Four young bee-eaters fledge successfully in England, first time

This video is called 2013 Bird of the Year in Hungary – the Bee-Eater.

From Wildlife Extra:

Four bee-eater chicks fledge successfully on the Isle of Wight

European bee-eaters could become a more common sight in southern England in the future

Four bee-eater chicks have fledged on National Trust land on the Isle of Wight thanks to a joint protection operation by the National Trust, the RSPB and Isle of Wight naturalists.

Three of the chicks fledged last week and the fourth has tried out its wings in the last couple of days. It is the first time in 12 years that the birds, which usually nest in southern Europe, have bred successfully in the UK.

If these new fledglings survive, this will be the most successful ever bee-eater breeding attempt in the UK.

The last successful attempt, which resulted in two chicks, was in County Durham in 2002, and that was the first for 50 years.

The bee-eaters made their nest, which is a hole in the ground, more than a month ago on the National Trust’s Wydcombe estate.

National Trust ranger and birder, Ian Ridett, noticed the bee-eaters were active on the island at a time they ought to be nesting.

The nest was located and a joint 24-hour protection named “Operation Bee-eater” was launched to protect the nest from disturbance.

“We are thrilled that the bee-eaters have managed to breed successfully on the Isle of Wight,” said Keith Ballard, the site manager at the RSPB’s Brading Marshes reserve near Bembridge. “It has been an amazing year for exotic species breeding on the island.

“Working with the National Trust has been very rewarding and the RSPB has been able to utilise its protection experience to make sure the birds were not disturbed and to minimise the threat from predators and egg thieves.”

Ian Ridett said: “We are delighted to see the juveniles are out and progressing well. We’ve worked day and night with a team of over 60 volunteers and staff from the National Trust, RSPB and Isle of Wight Ornithological Group to monitor the site and provide a supervised viewing area for visitors.

“Around 3000 people from around the UK have been rewarded with views of the adults catching bees and dragonflies.

“The question that everyone is asking is, ‘will they return next year?’ However, it all depends on the weather and a degree of chance.

“With changing weather and climate, this is just one of the examples of birds and butterflies that are starting to spread north and west into the UK.

“The Isle of Wight has some great habitats and is in pole position for events like this to re-occur.”

Magpies not jewel thieves, says new research

This video from England is called Magpie Building nest at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve, March 2013.

From the BBC:

16 August 2014 Last updated at 00:35 GMT

Magpies ‘don’t steal shiny objects’

By Roger Harrabin, BBC environment analyst

Magpies do not steal trinkets and are positively scared of shiny objects, according to new research.

The study appears to redeem the myth of the “thieving magpie”, which pervades European folklore.

It is widely believed that magpies have a compulsive urge to steal sparkly things for their nests.

But Exeter University scientists show that the birds are actually nervous of such objects, presumably because they are novel and may prove dangerous.

The study involved a pile of shiny items (metal screws, small foil rings, and a small rectangular piece of aluminium foil), and a pile of the same objects covered with matt blue paint.

Researchers placed mounds of edible nuts just 30cm away from each of the collected objects. In 64 tests during feeding, magpies picked up a shiny object only twice – and discarded it immediately.

The birds essentially ignored or avoided both shiny and blue objects, and often fed less when they were present.

Lead author Dr Toni Shephard said: “We did not find evidence of an unconditional attraction to shiny objects in magpies. Instead, all objects prompted responses indicating neophobia – fear of new things.

“We suggest that humans notice when magpies occasionally pick up shiny objects because they believe the birds find them attractive, while it goes unnoticed when magpies interact with less eye-catching items. It seems likely that the folklore surrounding them is a result of cultural generalisation and anecdotes rather than evidence.”

Righting old wrongs

The scientists – psychologists from the Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour (CRAB) – undertook the study after an internet search uncovered just two published accounts of magpies actually stealing shiny things: a missing engagement ring found in a nest in 2008, and a magpie in Rochdale stealing keys, coins, and a spanner from an automotive garage a year earlier.

Dr Shephard told BBC News: “Some birds do use eye-catching objects in the nest after mating occurs, like black kites, to warn off potential predators. But we had already looked inside a dozen magpie nests and not seen any shiny objects. So, I was not expecting magpies to use objects for this purpose.”

