Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force

In 2004 several partners active in the conservation of the globally threatened Spoon-billed Sandpiper joined the Recovery Team chaired by Evgeny Syroechkovskiy and later by Christoph Zöckler. With the growing demand of work, the finalization of the CMS Single Species Action Plan in 2008 and the continuing support from BirdLife International and many other organizations, it became necessary to formalize the active team to better coordinate the conservation activities along the entire flyway. In February 2010 the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Recovery Team (SBS RT) joined with the EAAFP and in December 2010 was officially endorsed by the partnership as a species Task Force (SBS TF) under the Shorebird working group. The Lead Organization for the EAAFP Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task will be BirdLife International through its partner Birds Russia. It is chaired by the Governmental Partner from Russia and coordinated by Christoph Zöckler from ArcCona Consulting on behalf of Birds Russia, assisted by Sayam Chowdhury from the Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project (BSCP) and supported by the RSPB and the Manfred-Hermsen Foundation. Task Force members will consist of Governmental Partners of key range states (Russian Federation, Japan, People’s Republic of China, People’s Democratic Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea, Vietnam, Union of Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh and India), the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT), Wetlands International, a representative of the EAAFP Shorebird Working Group, Fauna Flora International (FFI) and experts and conservation organisations from principal range states and other partners. The main aim is to coordinate the conservation activities that have been identified in the CMS Single Species Action Plan for the species commissioned by BirdLife International and regularly updated.

Task Force Chair

Dr. Evgeny Syroyechkovsky
All-Russian Research Institute for Nature Conservation The estate Znamenskoe-Sadki Moscow 117628 Russian Federation
Tel: +7 495 423 03 22
E-mail: ees_jr@yahoo.co.uk

Task Force Coordinator

Dr. Christoph Zöckler
Manfred Hermsen Foundation/Birds Russia
30 Eachard Road Cambridge CB3 0HY, U.K.
E-mail: Christoph.zoeckler@m-h-s.org

Task Force Assistant Coordinator 

Sayam  U. Chowdhury
Conservation Biologist
Dhaka, Bangladesh

Task Force Documents

Some files are in pdf format.  Download the Adobe Acrobat reader.



All files are in pdf format. Download the Adobe Acrobat reader.

Related Materials

News: The government of Myanmar designates part of the Gulf of Mottama [EAAF117] as Myanmar’s fourth Ramsar site [15/05/2017]

Gulf of Mottama
View of the Gulf of Mottama © Christoph Zöckler

News: The International EAAFP SBS Task Force met in Mawlamyine, Myanmar for their 11th meeting, 12-22 January 2017 [31/01/2017]

SBS Task Force meeting © Eugene Cheah/EAAFP

Video: Can we save the Spoon-billed Sandpiper?

Video: Spoon-billed Sandpipers arrival at Heathrow

China: Between Clouds and Dreams

An environmental documentary series from multiple BAFTA winning filmmaker, Phil Agland, ‘Between Clouds and Dreams,’ shot for Chinese Central Television is highlighting the plight of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper for audiences in China and worldwide. See also note in last newsletter (p. 24-25). The film series will be shown starting from 5th Nov at 7 pm UK time on Channel 4. The showing on CCTV is planned for later this month. [01/11/2016] Read More.

A Wader Ringing Program: Hitting the ground running…

© Nigel Clark , Jing Li 

Together with ‘SBS in China’ I am leading a group of international wader experts (Guy Anderson from RSPB, Richard Hearn from WWT, Ewan Weston from Highland Ringing Group and David Melvile from New Zealand) who have come to China to help Professor Chang Qin of Nanjing Normal University and Jing Li and co-workers of ‘SBS in China’, the Task Force member for Eastern China to develop a wader ringing program on the Jiangsu coast. There are two main objectives of the visit. First to individually mark some Spoonies at a location away from the breeding grounds and second to set up a wader ringing program to help develop studies of the importance of the Jiangsu coast for a wide range of species. [21/09/2015] Read More


Spoon-billed Sandpiper news brief Summer 2015

‘8’ is from the first head-starting in 2012 returning for the second year breeding successfully in Chukotka ©

In spring ‘SBS in China’ and British bird watchers under the lead of Jing Li and Guy Anderson (RSPB) were surveying the Rudong and Dongtai coast in China for homeward migrating Spoon-billed Sandpiper. The team surveying between 3 and 12 May found a minimum of 62 SBS across the three main study sites (Tiaozini, Yangkou-Fengli and Dong Ling). This compares with 45 last spring, so good news. They confirmed at least 6 individually marked birds, including Lime 8, Lime 09, Lime 16, Lime 22, and a North Chukotka bird (plain light blue flag plus colour rings), and at least one head-started bird from 2013 or 2014, but the code could not be read sadly. [29/07/2015] Read More

New Spoon-billed Sandpiper site and monitoring at Sonadia Island in Bangladesh

Several sites were found important for shorebirds within the yellow circle.

