Birds in Aswan, Egypt


This video is called Migrant Birds over Isis Island -Aswan.

Photos of birds in Aswan, Egypt, are here.

Aswan obelisk quarry: here.

New dragonfly species discovered in Vietnam


This is a video of a “Familiar Bluet” damselfly filmed taking off from its perch. Filmed at 1000 frames per second and slowed down so that the motion of the wings can be seen.

From Wildlife Extra:

Survey finds dragonfly haven off Vietnam

The newly recorded species are:

* Rhyothemis obsolescens
* Lyriothemis mortoni
* Pseudagrion williamsonii
* Prodasineura auricolor

50 species of dragonfly and damselfly inhabit 1 small island reserve

An entomologist commissioned by Wildlife At Risk (WAR) to undertake a comprehensive survey of the butterflies of Phu Quoc Island has encountered four species of dragonfly and damselfly never previously recorded in Vietnam. The insects were observed during butterfly surveys conducted by Bui Huu Manh between April and July 2007.

These latest discoveries provide further evidence that the island of Phu Quoc, just 600kms sq. is a largely unexplored biological treasure trove of nationally, regionally and, in some cases, globally important species of fauna and flora.

Lyriothemis mortoni, for example, is extremely rare and has only been recorded from a handful of sites in south-east Asia. Significantly, Rhyothemis obsolescens appears to be very common on Phu Quoc, yet this species does not even feature on the official Vietnam checklist, an indication that comprehensive biological surveys of the island are urgently needed.

Over 50 species of dragonfly and damselfly species have now been recorded on Phu Quoc island in the past year alone, mainly through casual observation as a by-product of the butterfly surveys conducted on behalf of WAR. An official survey is likely to yield further interesting revelations about this relatively neglected insect group.

WAR has been working on the island for the past two years in order to support the sustainable development of ecotourism and raise awareness of the biodiversity value of Phu Quoc and the Kien Giang Biosphere Reserve. WAR consultants have already conducted a number of small-scale animal and plant surveys.

The results have been incorporated into guides, reports and other publications, many of which are available in both Vietnamese and English on the WAR website.

See also here.

Rare shearwaters near British coasts


This is a video from Italy about a Puffinus griseus – Sooty Shearwater.

From Wildlife Extra:

Great shearwaters, Sooty shearwaters and Balearic shearwaters all spotted of North East Coast

September 2007. Three rare species of seabirds from as far away as Tierra del Fuego, Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic, and the islands of the western Mediterranean have all been seen recently off the UK’s North East coast. The sightings of unusually high numbers of Great, Sooty and Balearic shearwaters highlights the importance of UK coastal waters for visiting wildlife from throughout the world. These shearwaters, all relatives of the albatross, are rarely seen near land.

David Hirst of the RSPB Northern England region said: ‘The arrival of this remarkable trio of seabirds in the North Sea is an exciting event for birdwatchers, but also highlights the importance of the seas around the UK, not just for the seabirds that breed in the North East, but also for globetrotters from faraway oceans.’

Mr Hirst added ‘The RSPB is calling on the Government to recognise the growing global importance of the marine environment and ensure this autumn’s Queen’s Speech includes a Marine Bill that will provide new laws to protect Britain’s seas and they amazing wildlife that depends on them.’

Over-fishing, dredging, pollution and disturbance are among activities putting marine wildlife at risk and the RSPB is calling on the Government to fulfil its pledge to introduce new laws to protect our seas and the wildlife which depends on them.

The RSPB is asking people to pledge their support for better protection for the marine environment. For more information click on www.rspb.org.uk or call 0191 233 4300.

SeaWatch SW, the voluntary seabird counting organisation, is calling for your Balearic Shearwater records to help make its annual tally as comprehensive as possible: here.

Balearic shearwaters take “female only” migrations to France over the summer, say scientists: here.

Seas and oceans life: here.

Marine life in danger near Britain: here.

Marine life of Lyme Bay, England: here.

Buzzard and grey heron


This video is called Buzzard display/territorial flight maneuvers.

Today, to the Wasmeer nature reserve south of Hilversum.

In the beautiful hide, there are signs about the many animal and plant species here, like slow worms, roe deer, and foxes.

However, today we saw only heather flowering. And a buzzard of unusally pale colour, especially its belly; first sitting in one tree, then a bit lower in another tree. And a grey heron at the opposite bank of the lake.

European Commission threatens European birds


This is a video of a yellowhammer having lunch in a cornfield.

From BirdLife:

Don’t set aside set-aside: Europe’s nature under further threat as Commission decides to reduce set-aside to 0%

14-09-2007

The European Commission has published its proposal to reduce the rate of set-aside to 0% for the 2008 harvest year.

