São Tomé and Príncipe seabirds research


This video says about itself:

Academy researchers explain why Sao Tome and Principe are so special and extreme. Featuring Robert C. Drewes -curator in the department of Herpetology, and Roberta Ayers -Senior Educator at the California Academy of Sciences.
Check out the blog here.

From BirdLife:

Tinhosas Islands – desert island, seabird paradise

By nairobi.volunteer, Fri, 11/04/2014 – 07:00

São Tomé e Príncipe is a small tropical country known amongst birdwatchers and conservationists for its endangered secondary forests, and high level of bird endemism. However, the country also holds the most impressive seabird colonies in the eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean – the Tinhosas Islands. These are two barren rocky islands around 12 km SW of Príncipe Island. They are named Tinhosa Grande, and Tinhosa Pequena, and are both remote and endowed with abundant seabird life. Three of five seabird species known to breed in São Tomé e Príncipe, namely Brown Booby Sula leucogaster, Sooty Tern Sterna fuscata, and Black Noddy Anous minutus, breed in Tinhosas, some in great numbers. The last assessment of the Tinhosas colony was completed in 1997, and since then accounts of exploitation of the birds for human consumption have raised concern about its conservation status.

BirdLife International sponsored a two-day expedition to Tinhosas islands, in order to conduct a census of breeding birds, and assess trends and threats. “We departed for Tinhosas in a quite misty dawn, and saw few birds en route, but seabird numbers increased massively as we approached Tinhosa Pequena. They were mostly ‘Wideawake’ Terns [Sooty Terns]“, said Nuno Barros, SPEA/BirdLife Portugal seabird officer, and one of the participants in the expedition. When on the scene, and after two days of seabird census in intense tropical heat and a night spent amongst large numbers of land crabs, the results showed that while some species registered a slight increase, others, like Brown Booby evidenced a steep decrease from the 1997 census figures. Caution must be used when interpreting these differences, for multiple visits within and between years should be performed, to census breeders, monitor threats and establish breeding phenologies  says Simon Vale, a PhD student at Manchester Metropolitan University, based in Príncipe at the time, and also an expedition member. Nevertheless, the massive decrease in Brown Booby numbers is a grave concern.

Tinhosas islands are an amazing wildlife spectacle, and a remote arid paradise for breeding seabirds, that deserve further investigation and safeguarding. As Dr Ross Wanless, team member and Africa Coordinator for the BirdLife International Marine Programme, explains “Although none of the species breeding there is globally threatened, this is the only seabird colony of any significance in the Gulf of Guinea, so assessing the populations’ health and protecting the colonies from human impacts is of great value.”

BirdLife International and the expedition team would like to thank Bom Bom Island Resort for logistical support for the expedition. Ross Wanless received some financial support for the expedition from the University of Cape Town.

Read the full report: Status and trends of the seabirds breeding at Tinhosa Grande Island, São Tomé e Principe.

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Hummingbirds and coati in Costa Rica


Magnificent hummingbird male, 18 March 2014

After the golden-browed chlorophonias and other wildlife in the morning of 18 March in Costa Rica, now a blog post mainly about hummingbirds again. Like this male magnificent hummingbird.

A monarch butterfly.

Green-crowned brilliant male, 18 March 2014

2pm. The feeders were temporarily replaced by flowers. A bit unusual for the hummingbirds; still, they kept coming. Like this male green-crowned brilliant.

Green-crowned brilliant male, Costa Rica, 18 March 2014

Male violet sabrewing, 18 March 2014

And this violet sabrewing male.

Violet sabrewing male, Costa Rica, 18 March 2014

Violet sabrewing male, in Costa Rica, 18 March 2014

Green hermit female, 18 March 2014

And this green hermit female.

Green hermit female, Costa Rica, 18 March 2014

Purple-throated mountain-gem and green-crowned brilliant, 18 March 2014

Here, a female purple-throated mountain-gem waits on a stem, while a male green-crowned brilliant hovers.

White-nosed coati, 18 March 2014

Some twenty minutes later: a white-nosed coati on the other side of the stream.

Ten minutes later: a green spiny lizard.

We went away, higher up the mountains.

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Scotland’s oldest osprey Lady still on eggs


This is a video from Loch of Lowes in Scotland, on 31 March 2014. It shows Lady, world’s oldest osprey at 29 years at her nest, together with her (smaller) male partner Laddie.

From STV in Scotland:

Britain’s oldest breeding osprey lays record 69th egg at reserve

14 April 2014 11:23 BST

Britain’s oldest breeding osprey has flown her way into the record books by laying her 69th egg.

