“My bird of the year must be the drake BAER’S POCHARD I found at Shahe, a small reservoir in Beijing, at the end of March. My first ever sighting of this “Critically Endangered” and rapidly declining Aythya. And all the more fun because it was my first visit to the site! Worryingly, a (partial) survey of the traditional breeding stronghold of this rare duck – on the China-Russia border – revealed not one confirmed sighting this summer. The future of this species in the wild is now of huge concern.
However, although the Baer’s Pochard is my bird of the year, my birding moment must surely be today (Sunday 9 December) when I visited Tianjin to meet with “Nemo” and the volunteers who worked around the clock to save the poisoned Oriental Storks at Beidagang in November. See here for details. At a “birding salon” at Tianjin University, attended by around 100 students and local people, Nemo recounted the full story of the incident, including the mobilisation of volunteers, local and national media, and the local authorities. He described it as “a battle won” but warned that the war was far from over. It was my humble honour to be there today to convey, in person, the support of hundreds of people from all over the world who had taken the time to write comments on the www.chinesecurrents.com/baohuniaolei website in response to the article on Birding Frontiers. A big thank you to everyone who commented – Nemo and his friends were visibly touched by the support. These guys and girls are brave (they put their physical safety at risk to tackle the poachers), dedicated and passionate about saving China’s wild birds. It was an inspiration to meet them and a day I will never forget.”
Merry Christmas to everyone at BF!