildlife interest.

2011 (date to be agreed) Trip to Mexico to explore exciting habitat, observe unique wildlife and see the work of the BirdLife Partner in Mexico – Pronatura. For further information, please contact Peter Hendley:


Credit / Alan Tate

Species needing an RBC member Royal Penguin There are 1,240 species of bird threatened with extinction, of which 832 still need a Rare Bird Club member. This newsletter we’re trying to find a member to adopt the Royal Penguin.

Honorary Presidents Ms Margaret Atwood Mr Graeme Gibson

Honorary Patrons HSH Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein Sir David Attenborough Mr André Hoffmann Lady Vereker

Founder President HRH The Late Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands

Vice President Emeritus Miss Jane Fenton

This large, yellow-crested, black-and-white penguin, confined to Macquarie Island and nearby Bishop and Clerk Islands, Australia, is classified as Vulnerable according to BirdLife on behalf of the IUCN Red List.

Do you know someone who could join The Rare Bird Club and adopt the Royal Penguin?

Further information For further information about The Rare Bird Club, please contacts Peter Hendley – +44 (0) 1223 277318 / /

BirdLife International Wellbrook Court, Girton Road, Cambridge CB3 0NA UK BirdLife International Honorary President: HIH Princess Takamado of Japan BirdLife International is a charity and is a company limited by guarantee Registered in England No 2985746 Registered office as above Registered UK Charity No 1042125 BirdLife International Secretariat Offices: Amman, Brussels, Cambridge, Nairobi, Quito, Suva, Tokyo.

The paper is sourced from FSC-certified well-managed forests, recycled material and/or controlled wood - Cert no. SA-COC-001662

The Rare Bird Club Newsletter - Sept 2010  

The Rare Bird Club is for keen birders, conservationists and nature loversfrom all over the globe, who gather for birding trips, fundraising...

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