Migratory birds and Asian, African and European children

This video says about itself:

9 Jan 2014

Spring Alive has been spreading widely in Africa. Check how great they are doing in Nigeria where many children are enthusiastically engaged in birds oriented actions thanks to the Spring Alive project.

From BirdLife:

Spring Alive 2014 has arrived!

By Rebecca Langer, Thu, 06/03/2014 – 15:14

BirdLife and its Partners in 50 countries are proud to announce the launch of Spring Alive 2014. Now nine years old, Spring Alive brings together children, their teachers and families in Europe, Central Asia and Africa to observe and record the arrivals of five species of migrant birds:  Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica, White Stork Ciconia ciconia, Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus, Common Swift Apus apus, and European Bee-eater Merops apiaster.

Spring Alive 2013 broke all previous records. During Eurasian and African seasons, a total of over 286,000 observations of migratory birds were recorded on the Spring Alive website, and by the end of the year over 54,000 children, 900 teachers and supervisors and 500 volunteers from 49 countries had joined in a range of Spring Alive activities.

While the program began as a pan-European project to track the northward spread of spring migrants, now it involves many more indoor and outdoor events to engage children, schools and the wider community in the conservation of migratory birds. One example is the new pilot program Spring Twin, which matches schools in Europe and Asia with schools in Africa. Children will exchange letters, emails and diaries, and send one another videos they have shot before publishing them on the Spring Alive YouTube channel.

Spring Alive is coordinated by OTOP (BirdLife in Poland), with national coordinators in each participating country. This year, with the announcement that Azerbaijan will be joining in, at least 50 countries will be taking part.

“2014 is set to be an even bigger year for Spring Alive”, said Karolina Kalinowska, International Spring Alive Manager. “Now that we have accustomed children to recording their observations of the first spring migrants, we want to get them more involved in the conservation of migratory birds.”

Although it is still early in the year, in the southern Mediterranean early signs of spring are already popping up. Unfortunately, the joy of spring and the promise of some of the best birdwatching of the year is overshadowed in Malta by the Government’s intention to again allow spring hunting season, in violation of EU law. This translates into 10,000 hunters being allowed to legally shoot European Turtle-dove and Common Quail returning to Europe to breed. Experience suggests that too many of them will also be illegally targeting protected species, from songbirds to waders, herons and birds of prey: here.

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Good European bats news

This video says about itself:

This stunning slow motion footage shows how bats use echolocation to find water. We know how bats echolocate to hunt insects, but this is the first study to show how they recognise large, flat objects like ponds. Moreover, by testing young bats that had never encountered a pond or river before, the researchers showed that bats seem to have a built-in ability to recognize these important features of their environment. Read the original research paper here.

Translated from Dutch news agency ANP today:

Things are going better again for bats in Europe. Their numbers have increased between 1993 and 2011 by 40 percent, after years of decline. According to a study by the European Environment Agency (EEA), a research group of the European Union.

In the second half of the 20th century the flying mammals suffered much from agricultural intensification, deforestation and destruction of their sleeping roosts, causing entire colonies to be exterminated. Also, many bats succumbed to the toxic dieldrin, a substance for making timber for housing insect free, banned in 2004.

More about this is here. And here. And here.

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Coastal bird count, from Europe to South Africa

This video, in Dutch, is about counting shorebirds in Senegal.

This January, wintering coastal birds are counted, all the way from the Wadden sea in western Europe, to South Africa. People from all (West) European and (West) African countries along these coasts will participate in the counting.

This count will help conservation of these birds, all along their east Atlantic migration flyway.

African coastal birds, photo by Barend van Gemerden

Here is a beautiful photo by Barend van Gemerden. It shows great egrets, western reef herons, curlews and redshanks along a West African coast.

Photos of some of the bird counters are here.

Wader Quest and the Shorebirds of South Africa: here.

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Sheet web spider European spider of the year 2014

Linyphia triangularis, female

The sheet web spider (Linyphia triangularis) will be the European spider of the year 2014.

This species is rather common in northern Europe; less so in the south.

Restrict exotic pet keeping, veterinarians say

This video from the USA says about itself:

Exotic Animals Being Kept as Pets

20 Oct 2011

Thousands of dangerous animals are raised illegally in homes across the U.S. For more, click here.

From Wildlife Extra:

The keeping of exotic animals as pets should be restricted say vets

November 2013: The keeping of exotic animals as pets needs to be restricted says the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE), which represents veterinary surgeons from 38 countries, and have called upon the governments of European nations to take action.

Whilst dogs and domestic cats may be the most conventional and numerous companion animals, or ‘pets’, wild animals, such as snakes and lizards, parrots and even meerkats and monkeys, are increasingly in demand across homes in Europe. Wild in nature and often unpredictable, these animals not only require specialised care, but they are potentially dangerous to people, can inflict severe physical injury and transmit harmful diseases.

If abandoned, or if they escape, they can pose a threat to the natural environment. Concerned by the growing demand for exotic animals as pets and the risks to both animals and the public, as well as the increasing demand placed on the veterinary profession to diagnose and treat exotic illnesses, the FVE is advocating the establishment of ‘Animal Lists’ that restrict and in certain cases, prohibit the keeping of some animal species.

Christophe Buhot, President of the FVE says: “Veterinarians in Europe are increasingly concerned about the surge in wild and exotic species being kept in the homes of European citizens. People are buying these animals, often without a thought given to their biology, behaviour or living requirements and, unsurprisingly, some of these animals soon become ill, or even die.

“In addition, some of these animals might even pose a health or safety risk to their keepers. The expectation on veterinary professionals to provide species-specific information and advice accordingly, is high, but, some of these animals are simply not suitable to be kept. In order to avert the suffering of animals, and these very real threats to the welfare of the public, our members are calling for limitations in exotic animal keeping as the most viable solution.”

Vets are dedicated to actively promoting health and welfare for animals and humans and FVE strongly wishes to collaboratively work with all stakeholders and EU Institutions towards those objectives. Belgium and the Netherlands, have already established a ‘positive list’ of mammals, clarifying which animal species are permitted to be kept by private individuals.

Daniel Turner from Born Free, said, “The position taken by European veterinarians today could not be clearer: exotic animals such as monkeys and meerkats, parrots and snakes must be restricted and in some cases, prohibited. Europe is one of the largest international markets for wild animals and annual records indicate that legal imports include approximately 1.5 billion ornamental fish; 10 million live reptiles; millions of captive-bred birds and small mammals (such as prairie dogs and meerkats); and increasing numbers of non-human primates. The establishment of positive species lists, like those used in Belgium and the Netherlands, will not only protect the animals and the public, but further, the sustainability of biodiversity and natural habitats around the world.”