The test may challenge the Collins English Dictionary definition of the magpie as “a person who hoards small objects”.

It may prompt calls for a belated revision of the libretto of Rossini’s opera La Gazza Ladra (The thieving magpie), which features a servant girl sentenced to death for a series of silver thefts actually committed by a magpie.

This music video is called Rossini – Ouverture La Gazza Ladra – Gustavo Dudamel – HD.

It may upset, too, the publishers of The Tintin comic The Castafiore Emerald, in which a prized gem is stolen by a magpie.

This video is called The Castafiore Emerald.

But the research is not conclusive – yet. Due to the nature of the test with fixed feeding stations, the scientists could only assess “married” magpies that inhabit a set territory. Single magpies without a steady partner are less predictable in their feeding habits.

So maybe, just maybe, it is bachelor birds wanting to woo potential mates with silver rings that have sullied the birds’ name.

Honey buzzard and Montagu’s harrier migration, new research

This video is called Montagu’s Harrier – Britain’s Rarest Raptor. It says about itself:

23 June 2013

This lovely male Montagu’s Harrier was seen at the National Trust’s Wicken Fen nature reserve in early May. I must admit, I was very sceptical that this was a Montagu’s at first, because I was too busy filming it ‘for the record’ with low-spec equipment in order to have a really good think as to the species. I thought it was ‘just’ a late-staying male Hen Harrier.

Fortunately, my two friends, Will and Nikki, knew better and ID’d the bird with confidence in the field.

Translated from the Montagu’s Harrier Working Group in the Netherlands, on Thursday, August 14th, 2014:

In recent years, researchers from the Treetop Foundation and the Montagu’s Harrier Working Group have used GPS loggers to, eg, find out about migration routes and migration strategies of honey buzzards and Montagu’s harriers. Together with the University of Amsterdam (University of Amsterdam), they then looked at the effects of weather on the performance of honey buzzards and Montagu’s harriers during migration. An article with the results of this research was recently published in the Journal of Avian Biology.

English grouse shooting kills hen harriers

This video from Britain is called Hen Harrier – An appeal for help.

From the blog of the British Ornithologists’ Union:

Hen Harriers: going, going …

6th August 2014

The English Hen Harrier population is in terminal decline and action is urgently needed to stop the species being driven to extinction. But what does the science say to support the claims of persecution and for the species recovery in an anti-raptor climate on grouse moors?

Arjun Amar, Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, South Africa. Formerly RSPB, UK

In a paper published in 2010, ecologists (including myself) from various organisations such as the RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Game & Widlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) found that there were only five pairs of successful Hen Harriers on driven grouse moors in the UK, whereas our data estimated that in the absence of illegal persecution these areas should have supported 500 successful pairs (Redpath et al. 2010). Since then the situation for this species has worsened still, and in 2013, for the first time in over 60 years, there were no successful breeding Hen Harriers in England. Like most ornithologists, and I suspect most people, I find the near annihilation of the Hen Harrier in England and on grouse moors elsewhere in the UK deeply depressing.

I have been lucky enough to have spent several years studying a non-persecuted population of this species on the Orkney Islands (Amar & Redpath 2005, Amar et al. 2008, Amar et al. 2012), and I really feel for the birders, ramblers, climbers, artists, children, teachers and others who have never had the opportunity to experience the joys that come from having these magnificent creatures in their local upland areas.

Hen Harriers are not the only raptor species that suffer on grouse moors – my own research on Peregrine Falcon breeding success in the uplands of England showed that because of persecution, Peregrine Falcon pairs nesting on grouse moors fledge only half the number of chicks of those which nest away from this kind of habitat (Amar et al. 2012). This work suggested that persecution was widespread on grouse moors in almost all areas of England, findings that run counter to the claim that raptor persecution is only occurring on few ‘rogue’ estates. Other research has highlighted similar problems for Golden Eagles on the grouse moors of Scotland (Whitfield et al. 2004).

Moorland managed for grouse © Ailith Stewart

So, why are birds of prey persecuted on grouse moors, despite the fact that they are legally protected? The simple reason is because they eat Red Grouse and much of our upland moorland is managed for the recreational shooting of Red Grouse.

