English Merseyside sand lizards get help


This video is called Hundreds of rare [sand] lizards released in the UK.

From Wildlife Extra:

Rare Merseyside lizards get a helping hand with egg laying

North Merseyside Amphibian and Reptile Group (NMARG) is celebrating the successful creation of egg-laying sites especially for the Merseyside sand lizard, a unique form of this rare and strictly protected species which has very specific egg-laying requirements.

Volunteers from the Amphibian and Reptile Group network have been spearheading emergency habitat restoration for the sand lizard on the Sefton Coast over the winter months.

They have created over 150 sand patches among the dunes of the Sefton Coast for the animals.

Now they can report that initial indications are that the sand lizards have adopted these egg-laying sites.

At one location where the species had formerly been in decline, NMARG found 11 female lizards, many investigating the newly managed sand patches where they will soon lay eggs.

Mike Brown, Chairman of NMARG said: “This clearly shows that habitat and species monitoring, combined with targeted habitat management, can have positive results in a very short space of time.”

With funding from the British Herpetological Society and ARG UK, volunteers from several ARG groups linked forces with conservation professionals from The Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust and Sefton Council to remove vegetation shading the sand lizard habitat.

Monitoring of both site habitat condition and the species, carried out by NMARG, has allowed prioritisation of management activities, and the work goes on.

“In spite of the success of the habitat management work, there is a great deal more to do, especially tree and scrub removal and sand patch creation, to ensure the local sand lizard survives and increases in numbers,” said Brown.

For more information, and to find out how you can help, visit www.arc-trust.org.

Black-winged stilt chicks hatch in England for first time in decades


This video is called Nesting of Black-winged Stilt in Hong Kong Wetland Park.

From Wildlife Extra:

Black-winged stilt chicks hatch in southern England for first time in 27 years

The Mediterranean wading bird, the black-winged stilt, has hatched its first chicks safely on English soil for the first time in nearly 30 years.

Black-winged stilts are large black-and-white waders that are usually found in the Mediterranean, but it is thought that a dry spell in southern Spain brought the birds to southern Britain.

The last successful British breeding attempt by black-winged stilts was in Norfolk in 1987.

To protect the nest this year the RSPB organised a 24-hour watch with the help of a rota of volunteers.

“It’s very exciting that the chicks are beginning to hatch,” said RSPB Cliffe Pools warden Andy Daw. “We managed to protect the eggs, but there are still challenges ahead because the chicks will become more vulnerable to predation.

Cliffe Pools has 10 per cent of the UK’s saline lagoons, a very rare habitat which gives the black-winged stilts what they need to breed and raise chicks.

“In terms of people viewing the birds, at the moment they are on an island but the water is too deep for feeding so they will probably swim the chicks across so they can feed in shallower waters around the coastguard flats, which may make them a bit more difficult to see.”

English hen harrier news


This video is about hen harriers in Scotland.

From Wildlife Extra:

Glimmer of hope for England’s hen harriers

Hen harriers appear to be making a comeback on the United Utilities Bowland Estate in Lancashire

England’s most threatened bird of prey has taken a small step back from the brink of extinction in England following confirmation of two active hen harrier nests at the same site.

On the United Utilities Bowland Estate in Lancashire, one pair is currently raising chicks, while a female has been spotted sitting on eggs in a second nest nearby.

Bowland used to be the English stronghold for hen harriers and the upland bird of prey is even the symbol of the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. However, the current nests represent the first breeding attempts in the area since 2011.

Last year, England’s hen harriers suffered their worst breeding season for decades, failing to produce a single chick anywhere in the whole country for the first time in several decades.

The RSPB in partnership with Natural England and United Utilities have monitored and protected hen harriers in Bowland for more than three decades. Both nests are being watched by dedicated staff and volunteers, as well as CCTV around the clock.

The RSPB’s hen harrier monitoring and protection work in Bowland forms part of Skydancer, a four-year RSPB project aimed at protecting and conserving nesting hen harriers in the English uplands. The project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (with a grant of £317,700) and United Utilities, with additional support from the Forestry Commission.

Jude Lane, the RSPB’s Bowland Project Officer, says: “After two years of bitter disappointment, I am delighted and relieved that hen harriers have returned to nest in Bowland. However, the species is still in serious trouble and at risk from extinction as a breeding bird in England.”

The plight of the English hen harrier stems from the fact that hen harriers sometimes eat red grouse, which brings them into conflict with the driven grouse shooting industry. This particular type of shooting requires large numbers of grouse, so some game managers feel they must illegally kill or disturb harriers to protect their stock.

A legal method that could reduce the number of grouse chicks lost to hen harriers is a management technique known as diversionary feeding. This involves providing hen harriers with an alternative food source during the period when the adults are feeding their chicks. The RSPB and the local shooting tenant are currently using the method in Bowland, under licence from Natural England.

Jude continues: “Diversionary feeding is a simple, inexpensive and effective technique. Previous trials have shown it can reduce the number of grouse eaten by hen harriers by up to 86 per cent.”

For more information about the project, visit www.rspb.org.uk/skydancer.

English birds and insects news


This video from Britain says about itself:

How Old Moor Nature Reserve in the Dearne Valley, South Yorkshire, was opened to local communities and birdwatchers. The 250 acre natural moor is home to may bird species and helps to protect the local area from flooding.

From the Old Moor & Dearne Valley blog in England:

Stormy Monday – Old Moor sightings Monday 9th June

Karen W 10 Jun 2014 9:57 AM

There were thunderstorms but in between it was quite warm and sunny, here are the sightings from today.

Starting in the bird garden – stock dove, bullfinch (7), tree sparrow (7), great tit with young, dunnock, chaffinch and common blue damselfly.

The glossy ibis is still being reported from Houghton Washlands

Avocet and teal were seen on wader scrape.

From Wath Ings a male wigeon was seen.

A barn owl was seen hunting near to the reed bed screen this afternoon.

Reed bunting, reed warbler and blackcap were also from around the reserve.

Tree bumblebees are still being seen in the courtyard.

That’s it from the book but if you’ve seen anything else please let us know.

Rare spectacled warbler in England


This 2 June 2014 video from England is called Spectacled Warbler and Twitch, Burnham Overy, 02/06/2014.

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