The results of the International Black-faced Spoonbill Census 2017 has recently been made available. See http://www.hkbws.org.hk/web/eng/bfs_census_report_eng.htm .
This co-ordinated survey conducted on 13-15 January 2017 in all the known wintering areas came up with a total of 3,941 individual birds, which is a new high count and a far cry from the 300 that were known in the early 1990s. Taiwan is the most important area for wintering Black-faced Spoonbills with 2,601 birds (66% of the global population) being recorded; of these 1,810 were counted in the Tainan city area and 513 at Chiayi County.
Away from Taiwan, Deep Bay in Hong Kong is the next most important wintering site for the spoonbills; 375 were recorded there and an additional 44 birds were counted in Macau.
Despite the increasing numbers of Black-faced Spoonbills being recorded in East Asia, the species is still listed as Endangered by the IUCN as there is fear of “habitat loss to industrial development, land reclamation and pollution.” The spoonbills’ dependence on a few key sites tends to increase their vulnerability.
We here in Hong Kong are lucky to have the Black-faced Spoonbill as a regular winter visitor. Unfortunately, and darkly ironic given the time and effort put into monitoring and protecting the species, there have recently been sightings in Hong Kong of spoonbills that have fallen victim to illegal gin traps. At least three birds have been involved to date, one of which was found dead. Of the other two, one in particular has little chance of surviving as the trap has clamped shut around its bill making it impossible for the bird to feed. See the HKBWS website: http://www.hkbws.org.hk/BBS/redirect.php?tid=27077&goto=lastpost#lastpost
Hopefully, information will come to light of which fish ponds these traps are being used at so that the authorities will be able to take appropriate action.