Birds in England today


This video from England is called SlimbridgeWildfowl & Wetlands Trust.

On Twitter today, from the Slimbridge Wetland Centre in England:

289 Lapwing, 5 Ruff, 148 Black-tailed Godwit, 27 Redshank, 7 Dunlin, 2 Snipe, 3 Common Terns on the South Lake.

Purple martins in Texas, USA


This video is called Purple Martins at Highland Mall, Austin, Texas 2012.

From Associated Press:

Thousands of birds nest near abandoned Austin mall

Published: July 25, 2014 10:12 AM

AUSTIN, Texas – — Outside an abandoned Austin shopping mall is a little-known visual phenomenon to rival the bat flights from the downtown Congress Avenue bridge.

Six oak trees stand in a bank parking lot on the north side of Highland Mall. For decades, every July, birds called purple martins have flocked to the trees by the thousands to roost for the night. And the spectacle draws dozens of bird-watchers each night.

The birds, which are the largest North American swallow breed, migrate to the spot in July and August as they head north from Brazil to breed. The Purple Martin Conservation Association says flocks have shown up on National Weather Service radar.

The Travis Audubon Society holds watching parties from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. each Friday and Saturday evening in July.

Helping animals in trouble


This video is about wildlife wardens in South Holland province in the Netherlands helping animals in trouble; like a young pine marten and hedgehogs.

Ring-necked parakeets conquer Haarlem city


This video is about ring-necked parakeets in Greece.

Dutch SOVON ornithologists estimate there are now about 10,000 ring-necked parakeets in the Netherlands. Mainly in the big cities The Hague, Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

However, they are spreading to other cities like Haarlem.

The birds showed up for the first time in Haarlem in 2005. Last winter, 500 parakeets were counted at Haarlem sleeping roosts. In June 2014, 937 individuals were counted.

Coots in France studied


This video is about Eurasian coots in Sweden.

From Ringing & Migration, Volume 29, Issue 1, 2014:

Common but poorly known: information derived from 32 years of ringing Coot Fulica atra in the Camargue, southern France

Abstract

Rallidae are common and widespread, yet relatively poorly studied. We analysed the ringing data from more than 8,000 Common Coot Fulica atra, accumulated between 1950 and 1982 in Camargue, southern France, in terms of the dynamics of their biometrics throughout the year, migratory pathways and annual survival rate. Mean monthly body mass and wing length indicate seasonal differences, with birds captured in autumn and winter being heavier and larger than those captured in spring and summer.

The temporal and spatial distribution across Europe of more than 950 ring recoveries indicates a mixing of sedentary and migratory birds. Capture–recapture analysis indicated lower annual survival rates during the year after ringing, and greater survival rates in adults and in males. Mean survival rate across sex and age classes greater than one year after ringing was 55%. This is somewhat lower than found by other studies, and may be influenced by Coot hunting in the Camargue, especially during the years of this study.

Blue whales’ lives saved by new technology?


This video is called Why are blue whales so enormous? – Asha de Vos.

From Wildlife Extra:

New technology could save blue whales from being hit by ships

Scientists from the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science are developing a near real-time computer model that predicts where endangered blue whales will gather as they move around the Pacific ocean off California, reports digital news site, TakePart.

Ultimately this technology will mean that ships can be notified of the presence of whales and the chances of a collision will be minimised.

Collisions with cargo ships are the primary threat to endangered blue whales. In 2007, four blues were killed, likely by ship strikes, in or near the Santa Barbara Channel.

In 2010, five whales, including two blues, were killed in the San Francisco area and elsewhere along the north-central California coast.

Scientists and the shipping industry have been looking for ways to reduce the number of collisions, but they have had little solid data on the whales’ whereabouts until now.

The project merges the past movements of satellite-tagged blue whales with current environmental conditions off the California coast that influence where the whales travel.

In 1993, Ladd Irvine, a marine mammal ecologist at Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute, and his colleagues began fixing satellite tags to blue whales off the California coast.

By 2008, they had tagged 171 blue whales, which they watched swim to the Gulf of Alaska and the southern tip of Baja, Mexico. In the summer and early autumn, the whales returned to the California coast, feeding on krill before migrating south for the winter.