Several sites were found important for shorebirds within the yellow circle. Along with monthly monitoring of shorebirds on Sonadia Island, Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project (BSCP) conducts surveys in previously unsurveyed areas such as the Sundarbans (2012). As part of the new area search BSCP carried out a detailed survey around Sandwip, Chittagong between 3 and 11 February 2015. A total of 35,000 shorebirds of 24 species were counted including 21 Spoon-billed Sandpipers with 2 color-flagged birds (Black-Yellow; Lime-Green). [21/05/2015] Read More

Poster: Help Save the Spoon-billed Sandpiper!

Hong Kong Bird Watching Society (HKBWS) made this poster to promote the Spoon-billed Sandpiper with the support of BirdLife’s “Welcome to the Birds” programme.

SBS Poster

Download: English   | Korean   | Chinese    

Dr Christoph Zockler’s most recent podcast on SBS: The threat of reclamation of tidal-flats off Rudong and Dongtai

Dr Christoph Zockler, co-ordinator of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force, explains the latest threat facing of one of the world’s most endangered birds: the planned reclamation of hundreds of square miles of tidal-flats off Rudong and Dongtai, China.

Protection of most important stop over site in Dongtai and Rudong in China remains a big challenge

International survey team at the model Spoon-billed sandpiper at Links Hotel, who sponsored SBS in China @ T. Noah

The Spoon-billed sandpiper Task Force (SBS TF) held its 10th anniversary meeting on 14 October in Rudong, China. Sixteen members from six flyway countries, the UK and Germany discussed progress on the flyway conservation and shared experiences. Prior to the meeting the task force members also took part in a survey organised by SBS in China in the near-by Rudong mudflats in Jiangsu Province between Dongtai (Tiaozini Sandbanks) and Dong Ling in the south following a survey of a British/Chinese team in September.

A total of 175-190 birds have been recorded at four sites along the 150 km long coastal stretch with intertidal mudflats. The Tiaozini mudflats in Dongtai County appeared to be the most important with a max of almost 100 birds only here, similar to the September Survey. In total 16 different individually flagged birds were recorded, often multiple times, allowing analyses on sight faithfulness and possibly another global population estimate, currently not exceeding 350-500 birds.[29/10/2014]

Now back in the UK – Update from the Spoon-billed Sandpiper survey team

Map showing completed (black lines) and proposed (red lines) land claim @ Nigel Clark

A team lead by SBS in China and with five international wader experts: Nigel Clark from BTO, James Phillips from Natural England, Guy Anderson and Andy Schofield from RSPB and Rich Hearn from WWT, has come together to survey the autumn concentration of Spoon-billed Sandpiper on the Jiangsu coastline. The survey has been supported by the MBZ Species Conservation Fund, RSPB, WWT and the participants. Nigel reports on behalf of the team.

Now back in the UK and struggling with jet lag, at 4am, it is time to write a final post about this amazing survey. It’s a survey that nearly didn’t happen! Initially we planned to stay in China for three weeks and spend time trying to mark some more Spoonies. Virtually all the marked birds in the population come from one breeding area and we do not know if this is representative. Unfortunately we could not get all the permissions sorted for this year.[03/10/2014] Read More


Update from the SBS survey team in Rudong, China

A colouring of Spoon-billed Sandpiper by a student

A Team lead by SBS in China and with five international wader experts; Nigel Clark from BTO, James Phillips from Natural England, Guy Anderson and Andy Schofield from RSPB and Rich Hearn from WWT, has come together to survey the autumn concentration of SBS on the Jiangsu coastline. The Survey has been supported by the MBZ Species Conservation Fund, RSPB and the participants. We are now half way through our survey having lost a day to the edge a typhoon. Each day we have split up so that we can cover the maximum length of coastline. It has been hard work but very rewarding as so far every team member has seen multiple SBS on every day! The intertidal flats are so vast at low tide that we would not have a hope of surveying SBS, so we have surveyed the upper mudflats in the last couple of hours before they are covered by the incoming tide.[29/09/2014] Read More

Article: The ‘Monument’ Spoon-billed Sandpiper ‘01’ returns to Rudong

Male Spoon-billed sandpiper ‘01’ arrived in Rudong 4 September 2014 @ Chen Dong Ming

The male Spoon-billed Sandpiper ‘01’ has bred not far from the village Meinypilgyno in Chukotka, Russia since at least 2010, but possibly for much longer. It is named ‘monument’ SBS as it always breeds near an old monument set up by the villagers, but as it happens, the bird’s achievements are actually monumental.

