The Global Bird Weekend is the brainchild of Birdfair co-founder, Tim Appleton. The idea is simple, go out birding over the weekend of the 17th and 18th October and record your sightings on eBird. Partly inspired by the Covid -19 lockdown and restrictions around the world, the event aims to bring together a global community of birdwatchers, whatever their level of experience. You don’t have to travel to birding hotspots to take part, birds can be counted in your back garden, nearby park or your local birding patch. Part of the weekend event will include eBird’s October Big Day when the aim is to create a world record for the largest number of birds seen by the greatest number of people on this peak migration weekend.
If you’re interested you can register here.
It is also possible to participate as a team – so we will, as Team Sociable Lapwing! Our aim is to use the Global Bird Weekend to connect the different range states that the Critically Endangered Sociable Lapwing passes through on migration.
The final team is very much work in progress, but so far at least 7 range states will be represented (with more to follow). Almost all of the global population of Sociable Lapwings breed in Kazakhstan and migrate using two different routes. There is a population that heads west towards the Caspian Sea, through south-western Russia, into the Middle East and onto Sudan for the winter. A second route heads pretty much south into Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan before wintering in Pakistan and India. By the Global Bird Weekend, annual migration will be well underway and Sociable Lapwings will have left their steppe breeding grounds but won’t have arrived on the wintering grounds.
I’ve been privileged to have worked on the Sociable Lapwing for more than 15 years and during that time a significant amount of research and conservation effort has taken place across many of key range states. Our aim is to use the run up to the Global Bird Weekend to look at some of those efforts in individual range states in detail. I’ll be joining in from Rainham Marshes RSPB reserve where a Sociable Lapwing was seen in 2005 – the year I first started working on Sociable Lapwings for the RSPB. There have only been 38 accepted records of Sociable Lapwing in Britain, the first being shot near Preston in c1860, and the most recent on the Isles of Scilly in 2008.
Various locations will be covered by local birders in Pakistan, including the Hingol National Park where Sociable Lapwings were recorded in 2008. A birder from Swat will be covering the Swat River. Parts of Sindh, a Sociable Lapwing hotspot will be included over the course of the weekend, as will the Taunsa Barrage. A significant amount of survey work has been undertaken In Pakistan in recent years that has highlighted the importance of this country as a key wintering range state – a detailed blog will be posted during the week commencing 12th October.
A satellite tagged Sociable Lapwing (Maysa) observed in Pakistan in February 2018
Syria is another key range state for migrating Sociable Lapwings and it is likely that three small teams of birders organised by the Syrian Society for the Conservation Wildlife will be out over the Global Bird Weekend – official permits are being applied for. In March 2011 Syria hosted the first meeting of the AEWA Sociable Lapwing International Working Group – again, more details will follow in a blog post in the run up to the Global Bird Weekend.
Teams representing the range states of Saudi Arabia (where increasing numbers of Sociable Lapwing are spending the winter); Sudan (the key wintering range state on the western migratory route); Kazakhstan (home to the vast majority of the global breeding population); Uzbekistan (along with Turkmenistan provides the critical stop-over site at Tallymerjen) and India (a key wintering range state), are also expecting to take part. All of these range states will feature in the series of blog posts from the 12th October onwards.
The Sociable Lapwing is a priority species for the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), and the revised International Species Action Plan is available here.
More updates coming soon………..
Photo credits: Header images of Sociable Lapwing (Maxim Koshkin). The satellite tagged Sociable Lapwing in Pakistan (Mohammed Saleem Khan). First meeting of the Sociable Lapwing International Working Group (AEWA).