There are two forms of grouse shooting practised in the UK:

  1. Walked-up grouse shooting in which people shoot grouse that are flushed up by dogs. This form requires lower densities of grouse and raptors tend to fare much better.
  2. Driven grouse shooting, involving people flushing grouse over a line of static shooters. This form requires higher densities of grouse (c. >200 per km2) and is associated with heavy raptor persecution.

Many are now questioning the legitimacy of an industry that relies so heavily on illegal activities.

Research has now shown that the concern expressed by grouse moor managers and gamekeepers was not without basis as in certain circumstances Hen Harriers can make driven grouse shooting economically unviable  (Thirgood et al. 2000; Park et al. 2008). These circumstances relate to when you have high density of harriers that settle on a moor, which is influenced by the number of Meadow Pipits (Redpath & Thirgood 1999) and the number of voles (Redpath et al. 2002 ); and also on the state of the grouse cycle, with low to medium densities particularly vulnerable, due to variation in predation rates by Hen Harriers on grouse chicks (Redpath & Thirgood 1999).

Landowners and grouse moor managers argue that Hen Harriers cannot be allowed to reach high densities otherwise their grouse shoots will become economically unviable (Potts 1998). They will then have to make their gamekeepers redundant and as a result the benefits to some other (non-predatory) biodiversity that accrues from grouse moor predator control will be lost (Baines et al. 2008). Furthermore, the argument is made that if management of Red Grouse ends, these heather moorlands will become degraded, lost to forestry or intensive sheep grazing and therefore their overall conservation value will be reduced.

Within the framework of human-wildlife conflicts, one could argue that we are currently in a lose-lose situation (Redpath et al. 2013). Conservationists are the biggest losers; because there are currently almost no Hen Harriers in England and very few elsewhere in areas managed for driven Red Grouse. Conservationists are also wasting a huge amount of valuable conservation resources on trying to protect the few pairs that do settle, or on satellite tracking the few juveniles that fledge, only for these to mysteriously disappear over winter in the English uplands (Natural England 2008).

Male Hen Harrier  © Isle of Man Government

Many would argue that landowners and grouse moor managers, whilst not winning completely are losing less. However, they are still facing some costs. For example, grouse moor managers currently have bad publicity for their sport, with the threat that public opinion could turn against them and ultimately their sport could be more regulated or even banned completely. Furthermore, estates are apparently reluctant to let any harriers settle, because they have no safety net that will enable them to legally manage harriers so that they do not reach levels that would threaten their ability to have driven grouse shooting (Potts 1998). Thus, with the current status quo, they are being forced to break the law to maintain their interests.

So, despite the fact that we know more about the biology and ecology of this species than almost any other bird of prey in the UK, and despite the fact that scientists, conservations, government representatives and grouse moor managers have spent decades trying to find a workable solution (Redpath et al. 2004, Thirgood & Redpath 2008, Thompson et al. 2009, Sotherton et al. 2009), we currently have fewer Hen Harriers on driven grouse moors than at any point in my lifetime. Redpath et al. (2013) recognised that ecological science can only take you so far in human-wildlife conflicts and within this conflict we have perhaps devoted too much time and resources to understanding the birds rather than addressing the underlying conflict between those defending raptor conservation objectives and grouse moor managers.

However, for the first time I now sense that there is something of a seed change in the arena of this human-wildlife conflict. I always hoped for change in momentum and now it really seems to be happening. I have been involved in trying to find a resolution to this conflict for the last 15 years – working for organisations on both sides of the conflict (GWCT and RSPB), and I can honestly say I have never seen so much activity and impetus to resolve this issue , one way or another, as there has been in recent months. These include:

    1. Over 10,000 people signed a petition that called on the UK government to consider licensing driven grouse moors. This activated a response from government. However, many people were upset by what they viewed as wholly inadequate, shallow and dismissive response from the UK government. View
    2. Mark Avery (former RSPB Conservation Director) launched a new petition calling on a total ban on driven grouse shooting which has currently garnered over 10,000 signatures in just 10 weeks. View petition

