The northen hemisphere winter months will see lots of birds from the Himalayas, Central Asia, Sibiria and even Eastern Asia visiting the island of Sri Lanka. Indeed, the number of bird species will more than double in the months to come. Some of the visitors are rare birds in need of special protection of their habitats. Here is a list of some examples.
The Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus) is close extinction, since fewer than 100 pairs remain in the wild currently, the numbers have halfed since 2009. One major threat is illegal hunting, particularly of young birds, in Bangla Desh and Myanmar. Furthermore, for resting and eating on their 8000 km migration (more than 10.000 km from their breeding grounds close to Kamtschatka to Sri Lanka) these birds are heavily dependent on coastal mudflats, which are on the decline throughout Asia for aquacultures, infrastructure and industry.
The Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregarius) is also called Sociable plover. It breeds in open grassland in Russia. Wintering sites are the Middle East, north-eastern Africa and north-western India, occasionally in Sri Lanka, too. It is also a very rare vagrant in western Europe. In 2006 the population was estimated to be between 600 and 1,800 mature birds. But afterwards 1500 individuals of all ages have been discovered in a previously unknown wintering ground in Syria and in 2007 about 3,200 moore in Turkey.
The Spotted Greenshank (Tringa guttifer) breeds in eastern Russia in the area of Kamtschatka peninsula and Sachalin Island. It has an estimated population of 500-1,000 individuals, but over 90% of its breeding range is unprotected and some of the breeding sites face threats by developments for the oil industry such as pipeline construction. It herbinates mainly in the Ganges delta in Bangladesh and coastal areas of mainland Southeast-Asia, but has been recorded in Sri Lanka, Southeastasien islands and northern Australia, too.
The Kashmir flycatcher (Ficedula subrubra) breeds in the north-west. It winters in the highlands of India’s Western Ghats, Nilgiri and Cardamom mountains and in central Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka it arrives in October and departs in March or April. One of the best places to spot this rare species is Victoria Park in Nuwara Eliya. The population is estimated to be between 2,500 and 10,000 birds.
The wood snipe (Gallinago nemoricola) breeds in alpine meadows in the Himalayas, predominantly in their eastern parts. The Wood Snipe occurs as a vagrant in southern India and Sri Lanka as well as in mainland Southeast Asia, particularly northern Vietnam. The population is less than 10,000 birds.
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