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.