Florida great white shark research

This video is called Jonathan Bird’s Blue World: Great White Sharks.

From The Florida Times-Union in the USA:

Scientists track great white sharks off Fla.


Published: January 20, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – The search for great white sharks just off the coast of Jacksonville is about to get a lot more serious.

By the end of this month, the University of North Florida‘s shark-­research program expects to place as many as 10 sensors in the Atlantic.

The devices will be near the beach, perhaps a half-mile or mile from the sand. The great whites come in close.

The nonprofit shark research group Ocearch last January tracked a 16½-foot great white named Mary Lee in the surf zone in Jacksonville Beach.

They then brought their research vessel on an expedition to Jacksonville and caught and tagged 14-foot Lydia. Meanwhile, the satellite tag on Katharine showed that shark hanging around near Cape Canaveral.

GPS devices, caught by satellite every time they rise to the surface, track the Ocearch sharks.

The sensors store information but can’t transmit it instantly; it will have to wait until researchers travel to them and download the data.

Jim Gelsleichter, a shark expert at UNF, said his school’s sensors will most likely be attached to buoys in Nassau Sound, Fort George Inlet, the Mayport area, Jacksonville Beach, Ponte Vedra Beach and St. Augustine.

Chris Fischer, founder of Ocearch, is on an expedition in the Galapagos Islands. He said he was “thrilled” by the new sensors off Jacksonville, calling them a crucial link in researchers’ understanding of great whites.

Placing the sensors close to shore is a big plus, too, Fischer said. The tracking devices show some great whites spend much more time poking into inlets and cruising along beaches than was once believed.

“What’s really surprised us is the coastal portion of their life, which particularly seems significant in the Southeast,” he said.

Ocearch’s high-profile spottings of great whites in the area created a buzz. Mary Lee, a celebrity shark, even has a Facebook page.

It’s unclear whether there are more great whites off Jacksonville.

“Finding white sharks is tough,” said Greg Skomal, a shark expert at the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries who accompanies the Ocearch vessel on its expedition to Jacksonville. “Counting them is even tougher.”

But Skomal said there has definitely been a big rebound in the great white population off Cape Cod.

Thanks to tracking devices implanted in Cape Cod sharks, scientists know they frequently range as far south as Florida. So it seems likely that more Cape Cod sharks equals more Florida sharks.

“I don’t think it’s any reason to run up and down the beach screaming,” UNF’s Gelsleichter said. “But the scientist in me is curious about it.”

Gelsleichter, an assistant professor of biology, has been fascinated by sharks since he saw “Jaws” at age 6.

He’s now directing the university’s Shark Biology Program, which studies the many species of sharks in the area. Great whites, the apex predator of the ocean, attract the most media attention, even if they’re not much of a threat to humans on the East Coast.

In July 2012, a swimmer was bitten off Cape Cod and survived; that was the first great white shark injury there in 75 years, Gelsleichter said.

Meanwhile, the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History said there has not been a single documented instance in Florida’s recorded history of a great white attacking a human.

Scientists once thought the animals summered off Cape Cod and wintered in the Southeast, a pretty simple pattern.

But it looks now that they’re off the Southeast coast, even during warmer months. “We’re seeing good evidence to show that the animals are not just winter residents,” Gelsleichter said.

UNF’s devices will be able to pick up any of the Ocearch-tagged sharks, along with about 20 others tagged by harpooners off Cape Cod. Each shark emits a distinct signal, so scientists will be able to identify and track each one.

UNF already has three devices working, but they’re at popular diving spots far offshore. They picked up the presence of two great whites last winter.

Much remains to be learned about the travel patterns and life cycles of the great white.

“I think definitely that we’re an important part of the puzzle,” Gelsleichter said.

After lingering off the Volusia County coast for about a month, Katharine, a 2,300-pound great white shark, moved north this week, but only to Flagler County: here.

Great white sharks live much, much longer than we thought and that has huge implications for conservation efforts: here.

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Snowy owl moves to Terschelling island

This video from the USA is called Arctic Snowy Owl Spotted In Florida As U.S. Becomes Frozen Tundra.