BirdLife International regrets this decision as the annulment of set-aside for 2008 could deal a severe blow to the already struggling farmland bird populations and other wildlife.

Set-aside represents an important refuge for wildlife in intensive farmed landscapes. For example, researchers in the UK have observed that when the set-aside area was halved in the 1990s, the number of farmland birds also showed a serious decline. Recently published research from Sweden has demonstrated the link between set-aside level and numbers of farmland birds such as Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis, Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris and Eurasian Linnet Carduelis cannabina.

Eurasian Skylark and Northern Lapwing use set-aside to nest, rare plants grow in these untouched pieces of farmland and Yellowhammer Emberiza Citrinella and Corn Bunting Miliara Calandra profit from the extra food.

Update 20 November 2007: here.

Twite: here. And here. And here.

Corn buntings declining in Scotland, but thriving at Strathbeg: here.

US military meddling in civil war in Mali


This is a video of music from Mali: Madan-Salif Keita – Made in Mali Version – Kourtrajmé Africa.

Apparently, for George W. Bush, war in Iraq is not enough. War in Afghanistan is not enough. War in Somalia is not enough.

Also civil war in another African country, is interpreted as part of the so called ‘global war on terror‘, tarring all domestic conflicts in all countries with the same brush (maybe as a self-fulfilling prophecy??).

From British daily The Independent:

Tuareg rebels attack US plane as insurgency in Mali intensifies

By Claire Soares

Published: 14 September 2007

Tuareg rebels opened fire on a United States military aircraft that was yesterday flying in supplies for beleaguered Malian troops, pinned down on the fringes of the Sahara Desert.

Mali’s forces have been battling a Tuareg insurgency in the north of the country in recent weeks after a spate of raids and ambushes. The United States, worried that West Africa might become a haven for al-Qa’ida and other Islamic militant groups, has been sending military experts across the lawless unpoliced deserts of the Sahara for several years to provide counter-terrorism training but this is believed to be the first time the US military has lent a helping hand in a domestic operation.

“It was not a normal event. We do not do this day to day,” Major John Dorrian, spokesman for the US European Command that also covers Africa, said yesterday.

Bush’s plans for a separate US military command for Africa: here.

Rare bee colonies discovered in Scotland


This video says about itself: ‘ A mining bee digs its nest’.

From the BBC:

Mining bee stronghold uncovered

One of the UK’s rarest bees has established a stronghold in sandy dunes on the Western Isles.

RSPB Scotland said its staff and enthusiasts had discovered multiple nest sites of northern colletes, or mining bees, on the Uists.

Berneray, off the tip of North Uist, has emerged as the most northerly site in the UK for the threatened species, said the wildlife organisation.

More than 10 colonies have been found on the island.

Jamie Boyle, RSPB Scotland’s Uist warden, said: “This is really great news and extremely encouraging for this struggling and very rare species.”

Northern colletes is a solitary variety and burrows underground into soft soil to build its nest where it stores nectar and pollen for its larvae.

They differ from bumblebees and honey bees in having no workers.

Although they do not co-operate with each other, they nest in what are termed “aggregations” – the insect equivalent of rookeries.

Because of this it prefers gently sloping sandy banks and dunes, close to the herb-rich machair meadows familiar on the islands.

Mr Boyle said: “As well as in the Uists, there are only a few other isolated UK locations that the northern colletes bee occurs, such as on the Ayrshire coast – where it was first discovered in the UK more than a century ago.”

See also here.

Honeybees vs. hornets: here.

The bee-killing Asian hornet is set to invade Britain: here.

Monkey-pigeon friendship in shelter in China


This video says about itself: ‘Visitors at a zoo in Thailand witness the bizarre sights of tiger cubs suckling a sow and piglets playing with a fully grown tiger.’

From the Daily Mail in Britain:

The abandoned monkey who has found love with a pigeon

Last updated at 18:39pm on 13th September 2007

They’re an odd couple in every sense but a monkey and a pigeon have become inseparable at an animal sanctuary in China.

The 12-week-old macaque – who was abandoned by his mother – was close to death when it was rescued on Neilingding Island, in Goangdong Province.

After being taken to an animal hospital his health began to improve but he seemed spiritless – until he developed a friendship with a white pigeon.

The blossoming relationship helped to revive the macaque who has developed a new lease of life, say staff at the sanctuary.

Now the unlikely duo are never far from each other’s side, but they aren’t the only ones to strike up an unusual friendship.

Earlier this year a pig adopted a tiger cub and raised him along with her piglets because his mother couldn’t feed him.

And in 2005 a baby deer named Mi-Lu befriended lurcher Geoffrey at the Knowsley Animal Park in Merseyside after she was rejected by her mother.

Macaques: here.