Saving birds in Europe


This video from Lithuania is called Globally threatened Aquatic Warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola) in Nemunas Delta in 2012. It says about itself:

4 June 2013

Aquatic Warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola) is the only globally threatened passerine bird found in mainland Europe.

Lithuania is among eight countries worldwide with suitable breeding habitats for this rare species. From 2011 it is breeding only in Belarus, Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania. In 2012 63-64 singing males were found in Lithuania.

Aquatic Warbler is a habitat specialist occurring mainly in open sedge fen mires and marshy habitats. Today it is facing extinction due to an increasingly abandoned farmland or transformation of meadows into a grazing land. Therefore its conservation is closely linked to sustainable farming practices.

Video recording made with special permission from Lithuanian Environment Protection Agency.

For more info about Aquatic Warbler conservation in Lithuania and Latvia visit www.meldine.lt/en.

From BirdLife:

BirdLife Partners are LIFE masters!

By Elodie Cantaloube, Mon, 28/04/2014 – 15:34

Each year, the European Commission evaluates all completed projects funded through the LIFE programme and this year, 4 out of the 11 Best LIFE Nature projects receiving the award have been implemented by BirdLife partners. Tomorrow, an award ceremony will be held in Brussels where the leading BirdLife Partners, OTOP (Poland), the RSPB (UK), BirdLife Finland, HOS (Greece) and SPEA (Portugal) will receive an award.

Iván Ramírez, Head of Conservation at BirdLife Europe stresses “It is an extremely important recognition for our partnership, 2013 was a difficult year for conservation, but even more for our BirdLife Partners that fought the financial crisis without weakening their conservation objectives. These four awards are just another example of their incredible work.”

OTOP (BirdLife in Poland) and the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) joined forces in the “Aquatic Warbler” project aiming to improve the conservation status of the Aquatic Warbler, at the edge of global extinction.

Europe hosts 99% of the global population of the Vulnerable Aquatic Warbler and Poland is a critical habitat for their survival, being its second-largest population stronghold. During the past century, this species experienced a steep decline due to the drainage of its territories for agriculture. The Aquatic Warbler LIFE project, spanning from 2005 to 2011, sought to stabilise populations at key sites (totally 4,200 ha) in Poland and Germany through the enlargement of suitable habitats and improvements to their condition. The project resulted in increasing populations of the bird species and the re-occupation of restored habitats. New management and enforcement plans are now in place and the future of the species is secured thanks to the project “Facilitating Aquatic Warbler habitat management through sustainable systems of biomass use.”

Kokemäenjoki – From Ancient to the Present Estuary, Kokemäenjoki Wetland Chain”, a BirdLife Finland project aiming to restore natural sites on the River Kokemäenjoki.

The purpose of the Kokemäenjoki project, started in 2006 by BirdLife Finland, was to restore five valuable natural sites on the River Kokemäenjoki, including eight Natura 2000 areas. Mowing and excavation were used to prevent overgrowth and preserve the wetlands that were at risk of becoming marshy and overgrown, causing the loss of valuable species. The area was also managed by cultivating and furrowing the reed roots, imitating the effects of being trampled by cattle, which has proven to be very effective at other similar sites. Birdwatching towers and information boards were put up and a number of nature trails were laid to increase awareness of the incredible natural value of the area. Finally, management and land use plans were developed to ensure future sustainable use of the site for both conservation and recreational activities.

BirdLife Greek and Portuguese Partners complete the project “Concrete Conservation Actions for the Mediterranean Shag and Audouin’s gull in Greece”.