Amar Hen Harrier Day image

  1. A new organisation – Birders Against Wildlife Crime – have launched National Hen Harrier Day for the 10 August (the Sunday before the glorious/inglorious 12th, the start of the grouse shooting season), to draw attention to the on-going persecution of this species on English grouse moors. View
  2. The Ethical Consumer magazine launched a campaign encouraging consumers to boycott companies associated with driven grouse shooting, until persecution of birds of prey on grouse moors ends. View Linked to this, other campaigning saw UK retailer Marks & Spencer abandoned plans to stock Red Grouse as they were unable to secure enough “responsibly sourced” birds. View
  3.  The RSPB released a statement arguing that the time has come for driven grouse moors to be licensed to protect British birds of prey. View
  4. Defra’s Hen Harrier recovery programme was outlined by GWCT (who also launched a petition to government to have the programme released), this wide ranging scheme would include a brood management scheme, which would involve actively moving harrier nestlings away from grouse moors once they attained densities at which they could threaten driven grouse shooting (see Amar et al. 2000 for details of a similar scheme used in France on Montagu’s Harriers), alongside other measures designed to improve the conservation of harriers and minimise the impact on grouse shooting, such as diversionary feeding (Redpath et al. 2003, Amar et al. 2004). However, as yet this scheme is still to be ratified by all consenting parties and is yet to be released by government – despite some pressure. View GWCT petition

These approaches therefore span the full spectrum of solutions from 1) an outright ban of driven grouse shooting to 2) a licensing scheme with conditions in place that allow for the sporting rights to be removed where illegal persecution continues, to 3) a brood management scheme. Personally, I think any one of these three approaches could well work to provide a conservation success (i.e. more harriers) at least in the short term. However, the implications for land management from these different options are less clear, and will be the focus of much intense debate going forward. Either way, hopefully over the next few years at least, one or even a couple of these proposals will be implemented. Something has to change and I sense, finally, that something is about to….

References and further reading:

Amar, A., Arroyo, B. & Bretagnolle. 2000. Post-fledging dependency and dispersal in hacked and wild Montagu’s Harriers Circus pygargus. Ibis 142: 21-28 View

Amar, A. & Redpath, S. 2005. Habitat use by Hen Harriers Circus cyaneus on Orkney: implications of land use change on this declining population. Ibis 147: 37-47. View

Amar, A., Arroyo, B., Redpath, S. & Thirgood, S. 2004. Habitat predicts losses of red grouse to individual hen harriers. Journal of Applied Ecology 41: 305–314. View

Amar, A., Arroyo, B., Meek, E., Redpath, S. & Riley, H. 2008. Influence of habitat on breeding performance of Hen Harriers Circus cyaneus in Orkney. Ibis 150: 400–404. View

Amar, A., Court, I.R., Davidson, M., Downing, S., Grimshaw, T., Pickford, T. & Raw, D. 2012. Linking nest histories, remotely sensed land use data and wildlife crime records to explore the impact of grouse moor management on peregrine falcon populations. Biological Conservation 145: 86-95. View

Amar, A., Davies, J., Meek, E., Williams, J., Knight, A. & Redpath, S. 2011. Long term impact of changes in sheep Ovis aries densities on the breeding output of the hen harrier Circus cyaneus. Journal of Applied Ecology 48: 220-227. View

Baines, D., Redpath, S., Rochardson, M. & Thirgood, S. 2008. The direct and indirect effects of predation by Hen Harriers Circus cyaneus on trends in breeding birds on a Scottish grouse moor. Ibis 150: 27–36. View

Natural England. 2008. A Future for the Hen Harrier in England. Natural England. View

Park, K. J., Graham, K. E., Calladine, J. & Wernham, C. W. 2008. Impacts of birds of prey on gamebirds in the UK: a review. Ibis 150: 9–26. View

Potts, G. R. 1998. Global dispersion of nesting Hen Harriers Circus cyaneus; implications for grouse moors in the UK. Ibis 140: 76–88. View

Redpath, S. M. & Thirgood, S. J. 1999. Numerical and functional responses in generalist predators: hen harriers and peregrines on Scottish grouse moors. Journal of Animal Ecology 68: 879–892. View