Lady, the 29-year-old raptor, excited twitchers at the Loch of Lowes reserve, in Perthshire, by displaying typical laying behaviour at around 12.30am on Sunday and emerging with a new egg 20 minutes later.

She broke her own record last year by laying four eggs, one of which hatched as audiences watched round the world on the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s webcam.

Ranger Emma Rawling, who co-ordinates the osprey watch, said: “This is really exciting. Everyone here is over the moon to have her back at Loch of Lowes.

Lady is a very old girl now and we weren’t sure if she would be coming back.

“The staff and volunteers here are over the moon and we are so relieved that our beloved female is still breeding at her advanced age.”

She added: “She dug herself deep into the centre of the nest, flattened herself out and passed the egg.

“You could see her panting and pushing so it is quite like a human birth in some ways.

“It’s just as well the birds have such a deep, snug cup in the centre of the nest as it was so windy that the whole tree was rocking.”

Ms Rawling said that Lady‘s partner, nicknamed Laddie, has also taken his fatherly duties seriously and is taking his turn minding the egg.

She said: “Since it was laid, the egg has been carefully tended and both birds have taken a turn incubating.

“This is a fantastic sign that he is bonding with the egg and his instincts to provide and care for it are fully roused which bides well for it.

“Some male ospreys don’t get involved with the young much but Laddie is your typical ‘new man’. He is very much the besotted new dad and it is very sweet to watch them together.”

The next few weeks will be tense at the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s reserve as staff wait to see if more eggs arrive and if they are fertile.

On average, osprey incubation lasts between 37 and 39 days making the earliest hatching possible on May 20.

Lady has returned to the reserve, near Dunkeld, from Africa to breed every year for 24 years and thousands watch her on a specially set-up webcam.

Ms Rawling said: “Some people have been volunteering here since she first came 24 years ago so I think it is fair to say that we know her very well.

“She is an extremely experienced and capable Mum. Nothing ever gets past her. She is now onto her fourth partner so knows exactly what she wants. She trains Laddie well and nags him to get her fish.”

She added that her return to the reserve, year after year, showed the success of the osprey conservation project.

Ospreys were extinct in the British Isles between 1916 and 1954, but it’s estimated there are currently between 250 and 300 nesting pairs in the UK.

Ms Rawling said: “She is a very old bird and for her to undertake another successful migration is testament to just how special she is. However, it does demonstrate the conservation success story of the species as a whole.

“To think that ospreys were extinct in Britain just over a century ago really brings home how accomplished the concerted effort of conservation has been in that time.”

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Costa Rica chlorophonia and other cloud forest wildlife


Costa Rica cloud forest and epiphytes, 18 March 2014

18 March 2014 near Bosque de Paz, Costa Rica. After the birds and moths of yesterday, to the cloud forest. Many bromeliads and other epiphytes on the trees, as the photos show.

Costa Rica cloud forest, and epiphytes, 18 March 2014

Costa Rica cloud forest, 18 March 2014

In the early morning, a clay-coloured thrush sang.

A black guan in a tree.

Many hummingbirds again.

A sulphur-bellied flycatcher.

A golden-browed chlorophonia.

A red-tailed squirrel.

A ruddy-capped nightingale-thrush crossing a forest path.

An eye-ringed flatbill on a branch.

Slate-throated redstart, 18 March 2014

A slate-throated redstart; singing.

Mantled howler monkeys call.

Another black guan in a tree.

A broad-winged hawk in another tree.

A great black hawk flying.

Torrent tyrannulet, 18 March 2014

8:50: a torrent tyrranulet near the stream.

A boat-billed flycatcher in a tree.

Costa Rica cloud forest flowers and golden-browed chlorophonia, 18 March 2014

A beautiful golden-browed chlorophonia again.

Golden-browed chlorophonia, 18 March 2014

Caterpillar, 18 March 2014

A caterpillar.

Butterfly, Costa Rica, 18 March 2013

Will it become this butterfly? Or another butterfly, or a moth?

Spot-crowned woodcreeper, 18 March 2014

A spot-crowned woodcreeper climbs a tree.

A prong-billed barbet on a branch.

A common bush-tanager. A tropical parula.

A golden-winged warbler.

Yellow-thighed finches, 18 March 2014

Yellow-thighed finches in a tree.

Spangle-cheeked tanager, 18 March 2014

A spangled-cheeked tanager. A species living in mountainous areas of Costa Rica and Panama only.

11:35: we are back. A Central American agouti across the stream.

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Stop Italian hunters’ abuse of live birds as decoys


This video says about itself:

Birds of Sardinia, Italy

Collection of 16 birds you can see at Sardina (Sardegna) during the winter.

[Names in English, Latin and Dutch]

1. Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix) / Bonte Kraai
2. Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis) / Geelpootmeeuw
3. Rock Dove (Columba livia) / Rotsduif
4. Spotless Starling (Sturnus unicolor) / Zwarte Spreeuw
5. Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)
6. Eurasian Curlew, (Numenius arquata) / Wulp
7. Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) / Zilverplevier
8. Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula) / Bontbekplevier
9. Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandra) / Grauwe Gors
10. Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) / Putter
11. Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus) / Cirlgors
12. Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) / Zwartkop
13. Linnet male and female (Carduelis cannabina) / Kneu
14. Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) / Tjiftjaf
15. Dartford Warbler (Sylvia undata) / Provençaalse Grasmus
16. Barbary Partridge (Alectoris barbara) / Barbarijse Patrijs

From BirdLife:

Italy put in hot spot as Commission calls to end live bird decoy use in hunting

By Rebecca Langer, Fri, 11/04/2014 – 14:34

Hunting practices in Italy have been put under fire recently by the European Commission due to the common hunting method involving the capture of wild birds to use as live decoys. Live decoys are illegal under EU law based on a number of reasons including the non-selectivity of trapping methods used, lack of controls and the lack of information on the number of birds caught. Due to this violation of the Birds and Habitats directive, BirdLife Partner in Italy, LIPU, is calling on the Italian government to urgently remedy the situation.

Italy has defended its inaction by claiming that there are no alternatives to the practice so the decoys are included in the exemptions to the Directive. The European Commission disputes this claim on the grounds that birds can be successfully hunted without the use of live decoys and captive bred birds can be used instead of wild caught birds.

The European Commission has made it clear that there is no future for this practice so Italy has the opportunity to minimise the adverse effects of a judgment from the European Court of Justice by providing an absolute prohibition of the use of birds as decoys. LIPU has been campaigning and gathering signatures to present to decision-makers in hopes that the government will avoid the embarrassment of a judgment and bring Italy in line with EU legislation and widely recognised good practice.

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Jackdaw brings paper to nest


This video is about a jackdaw nest in a hole in a tree.

Last week, I reported jackdaws at the railway station bringing small twigs to their nest.

Today, a jackdaw brought a piece of paper it found at the station to that nest, high up a metal station pole. Then, the jackdaw couple talked to each other at the nest.

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Lioness, wounded by buffalo, saved


This video from Kenya says about itself:

9 April 2014

Early on 4th April, a call was received from Governor’s Camp in the Maasai Mara about an injured lioness. She had a deep, open wound on her lower left flank, the result of an encounter with a buffalo.

The DSWT immediately launched its SkyVets Initiative; collecting a Kenya Wildlife Service Veterinarian and flying from Nairobi to the Mara. Once on the scene, the vet set about darting the lioness, whose wound was extensive.

In an operation that lasted 1 1/2 hrs, throughout which the rest of the pride were kept a safe distance, the vet thoroughly cleaned the wound before suturing it closed. Long lasting anti-biotic drugs were administered, as well as packing the wound with green clay, to speed the healing process. With that, Siena the lioness could rejoin the pride and her cubs.

Working together effectively and efficiently, the DSWT, KWS, Narok County Council and Governor’s Camp were able to help this lioness and with that, ensure the return of a mother to her cubs.

With Africa’s lions are under serious threat, with less than 35,000 remaining today, our ability to help this dominant pride member and her cubs is critically important.

Read the full account of the Siena’s treatment on our website, where you can also choose to support our SkyVets Initiative, here.

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Rwanda’s mountain gorillas, new film


Wildlife Extra writes about this video:

Rwanda’s mountain gorillas star in new documentary – watch it here

April 2014: Mountain gorillas at the Volcanoes National Park are the subject of a new 15 minute documentary entitled Hope which you can watch [above here]. The short film revisits the mountain gorillas at the park, nearly 47 years after Dian Fossey began her work in the region, and explores the extreme, intensive and sometimes dangerous methods employed to protect the great apes.

The film, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, takes a historical look back to 1967 when Dian Fossey began her work. Fewer than 300 mountain gorillas remained at the time, their population ravaged by poachers, who for years targeted the gorillas to make money, selling infant gorillas to zoos or the hands and heads of the adults as trophies to wealthy tourists.

Dian Fossey was murdered in 1985, her original research centre destroyed, rebuilt and then destroyed again during the civil war in Rwanda in the 1990s. However, despite adversity, the work never stopped. Today the Karisoke Research Center has a new home where 120 people continue Dian’s work, as the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.

The charity employs teams of trackers who follow the gorillas every day. They monitor each gorilla, ensuring its safety and health, risking their lives in a region that is still plagued by violence.

“The number of mountain gorillas had become so depleted in Rwanda by the late 1960s that extreme measures were needed to protect the remaining population and allow it to increase,” said David Attenborough. “The work at the Volcanoes National Park by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International absolutely must continue, if we are to protect this species of great ape, which is still critically endangered. The film Hope will once again bring to light the fragile existence of the mountain gorillas and the work that goes into protecting them. By watching and sharing this very important film you will be helping the people saving the gorillas.”

Ugandan mountain gorilla photos:here.

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Prehistoric harvestman had extra eyes


This video says about itself:

10 April 2014

A 305-million-year-old harvestman fossil, ancestor of modern day arachnids, is more closely relates to the scorpions than spiders. Scientists discovered unusual features: it has 2 sets of eyes on the center and lateral sides of the body.

From Discovery News:

Ancient Daddy Longlegs Had Extra Eyes

APRIL 12, 2014 12:30 PM ET // BY PAUL HELTZEL

A 304-million-year-old fossil discovered in Eastern France shows primitive living harvestmen — more commonly called daddy longlegs — had one more pair of eyes than they do today.

The ancient harvestmen had a pair of eyes along the middle of the body — like their modern counterparts — but they also had a pair of eyes on the side of the body. The findings were reported by researchers from the American Museum of Natural History and the University of Manchester, in the journal Current Biology.

Photos: Look If You Dare: Ancient Spider Family Album

Scientists studied the fossil using high-resolution X-ray imaging at the Natural History Museum, London.

“Our X-ray techniques have allowed us to reveal this fossil in more detail than we would have dreamed possible two decades ago,” said Russell Garwood, a research fellow at the University of Manchester and a lead author on the study, in a release.

Though Harvestmen have eight legs and are categorized as arachnids, they’re not spiders. They’re more closely related to scorpions.

The scientists also examined the expression of an eye-stalk growing gene in harvestmen embryos. The embryos briefly express the gene for the second pair of eyes. But by the time they hatch, the daddy long legs’ second pair of eyes are long gone.

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New North American bird migration Internet site


This video from the USA says about itself:

For thousands of years and countless generations, migratory birds have flown the same long-distance paths between their breeding and feeding grounds. Understanding the routes these birds take, called flyways, helps conservation efforts and gives scientists better knowledge of global changes, both natural and man-made. QUEST heads out to the Pacific Flyway with California biologists to track the rhythm of migration.

From Wildlife Extra:

Ninety years of valuable migration data about North American birds is now available online

Over a million records telling the tale of nearly a century of North American bird migrations have been rescued from obscurity and are being transcribed by an international network of more than 2,000 volunteers, making the records available for the first time online for use by researchers and the public.

The records, which span the years from 1880 to 1970, provide information on what areas of the country birds were spotted, and when they arrived or departed in spring and autumn. The information is of use identifying how birds’ ranges and migration patterns have changed over time.

The one-millionth transcription was that of a house wren seen in Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico, on September 11, 1904 and it joined all the other records now part of the United States Geological Survey North American Bird Phenology Program database.

Phenology is the study of the seasonal timing of natural biological phenomena, such as leafing and flowering of plants, maturation of agricultural crops, emergence of insects, and migration of birds. Many of these events are sensitive to climatic variation and change, and are simple to observe and record.

“This 90-year span of archival data provides baseline information about the first arrivals and last departures of North American migratory birds,” according to Jessica Zelt, the USGS North American Bird Phenology Program Coordinator. “When combined with contemporary data, researchers have the unique opportunity to look at changes in seasonal timing in relation to climate and climate change over a 130-year period, unprecedented in its length of time for recorded migratory data.”

The records contain many stories, from the emergence of introduced European species such as the European starling and house sparrow, to the decimation of species such as the Carolina parakeet and passenger pigeon.

This citizen science programme has welcomed participants of all backgrounds from around the world to help transcribe the data. Volunteers have come from locations as varied as Gunma in Japan, Istanbul and Brussels, although the majority reside throughout North America.

“Just last month, a participant wrote me to say she had transcribed a card by Tracy Irwin Storer, a name she recognised because he had authored her college biology textbook,” said Zelt. “One of the aspects that is so exciting about this programme is that it provides participants with a link to ornithological history.”

Original records were created by many famous ornithologists, biologists, botanists and naturalists, such as Aldo Leopold, author of A Sand County Almanac, Roger Tory Peterson, who wrote A Field Guide to the Birds, and Clarence Birdseye, the creator of the famous frozen foods.

“We feel that the world is changing and these bird records are providing us with the measuring tape to document that change,” said Sam Droege, a USGS wildlife biologist. “This is something anyone can get involved in exploring since we are making all the records open to the public.”

Anyone interested in participating in this innovative project can volunteer by registering online to transcribe these records for the database.

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