Male eagle-owl feeds female, video


In this video, recorded yesterday in the Netherlands, a male eagle-owl brings food for the female on the nest.

Towards the end of the video, one can hear a barn owl.

Owl mystery unravelled: Scientists explain how bird can rotate its head without cutting off blood: here.

Siskins on the balcony


This video is called The Eurasian Siskin (Carduelis spinus).

This week, a new bird species for the balcony: siskins.

At first, only a few, but this morning twelve on the peanut feeder and other parts of the balcony. They did not feed on the apples. The blackbirds did, though.

Also two siskins at the other side of the house.

Rare white-headed ducks in Ukraine


This is a white-headed duck video from Spain.

From BirdLife:

Endangered species back, but for how long…?

Mon, Feb 18, 2013

Europe, News

Endangered species back, but for how long…?

USPB (BirdLife in the Ukraine)

A colony of White-headed ducks, a globally threatened species and extremely rare in the Ukraine, was seen at the Lake Yarylhach together with other rare birds. Despite the obvious importance of the Yarylhach wetland in terms of biodiversity richness, the conservation status of this area is at high risk. 

At the occasion of the International geese count that took place during the first weekend of February in the Ukraine, Bulgaria and Romania, 30 White-headed ducks were registered by the Ukrainian Society for the Protection of Birds (USPB; BirdLife in the Ukraine).

The White-headed duck is a globally threatened species originated in the Palearctic. In the second half of the 20th century the population has decreased in the Ukraine and has just recently started to recover. One reason, confirmed by a survey run by USPB in February, is that the Ukrainian wetlands are rich habitats for waterfowls and water birds, providing them with resources they need to survive and reproduce.

Indeed, the survey showed that the Ukrainian wetlands are key wintering areas to tens of thousands of geese, different species of ducks, swans, herons, sandpipers and gulls. Rare species, such as the White-headed ducks also gather in these wetlands.

“Registration of White-headed ducks is an extremely important event for the Ukraine, as it is an indication that our wetlands meet international standards,” says Oleg Dudkin, Director of the Ukrainian Society for the Protection of Birds.

However, USPB recorded a series of alarming threats to birds and the wetlands they inhabit; Ukrainian wetlands and especially the lake Yarylhach coast where the White-headed ducks nest, are suffering from pollution and destruction due to salt mining, which is also a violation of Ukrainian and International laws.

It is important that Ukrainian wetlands are protected by an effective legislation and preserved from damages linked to human activities.

For more information please contact Olga Yaremchenko, Conservation Projects Director at the Ukrainian Society for the Protection of Birds (BirdLife in the Ukraine).

Bahrain regime keeps killing


This video says about itself:

Bahraini doctor: “I’m not going to tell my 3 year old son: mama is going to jail”

(BBC) A court in Bahrain has jailed 20 medics who treated protesters to up to 15 years each, after convicting them of incitement to overthrow the regime.

They looked after people who were injured when a protest calling for more rights for the country’s Shia majority in the Sunni-ruled kingdom was crushed.

One of the doctors charged, Fatima Haji, has recorded a video message for her son in which she maintained her innocence.

From Associated Press:

Bahrain opposition: Protester dies from injuries

February 22

MANAMA, Bahrain — An opposition official in Bahrain says a 20-year-old protester died from injuries suffered during clashes with security forces.

The death is the second this month blamed on riot police in the tense Gulf kingdom and could put further pressure on political talks aimed at ending two years of unrest.

Bahrain’s majority Shiites have led an uprising for a greater political voice in the Sunni-ruled nation, home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

Hadi al-Musawi, a spokesman for the Shiite group Al Wefaq, said the protester died early Friday from a head injury sustained Feb. 14 when he was hit with a tear gas canister fired by security forces. Bahraini officials had no immediate comment.

More than 60 people, more according to some activists, have been killed in unrest in Bahrain.

Dutch cormorants already have eggs


Zwanenwater cormorants

Though it is still winter, Dutch great cormorants are already nesting. This photo by Erik Menkveld is from the Zwanenwater nature reserve.

Translated from the blog of game warden Anke Bruin from Vlieland island:

February 22, 2013

Last week, our colleague Herman Vogel noted that there are already over 80 great cormorants nesting in the second Kroon’s Polder wetland, on the islets. There they have already laid eggs. The particularity of the cormorants on Vlieland is that they nest on the ground. Elsewhere they make their nests in trees. On Vlieland they feel safe enough on their own islets, to breed on the ground.

The ‘Vlieland’ cormorants eat mainly sand eels (commercially not an interesting species).

There is a slide show about the cormorants in Ms Bruin’s blog post.

For the next few days, the weather forecast is more snow and cold. All my best wishes for the birds and their nests!

Chinese deer in England


This video from England says about itself:

Chinese Water Deer on Camera Trap

Apr 27, 2012

Short video of a Chinese Water Deer buck with large tusks.
Captured in a small woodland belt on farmland near Wood Walten Fen.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Deer visitors from the Far East

Thursday 21 February 2013

One of southern England’s commonest deer is the dog-sized muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak) but in north Norfolk and particularly around the Broads national park the small deer that you see is just as likely to be a Chinese water deer (Hydropotes intermis).

The differences between the two species are easy to spot if you can get a good sighting of the animal.

The water deer is slightly larger than the muntjac.

Full-grown water deer adults are between 50 and 55cm at the shoulder with a russet-brown coat in summer that turns paler and greyer in the winter.

Chinese water deer have no antlers but bucks have distinctive large protruding tusks. These tusks are used as weapons during the rut and for defence. Large and rounded ears sometimes suggest a teddy bear to more romantic or imaginative spotters.

Like most of these exotic invasive and unwelcome species, both plants and animals, these water deer were first bought to our shores by irresponsible aristocrats as exotic decorations for their large country estates.

The deer are spreading, and today there are believed to be many thousand Chinese water deer in East Anglia and smaller herds in places like the countryside around Woburn in Bedfordshire.

Nationally there are now so many in fact that a serious cull seemed like a necessary project.

At least that was the thinking until recent research in the animal’s native home in China bought the tragic news of the catastrophic decline in the species population there.

In China the small deer is widely hunted, sometimes for venison, but more often for inner organs used in traditional Chinese medicine.

More importantly, the enormous and well-publicised Three Gorges hydro power project on the Yangtze River is destroying or changing much of the water deer’s natural home environment.

The overall result is that the water deer population in China is plummeting and some experts say that the growing numbers in north Norfolk now represent between an eighth and a quarter of the entire world’s total.

The water deer is shot, or indeed run over, in Norfolk too and much of the local wild and delicious venison comes from this exotic oriental visitor.

But the lack of any but a few human predators means the population is still growing really fast.

Invasive introduced species are not generally good for the natural biodiversity of any region and local Norfolk farmers and gardeners are quick to complain about the water deer’s destructive habits among their precious trees, plants and crops.

However with extinction a real possibility in its native homeland it seems we might need to offer this particular illegal immigrant a real welcome and a safe home in our own watery wonderland the Norfolk Broads.

Just don’t mention it to the Daily Mail.