Decline of Baya Weavers in Bangladesh2013-08-30 (412)
Following on Pieter Cronje's first PHOWN records from Bangladesh (see here), Pieter continued searching for more nests, but discovered that many areas had no Baya Weavers where they had been common some 15 years ago. Pieter writes from Bangladesh as follows:
"On 26 August 2013 I departed for two days from Dhaka Bangladesh to the Police training college in the North East town of Rajshahi on the banks Nirmar Char river or Ganges with a view of India, for a short training course. This is approximately 260 km from Dhaka. This was also the start of operation 'Babui Paki Nest' (Byaya Weaver nest: Ploceus phillipinus). As I was already fortunate to locate four Baya Weaver nests on my previous trip I was very excited as were driving through Bangladesh and everybody that I spoke to told me that there are lots of weaver nests in the rural towns. The first hour or two was mostly built up area with people and garment factories everywhere we looked. It is the end of the rainy season and the there were water everywhere. As we entered rural Bangladesh the road was raised approximately 3-5 meters above the water level and we drove through an area covered in water with rivers, rice paddies and other crops as far as you could see. There were little raised villages and small towns on the way with different palm trees. To me this was the ideal breading spots for the Baya Weaver. I briefed the driver before the trip showing photos and he told me that he had seen weaver nests before in his village. The driver and my 2 South African friends were ready to spot any nest!
To my utter frustration we saw absolutely nothing. We drove into small towns and villages, stopping and asking everywhere as with the previous trip. In Bangladesh you have an instant crowd as soon as you stop the car. We asked people, showing photos and my driver explaining and asking about the Babui Paki nests. Everywhere we got the same answer. 'About 15 years ago there were weaver nests everywhere. We remember the nests hanging from palm trees.' When we arrived in Rajshahi the organizer of our training assured me that he sent a few young policemen to look for nests the previous day but was sad to inform me that no one could find any. After my 3 hour presentation to a group of 160 police officials from all over Bangladesh I showed them some pictures of the Baya Weaver nests and asked if anybody ever saw these nests. About half the class raised their hands and indicated that they had seen these nests before in their own villages. At least this was a bit of positive news. On the way back the following day we stopped at even more villages to take pictures of old Hindu ruins and other buildings and asked about the Baya Weaver nests. Again the same answer. 'About 15 years ago there were nests in every village.'
During the trip I saw many farmers spraying insecticide in the rice paddies. This might be the reason for the decline of the weavers' food source. I also think that many birds were caught."
Email received today (very minor editing to shorten email).
There are 8 PHOWN records for the Baya Weaver, see here.