Redpath, S. M., Thirgood, S. J. & Leckie, F. M. 2001. Does supplementary feeding reduce predation of red grouse by hen harriers? Journal of Applied Ecology 38: 1157–1168. View

Redpath, S. M., Thirgood, S. J. & Clarke, R. 2002. Field Vole Microtus agrestis abundance and Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus diet and breeding in Scotland. Ibis 144: E33–E38. View

Redpath, S. M., Arroyo, B. E., Leckie, F. M., Bacon, P., Bayfield, N., Gutierrez, R. J. & Thirgood, S. J. 2004. Using Decision Modeling with Stakeholders to Reduce Human–Wildlife Conflict: a Raptor–Grouse Case Study. Conservation Biology 18: 350–359. View

Redpath, S., Amar, A., Smith, A., Thompson, D. & Thirgood, S. 2010. People and nature in conflict: can we reconcile raptor conservation and game management? In: Species Management: Challenges and Solution for the 21st Century. (Eds J. Baxter & C. A. Galbraith). The Stationary Office, Edinburgh. View

Redpath, S.M., Young, J., Evely, A., Adams, W.M., Sutherland, W.J., Whitehouse, A., Amar. A., Linnell, J., Lambert, R.A., Watt, A. & Gutierrez, R.J. 2013. Understanding and managing conservation conflicts. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 28: 100-109. View

RSPB Skydancer project. A four-year project aimed at raising awareness and promoting the conservation of hen harriers in the north of England. View

Sotherton, N., Tapper, S. & Smith, A. 2009. Hen harriers and red grouse: economic aspects of red grouse shooting and the implications for moorland conservation. Journal of Applied Ecology 46: 955–960. View

Thirgood, S.J., Redpath, S.M., Haydon, D.T., Rothery, P., Newton, I. & Hudson, P.J. 2000a. Habitat loss and raptor predation: disentangling long- and short-term causes of red grouse declines. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B. 267: 651–656. View

Thirgood, S.J. & Redpath, S.M. 2008. Hen harriers and red grouse: science, politics and human–wildlife conflict. Journal of Applied Ecology 45: 1550–1554. View

Thompson, P. S., Amar, A., Hoccom, D. G., Knott, J. & Wilson, J. D. 2009. Resolving the conflict between driven-grouse shooting and conservation of hen harriers. Journal of Applied Ecology 46: 950–954. View

Whitfield,  D.P., Fielding, A.H., McLeod, D.R.A., & Howarth, P.F. 2004. Modelling the effects of persecution on the population dynamics of golden eagles in Scotland. Biological Conservation 119: 319–333. View

Wilson, M. W., O’Donoghue, B., O’Mahony, B., Cullen, C., O’Donoghue, T., Oliver, G., Ryan, B., Troake, P., Irwin, S., Kelly, T. C., Rotella, J. J. & O’Halloran, J. 2012. Mismatches between breeding success and habitat preferences in Hen Harriers Circus cyaneus breeding in forested landscapes. Ibis 154: 578–589. View

Arjun Amar

About the author:

Arjun Amar’s PhD focussed on the cause of the Hen Harrier decline on Orkney. Following this he undertook a post-doc with the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust working on research aimed at helping to resolve the Hen Harrier – Red Grouse conflict and on understanding habitat use by the species on Scottish Special Protection Areas. Arjun worked for the RSPB between 2005-2011 as a Senior Conservation Scientist where his research included exploring the impact of grouse moor management on raptors and wader populations. Since 2011 he has been a Senior Lecturer at the Percy FitzPatrick institute at the University of Cape Town, where he continues research on raptor conservation.

View full profile

Photo images:

All taken from Wikimedia Commons:

MIDDLE: moorland managed for grouse © Ailith Stewart
BOTTOM: male Hen Harrier © Isle of Man Government

Driven Grouse Shooting Destroys Moorland Biodiversiy: here.

A number of countryside organisations, including The British Association for Shooting and Conservation, CLA, Countryside Alliance, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, and the Moorland Association have joined forces to call on Defra to publish a plan for the recovery of hen harriers across England: here.

Bee-eaters nest on Isle of Wight for first time

This is a bee-eater video from the Czech republic in 2013.