First, there was a snowy owl present on Texel island in the Netherlands. Then, it moved to Vlieland island. This afternoon, about 2pm, the owl flew from Vlieland to Terschelling island. To the coastal dunes of Terschelling.

UPDATE 22 January 2014: the Vlieland owl is not the same as the Terschelling one.

On the other hand, the northern hawk-owl is still on the same spot today in Zwolle city in the Netherlands.

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Bahraini torture princes in Florida Ironman

This video says about itself:

I was sexually assaulted and tortured to extract false confession – Bahraini medic.

31 March 2013

She explained that she was arrested from her own apartment along with 19 other doctors who disappeared from their homes and hospitals.

While the Bahraini absolute monarchy‘s police keep oppressing free speech and art, and while some of the Bahraini royals are on a very expensive (for both the Bahraini and the Greek people) holiday in Greece … other Bahraini royals are in Florida, USA.

By Erin McDonough in the USA:

Bahrain Royals Lead Team In Ironman, Despite Torture Allegations

10/30/2013 5:26 pm EDT

Two Bahraini princes, Nasser and Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa are currently training in Florida for the upcoming Ironman [Triathlon] competition, which takes place on Saturday. Bahraini human rights organizations have accused both men of serious human rights offenses. Rachel Burke Peterson, Director of Communications at Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, joined HuffPost Live’s Ahmed Shihab-Eldin to discuss whether or not the US government and the Ironman competition should take action in order to address the alleged human rights violations.

Following the advent of the Arab Spring in Tunisia, pro-democracy protests erupted across Bahrain in the winter of 2011. The ruling regime responded with an immediate crackdown, deploying a strong security force.

The Bahrain Forum for Human Rights reports that both Nasser and Khalid Khalifa were responsible for the torture of several pro-democracy protesters. Further, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights has reported that “Following [Nasser Khalifa’s] directives more than 150 professional athletes, coaches and referees were subjected to arbitrary arrests, night raids, detention, abuse and torture by electric cables and other means.”

Peterson said that the Ironman organization should address these reports and hold the Khalifa brothers accountable for any human rights abuses.

“Our main concern is that to allow them to participate in the Ironman competition… it sets a precedent,” she said, “that…those that commit human rights abuses are no longer going to be held to standards that we would consider to be international.”

While Peterson expressed frustration with the lack of reportage on this story, she feels that overall the US government is increasingly willing to censure Bahrain for human rights crimes.

“We are seeing a turn in the US narrative towards Bahrain and our hope is that [this turn] will [continue to] strengthen,” she said, “and that the United States’ government as well as other leaders throughout the world can encourage the government of Bahrain to stop its human rights violations, to end the culture of impunity, and to listen to their citizens’ demands.”

I hope that Ms Peterson is right on what she perceives as maybe the beginning of a rift between Washington and its dictatorial Bahraini royal allies. Lately, there are indeed some signs of such a beginning of a rift between the US government and the regime of Bahrain; and the regime of Saudi Arabia. This is because so far, there has not been a United States military attack on Syria. Some Gulf royals see that postponement (let us hope: postponement for ever) of such a bloody attack as a sign that President Obama is a “pussy“; contrary to the strong involvement of Gulf royals (including the Bahraini torture royals now in Florida) in fanning the fires of war in Syria.

However, in the near future, there may very well be strong pressure on Obama by the military-industrial complex, by neo-conservatives and by “liberal hawks” within his own administration, to show that he is not a “pussy” by having a bloody attack on Syria after all. If there would be such a dangerous escalation of war, then one may expect strongly that Washington would drop even its most timid criticisms of human rights violations by the Bahraini, Saudi, etc. autocrats; in the name of not upsetting valuable allies in supposedly “humanitarian” warfare.

Panama City Race Organizers, Police Won’t Scrutinize Bahraini Royals Accused Of Abuse: here.

Wanted for Justice in Bahrain: Nasser Hamad Al-Khalifa: here.

Bahrain police close art display on pro-democracy uprising: here.

Britain: Google says there was a report, an hour ago, in the Daily Telegraph; headlined Prince Charles risks controversy by meeting Bahraini leader. However, that page has mysteriously disappeared on the Telegraph site. (Self-)censorship?

