Good English dormouse news


This video is called Save Our Species – Hazel Dormouse.

From Wildlife Extra:

Reintroduced dormice thriving in Cambridgeshire wood

Branching out – dormouse on the march in Peterborough wood

November 2012. Dormice are thriving in a Peterborough wood – and now a local farmer is helping then to branch out even further afield.

The Forestry Commission found 27 dormice in boxes in Bedford Purlieus Wood, near Peterborough, during the final monthly check of the year in October. Adults, juveniles and babies were recorded, most in good health and with plenty of fat to see them through their winter hibernation.

The checks – carried out by rangers and volunteers – have been crucial in charting the progress of the endangered mammals since they were released in the 200 hectare beauty spot in 2001 after becoming extinct locally.

Cheryl Joyce, Forestry Commission ranger, said: “Finding so many dormice in our final check is great news. But what has really excited us is that some animals were found a long way from the original release point, adding to our hopes that they might soon spread into the surrounding countryside. That really is the next major project landmark. It just shows what sensitive habitat management allied to the passion of volunteers can achieve.”

Dormice boxes

Spurred on by the dormouse revival, Clive Fuller from 1150 acre Cross Leys Farm, is working with Cambridgeshire Wildlife Trust and volunteers to erect boxes in hedgerows in his fields bordering Bedford Purlieus Wood.

Hedgerows are the key to encouraging the creature to establish roots in nearby woods – they provide ‘wildlife motorways’ offering rest stops, food and protection from predators when dormice go on their travels.

Clive explained: “Our tall hedgerows have been carefully managed as we have been in stewardship schemes and provide vital wildlife havens. The Wildlife Trust asked me to help by putting up boxes in two long stretches of hedgerows running in different directions from Bedford Purlieus Wood. I’m only too delighted to help. The dormice have done well and I would love for them to spread through the area.”

The long term decline of the dormouse is thought to be due to habitat loss and population fragmentation over many years.

The original reintroduction at Bedford Purlieus was organised by Natural England and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species working in partnership with the Forestry Commission. Nearly 200 dormice boxes have been erected in the wood. Because many of the creatures build their own natural nests in trees and shrubs, surveys provide a limited, but important snapshot of a much bigger dormouse colony in Bedford Purlieus.

The wood was declared a National Nature Reserve in 2000 in recognition of its importance as a species-rich semi-natural ancient woodland.

Sleeping hazel dormouse photo: here.

Free Bahraini human rights activist


A girl holds a poster calling for the release of Nabeel Rajab in Bahrain. Photograph: Ammar Photography/Demotix/Corbis

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Human rights groups call for release of Bahraini activist

Nabeel Rajab has been jailed for three years for organising demonstrations through social networking sites

Richard Norton-Taylor

Thursday 8 November 2012 12.35 GMT

Human rights groups have called for the immediate release of a leading Bahraini activist jailed for participating in “illegal” demonstrations and organising them through social networking sites.

Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, was jailed for three years in August. … Human rights organisations are stepping up pressure to try to get him freed.

“Nabeel Rajab must be the world’s first Twissident, locked up for criticising his repressive government on Twitter,” said Clive Stafford Smith, director of the legal charity Reprieve.

He added: “I know him to be an honest and decent man, who travelled far and wide to help the families whose relatives had been locked up in Guantánamo. He’s not a lawyer, and he’s the furthest thing imaginable from an extremist.”

Social media sites give the Gulf’s growing youth population a voice: here.

Good Welsh pine marten news


This is a pine marten video from Scotland.

From Wildlife Extra:

Pine Marten found in Wales – the first in 40 years!

Sadly, the proof is a victim of the roadkill

November 2012. A road casualty pine marten has been found near Newtown in Powys – the first known carcass in Wales since 1971.

‘The significance of this find cannot be overstated,’ said Natalie Buttriss, Chief Executive with The Vincent Wildlife Trust. ‘It adds to the body of evidence supporting the long-held view of mammal experts that this attractive tree-dwelling animal does exist in Wales, but in such low numbers that very few people ever see one.’