From the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Britain:

Bee-eaters breed on Isle of Wight for first time

A pair of European Bee-eaters that have set up home on National Trust land on the Isle of Wight have the potential to become only the third record of this exotic southern European species to breed successfully in the UK in the last century. Bee-eaters, which would normally be found nesting in southern Europe, were last recorded breeding successfully in the UK in 2002, when a pair nested in a quarry in County Durham and two young successfully fledged. Before that, two pairs were recorded raising seven young in a Sussex sand pit in 1955, though a pair failed in Herefordshire in 2005. The species, with their kaleidoscopic plumage, are one of the most beautiful birds in Europe.

The birds were discovered on the island in mid-July, have set up home in the sandy hills of the Wydcombe Estate (in the south of the island) in a small valley where the soft ground, rolling landscape and stream access provides ideal conditions for their nest burrow, which can be up to three metres long. Ian Ridett, National Trust Isle of Wight Ranger, said: “We have set up a 24-hour surveillance operation around the site to protect these rare visitors, as any unhatched eggs could be a potential target for egg thieves. We have had incredible support from the RSPB, Isle of Wight Ornithological Group and our volunteers and staff, some of whom have travelled from the mainland to help. The hot temperatures since spring have helped an above average arrival of Bee-eaters, with more than ten seen along the south coast since May. With rising temperatures, the varied landscape and bountiful supply of insects on the Wydcombe Estate was obviously enough to tempt the Bee-eaters to nest here.”

The adult birds have been spotted delivering food into the nest, which indicates that the eggs have hatched. The chicks will not leave their underground nest site for another fortnight or so, so the number of chicks hatched is still not known. Bee-eaters traditionally lay clutches of four to nine eggs, and the first chick sighting is eagerly anticipated.

Matthew Oates, National Trust’s nature and wildlife expert, said: “The Bee-eater is arguably the most stunning bird on the British list; it looks tropical. It’s really exciting to have these birds breeding on National Trust land and we are pulling out all the stops to help the chicks safely fledge, while keeping the public up-to-date with their progress.”

Keith Ballard, the site manager at the RSPB’s Brading Marshes reserve on the Isle of Wight, added: “It’s the stuff of dreams to have a rare nesting event like this on the Isle of Wight; and it’s looking like the initiative by the National Trust rangers to make the nest site safe is going to lead to success for these birds. There was a very real threat that these nesting birds could have been targeted by egg thieves, so it’s been quite a nervous period over the last 12 days. It has been a pleasure for the RSPB staff and volunteers to help with this operation.”

Further information on the Wydcombe Bee-eaters can be found on Ian Ridett’s blog at News updates will appear at least daily on the BirdGuides Bird News Extra page.

A designated public viewing point has been identified overlooking the birds’ favourite feeding area so that visitors can get the best possible sightings of them. This will be carefully managed though, as the birds’ well-being and welfare takes priority. The Wydcombe Estate is located at PO38 2NY (grid reference SZ511787).

British suffragette movement history discovery

This video from Britain is called Women’s Suffrage (stock footage / archival footage).

By Peter Lazenby in Brtain:

Opening the page on Rochdale’s Suffragettes

Monday 28th July 2014

Minutes from 100 years ago shed light on the movement at its heyday, writes PETER LAZENBY

Researchers in north-west England are seeking the descendants of local pioneers of the “votes for women” Suffragette movement following the discovery of historic minutes dating back more than a century.

The minutes, dating from May 1907 to November 1915, record details of the Rochdale branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union, the organisation founded in 1903 in Manchester by the Pankhursts and other campaigners for women to get the vote.

The minutes have been handed to Salford’s Working Class Movement Library.

They include a list of almost 50 members and friends who attended a “monster demonstration” on June 21 1908, when between 200,000 and 300,000 women gathered in Hyde Park supporting their campaign for votes for women.

The minutes of June 12 1913, record that a special meeting was held to “consider the matter of sending delegates to represent Rochdale at the funeral of Miss Emily Wilding Davison who laid down her life in the cause of women.”

Ms Davison, who was 40 and was a teacher before devoting herself to full-time activism for the women’s movement, was trampled to death by the “King’s horse” after stepping in front of it at the Epsom Derby on June 4 1913.