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Saving Polynesian snails in London

This video is called The Tale of the Partula Snail.

From Wildlife Extra:

Near extinct snails bred at ZSL London Zoo to be released back into the wild

Tiny endangered tree-snails to be reintroduced onto Tahiti

September 2013. Hundreds of tiny endangered tree-snails will be reintroduced to their former Polynesian home following the incredible success of an international breeding programme led by ZSL London Zoo.

30 year absence

Three species of Partula snail, Partula affinis, Partula nodosa, and Partula hyalina, which were bred at ZSL London Zoo and other partner zoos around the world, will be released on to the island of Tahiti in October after a nearly 30 year absence.

ZSL London Zoo invertebrate keeper and coordinator of the international Partula studbook, Don McFarlane, along with staff from Bristol and Edinburgh Zoos, will be escorting the precious cargo of snails to Tahiti, where they will be released into a protected reserve in their native forest habitat.

McFarlane said: “We’re incredibly proud of the role ZSL London Zoo has played in bringing these snails back from the brink of extinction and reintroducing them to their native Tahiti. There used to be more than 70 species of Partula tree snails across the Pacific French Polynesian islands, but due to man’s influence, most of these species are now endangered or extinct in the wild.

“This project is the result of almost 30 years of collaborative work between zoos around the world, and the French Polynesian Government. We’re really hopeful that the hard work will pay off and we’ll see Partula snails thriving in the wild once again.”

Driven to extinction by Wolf snail

Originating from the steep volcanic forested islands of French Polynesia, Partula snails provide valuable insights into the mechanisms of evolution. Populations of the snails were decimated after the predatory rosy wolf snail (Euglandina rosea) was introduced from Florida in the 1970s to rid the islands of a previously-introduced alien species – the African giant land snail – but the rapacious predator devoured the tiny native snails instead.

The Partula Global Species Management Programme is coordinated by ZSL London Zoo with St Louis Zoo, and combines the breeding programme for 16 species in 16 different zoos around the world with field conservation work in the Polynesian islands.

This video from the USA says about itself:

Extinct Snail and Its Baby!

4 feb 2011

The Partula snail is extinct in the wild. But a small population hangs on as part of a breeding program at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. This short clip shows how the snail moves. A baby snail can be seen next to the adult.

Lesser yellowlegs in the Netherlands

This video from Florida in the USA is called Greater & Lesser Yellowlegs.

The lesser yellowlegs is a North American bird. Only rarely, an individual goes to Europe.

These days, one is in Starrevaart nature reserve near Voorschoten in the Netherlands.

UPDATE: the lesser yellowlegs is no longer at Starrevaart. Spotted redshanks are still there; see photo here.

UPDATE 5 september: the lesser yellowlegs is back at Starrevaart.

Florida panthers in the USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

May 9, 2013

Presented by The Park Service, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and The US Environmental Protection Agency. Produced by Bridget Litten and Karrie Carnes. Directed by Erik D. Hutchins.

Florida Panthers 2013: In the 1980s, south Florida’s panther population was down to only 20 to 30 individuals. Today, they are on the rebound with an estimated population of around 120. To many, this is an endangered species success story.

AND Pharmaceuticals in our Waters: And all the pharmaceuticals that we use, our bodies don’t use them all up. All of our birth control pills, all the different medications that we have for all these different ailments, they pass through our bodies the go into our sewer systems. There’s one type of pharmaceutical that has scientists especially nervous about finding in our waters, called endocrine disrupters.

From Wildlife Extra:

Florida Panther sightings survey

Panther sightings reported throughout Florida

August 2013. The public has reported hundreds of sightings of Florida panthers to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). As of August 2013, the public had submitted 790 sightings.

Mistaken identity

Only 12 percent of the reports included a photograph and could be evaluated by Commission biologists. Of those with photos, the majority were confirmed as panthers. Other animals identified by FWC biologists were bobcats, foxes, coyotes, dogs, house cats and even a monkey. Most often the reported animal or tracks belonged to a bobcat, when it was not a panther. The verified panther reports were largely confined to southwest Florida, the well-documented breeding range for panthers in the state. There also were several verified sightings in south central Florida.