Near Los Angeles and San Francisco, shipping lanes crisscross these key feeding grounds.

“We got a nice detailed look of where the whales spend their time in US waters from year to year and the timing of when they are present and when they leave,” said Irvine.

“It happened that the two most heavily used areas were crossed by these shipping lanes.”

Most of the tags stayed with the whales for two or three months, but one whale held on to its transmitter for more than 500 days, giving the researchers a unique look at its annual route.

Whale No 3300840 followed its prey over the summer season and returned to several spots within a week of having been there the previous year.

Adding this data to satellite-monitored environmental data – including sea surface temperature, chlorophyll concentration (which reduced food for whales), and upwelling (where nutrient-rich waters move closer to the surface) – could reveal more precisely where and when blue whales will congregate along the shipping routes.

If the model forecasts a whale hot spot, ships could be rerouted or their speeds reduced to avoid collisions.

Helen Bailey, the marine mammal specialist leading the Maryland study, says this information is invaluable.

“We’ll be able to say, given the current conditions, what is a whale hot spot,” she said. “The hot spot might only coincide with the shipping lane a few months of the year. If the shipping lanes could be modified, it would reduce the risk of a whale strike.

“Only three can be killed per year to keep the population sustainable, and anytime we hear a number close to that is reason for concern because it’s probably a large underestimate.”

About 2,500 blue whales live in the North Pacific and another 500 in the North Atlantic. Estimates suggest the global population of blue whales is between 10,000 and 25,000.

Since 1900, the blue whale population has declined or remained flat, even though it is a protected species.

The results of the study are timely as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is currently planning a review of shipping lanes in the Southern California area.

“Having more information from the whale perspective helps NOAA look at the broader story to see if there is a way to reduce the risk of strikes,” said Monica DeAngelis, a marine mammal biologist at NOAA.

Commercial whaling was banned almost 30 years ago, but why hasn’t the world’s whale population recovered yet? Here.

Borneo rainforests, destruction and conservation


This video from Indonesia is called Protecting a Forest — and a Way of Life: Watching over Wehea.

From Wildlife Extra:

As Borneo deforestation reaches critical level a new protection area is established

According to data published by the Indonesian Forestry Agency, the deforestation in Borneo that occurred between 2000 and 2005 topped 1.23 million hectares, reports ProFauna, the Indonesian organisation for the protection of wild animals and their habitats.

This means that every day around 673 hectares of forest disappeared during that period.

Land conversion into palm oil plantation, timber concessions, industrial plants and mining activities are among the major triggers of the loss.

Despite the threats, there are moves afoot to halt the decline in East Borneo, 450km away from the provincial capital of Samarinda.

The Wehea Protection Forest encompasses an area of 38.000 hectares, 250m above sea level on the eastern part and up to 1750m above sea level on the western part, which means the vegetation varies from lowland forest to montane forest and supports 19 mammals species, 114 birds species, 12 rodents species, 9 primates species, and 59 invaluable types of plants.

One of the most valuable aspects of this forest is its importance to the lives of Bornean orangutans. In 2012, the head of the local environment agency, Didi Suryadi, stated that there were approximately 750 individual orangutans whose lives depend on the sustainability of Wehea forest.

Wehea Protection Forest was established in 2005. The governing board consists of government agencies, indigenous people, educational institutions, and NGOs.

Local people have also formed a ranger team, the members of which are young men of the Dayah Wehea tribe who take turns every day to secure the forest.

Recently, a team from ProFauna visited the Wehea people to establish ties to help with the conservation work.

The secretary of the village, Siang Geah, said: “We are very glad to have ProFauna in Wehea and hope that we can establish a positive partnership in protecting our dwindling forests.”

African harrier-hawk in Cape Town, South Africa


This video from South Africa says about itself:

An African Harrier-Hawk hunting upside down (Gymnogene)

The African Harrier-Hawk, Harrier Hawk, or Gymnogene is a bird of prey. It is about 60-66 cm in length, and is related to the harriers. It breeds in most of Africa south of the Sahara.