The carcass was found by local resident Olly Amy on the roadside close to the village of Aberhafesp near Newtown. Olly contacted The Vincent Wildlife Trust after correctly identifying it as a pine marten. DNA analysis carried out at Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland has provided unequivocal evidence that this is a pine marten native to the British Isles. The animal was a young male.

300 reported sightings

In the last 20 years, The Vincent Wildlife Trust has received more than 300 credible reports of sightings of pine martens in Wales and has built up a map of ‘hot spot’ areas. Until today, however, the most recent unequivocal evidence was a pine marten scat (dropping) found in Cwm Rheidol forest (Some 40-50 miles from the location of this animal) in 2007 and later positively DNA tested.

In recent years, the Trust has organised numerous hunts for pine marten scats using teams of volunteers, deployed remote cameras and set up baited hair tubes, but despite this endeavour no unequivocal evidence has been found since 2007 – until now.

Report a sighting

If you think you have seen a pine marten in England or Wales, please contact The Vincent Wildlife Trust on 01531636441 or www.vwt.org.uk.

This find is also particularly timely with the employment later this month of a new VWT Pine Marten Project Officer, funded by The Co-operative and based in mid Wales. This two-year project aims to determine the status of the pine marten in Wales and help develop long-term conservation plans to ensure a safe future for this rare Welsh mammal.

The pine marten in Britain

The pine marten (Martes martes) had become extinct throughout much of Britain by the early part of the 20th century. Small populations survived in Wales and the Marches and in areas of northern England, but relatively strong populations were still to be found only in some parts of the Scottish Highlands where persecution pressures were less.

Recent studies show that the pine marten in Scotland is making a good recovery. South of the Scottish border the situation appears to be different, and the recovery taking place in Scotland has not yet occurred in those parts of England and Wales where pine martens survived. The last known carcass recorded in Wales was in 1971, but the last carcass collected was from Talybont- on-Usk in 1950 (and now in Cardiff Museum).

The Vincent Wildlife Trust has been gathering and evaluating reported sightings of pine martens from England and Wales since the mid-1990s. Data analysis suggests that pine martens are still present in broadly the same parts of Wales and England today as in earlier decades, including the Cambrian Mountains, Snowdonia and Carmarthenshire. However, it is clear that this species is both rare and elusive, and evidence of its presence is very hard to find.

Pine marten facts

A native mammal of Britain and Ireland, the pine marten is a medium-sized mustelid (or member of the weasel family) and is related to the mink, polecat, otter, badger, stoat and weasel. Adult pine martens are similar in size to a small/medium-sized domestic cat, with males about a third larger than the females.

The pine marten has a slim body and a long tail that is thick and bushy in its winter coat. Rich brown fur contrasts with a creamy-yellow ‘bib’ on the throat and chest, and with the pale fur within the prominent, rounded ears (the bib varies in size and in some individuals is almost absent).

The pine marten probably arrived in Britain and Ireland soon after the end of the last glaciation, about 9,500 years ago. An animal of woodland, it would have been most numerous when Britain and Ireland had greater tree cover. It has been suggested that 6,500 years ago, pine martens were the second most common carnivore in Britain!

Pine martens are solitary for most of the year, and each adult occupies a home range that varies from 20 to 3000+ hectares depending on the quality of the habitat.

The People and Pine Martens in Wales Project

This project is funded by The Co-operative through the Wales carrier bag levy scheme. Money is raised when shoppers pay 5p for a single use plastic bag at more than 250 stores of The Co-operative Food and The Co-operative Pharmacy within Wales.

Grey falcon, Australia’s rarest falcon


Grey falcon

From Emu Austral Ornithology journal:

A hot environment and one type of prey: investigating why the Grey Falcon (Falco hypoleucos) is Australia’s rarest falcon

Jonny Schoenjahn

Published online: 8 November 2012

The Grey Falcon (Falco hypoleucos) is a poorly known endemic of inland Australia. It is considered Australia’s rarest falcon and among the rarest Falco species of the world. Current information on the species is largely restricted to opportunistic observations and specimens in wildlife collections. Here I detail information on the breeding and dietary ecology of the species from a continent-wide field study from 2003 to 2011.

