Desertas petrel, newly discovered vulnerable bird species


This video is called The View From The Ground – Desertas Islands (Madeira, Portugal) HD.

From BirdLife:

Newly born, the Desertas Petrel turns into one of Europe’s conservation challenges: are we ready for it?

Fri, 25/07/2014 – 11:40

The 2014 Red List of Birds update gives birth to a new European species, the Desertas Petrel, classified as Vulnerable.

The first time I heard about the Desertas Petrel, all I wanted to do was to climb on the peak of Bugio, one of the Desertas islands part of the Madeira archipelago in Portugal, where the bird breeds, and see this funny little pal with my own eyes.

What I didn’t know while climbing up was that Bugio would offer me an unforgettable wildlife experience: the red rock of the cliffs gives way to a plateau, 342m above sea level, with no trees or shrubs, but hundreds of seabird nests.  As the birds were spending their day at sea or guarding their deep nesting burrows, we could only see them at night – at the time, we didn’t have burrowscopes that would allow us to look inside burrows during daylight.

That was back in 2003 and we believed that the petrels on Bugio were the same species as those breeding in Cape Verde, so-called “Fea’s Petrel”.

The release of the 2014 Red List of Birds update officially treats the birds of the Bugio colony as a species in its own right called Desertas Petrel. This decision is based on solid scientific data, notably genetic studies, collected over the years by many BirdLife and other globally renowned biologists, and is outlined in HBW and BirdLife’s new Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World.

This year’s update involves the addition of 361 new species and the reassessment of over 4,000 bird species. It also tells us that seabirds are one of the most threatened groups of birds worldwide – and the Desertas Petrel is no exception: as soon as it was recognised as a new species, it was assessed as “Vulnerable”. If we are unable to eliminate the threats that currently affect the species, such as habitat deterioration and disturbance, its small population size could result in it becoming Critically Endangered in a relatively short period of time.

BirdLife is the Red List Authority for birds for the renowned IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, which provides an authoratative overview of the species most in need of conservation action. The 2014 update will help the BirdLife Partnership redefine its conservation work on the ground and protect species like the Desertas Petrel which require urgent action.

Iván Ramírez, Head of Conservation at BirdLife Europe

Senegalese and Dutch black-tailed godwit research


This video is called Godwits – Limosa limosa at Giganta Ricefields, Porto Alto, Portugal.

From BirdLife:

Gerrit and Khady: a Black-tailed Godwit romance

By Obaka Torto, Mon, 30/06/2014 – 14:59

Through the work of BirdLife International, Africa and Europe have come together many times for the love of birds. Khady Gueye from Senegal and Gerrit Gerritsen from the Netherlands offer a fine example of this. Both Khady and Gerrit are passionate about Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa), a ‘Near Threatened’ migratory shorebird. Khady studies them while they winter in Senegal and Gerrit is the godwit conservation specialist of Vogelbescherming Nederland (VBN, BirdLife in the Netherlands). He makes every effort to conserve the breeding habitat of the godwits in the Netherlands. The linkage between the two is even stronger. A bird ringed by Gerrit in 2007 went missing for six years, only to be rediscovered alive and well by Khady in Senegal in 2013.

Khady and Gerrit in Friesland, The Netherlands (Photo: Barend van Gemerden/VBN)

Khady and Gerrit in Friesland, The Netherlands (Photo: Barend van Gemerden/VBN)

Khady met Gerrit during her visit to Friesland, a province in the North of the Netherlands. Here she joined the researchers from the University of Groningen / Global Flyway Network to study the breeding habits of Black-tailed Godwits. Thanks to the team of Prof. Theunis Piersma and Jos Hooijmeijer, Khady learned a great deal about godwits and research techniques that will help her study.

Khady: “My job was to assist the team in their research; looking for nests and chicks, monitoring and ringing chicks. We also captured adults to read their rings and conduct biometric measurements. I improved my skills in reading rings and I now have a clear idea on how to study the availability of feeding resources for the birds at a site.”

Khady with just fledged chick of Black-tailed Godwit (Photo: Barend van Gemerden)

Khady with just fledged chick of Black-tailed Godwit (Photo: Barend van Gemerden)

Khady proved to be a valuable member of the team and her interest in the Black-tailed Godwit and determination to continue her research was held in high esteem by the entire team in the Netherlands. Khady: “Most exciting was working with the research team of Jos Hooijmeijer in the Netherlands, and the prospect of them coming to Senegal during the next season. While I was there, I better understood the ecology, migration strategies, as well as threats to the Black-tailed Godwit.”

Overall, Khady was highly impressed by what she saw in the Netherlands. “From my point of view, it is a very organized country. In Friesland in particular, people are friendly and pleasant. In this part of the Netherlands, the conservation of biodiversity and especially birds, is extremely important to the community.” To strengthen the commitment of the local community, Khady also participated in a successful visit of school children to a farm where many godwits breed. Khady’s presence emphasised the international connections that exist through migratory birds.

