Atul Jain and I just returned from a short birding trip to the mudflats of Sonadia Island near Cox’s Bazaar in coastal Bangladesh. We were to see two of the rarest birds in the world (and the subcontinent) — the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper and the endangered Nordmann’s or Spotted Greenshank. Sonadia Island is internationally recognised as a key wintering home for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper.
The “Spoony” is a house sparrow-sized wader that winters in the mudflats of the Bangladesh coast. The entire global population of this bird stands at an alarming 200 thanks to habitat loss in its breeding (E Russia) and wintering grounds (SE Asia) in addition to hunting pressures. We were accompanied by ace local birders Sayam U. Chowdhury and Mohammad Foysal who are doing a fabulous job with the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project in Bangladesh. Working with the local fishing community, they have significantly reduced hunting of the species that was widely prevalent even a few years ago. See the case study on Conservation India.