Rare seabird reappears on Dongsha after 148 years

Rare seabird reappears on Dongsha after 148 years Taipei, Nov. 29 (CNA) A rare brown booby (白腹鰹鳥), a member of the Sulidae family, was spotted recently in a coastal area of Dongsha Island (東沙島) in the South China Sea, marking the first sighting of the species in 148 years, according to the Kaohsiung-based Marine National Park Headquarters. The species was first recorded in 1867 by British explorer Cuthbert Collingwood, who said it had a great advantage in areas around the Dongsha Island, the headquarters said. It said, however, that the brown booby population began declining in the 19th century, due to human activities and related developments, and the species had not been seen in 148 years. The recent sighting by members of the Kaohsiung City Wild Bird Society is exciting for ornithologists and the Dongsha Atoll National Park, which was established in 2007, the headquarters said. The 1.74 square kilometer Dongsha Island, 380 kilometers southwest of Kaohsiung City, is a coral atoll that lies in the migratory path of birds in East Asia and provides a good place for them to rest and feed because of its vegetation, beach, lagoon and wetland areas, according to the headquarters. As part of its efforts to learn more about bird biology on the island, the park headquarters commissioned the Kaohsiung City Wild Bird Society to conduct a survey of birds appearing there in recent years. The society has recorded several new migratory bird species on the island so far this year, including the brown booby, Schrenck's little bittern (秋小鷺), spotted redshank (鶴鷸), Wedge-tailed Shearwater (長尾水薙鳥)and White-throated Rock Thrush (白喉磯鶇), bringing the total number of species there to 284, according to the park headquarters. Migratory birds from Chongming Island of Shanghai, northwest and southeast Australia, and Taiwan proper have also been spotted in the Dongsha Island area. In April, a ruddy turnstone (翻石鷸) with orange and blue legs was sighted there and was later found to have migrated from King Island off the southeast coast of Australia in March 2014. (Courtesy of CNA)