“The public’s willingness to share what they have seen or collected on game cameras is incredibly helpful and shows us where panthers presumably are roaming in Florida,” said Darrell Land, who heads the FWC’s panther team. “We thank everyone using the Report Florida Panther Sightings website and encourage others to participate in this citizen-science venture.”

“As the population of this endangered species grows, the FWC expects more Florida panthers to be seen in areas of the state where they have not lived for decades,” Land said. “To properly plan and manage for the expansion of the panther’s range in Florida, information about where the panthers are is vital.”

Identify tracks

The FWC has a new “E-Z guide to identify panther tracks” available at www.FloridaPantherNet.org.

100 – 160 panthers alive

The Florida panther population is estimated to be 100 to 160 adults and yearlings, a figure that does not include panther kittens. As recently as the 1970s, the Florida panther was close to disappearing, with as few as 20 animals in the wild.

Sightings can be reported to the FWC website launched a year ago, where people can record when and where they saw a panther or its tracks at MyFWC.com/PantherSightings.

Florida panther map

Young green turtles, new research

This video is called Green sea turtles, birth.

From New Scientist:

Green turtle youngsters roam far and wide

14 August 2013

WE HAVE all seen images of turtle hatchlings scrabbling down a beach to the sea. But between then and their appearance at foraging grounds as adults, no one knew where they went. Now a study of ocean currents and turtle genetics suggests an answer: they go pretty much everywhere.

Tagging doesn’t work on green turtles (Chelonia mydas) – they are just too small, says Nathan Putman of Oregon State University in Corvallis. “Any tags you put on them would sink them.” To figure out where they go, Putman teamed up with geneticist Eugenia Naro-Maciel of the City University of New York. They used a model of ocean circulation to estimate where the young turtles would be carried from natal beaches in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Indian oceans. They also compared the genetic make-up of baby turtles at those beaches with adult turtles at foraging grounds. By combining the two methods, they were able to produce maps showing where turtles go after hatching (Proceedings of the Royal Society B, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.1468).

Putman and Naro-Maciel think the turtles are found in two main areas. One covers most of the north Atlantic, plus the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. The other spans much of the south Atlantic and extends into the Indian Ocean south of Madagascar – a daunting challenge for conservationists hoping to preserve them, says Putman.

Endangered green sea turtles make a comeback in Florida: here.

Spike in endangered green turtles off Indonesia island risks destruction of food source: here.

Unique research by scientists from Deakin University in Victoria, Australia, has been using satellite tracking to monitor tagged green turtles in the Indian Ocean: here.

Good Spanish osprey news

This video from Florida in the USA is called Osprey gets fish at 2008 PODS PGA golf tournament.

Fortunately, now better British-Spanish (more precisely: Scottish-Basque) news than sabre-rattling around Gibraltar

From Wildlife Extra:

Scottish ospreys released into Spain

Scottish ospreys help Spain reintroduction

August 2013. Twelve young Scottish ospreys have been released on the north Spanish coast near Bilbao, as the first stage of a five-year project to restore breeding ospreys to the Basque country.

Last year, the Biscay Regional Council and the Urdaibai Bird Center asked Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) for permission for the project. SNH issued a special licence in 2013 to Roy Dennis of the Highland Foundation for Wildlife to collect 12 young ospreys from nests with more than one young in the Scottish Highlands and Moray.

12 young ospreys released

In the past 10 days, the 12 ospreys have all been released in the Basque country and are faring extremely well. Five days after being released, one of the birds has even caught its first fish in the estuary. Once released, the young birds were able to come back to nest platforms containing a daily supply of fresh fish which they would take away and eat, as if a parent had provided food for them.

The birds were released at Urdaibai estuary to the north of Bilbao. This estuary is regularly used by migrating Scottish ospreys, travelling to and from West Africa in spring and autumn. In fact, it was the temporary home in spring 2008 of the famous osprey, Logie, tracked by Roy Dennis using the first GPS satellite transmitter fitted to a British osprey. At that time, Aitor Galarza, who is now involved in the osprey reintroduction, found and photographed Logie. This resulted in a partnership between Scotland and the Basque country to restore breeding ospreys.

