Bush spied on Iraqi government


This video from the USA is called Stop War On Iran Protest.

From British daily The Guardian:

White House spied on Iraq leaders, says Bob Woodward book

Author’s interviews with George Bush reveal president’s doubts about Iraq troop surge and military leadership

* Haroon Siddique

* Friday September 05 2008 12:00 BST

The Bush administration has spied on the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and other senior figures in his government, the Washington Post reported today.

The claim is one of many in a new book by the paper’s associate editor Bob Woodward, who with Carl Bernstein uncovered the Watergate scandal that led to Richard Nixon’s resignation.

The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008 is based on more than 150 interviews with key figures in the Iraq war as well two interviews with the president himself. The books paints a picture of Bush often at loggerheads with his military advisers and other officials.

Spoonbills breed in Scotland for the first time


This is a video of a spoonbill in the Netherlands.

From Wildlife Extra:

Spoonbills breed in Scotland for the first time

September 2008. A pair of spoonbills, usually found in the Mediterranean, have successfully bred for the first time in Scotland and only the second time in the UK. An adult pair of the tall, elegant birds with bizarre spatula-like bills have raised and fledged three chicks on Kirkcudbright Bay in Dumfries and Galloway.

Ribble Estuary

It is only the second time the species has bred in the UK after a pair nested successfully on the Ribble Estuary in Lancashire in 1998, which was the first successful breeding attempt for 330 years.

The birds were discovered by Keith Kirk, a countryside ranger for Dumfries and Galloway Council, after a tip-off from local contact Gary McKie, who runs wildlife watching boat trips into the bay and up the River Dee.

Spoonbills

With pure white plumage, lanky dark legs and their long, bizarre-shaped bills, the birds make a rare and arresting sight on the mudflats and marshes of British wetlands and lagoons. They use the bill to feed – sweeping it back and forth with the bill slightly open, it filters out small invertebrates, crustaceans, amphibians and small fish disturbed from the sediment by vigorous paddling of their feet.

There are normally about 75 records of the species in the UK a year, but these are usually non-breeding birds and confined to coastal sites in north west and south west England, and East Anglia. They can nest on the ground or in trees, and tend to stay close to related species including herons and egrets.

Inaccessible area

Keith Kirk said: “There was one adult bird in early June, then another joined it in the couple of weeks following that. Now they have been seen with three juveniles. We have taken a boat out and watched them, and two of youngsters were coming in behind the adults, clattering their bills and begging to be fed, and one of the adults appeared to turn round and give it a feed. We haven’t seen the nest, as it’s a very secluded and inaccessible area, but with the way they were behaving I’m sure this is a successful breeding attempt, which is brilliant news for us.”

He added: “In the past Dumfries and Galloway has probably not been everyone’s first thought for wildlife watching in Scotland, but this just goes to show what an amazing spectacle is on offer here. We haven’t got capercaillie, ptarmigan or crested tit, but pretty much everything else Scotland has to offer in terms of great wildlife is all here.”

From towns to seas, climate change is affecting UK birds: here.

New salt marsh to be created at Grangemouth: here.

Rope bridges for Scottish red squirrels


This video is about red squirrels in Scotland.

From Wildlife Extra:

Rope bridges help Red squirrels across major roads

August 2008. Research has shown that red squirrels can and do make use of special crossings set up over busy roads.

A researcher from the University of Leeds‘ Faculty of Biological Sciences conducted a survey to look at whether red squirrels living in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park were using rope bridges installed by a local wildlife group.

This kind of bridge is usually installed at sites where there have been fatalities recorded but up until now no-one has collected any data to show whether or not they are actually used by the animals.

Recording usage

Stephen Lockwood, who is completing a masters’ degree in biodiversity and conservation, took specialist training in tree climbing so that he could to set up equipment to record the squirrels’ movements. In addition to using cameras he also used tubes filled with nuts and sticky tape to gather hairs and clay moulds to record the animals’ footprints.