Khady scanning for Black-tailed Godwits in Senegal (Photo: Barend van Gemerden/VBN)

Khady scanning for Black-tailed Godwits in Senegal (Photo: Barend van Gemerden/VBN)

Young Graduates Research Project

Khady Gueye is a one of the awardees of the Young Graduates Research Project (YGRP) award, a conservation project grant under The Conservation of Migratory Birds (CMB) project, funded jointly by MAVA Foundation and Vogelbescherming Nederland (VBN).

This award is targeted at MSc-level students conducting ongoing research on migratory bird species in Cape Verde, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Senegal, Sierra Leone and the Gambia.

This is a recurring award and the next grant opportunity will be announced shortly, so stay tuned to the CMB project page!

Teaching Portuguese children about birds


This video says about itself:

Birds in Portugal, Moms feeding babies, Canon crop movie

Algarve, Quinta do lago, Maio de 2011

Crias de Galeirão, Fulica atra, Eurasian Coot.

Galinha-de-Água, Gallinula chloropus, Common Moorhen.

e Galinha-sultana, Porphyrio porphyrio, Purple Gallinule.

Música: Return to Innocence, Enigma.

From BirdLife:

Crowdfunding campaign raises funds to enable Portuguese children to learn about next door nature

By Elodie Cantaloube, Tue, 13/05/2014 – 15:20

A crowdfunding campaign by SPEA (BirdLife in Portugal) will run until the 20th of May to raise funds to re-connect children with their natural environment through the project “Birds of the Alentejo“.

This environmental education project aims to show the importance of wildlife to children from the Portuguese region of Alentejo, with a specific focus on wild birds. The importance of birds as part of their ecosystem will be explained, as well as the challenges caused by intensive agriculture – such as habitat destruction, habitat degradation and their effect on nature conservation.

Supported by Fundação +, the crowdfunding initiative set itself the objective to raise € 4,000 by May 20th. This budget will allow SPEA to visit up to 50 schools and engage with about 1000 students. You can help us reach this amount by making a donation.

According to Carlos Cruz, the ambassador and teacher of this project “What we want to transmit is that it is possible to reconcile agriculture and rural development with nature conservation. These children are our ambassadors and will engage their parents by explaining to them the importance of preventing the extinction of species and preserving our natural heritage.”

The final amount raised will determine the number of schools that will be visited. Actions have already been undertaken in some schools in the municipality of Évora (Alentejo, Portugal).

Support this initiative!

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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.

Biggest European carnivorous dinosaur discovery in Portugal


Torvosaurus tanneri in Madrid museum

From PLOS ONE:

Torvosaurus gurneyi n. sp., the Largest Terrestrial Predator from Europe, and a Proposed Terminology of the Maxilla Anatomy in Nonavian Theropods

Christophe Hendrickx, Octávio Mateus

Published: March 05, 2014

Abstract

The Lourinhã Formation (Kimmeridgian-Tithonian) of Central West Portugal is well known for its diversified dinosaur fauna similar to that of the Morrison Formation of North America; both areas share dinosaur taxa including the top predator Torvosaurus, reported in Portugal.

The material assigned to the Portuguese T. tanneri, consisting of a right maxilla and an incomplete caudal centrum, was briefly described in the literature and a thorough description of these bones is here given for the first time. A comparison with material referred to Torvosaurus tanneri allows us to highlight some important differences justifying the creation of a distinct Eastern species.

Torvosaurus gurneyi n. sp. displays two autapomorphies among Megalosauroidea, a maxilla possessing fewer than eleven teeth and an interdental wall nearly coincidental with the lateral wall of the maxillary body. In addition, it differs from T. tanneri by a reduced number of maxillary teeth, the absence of interdental plates terminating ventrally by broad V-shaped points and falling short relative to the lateral maxillary wall, and the absence of a protuberant ridge on the anterior part of the medial shelf, posterior to the anteromedial process.

T. gurneyi is the largest theropod from the Lourinhã Formation of Portugal and the largest land predator discovered in Europe hitherto. This taxon supports the mechanism of vicariance that occurred in the Iberian Meseta during the Late Jurassic when the proto-Atlantic was already well formed. A fragment of maxilla from the Lourinhã Formation referred to Torvosaurus sp. is ascribed to this new species, and several other bones, including a femur, a tibia and embryonic material all from the Kimmeridgian-Tithonian of Portugal, are tentatively assigned to T. gurneyi. A standard terminology and notation of the theropod maxilla is also proposed and a record of the Torvosaurus material from Portugal is given.

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Rare moth discovery in the Netherlands


This video from Portugal is about a sword-grass moth caterpillar.

Warden Luc Knijnsberg reports that this February, a rare moth was discovered in the Noord-Hollands Duinreservaat near Bergen village in the Netherlands.

It was a sword-grass moth.

Wardens had smeared syrup on English oak trees to attract moths. If the night is not too cold, then moths will come to feed on the syrup. This February, one of the moths at the syrup turned out to be a sword-grass moth. A very rare species. It had been seen for the last time in the Netherlands in 2001; in Drenthe province, much further east.

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