Successfully introduced into Andalusia

This project follows the successful reintroduction of ospreys to Andalusia in southern Spain, which involved birds from Germany, Finland and Scotland. The first pair to breed in 2008 was a Scottish female and German male. In 2013, the project team in Andalusia identified 13 breeding pairs. The osprey had been extinct for many years in mainland Spain.

Roy Dennis said: “It’s been really great that we have been able to help the Basque people try to restore breeding ospreys and we are very grateful to SNH for their support and to all the people who helped us with the collection and translocation. We wish the project success.”

Susan Davies, SNH’s Director of Policy & Advice, said: “Ospreys are doing well in Scotland, so we’re in a terrific position to be able to help reintroduce these wonderful birds. A population of breeding ospreys in the Basque country should make the overall population in Europe stronger.”

Dr Aitor Galarza, the project director, added: “We are so pleased that we have young ospreys flying in Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve at the start of an exciting project. There is huge public interest and we are most grateful to Scotland for their support.”

Collected in Caithness & Strathspey

In early July this year, suitable nests were visited between Caithness and Strathspey and 12 young birds were selected. They came from nests on private land or Forestry Commission Scotland land. Birds were inspected by Jane Harley of the Grantown-on-Spey vet practice on 8 July and at dawn the next day they were taken to Aberdeen airport and flown by British Airways to Heathrow. Roy Dennis and Dr Aitor Galarza from the Biscay Department of the Environment accompanied the ospreys and were able to feed them en route to Spain at the Animal Reception Centre at Heathrow Airport.

Later that night, they reached the specially-built cages overlooking Urdaibai estuary to the north of Bilbao. Three birds were placed in each cage and were fed by the bird centre staff on fresh fish delivered through openings in the back of cages. The young ospreys were unable to see the people feeding them and during July they grew to full-size, learnt to fly and were able to watch activities on the estuary.

Save Bonaire conch shells

This video from the USA says about itself:

Florida Keys Queen Conch Transplant Part 1 – WATERWAYS

The Queen Conch is a symbol of Key West as well as a barometer for marine and reef health. On the endangered species list, the Florida Marine Research Institute staff transplant Queen Conch in an attempt to increase the reproduction of this mollusk, once common to Florida waters.

And here is Part 2 of that video series.

From the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA), Sunday 11 Augustus 2013:

The Conch Restoration Project in Lac Bay, Bonaire, was part of a three-year, IUCN awarded initiative funded by the Dutch Postcode Lottery, called “What if We Change”, which aimed to demonstrate ecosystem restoration in action around the world. Now at an end, the project produced a ton of data and many new insights into the species, its behaviour and habitat. The intention was to allow Bonairean fishermen to become the custodians of their own fishing resources and to improve the ecosystem throughout the bay.

The focus of the project has been on the species itself, the Queen Conch (Lobatus gigas) and its primary habitat, the seagrass beds. However, soon after the start of the project, the researchers started to comprehend that the surrounding mangrove forest also plays a very important role. Mangrove forests are a dynamic ecosystem in the coastal zone, with a distinct zonation in species ranging from Red Mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) near the low tide line to Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans), White Mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa) and Buttonwood (Conococarpus erectus) more inland.

Land reclamation by growing mangrove forests and die-off of mangroves further inland at Lac Bay are natural phenomena. Yet, the rate at which this is happening on Bonaire, is exceptionally high. In just over 35 years, 81 hectares of what used to be open bay, has now become new mangrove forest, while at the same time, further inland, almost the same amount was lost (82 hectares). Overall, the mangrove forest seems to be moving towards the sea and since the central bay of Lac together with the semi-enclosed ponds only cover a little over 400 hectares, the consequence at Lac Bay is that this movement will be at the expense of the seagrass beds, which is critical habitat for conch.

There are several processes influencing growth and die-off of mangroves, such as salinification, inundation, sedimentation and eutrophication. In order to find out which processes are the main drivers in Lac Bay, student researchers Iris Vreugdenhil and Tatiana Lodder of Wageningen University have done fieldwork in Lac Bay from October 2012 to January 2013. Presently, the collected data are being analysed and their thesis reports are being finalised.