She died of her injuries four days later.

As a campaigner she had been sent to jail nine times, and was brutally force-fed 49 times while on hunger strike in prison.

Her final sacrifice drew attention to the women’s cause in Britain and around the world, and Ms Davison’s name lives on as a martyr in the struggle for votes for women.

The Rochdale group decided to send three delegates and flowers to the funeral. It took place in London on June 14 1913. Thousands of Suffragettes walked with the coffin and tens of thousands more lined the streets as the cortege passed.

After a service in Bloomsbury her coffin was taken by train to the family grave in Morpeth in Northumberland.

The Rochdale minutes have been donated to the Working Class Movement Library by two supporters of its work in collecting, cataloguing and making accessible materials recording working-class history.

Library manager Lynette Cawthra said: “I don’t know where the donors originally got them from but I think they had had them for a long time.

“But there is no direct link between them and the movement. They have been friends of the library for a long time and knew that this was a place where these treasures would be looked after, and also be accessible which is, of course, a very important part of our work.”

Ms Cawthra said the minutes showed that the meetings were not all serious business.

“Members also had picnics, tea parties, dances and socials to raise much-needed funds,” she said.

“At one tea party, attended by about 50 people, the women were presented with a tea urn by a ‘gentleman sympathiser.’

“The library is extremely grateful to the donors of this minute book, which will be added to its collection of Suffragette material which includes photos, books, the journal Votes for Women and a badge which was presented to a woman who had been imprisoned for her Suffragette activities. Everyone is welcome to come and browse what’s here.”

The library is making public the list of names of Rochdale campaigners who attended the London rally in the hope that descendants will come forward.

Ms Cawthra said: “If you spot the name of your great-gran or another family member in the list, please do contact the Library on or (0161) 736-3601 and tell us more about them.”

The Working Class Movement Library is based at Jubilee House, 61, The Crescent, Salford M5 4WX.

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.

New British hawfinch longevity record

This video from Britain is called Hawfinch at Sizergh Castle.

From the BTO Bird Ringing ‘Demog Blog’ in Britain:

10 July 2014

Hawfinch longevity on the up

The longevity record for a British ringed Hawfinch has stood for many decades at 6 years, 9 months and 4 days: not surprising really as so few had been ringed, and even fewer recaught or found.

BTO ringer Jerry Lewis spends most of April each year catching (and more importantly recatching) and colour-ringing birds at feeding sites in the Forest of Dean. In 2012, he caught three birds that he had previously been ringed six years earlier, and began to think that a new longevity record was perhaps in sight. He didn’t have to wait long, as soon after this he caught another two birds that had been ringed in 2005: NW21506 was the older of the two, at 6 years, 11 months and 24 days. Fast forward to 2013 and another two seven-year-olds were recorded, but photographed this time allowing their colour rings to be read. This gave an impressive selection of old birds, and a better indication of the actual age that Hawfinch can regularly reach.

However, in April this year, local birder Phil Mugridge photographed a bird with a red colour ring over a metal right on its left leg, a combination only used on 17 birds ringed in April 2006, so an even older bird at eight years.

LBR,M in April 2014

The next few years are likely to see further captures and sightings of birds originally ringed in 2005, 2006 or 2007, so no doubt the longevity record will continue to be pushed even higher.

Knitting against nuclear weapons

This video from Britain says about itself:

2 April 2013

Jaine Rose of Wool Against Weapons talks about plans to create a seven mile long knitted peace scarf to stretch between Atomic Weapons Establishment sites at Aldermaston and Burghfield, Berkshire, where UK nuclear weapons are made.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

ATOMIC WEAPONS: “Radical knitters” will gather in Leeds on Friday to contribute to a seven-mile long scarf for an anti-nuclear protest.

Campaigners across Britain are staging “knit-ins” to add sections of the scarf — organised by Wool Against Weapons — which will be unravelled between the nuclear weapons factories at Burghfield and Aldermaston in Berkshire on August 9, the anniversary of the 1945 nuclear attack on Nagasaki.

The Leeds event starts at 12pm outside City Art Gallery.