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 www.facebook.com/IsleofWightNT. 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 enquiries@wcml.org.uk 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.

Birds in Slimbridge, England today


This video from England is called SlimbridgeWildfowl & Wetlands Trust.

From Twitter today:

South Lake- adult breeding plumage Mediterranean Gull, 2 pairs Common Tern, 6 Avocet, 2 Green Sandpiper, 48 Black-tailed Godwit, 68 Redshank.