It was only marked with ‘01’ engraved lime green flag in summer 2013 in Chukotka and subsequently observed in late August in the coastal Rudong wetlands of China. It stayed there for more than a month, moulting and fattening up for the onward journey into the wintering grounds. This bird is remarkable, as it has produced with its partner ‘02’ (recorded wintering in Khok Kam, Thailand!) a total of 17 chicks since 2011. From eggs taken in 2013 three chicks were reared for head-starting and from a replacement clutch the pair managed to raise a further three chicks, of which one (EA) was observed in the Gulf of Mottama in Myanmar. The pair produced another two chicks for head-starting and raised another three from the replacement clutch in 2014. One of this couple’s chicks (M9) from the head-starting Programme has already been trapped on the West coast of Kamchatka this August![15/09/2014] Read More

Spoon-billed Sandpiper – they’re back! The first spoonie seen at Sonadia Island

Sayam Chowdhury and Md. Foysal
searching for spoon-billed sandpiper
on Sonadia island  ©BSCP

Earlier this year, Sonadia Island was declared an Important Bird Area (IBA) due to its importance for shorebirds, especially the Critically Endangered spoon-billed sandpiper (Sonadia Island is the most important site in Bangladesh for this highly threatened species). The Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project (BSCP, see their Facebook page) is supported by the RSPB through an SOS grant to WWT, and they are one of many partners trying to save this unique species from extinction (see the Saving the Spoon-billed Sandpiper web-site). Read More



Video: Journey of Spoon-billed Sandpiper

Brochure: Recording information on Spoon-billed Sandpipers to aid their conservation

Download the brochure: English   | Chinese   | Korean   | Thai  


Article: Spoon-billed Sandpiper Exhibition Opens in Chukotka, Russia

Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation
Exhibition in Anadyr, ©Chukotka, Russia

The conservation exhibition “Spoon-Billed Sandpiper – life saved” opened in Anadyr, Chukotka in the Russian Arctic, at the Museum Center “Chukotka Heritage”, on October 8, 2012. The exhibition is supported by BirdLife’s “Preventing Extinction” Program.
The opening ceremony was attended by the Governor of Chukotka, Roman Kopin, all regional conservation officials, local Parliament representatives, Indigenous People’s organizations and many other authorities, as well as over 50 invited guests from Anadyr. The Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Working Group (CAFF) of the Arctic Council met in Anadyr at the same time, so representatives of Environmental Agencies from all Arctic countries also participated in the opening of the exhibition.
This may be the first time in Russia for an entire exhibition of that level to be devoted to a single species of bird. The Spoon-billed Sandpiper (SBS) is the most critically endangered and most rapidly declining species in the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation and one of the hundred most threatened birds in the world. Its population has plummeted by 90% in the last 30 years. Only 100 breeding pairs are estimated to remain, mostly in Chukotka.[12/11/2012] Read More

Article: One quarter of the world population of the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpipers on Rudong mudflats, Jiangsu, China

A Spoon-billed Sandpiper feeding at Rudong on Rudong mudflats, Jiangsu, China
© Tong Menxiu, China Wild Tour 2012

A record total of 106 Spoon-billed Sandpiper was counted over a 120 km stretch of mudflats in the wider Rudong area, Jiangsu (near Shanghai) China, between 12-15 October. This number amounts to one quarter of the estimated world population of this critically endangered bird species and is the highest number observed since conservation activities started in 2000.

Rudonghas been known for some time to be a critically important staging area (where birds stay to rest and feed before continuing their journey) for the migration of this critically endangered species. An international team of experts conducted the survey to evaluate the importance of the site to the Spoon-billed Sandpiper and other species.[30/10/2012] Read More or Download the full article   

Video: Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project led by EAAFP SBS Task Force

Go to watch a video clip from Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project

Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project has been working in Bangladesh in an organized manner since 2009. The goal of the project is to conserve and conduct research on the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpipers Eurynorhynchus pygmeus wintering along the coast of Bangladesh especially on Sonadia island.

The project discovered local hunters were hunting SBS along with other shorebirds. Since 2011 the project has been working with the hunters to provide alternative income generation options. Things are now changing and here is a glimpse. [09/08/2012] Watch here.

The podcast Charlie Moores from Talking Naturally interviewing Dr Christoph Zockler on SBS conservation recently.

&copy Nigel Jarrett (WWT)
Juvenile Spoon-billed Sandpipers
in quarantine at Moscow Zoo
© Nigel Jarrett (WWT)

The podcast was recorded less than a week after Christoph and Charlie Moores met up at Slimbridge to see first-hand the thirteen Spoon-billed Sandpipers held there as part of a newly-established conservation breeding programme – a conservation strategy that Christoph, who has been surveying the Russian breeding grounds for more than a decade, played an important part in setting up. In a typically frank discussion Christoph talks about the conservation breeding programme, the work he’s done halting hunting of Spoon-billed Sandpipers on the wintering grounds, the threat of reclamation, and his hopes for the survival of this most charismatic and endangered shorebird.