This project, run by HOS (BirdLife in Greece) and SPEA (BirdLife in Portugal), focused on improving the conservation status and breeding performance of Audouin’s Gull and Mediterranean Shag, which inhabit the Aegean Sea and Ionian Sea areas of Greece. The project actions addressed the most relevant threats for the conservation of these two species, namely, rat predation, gull competition and commercial fishing activities that cause accidental birdcatch. Specific actions at project sites included the complete removal of all rats from five Natura 2000 sites, the modification of fishing gear and/or fishing regulations to reduce seabird bycatch and the pilot implementation of control measures to reduce Yellow-legged gull populations, a competitor for food and nesting sites. As a parallel result, 41 marine Important Bird Areas (IBAs) were identified and will be included in the Greek Natura 2000 network, securing their protection as a necessary step to avoid habitat loss and degradation. The project was of utmost importance for seabird and marine conservation in the Eastern Mediterranean; it improved critical habitats, allowed for better seabird breeding sites and created a model that could be easily repeated by neighboring countries.

SPEA and RSPB receive a second award for the project “Safe Islands for Seabirds”.The Azores islands used to be the home of millions of breeding seabirds, but today most of these colonies have decreased drastically as a result of introduced predators and invasive exotic plant species. Started in 2009 and focusing on Corvo (the smallest of all Azorean islands) and Vila Franca islet, this project worked towards the conservation of seabird colonies in the Azores, through habitat restoration and control and eradication of invasive alien species. It also built the first “pest-proof fence” in Europe, following successful experiences carried out in other remote areas such as the Hawaiian islands and New Zealand. As part of a wider restoration plan, several tests evaluating the chances of making Corvo an alien-free island were also implemented. The future of the pest-free fenced zone will be secured thanks to a management protocol signed into place by SPEA and the local authorities.

For more information, please contact Elodie Cantaloube, Media and Communications Officer at BirdLife Europe.

Scientists confirm worst fears: new EU Policy on Agriculture is bad for nature: here.

Long-tailed duck spring hunting now banned in Finland


This video is called Long-tailed Duck, (Clangula hyemalis).

From BirdLife:

BirdLife Finland succeeds in court battle over endangered species

By Rebecca Langer, Tue, 15/04/2014 – 10:35

The Long-tailed duck is classified worldwide as endangered. In southern Finland, a license for spring hunting of the species was authorized in year 2011, further threatening the survival of the population. BirdLife Finland and its local member organization are working to save the species and lodged a complaint to the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland. The complaint proved successful as the Court found the license for spring hunting illegal.

The court decision was based on the unfavourable conservation status of the species and the fact that there is a satisfactory alternative to spring hunting since Long-tailed duck occurs in the area also during the autumn.

Pursuing the complaint required considerable work by the NGO´s: the appeal documents were lengthy and were supported by numerous expert statements, boat research expeditions and long-term monitoring data collected by volunteers at bird research stations. Results of Long-tailed duck counts carried out by neighboring BirdLife Estonia also helped to prove that the population had decreased considerably.

The majority of the long-tailed ducks breeding in northern Europe and western Siberia spend the winter in the Baltic Sea. These birds occur on the coast of Finland especially during spring and autumn migration. What happens to the birds during spring migration in Finland has impacts on the entire Eurasian population of the species.

The BirdLife Partnership hopes that the positive decision by the Finnish Court helps to preserve the species, not only in Finland, but everywhere it migrates.

Legality of spring hunting under fire in Malta and Brussels: here.

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Another rare owl in the Netherlands


This video from Finland says about itself:

Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa) flies towards the camera and eats a mouse

This wild, but tame Great Grey Owl is still actively “hunting” out in the open and is enjoying herself posing to the cameras near Oulu, Finland. See a new set of Harri Taavetti’s images here. In this video she flies to catch a mouse and eats it directly in front of camera and flies away.

After the rare northern hawk-owl in Zwolle, the Netherlands, another owl species which does not come often to western Europe.

Today, in Ede in the Dutch Gelderland province, a great grey owl.

Here is a photo of the Ede owl.

See also here.

