Spotted crake and whimbrel


Today, again to the “Baillon’s crake reserve”.

Not because any Baillon’s crake had been seen there. However, a slightly bigger but also rare relative of the Baillon’s crake, the spotted crake, had been spotted there yesterday.

This is a spotted crake video from Spain.

Near the reserve entrance, gadwall ducks swimming. A great cormorant sitting on the highest whip of the windmill.

Four snipes resting on a small island in the southern lake. Two birders tell me the spotted crake was seen here half an hour before I arrived, but it is not visible now. Sam Gobin had managed to photograph and film the bird.

Sam Gobin also tells me about a water rail which he had seen a bit further north, but I don’t see the water rail now either.

I do see twelve curlews flying with a, smaller, whimbrel in the midst of their group. Some of the curlews are calling.

Whimbrel survives Hurricane Irene in the USA with transmitter on: here.

I hear a young little grebe call.

On the northern lake, a spoonbill sleeping. Another spoonbill looking for food.

About twenty shoveler ducks.

A house martin flying.

On the bank of the canal near the railway, a mother Egyptian goose with five chicks which have grown to nearly her own size.

A tufted duck. Grey lag geese.

A lesser black-backed gull flying.

On the bank of the northern canal, three Canada geese, and an Egyptian goose calling to four chicks swimming not far away.

Back to the southern lake. Though I still don’t see the water rail, at least I hear it now.

12:20. For a few seconds I see the juvenile spotted crake coming out of the bank vegetation. Just a bit more to the south than where Sam Gobin saw it earlier today. The first time ever that I have seen this species.

The snipes are still resting.

12:30. Where I had seen the spotted crake, a common sandpiper. Suddenly, the spotted crake comes bursting out of the vegetation and drives the “intruder”, just about a centimeter smaller than it, away.

Bahrain dictatorship kills teenager


Ali Jawad AhmadFrom Reuters:

Bahrain teenager dies of injuries after protest

31 Aug 2011 12:07

DUBAI, Aug 31 – A teenager died in Bahrain on Wednesday after being hit by a tear gas cannister fired by security forces trying to disperse a protest overnight, a rights group said.

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights said on its website that Ali Jawad Ahmad, 14, was injured after security forces used “excessive force” against demonstrators in the small Gulf Arab state.

A police official told the state news agency BNA that the incident was being investigated, without saying how the boy was injured.

“There was no reported police action against law-breakers … at the time the boy’s death was reported, except dispersing a small group of around 10 people at 1:15 a.m.,” the agency quoted the official as saying.

Small scale protests and clashes with security forces frequently break out in areas where the majority Shi’ite population live after the Sunni-dominated government crushed a pro-democracy movement earlier this year.

Around 30 people were killed during the protests and ensuing crackdown.

Saudi and United Arab Emirates troops helped U.S.-allied Bahrain stamp out protests it says were driven by Shi’ite sectarian motivations and instigated by non-Arab Shi’ite power Iran across the Gulf. Opposition groups deny this. (Writing by Firouz Sedarat; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

See also here. And here. And here. And here.

Bahrain: On the afternoon of April 12, plain-clothes security officials arrested Ghazi Farhan, a businessman, in his office parking lot: here.

Bahrain: U.N. Shows Concern Over Human Rights Violations: here.

US support for militarism, not democracy, in the Middle East: here.

War and oil in Libya


This video is called Looting Libya: Who’s first for oil?

With the US and its European allies set to install a puppet regime in Libya based on the Benghazi-based National Transitional Council, deep divisions have emerged among the NATO-led rebels. These divisions, which include tensions with elements of Al Qaeda, pose the threat of continued fighting between rival factions well after the overthrow of the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is completed: here.

Oil companies fight to carve up Libya: here.

Libya’s Nato-backed National Transitional Council (NTC) today rejected proposals for the United Nations to deploy military observers to the country: here.

Archaeologists in contact with colleagues in Libya say that their nation’s antiquities appear safe despite the chaos in the country. That news is contrary to reports earlier this week, which claimed that Libya’s museums were being plundered and sites destroyed in NATO bombing raids: here.

Dutch pelican keeps flying


This is a white pelican video from Hungary.

The great white pelican, which was first spotted in Oegstgeest in the Netherlands, later near Sassenheim, has moved on to the Elsgeest polder near Voorhout.

The bird seems to have escaped from Artis zoo in Amsterdam.