The research focused on the effect of increased salinity, anaerobic conditions and nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations on the two most important mangrove species, R. mangle and A. germinans. Since April 2010, tidal gauges have been installed in and around Lac to study the hydrological conditions. Additional dataloggers have been installed, and at most of these stations time series for salinity and dissolved oxygen have been collected. The locations for these dataloggers have been chosen based on the IMARES study by Davaasuren and Meesters in 2012 on mangroves using satellite imagery and accessibility of the area. The time series, together with soil physical data and mangrove vegetation data, will be used to model the growth of the species.
Additionally, niche differentiation of the four mangrove species under abiotic influences has been studied. The project focused on the effects of inundation time, salinity and nutrient resources on the growth of the four mangrove species occurring at Lac. Three types of forest have been studied: R. mangle forest, A. germinans, and a mixed plot of A. germinans, L. racemosa and C. erectus. Nutrients (N/P/K) of soil and leaves have been measured and other growth and vegetation characteristics have been studied, such as leaf mass per area (LMA) and leaf area index (LAI). The findings of both projects will be published in two reports in the near future.

Text: Sabine Engel

Nature poetry competition

This video from the USA sas about itself:

Third Annual Peace Poetry Contest 2012

The third annual Peace Poetry Contest on May 12, 2012 sponsored by the Veterans for Peace, Gainesville, Florida Chapter. This year Marion county schools were added to Alachua county schools participating in the contest. The reading of winning poems was videotaped to create this production.

The purpose of the contest is to encourage young people to think about peace and describe their ideas in a creative way with no rules and no direction. The result of this process is a dialogue about peace and nonviolence that will hopefully develop into peaceful worldviews applied to real world situations when the now young poets grow up to be the future leaders of the world. The event was held at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville, Florida.

From BirdLife:

A call for BirdLife Poets

Thu, Aug 8, 2013

Following the outstanding success of its first competition in 2012, The Rialto Magazine have teamed up again with the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK), to launch a second Nature Poetry Competition, and are seeking entries from across the BirdLife Partnership.

Poetry draws on our deepest associations with nature.  Writing on all the zoology and botany books he owned, the Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, explained how they, ‘allowed him to embrace the infinite world, the never ending labyrinth of nature. Books in which the earth is explored have always been my favourites, and rarely do I go to sleep within admiring the portraits of adorable island birds, or insects as complicated as clocks’.

With a deadline of the end of September, work submitted will be judged by the poet, Ruth Padel, whose most recent book, The Mara Crossing, took journeying and migration as its core theme.  The competition will help raise funds to support RSPB, and its critical conservation work, and will also help raise the profile of contemporary poetry and bring new audiences to The Rialto.  Prizes include publication in the magazine, cash of up to £1,000, and a place on a creative writing course at Welsh National Writers’ Centre Ty Newydd.

Rialto was established in 1984, and its first edition included poetry by the Honorary President of BirdLife’s Rare Bird Club, Margaret Atwood, as well as by the current British Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy.

Matt Howard, who works for the RSPB, and is a Rialto adviser, says: “Poets have always written about the natural world and this competition is a way for them to take a direct step to work for the well-spring that provides so much inspiration. Creative engagement with our shared environment is ever-more important, particularly at a time when the state of nature is under such pressures from the way we live our lives.”

Indeed, writing in his introduction to The Poetry of Birds, the author, Tim Dee, noted it was the Blackbird which emerged as the most popular subject in a UK competition he judged in 2005, far out-numbering all other poems.  He echoed Aldous Huxley’s argument that taking birds out of English poetry would mean losing half the canon.  Nonetheless, Michael Mackmin, editor of The Rialto, makes it clear that “The judges will give a very wide interpretation to our theme of nature poetry.”

Last year’s competition saw more an astonishing 1,800 entrants contribute more than 3,500 poems from a total of 17 countries.  The winning entry by Pat Winslow, recalls a memorable encounter with a spider. It would be a huge boost for the RSPB, BirdLife more generally, for The Rialto, and for the role of poetry in celebrating birds, biodiversity, and the environment, if someone from the BirdLife family won in 2013.

To enter the competition, please follow the link here: