Dutch bird, mammal and caterpillar news


This video is about black terns in the Netherlands.

Dutch conservation organisation Zuid-Hollands Landschap, in their annual report about 2013, mention not only birds of the Zandmotor island, but also birds and other wildlife elsewhere.

In their nature reserves in the Krimpenerwaard region, numbers of black tern nests rose to 76 last year.

In the Zouweboezem reserve, purple heron nests rose from 149 in 2012 to 152 in 2013.

On the Groene Strand beach on Voorne island, there were 284 nesting black-headed gull couples. Figures for other species there: common tern: 196; redshank: 4; ringed plover: 3; little ringed plover: 6; avocet: 17; oystercatcher: 7.

In the sand dunes of Goeree island, more to the south, rare tundra voles were discovered. Other small mammal species in those dunes: wood mouse; common shrew; and greater white-toothed shrew.

In the Voorhofsche polder, near Waddinxveen, in 2013 there were 45 black-tailed godwit nests; 34 northern lapwing nests; and 12 redshank nests. Common terns and tufted ducks nested there as well.

And in Staelduin nature reserve, a caterpillar was found of the rare sycamore moth.

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Mysterious Antarctic sound turns out to be whales


This video is called Close Encounter with Minke Whale in Antarctica.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Scientists solve mystery of Southern Ocean ‘quacking’ sound

Noise heard in the Southern Ocean has been attributed to the underwater chatter of the Antarctic minke whale

Taku Dzimwasha

Wednesday 23 April 2014 15.05 BST

The mystery source of a strange quacking sound coming from the ocean has been discovered.

The so-called “bio-duck” noise, which occurs in the winter and spring in the Southern Ocean, had confused researchers for over 50 years.

Scientists have now attributed the sound to underwater chatter of the Antarctic minke whale.

Submarine crews first heard the quacking sound – a series of repetitive, low-pitched pulsing sounds – in the 1960s.

Lead researcher Denise Risch, from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration north-east fisheries science centre in Massachusetts, told the BBC: “Over the years there have been several suggestions, but no one was able to really show this species was producing the sound until now.”

The research team attached suction-cup sensor tags equipped with underwater microphones to a pair of minke whales off the western Antarctic peninsula in February last year, with the aim of monitoring their feeding behaviour and movements.

These were the first acoustic tags deployed on Antarctic minke whales, and the team compared their recordings with years worth of collected audio recordings to match the sounds. Researchers were able to identify the quacking noise, as well as downward-sweeping sounds previously linked to minke whales.

The sounds “can now be attributed unequivocally to the Antarctic minke whale,” Risch and her team wrote in a study published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

Researchers are hoping to retrospectively analyse previous recordings to investigate “seasonal occurrence and migration patterns” of the whales.

Scientists remain puzzled as to why the whales produce the sound, but it is thought that the animals make the noise close to the surface before they make a deep dives to feed.

Risch added: “Identifying their sounds will allow us to use passive acoustic monitoring to study this species. That can give us the timing of their migration – the exact timing of when the animals appear in Antarctic waters and when they leave again – so we can learn about migratory patterns, about their relative abundance in different areas and their movement patterns between the areas.”

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Dutch coastal birds news


This is a Dutch video about the artificial sandy island Zandmotor, in the North Sea, south-west of The Hague.

In their annual report about 2013, Dutch conservation organisation Zuid-Hollands Landschap reports about the Zandmotor.

Two little ringed plover couples nested there last year.

Among species in winter there were snow bunting, peregrine falcon, Iceland gull and red-breasted merganser.

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Young elephants playing, video


This video says about itself:

96 Elephants: An Earth Day Moment of Zen

22 April 2014

Happy Earth Day!

We’re grateful to all our supporters for helping to make the planet safe for wildlife. Here’s our extra special thank you that is sure to melt your heart: 96 seconds of baby elephants playing and frolicking.

This video is pure joy, but sadly the problems facing these magnificent creatures are downright heartbreaking. Check out this video, then head over to 96elephants.org to find out more about what you can do to save them.

Special Thanks to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Mpala Research Centre & Conservancy for arranging filming.

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Hummingbirds and tanagers in Costa Rica


Brown violet-ear, 20 March 2014

In the morning of 20 March 2014 at Arenal observatory in Costa Rica, there were not only woodpeckers and bananaquits, but also, like at many other places in Costa Rica, hummingbirds. Eg, this brown violet-ear.

Brown violet-ear flying, 20 March 2014

Scaly-breasted hummingbird, 20 March 2014

And scaly-breasted hummingbirds.

Palm tanager, 20 March 2014

Also, a palm tanager.

Brown jay, 20 March 2014

The feeders attracted brown jays as well.

Two laughing falcons flying past.

A white-throated thrush.

A buff-throated saltator.

A sulphur-bellied flycatcher.

A male green honeycreeper.

Bay-headed tanager, 20 March 2014

A bay-headed tanager.

Golden-hooded tanager, 20 March 2014

And a golden-hooded tanager.

A black-striped sparrow.

A social flycatcher.

It stops raining. We walk around.

Garden emerald female, 20 March 2014

A garden emerald hummingbird sitting on a bush; then, flying.

A yellow-bellied elenia.

A house wren on the ground.

A variable seedeater.

A chestnut-sided warbler. And a fellow migrant from North America: a Tennessee warbler.

A black-cowled oriole.

A great kiskadee.

A white-necked jacobin hummingbird.

After that small bird, a bigger one: a keel-billed toucan; the second biggest toucan species of Costa Rica.

A hepatic tanager.

A grey-capped flycatcher.

Leaf-mimicking praying mantis, 20 March 2014

As we go back, a special insect: a leaf-mimicking praying mantis. Very probably, the genus Choeradodis. Probably, the species Choeradodis rhomboidea.

Lake Arenal, 20 March 2014

White-collared swifts flying above the lake. Though this is a big species for a swift, they were still too small and too far away to show on the photo.

A turkey vulture flying.

Rufous-tailed hummingbird, 20 March 2014

We started this blog post with a hummingbird. And now we finish it with another one: a rufous-tailed hummingbird.

Stay tuned, as there will be more about Costa Rica on 20 March 2014.

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Saudi prince kills 2,100 vulnerable houbara bustards in Pakistan


This video is called MacQueen’s Bustard on a mating dance.

Note: the article below here mentions “houbara bustards“. Meanwhile, biologists consider the MacQueen’s bustards of Pakistan and elsewhere in Asia, as a species, separate from the African houbara bustard. BirdLife still sees the two species as one species; which it considers Vulnerable.

From Dawn daily in Pakistan:

Arab royal hunts down 2,100 houbara bustards in three week safari

KARACHI: A Saudi prince has poached over 2,100 internationally protected houbara bustards in 21-day hunting safari in Chagai, Balochistan, during which the royal also indulged in illegal hunting in protected areas, says a report.

The report titled ‘Visit of Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud regarding hunting of houbara bustard’ prepared by Jaffar Baloch, divisional forest officer of the Balochistan forest and wildlife department, Chagai at Dalbandin, says the prince hunted for 21 days – from Jan 11, 2014 to Jan 31– and hunted 1,977 birds, while other members of his party hunted an additional 123 birds, bringing the total bustard toll to 2,100, sources said.

They said that hunting of the internationally protected bird was banned in Pakistan also, but the federal government issued special permits to Gulf states’ royals.

Permits, which are person specific and could not be used by anyone else, allow the holders to hunt up to 100 houbara bustards in 10 days in the area allocated, excluding reserved and protected areas.

The report dated Feb 4, 2014 (No: 216-219 HB/CHI) says that during the 21-day safari the prince hunted the birds for 15 days in the reserved and protected areas, poached birds in other areas for six days and took rest for two days.

Giving a breakup of date-wise as well as area-wise details of the prince’s expedition, the report says that he hunted 112 houbara bustards in the Gut game sanctuary (Arbe pat) which is a reserved and protected area on Jan 11, 2014.

Also read: Houbara bustard butchery | An eulogy for 2,100 bustards

The next two days on Jan 12 and 13th he hunted 116 and 93 birds in the Gut game sanctuary (Sai Rek) which is also a reserved and protected area. Then for the next two days Prince Fahd, who is also governor of Tabuk, visited Sato Gut and hunted 82 and 80 houbaras on Jan 14 and 15, respectively. On Jan 16, he visited Gut-i-Barooth and hunted 79 houbaras. Both these areas are not protected areas, says the report.

For the next six days the Saudi royal camped in the Koh-i-Sultan state forest, which is a reserved and protected area, and hunted 93, 82, 94, 97, 96 and 120 houbara bustards on Jan 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22, respectively.

On Jan 23 and 24, he continued his hunting spree in the Gut game sanctuary (Dam), which is a reserved as well as protected area, and hunted 116 and 197 houbara bustards, respectively.

The prince carried out hunting of the protected bird in Thalo Station and hunted 89 houbara bustards on Jan 25 and spent the next two days hunting the birds in Pul Choto, killing 34 and 89 birds on Jan 26 and 27, respectively. Both of these areas are neither reserved nor protected, says the report.

The remaining four days, Prince Fahd spent in the Gut game sanctuary, a reserved as well as protected area, and hunted 92, 94, 119 and 97 birds on Jan 28, 29, 30, and 31, respectively. The royal guest took rest on Feb 1 and 2 at the Bar Tagzai base camp after bringing the grand total of his trophies to 1,977.

The report says: “123 birds were hunted by local representatives and other labourers of the hunting party. The total bustards hunted by Prince Fahd bin Abdul Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud are 1,977 and total bustards hunted by local representatives and other labourers are 123 bringing the grand total to 2100”.

See also here. And here.

This reminds me of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco’s butchery of partridges.

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New humpback dolphin sanctuary in Taiwan


This video says about itself:

First Film of Rare Humpback Dolphins with Bottlenose Dolphins in Watamu, Kenya

Thanks to Alex Simpson who edited the original footage with dolphin research photos to produce this video. Watamu Marine Association c/o Lynne Elson took this first ever footage of rare and elusive humpback dolphins on 10th April 2012. This family pod of 6-7 were associating with a pod of Bottlenose dolphins more commonly seen in Watamu Marine Reserve.

From Wildlife Extra:

Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin sanctuary set up in Taiwan

A dwindling population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins will be protected with the creation of Taiwan’s first marine wildlife sanctuary. Dolphin numbers have dropped by around 50 per cent according to local conservation groups, because of habitat degradation, industrial expansion and pollution.

Tsai Chia-yang, head of the Chuanghua Environmental Protection Union, said: “Indo-Pacific dolphin population is a key index to measure the health of the maritime environment.”

The Council of Agriculture confirmed the sanctuary, which will be off the west coast of the country, will cover a large area of 76,300 hectare (188,461 acres).

Normal fishing in the area will be unaffected, as the government said a total ban was not feasible as the success of the sanctuary depends on the cooperation of local fishermen, but guidelines have been tightened for operators in the region and there will be tough punishments for illegal fishing of the endangered species. Dredge fishing has also been banned.

In a further step, officials announced that any development projects in the area will require government approval.

Anyone caught poaching the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin could face up to two years in jail and will be fined Tw$500,000 (US$16,530), and anyone caught seriously damaging the habitat could end up with a five years’ prison sentence.

“Illegal fishing has seriously ruined the coastal ecological environment, threatening the endangered dolphins,” said Kuan, referring to the fact that the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins eat mullet among other fish.

In 2011, President Ma Ying-jeou ruled an end to a controversial plan to build a massive oil refinery and more than 20 related petrochemical plants in western Taiwan. This was in reaction to a series of protests for the endangered humpback dolphins.

He said there was a need for Taiwan to balance economic development with environmental protection. The setting up of this sanctuary for Indo-pacific humpback dolphins is a big step forward for the species.

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Ruddy and non-ruddy shelducks and hobby


Grey heron, 21 April 2014

Just after the two little ringed plovers of my earlier blog post, on 21 April 2014 in the “Baillon’s crake reserve”, this grey heron.

Greenfinch, 21 April 2014

A greenfinch on a small tree.

Northern lapwing chick, 21 April 2014

Then, three still very small northern lapwing chicks on a muddy shore.

We hear the lesser whitethroat, but don’t see it, unlike two days ago here.

Ruddy shelduck, 21 April 2014

In the northern meadow, a rare bird: a ruddy shelduck. It grazes. eventually, an Egyptian goose drives it away.

Hobby flying, 21 April 2014

A hobby flies past. Also, an unusual species here.

As we go back along the other side of the southern lake, we see barnacle geese. And a muscovy duck.

Shelduck male, 21 April 2014

In a lakelet, a shelduck couple. While a redshank wades between them.

Shelducks flying, 21 April 2014

Later, the shelducks fly away (with the female on the foreground of this photo).

Hare, 21 April 2014

Not far away, a hare.

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Reed buntings and little ringed plovers


Reed bunting male, 21 April 2014

On 21 April 2014, again to the “Baillon’s crake reserve”. There were many birds which we did not see there two days ago; like this male reed bunting.

Hybrid goose, 21 March 2014

Near the entrance, a strange goose. Looking like a bar-headed goose, but with only one bar, not two, on its head. A hybrid between a bar-headed goose and another goose species?

Grey lag goose gosling, 21 March 2014

Many grey lag geese with goslings.

A male common pochard swimming.

A male tufted duck.

Two adult coots with three chicks.

Above the southern lake, two common terns flying. My first common terns of this spring; probably returned recently from Africa; maybe even South Africa.

Moorhens mating, 21 April 2014

Near the northern end of the southern lake, two moorhens mating, with the female’s head under water for some seconds.

Then, a male reed bunting singing in a small tree. While the female perched on a reed stem not far away. Sometimes, they changed position.

Three coots, 21 April 2014

A bit further, coots quarreled about nesting sites.

On the northern lake, northern shovelers and teal swimming.

A barn swallow flying.

Black-tailed godwit, 21 April 2014

A few black-tailed godwits are left, now that their spring migration is almost over.

A redshank flies, and lands.

Gadwall couple, 21 April 2014

A gadwall duck couple.

Little ringed plover, 21 April 2014

Two little ringed plovers in mating season mood on a muddy islet.

Stay tuned, as there will be more about this nature reserve on 21 April!

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