Finnish canoeist saves drowning owl


The saved owl recovering on the canoe, photo by Pentti Taskinen

Translated from Vroege Vogels TV in the Netherlands:

Exhausted owl recovers aboard a canoe

Monday, November 11, 2013 17:05

The Finnish adventurer Pentti Taskinen has saved an exhausted and soaked northern hawk-owl from Lake Tuusula. After he managed to bring the bird to safety in his canoe he made some unique photographs of the owl recovering from his perilous adventure in the icy water.

“At first I thought it was an otter in the water,” Taskinen said in the Finnish press. Only when he approached he saw that it was a bird. “The lake is freezing around this time of year. The owl probably would not have survived if it would still have remained for slightly longer in the water”. After he had brought the northern hawk-owl out of the water he began to warm the bird’s head. A while later he set the bird free in the Finnish nature.

The northern hawk-owl is a species of mixed northern forests, often in the upper zone on mountain slopes. Unlike many other owls, northern hawk-owls are partially active during the day. … The adults have a finely banded underside, like a sparrowhawk. In the Netherlands the species so far has been found three times , most recently in 2005 in Drenthe province. Currently, an individual is in Germany, 70 kilometers from the Dutch border near Winschoten.

See also here.

Another photo of the owl by Pentti Taskinen

Two magpies on my balcony, again


This video from Finland is called Eurasian magpie (Pica pica) eating salmon leather (HD).

There was a big storm yesterday. It blew many leaves off trees.

In the tree opposite my window, the magpie nest, invisible during summer, is visible again now.

This morning, two magpies on my balcony (the local nest couple?). One of them eating seeds from the flower-pot for feeding birds there.

Crossbills and white-fronted geese at EuroBirdwatch 2013


This video is called EuroBirdwatch 2012: 17000 Barnacle Geese in Joutseno, Finland.

And now, EuroBirdwatch 2013.

Here are the results of counting (migratory) birds all over the Netherlnds on 5 October 2013:

TOP 10 – 2013
Total: 241.924
Number of bird species: 181

1. White-fronted goose 68,515

2. Starling 44,092

3. Chaffinch 35,114

4. Black-headed gull 9,918

5. Meadow pipit 9,200

6. Grey lag goose 8,989

7. Northern lapwing 8, 957

8. Common gull 4,520

9. Herring gull 3,155

10. Crossbill 2,482

Never before had white-fronted geese been on number one. And never before had crossbills made the top ten.

Unusual species included: two ospreys, two ravens, 13 glossy ibis, 2 Cetti’s warblers, 4 water rails, 1 white-tailed eagle, 1 cuckoo, 1 red kite, 1 ruddy shelduck, 2 purple herons, four ring ouzels, and 40 snow buntings (in one flock).

Northern light video


, who made this video, writes:

More details about the “making of” on newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2013/06/18/how-a-stunning-aurora-video-was-made/.

The soft light of the arctic regions attracted me magically so that I decided to dedicate a project to it. Around the polar circle light occupies a very important role, especially in winter. During the freezing months the sun creeps only along the horizon providing thus long hours of this tender twilight that occurs before sunrise and after sunset. But the nights are even longer and then another special light brights up the sky: the aurora borealis. In this film I wanted to show how individual the northern lights are: they may dance very fast in a frenetic rhythm or explode in a red-purple firework or they may just glow greenish over the starry sky vaguely distinguishable by the human eye. Every night there is a different night show – if the polar lights appear as they use to be very shy divas.

As a non resident of the Arctic regions it was very difficult for me to hunt the northern lights. I travelled different times to the distant regions at the polar circle. It was not easy enduring the freezing temperatures and the darkness and sleeping in the tent or in the car when the harsh wind was shaking it too strong. But after a year I had the incredible luck to gather enough video material for this film project. Especially on my last trip to Tromsö in february 2013 I experienced incredible beautiful aurora borealis.

The footage was captured in Greenland, Norway (on the Lofoten islands and in the Troms region), Iceland and Finland.

The surreal atmosphere of the landscapes is emphasized thanks to the wonderful music of the talented and creative composer Pablo Garmón vimeo.com/pablojgarmon.