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New photos of bill shape and new survey results in southeast Asia.
Jeremiah Trimble has posted a fascinating photo he took in Thailand here. It shows a Spoon-billed Sandpiper with its mouth wide open. The structure inside the spoon-shaped tip seems to be a more or less normal sandpiper bill with flat lateral extensions on either side! This is utterly unlike the bill structure of true spoonbills, and raises more questions about the function of the odd bill shape of this amazing bird.
And showing more details here is a photo by Phil Round of the underside of the bill of a Spoon-billed Sandpiper trapped for banding in Thailand several years ago.
In Myanmar and Bangladesh a couple of new surveys are now complete. You can read Graham Chisholm’s account of some of the field census research in Myanmar in Feb 2010 here. And Jez Bird, Alex Lees, and Rob Martin report the first installment of their survey in Bangladesh here. Both surveys found fairly good numbers of Spoon-billed Sandpipers – 25 in Bangladesh and at least 71 in Myanmar – in areas where miles of habitat remain to be surveyed. Still perilously endangered, but it’s a relief to know that numbers are not any lower.