From the Sunday Argus in South Africa this week:

Pics: Harrier-hawk’s urban takeaway

A large bird of prey swooped through Long Street, startling pedestrians and motorists alike

Cape Town – Was it a small plane? Was it Superman? No, actually, this time it was a bird in the form of an African Harrier-hawk that swooped around the heart of Cape Town last week, startling motorists and pedestrians and scaring the living daylights out of the pigeons.

And in the case of what appeared to be a young fledgling pigeon, this was literally true, because it was caught and devoured by the raptor that was formally known (and still is to many bird-lovers) as a Gymnogene.

The graceful but highly manoeuvrable raptor was photographed with its prey by Weekend Argus photographer Leon Muller at the intersection of Long and Waterkant streets.

Pedestrians and shoppers also whipped out their cellphones to record the unusual event while anxious Hartlaub’s Gulls squawked raucously as they tried in vain to drive the intruder away. The Harrier-hawk simply ignored them as it polished off its meal before taking off again.

A few days later it was seen alighting on the Methodist Church in Greenmarket Square, sending the local flocks of pigeons wheeling in terrified flight.

This raptor species has the ability to climb, using its wings, claws and double-jointed knees, which allows it to raid nests, particularly those of cavity-nesters such as barbets. It also feeds on alien species, like feral pigeons and house sparrows.

Professor Peter Ryan, director of the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town, confirmed the identity of the raptor.

“They are increasing in the Peninsula and are partial to squirrels, among other things,” he said.

That has to be good news for nature-lovers concerned at what appears to be the rapid population explosion of the alien grey squirrel that, although predominantly vegetarian, also feeds on the eggs and chicks of indigenous Cape birds.

Grey squirrels are native to North America and were among several exotic species introduced to the Cape by arch-colonialist Cecil John Rhodes.

john.yeld@inl.co.za

John Yeld, Sunday Argus

New nature reserve in northern Colombia


This video is called Colombia, birds and wildlife.

From Wildlife Extra:

New nature reserve created in northern Colombia

ProAves, the Rainforest Trust and Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) have announced the creation of the Chamicero de Perijá Nature Reserve, the first protected area in northern Colombia’s Serranía de Perijá mountain range.

ProAves has acquired 11 adjacent properties that form the 1,850-acre reserve, which protects a pristine cloud forest environment that includes critical habitat for threatened wildlife.

This reserve’s establishment is extremely timely, as 98 per cent of the Serranía de Perijá’s rainforests have already been destroyed due to colonisation and agricultural expansion.

“Without this reserve, the chances are high that within a few years nothing would be left of the spectacular forests that once covered Colombia’s Serranía de Perijá,” said Dr Paul Salaman, CEO of the Rainforest Trust.

There has been a history of difficulties in conducting research in the area, and so the Serranía de Perijá remains one of the least-known natural environments in the Northern Andes.

Field research by ProAves, however, has confirmed its importance as a stronghold for many endemic and rapidly declining species. It has been established as the home of three endangered and endemic species – the Perijá thistletail, Perijá metaltail, and the Perijá brush-finch.

Several other bird species have also been discovered, including a new brush-finch, tapaculo, screech-owl, and spinetail.

“ProAves has been working in the Serranía de Perijá for almost a decade in an effort to protect its last forested areas,” said Luis Felipe Barrera, Director of Conservation for ProAves. “Thanks to our alliance with Rainforest Trust and GWC, we’ve finally achieved a lasting victory for the region’s imperiled wildlife.”

“The new reserve is globally important, as it is recognised as an Alliance for Zero Extinction site. The incredible fauna and flora include many species found nowhere else in the world,” said Dr Wes Sechrest, Chief Scientist and CEO of Global Wildlife Conservation.

The Chamicero de Perijá Nature Reserve also protects two watersheds that are vital for the city of Valledupar and several towns in the otherwise arid Cesar Department.

“This reserve is a win for everyone. Not only is it going to be a permanent lifeline for the region’s many endemic species that have nowhere else to go, but it is also a major victory for nearby cities and towns that will benefit for years from the water it provides,” said Dr Salaman.