Wildlife corridor

He says: “This isn’t just about cutting down on the number of squirrels killed on the roads. We also know that when a natural habitat becomes fragmented, such as by the introduction of unnatural barriers like roads, there is a lesser chance of the species surviving in the long term because the opportunities for breeding are fewer. The bridges will hopefully encourage the squirrels to explore a wider area and therefore lessen the chance of inbreeding. By finding out whether they actually use these bridges we can assess how useful it is to install them.”

Other wildlife bridges

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Rope bridges have been in use at Diani beach in Kenya for around ten years. They were designed to protect the local colobus monkey population, and the current 23 bridges are thought to be used some 150,000 times per year.
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Utah built a wildlife “Overpass” in 1976 which has been much copied, and improved worldwide, and especially in North America.
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Wildlife “Underpasses” are becoming more and more common. From small pipes to allow toads to migrate, to huge box culverts designed to allow bears and even moose to pass through.

See also about rope bridge research in Australia.

Rope bridge for English dormice: here.

Dormice in Lincolnshire: here.

BBC News: Dormice found in North Somerset nestboxes: here.

Wildlife flyovers in Spain – Saving wildlife and humans: here.

Orang-utans using bridges to connect Borneo’s fragmented forests: here.

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Stop Troy Davis death penalty


This video from the USA is called Happy Birthday to Troy Davis, innocent on Georgia’s death row.

From Amnesty International in the USA:

Urge Clemency for Troy Davis

Take Action On This Issue

Troy Davis came within 24 hours of execution in July, 2007 before receiving a temporary stay of execution. But the Georgia Supreme Court denied Mr. Davis’ motion for a new trial and now he faces execution on September 23.

Troy Davis was sentenced to death for the murder of Police Officer Mark MacPhail in Georgia. The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even during the trial. Since then, all but two of the state’s nine non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony. Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis.

Learn more about Troy Davis here.

See also here.

And here. And here.

Troy Davis stay of execution: here.

14 October 2008 update: here.

16 October 2008 update: here.

Sea eagle on Isle of May, Scotland


This video says about itself:

Join us in Lappland, the last untouched wilderness in Europe. Here you’ll find the White-Tailed Sea Eagle that is the largest of all European Eagles. This footage shows this great predator hunting for fish.

From Wildlife Extra:

Sea eagle turns up on the Isle of May

August 2008. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) staff on the Isle of May recently woke up to find an unusual visitor on the island. A sea eagle, recently released as part of the east coast reintroduction project in Fife, had decided to take a trip to the island reserve in the Forth.

Isle of May

The Isle of May National Nature Reserve is used to visitors, receiving over 7000 human visitors each year and having over 200,000 birds each season. Out of the ordinary birds turn up from time to time as the island is an ideal safe resting point for travelling birds. Two years ago saw a flurry of excitement among bird watchers as a rare calandra lark arrived.

More about the Isle of May and how to visit: here.

The May is most famous for its seabirds which routinely include shags [see also here], puffins, terns, guillemots, razorbills, eider ducks, gulls, kittiwakes and fulmars but the sea eagle is a first for excited SNH staff.

Tabatha Lamont, SNH’s assistant reserve officer said: “As many people know the Isle of May is a bird paradise with huge populations of some of our most loved seabirds, like the puffin, in summer. What people might not know is that, because of where the island is placed at the mouth of the Firth of Forth, our reserve is often visited by unusual birds. That said a sea eagle does top the list of visitors with its huge wingspan.

East Scotland Sea Eagles

The East Scotland Sea Eagle (ESSE) project is a partnership between Scottish Natural Heritage, RSPB Scotland and Forestry Commission Scotland, to reintroduce sea eagles to eastern Scotland as part of Scotland’s Species Action Framework. Following successful reintroductions to the west coast of Scotland since the 1970’s, the hope now is that this project can help restore sea eagles to their former range in the east.

See also here.

Forth islands cleared of invasive plant that is forcing puffins out: here.

Ringed shag: here.