White-bellied Heron: Although the expedition did not find Pink-headed Duck, a number of globally threatened species including White-bellied Heron Ardea insignis were recorded (photo: Jonathan Eames).
A fourth joint BirdLife/Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA — BirdLife in Myanmar) survey in Kachin State, northern Myanmar, has failed to find evidence of the continuing existence of the Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea. "We followed up local reports, but all proved to be White-winged Ducks," said expedition leader Jonathan Eames of BirdLife in Indochina. "If the Pink-headed Duck was resident in Kachin, we surely would have found it by now. Perhaps it is indeed extinct or is only a visitor to the region."
The team used elephants and boats to search the floodplain grasslands and ox-bow lakes along the Nat Kaung River, north of Kamaing and south of Shadusup. Although no Pink-headed Ducks were found, several globally threatened species were recorded, including Green Peafowl Pavo muticus, White-winged Duck Cairina scutulata, Masked Finfoot Heliopais personata, White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis, Slender-billed Vulture Gyps teniurostris, White-bellied Heron Ardea insignis and Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus.
Large areas of apparently suitable habitat have now been surveyed in Kachin State, through a project funded by the UK government's Darwin Initiative. Undaunted, the team hope to survey areas further south in Myanmar where Pink-headed Ducks were historically recorded.