Breeding was recorded 37 times. The breeding distribution of the species was more appropriately described by climatic categories than by average annual rainfall. All nest-sites occurred in areas of the hottest climate classes. All but two food items identified were birds; the two exceptions were rodents captured during a rodent outbreak in September 2011.

This study provides the first coherent set of firsthand data concerning key aspects of the ecology of the Grey Falcon, constituting a valuable resource for future studies of the species. The results presented suggest that the restriction of the breeding distribution of the species to areas of the highest annual average temperatures and its almost exclusively avian diet are likely factors associated with the species’ rarity.

New earth-like planet discovery


This video is about the star HD 40307.

From EarthSky:

Nov 07, 2012

New super-Earth may be just right to support life

A new super-Earth planet that may have an Earth-like climate and be just right to support life has been discovered around a nearby star by an international team of astronomers, led by Mikko Tuomi, University of Hertfordshire, and Guillem Anglada-Escude, University of Goettingen.

The new super-Earth planet exists in the habitable zone of a nearby star and is part of a six-planet system. The system was previously thought to contain three planets in orbits too close to the star to support liquid water. By avoiding fake signals caused by stellar activity, the researchers have identified three new super-Earth planet candidates also in orbit.

This artist’s impression shows HD40307g in the foreground (on the left hand side), with its host star HD40307 and two other planets in the system (on the right-hand side). Image credit: J. Pinfield

Mikko Tuomi said: “We pioneered new data analysis techniques including the use of the wavelength as a filter to reduce the influence of activity on the signal from this star. This significantly increased our sensitivity and enabled us to reveal three new super-Earth planets around the star known as HD 40307, making it into a six-planet system.”

Of the new planets, the one of greatest interest is the one with the outermost orbit from the star -– with a mass at least seven times of the Earth. Its orbit around the host star is at a similar distance to Earth’s orbit around our Sun, so it receives a similar amount of energy from the star as the Earth receives from the Sun – increasing the probability of it being habitable. This is where the presence of liquid water and stable atmospheres to support life is possible and, more importantly, the planet is likely to be rotating on its own axis as it orbits around the star creating a daytime and night-time effect on the planet which would be better at creating an Earth-like environment.

Guillem Angla-Escude said: “The star HD 40307, is a perfectly quiet old dwarf star, so there is no reason why such a planet could not sustain an Earth-like climate.”

Hugh Jones, University of Hertfordshire, added: “The longer orbit of the new planet means that its climate and atmosphere may be just right to support life. Just as Goldilocks liked her porridge to be neither too hot nor too cold but just right, this planet or indeed any moons that is has lie in an orbit comparable to Earth, increasing the probability of it being habitable.”

Earlier this year, the Kepler spacecraft found a planet with a similar orbit. However, Kepler 22d is located 600 light years from Earth, whereas this new super-Earth planet known as HD 40307g is much closer being located at forty-two light years from Earth.

Mikko Tuomi carried out this work as a member of the European science network RoPACS (Rocky Planets Around Cool Stars) – an initiative with a research focus on the search for planets around cool stars. RoPACS has pan-European membership and is led from the University of Hertfordshire by David Pinfield, who commented: “Discoveries like this are really exciting, and such systems will be natural targets for the next generation of large telescopes, both on the ground and in space.”

Maryland Science Center Opens New Permanent Exhibition on Life Beyond Earth: here.

Dutch antiquities museum on the Internet


This video says about itself:

Exploring the Rijksmuseum with Google Art Project [1080p HD]

A walk through the famous Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Among its collection are many works of Rembrandt, including the Nachtwacht (Night Watch).

You can explore the Rijksmuseum with Google Art Project here:

http://www.googleartproject.com/museums/rijks

The music is “The XX – Intro”.

The Google Art Project shows art objects from museums in various countries in the world on the Internet.

Recently, the Dutch Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden joined this project.

This allows a close look for internauts at 273 objects of the collection of that museum.