Gene McDaniels, US anti-war songwriter, dies


This video says about itself:

Compared To What

The song was recorded in 1969 by pianist Les McCann and saxophonist Eddie Harris for their album, Swiss Movement, recorded live at the Montreux Jazz Festival.

By Hiram Lee in the USA:

Gene McDaniels, soul singer and songwriter, dead at 76

30 August 2011

Singer and songwriter Gene McDaniels died July 29 at the age of 76. McDaniels is perhaps best-known for having composed the protest song “Compared to What,” made famous by jazz musicians Les McCann and Eddie Harris, and the R&B standard “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” recorded by numerous performers, most notably Roberta Flack. He was a talented composer and an even more impressive singer. …

As interesting as much of it was, McDaniels’ early pop music only hinted at what he was capable of. By the late 1960s, his music would undergo a dramatic change as he embraced radical politics and began to experiment with a fusion of jazz, soul and rock.

This dramatic change of direction was certainly not exclusive to McDaniels. The experience of civil rights struggles and the anti-Vietnam war protest movement, of the immense social crisis then underway, had a radicalizing effect on many musicians and artists of the period. One began to see works in which popular musicians took up significant social and political themes for the first time—Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On being a prime example. But even for those artists who did not create explicitly political works, one felt a musical complacency being challenged.

McDaniels’ best work of the late 1960s and early 1970s came to life with a new confidence and ambition that would have been unthinkable without the social upheavals of that period.

In 1969, jazz musicians McCann and Harris recorded “Compared to What,” a hard-driving, soul-jazz composition by McDaniels, and the first to give a sense of his new direction. The song articulated McDaniels’ disgust with the Vietnam War. McCann’s gruff voice sang the angry lyrics:

“The President, he’s got his war
Folks don’t know just what it’s for
Nobody gives us rhyme or reason
Have one doubt, they call it treason”

Recorded live at the Montreux Jazz Festival, the audible excitement of the audience only made the recording that much more powerful.

McDaniels’ 1971 album Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse is most representative of his work from this period. The album has become something of a cult classic, particularly for a younger generation of listeners who were first introduced to the recording by the many hip hop artists who sampled it.

Listening to Headless Heroes, one is struck by its audacity. McDaniels is trying and taking on everything. There are songs about racism, colonialism, consumerism, as well as a few gospel-tinged parables, and even a tribute to Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger. In some ways the album is a mess, far too eclectic. But there are inspired moments.

Among the more interesting songs is “Headless Heroes,” in which McDaniels sings of his disgust with the forces who foster and exploit racial and national divisions, using ordinary people as “pawns in the master game.” In one remarkable moment, he sings, “Get it together and see what’s happening!”

“Susan Jane,” the amusing but not unsympathetic story of a middle class hippie girl, “beautifully insane, standing barefoot in the middle of the muddy road” provides the album with one of its gentler and more delightful moments.

Songwriter Nick Ashford who, along with his wife Valerie Simpson, wrote several significant hits for Motown records in the late 1960s, has died at age 70: here.

Prolific songwriter Jerry Leiber dead at 78: here.

Bands like Odd Future and Iceage are sparking debate about why musicians should take racism and sexism seriously: here.

Rare lichen discovery on Texel


Usnea flavocardiaTranslated from Rense Haveman and Iris de Ronde in the Netherlands:

Usnea flavocardia lichen comeback

Monday, August 29, 2011

During the inventory of the vegetation on the military training ground Joost Dourleinkazerne on Texel in a young dune grassland 19 specimens of the lichen Usnea flavocardia, which was presumed to be extinct, have been found. The find was extra special because the lichen was found on the ground. Normally it grows on tree branches and trunks.

Usnea flavocardia in the last one hundred years had been found only once before, in 1991 in a swamp in Soerendonk in North Brabant province. Usnea flavocardia had also been seen a few times in the first decade of the twentieth century.

The part of the training area where this rarity is found is not used by the military. It consists of very young dunes, which grew after 1995 on the Hors, the broad sandbar on the south side of Texel. Nature can develop here freely. Besides the pioneer grasslands, where Usnea flavocardia grows, very species rich wet dune valleys are present as well. By the action of wind and water there are all sorts of valuable transitions between wet and dry, sweet and salty habitats, in which many plants and animals feel at home.

See also here.

The surprisingly toxic world of lichens: here.

September 2011: Home to some of Britain’s rarest plants, the sand dune is finally becoming the focus of a pioneering three-year conservation project: here.