Grey whale calves born near Russia


This video about western gray whales is called The Last 130.

From the International Fund for Animal Welfare:

Gray Whale Research Team marks eight new calves so far

By: Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova

Posted: Wed, 08/20/2014

This update on the western gray whale (WGW) expedition was filed on behalf of the team by IFAW Russia staff member Anna Filippova. –MV

The total number of new calves for 2014 is now up to eight.

Even though the first half of August has not yielded many good observation days over the past several years, we have already enjoyed many working days at sea this month.

On August 1, we photographed our sixth mother-calf pair of this season. The mother was known from previous years and has been seen with calves off Piltun before.

On August 3, we went far north of our camp and sighted three mother-calf pairs (two of whom we had already seen a few times in July).

The third pair, number seven for the season, was pleasant news for us when we recognized the mother: a female born in 2004 and observed in previous years but never with calves.

Giving her age, it is assumed to be her first calf.

After seven hours at sea, a very thick fog came in very fast; we could hear whales breathing around our boat but were unable to see them.

August 6 was especially productive: We identified 31 gray whales with seven different mother-calf pairs among them. One of the pairs was new for this season, bringing our total to eight.

–The WGW Expedition Team

The western gray whale (WGW) expedition is a team of scientists from Russia and the USA that have been returning every summer since 1995 to Sakhalin Island (in the Sea of Okhotsk near Piltun Bay) to monitor and research western gray whales. Annually since 2000 IFAW has supported this research program that collects population data through photo-identification and genetic analysis of skin tissue biopsy samples. Information about population condition is very important to understanding the impact and influence of oil industry on the WGW population, and is key to IFAW’s WGW campaign.

730,000 Ukrainian refugees to Russia, 117,000 elsewhere in Ukraine


This 29 June 2014 video is called Number of Ukrainian refugees in Russia has reached 110,000: UNHCR.

That was June. Now, it is August.

From UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency:

GENEVA, August 5 – Amid a worsening situation in eastern Ukraine, the UN refugee agency on Tuesday estimated that more than 117,000 people are now displaced inside Ukraine. …

Most Ukrainians leaving their country are not applying for refugee status. They often seek other legal status. Some fear applying for refugee status will lead to complications and they consider the alternatives available a better temporary solution.

According to Russian authorities, 168,677 displaced people applied to the Federal Migration Service in the first seven months of this year. These included 6,347 for refugee status, 48,914 for temporary asylum, 28,134 for citizenship, 59,858 for temporary residence, 19,943 for residence permits and 5,481 under the programme of resettlement of compatriots.

A larger number of Ukrainians are arriving and staying in Russia under the visa-free regime. The Russian authorities estimate that around 730,000 Ukrainians, including the 168,000 seen by the Federal Migration Service, have arrived since the beginning of the year under this programme.

Around 80 per cent of Ukrainians are staying in border areas, while others are moving to stay with friends or relatives in other parts of the country. More than 585 temporary accommodation facilities are hosting 42,486 people. The Russian authorities have adopted several regulations to facilitate the temporary stay of Ukrainians arriving on its territory.

7 August 2014: again fighting on Maidan square in Kyiv.

The Ukrainian government has been directing heavy artillery bombardments against civilians in the major cities of east Ukraine held by pro-Russian forces, damaging residential areas, hospitals and Russian Orthodox churches and killing and wounding dozens of civilians: here.

The Ukrainian government is funding and deploying gangs of fascist thugs as the spearhead of its operations in preparation for the large scale massacre of pro-Russia separatists and civilians in the city of Donetsk: here.

The siege of the Ukrainian cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, launched by the regime in Kiev and abetted by the US government and the European Union (EU), is a barbaric act of collective punishment: here.

A fierce dispute over German policy towards Russia has broken out between two leading German business newspapers, Handelsblatt and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). While the FAZ calls for a robust confrontation with Russia, the Handelsblatt describes this as a “wrong track” leading directly to war. The conflict expresses sharp divisions within the ruling class over the future direction of German foreign policy: here.

Red-breasted geese migration, new research


This video says about itself:

Striving to save the Red Breasted Goose

2 November 2012

Euronews coverage of the first ever tagging of Red-breasted geese with GPS transmitters, a scientific experiment within the LIFE+ Safe Ground for Redbreasts project, carried out in January 2011 in NE Bulgaria.

From BirdLife:

Decebal and Darko’s journey across Europe: our Red-breasted Geese successfully reached Siberia!

By Elodie Cantaloube, Fri, 25/07/2014 – 13:38

Let me introduce you to Decebal and Darkos, two special Red-breasted Geese that were selected by SOR (BirdLife in Romania) to carry a satellite transmitter to provide conservationists with information on their migratory journey.

Red-breasted Goose, is a distinct red, black and white bird that breeds in the Taymyr Peninsula of Siberia and is one of the most beautiful geese in the world.  It’s also one of the rarest species of geese, and has a small, rapidly declining population. It’s threatened by illegal killing along its migration route and by changes to habitats and is listed as Endangered by BirdLife on behalf of the IUCN Red List.

SOR has been working intensively to protect this species.

The project “Save Ground for Redbreasts” aims to increase our knowledge of the route the geese take from the wintering areas in Bulgaria and Romania to the breeding grounds in Arctic, through satellite-tracking of a pair of geese: Decebal and Darko. The two adult male red-breasted geese were tagged with satellite transmitters, after being caught in mid-February 2014, near Durankulak Lake (Bulgaria).

Fortunately, Decebal reached Siberia on the 14 of June, 95 days after his departure. The goose arrived at his breeding grounds in the vicinity of Lake Kuchumka, 8922 kilometres away from his departure point.

The birds’ beautiful journey through Europe up to the northern part of Eurasia can be followed in this website, where SOR/BirdLife Romania uploads every 2-3 days his new positions.

New beetle species discovery in Russian cave


A drawing of the freshly discovered Duvalius abyssimus speciesSinc - José Antonio Peñas

From Science, Space & Robots:

New Beetle Species Discovered in World’s Deepest Cave

A new species of beetle has been discovered in the Krubera cave in Russia’s Western Caucasus. The Krubera cave is the world’s deepest cave at 2,140 meters deep. It is the only cave in the world known to have a depth of over 2,000 meters. The beetle was discovered by researchers from two Spanish universities.

The hypogean ground beetle has been given the name Duvalius abyssimus. The beetles do have eyes unlike many insects specialized for cave-only life. Both a male and a female specimen were collected.

Vicente M. Ortuno, from the University of Alcala, says in the announcement, “The new species of cave beetle is called Duvalius abyssimus. We only have two specimens, a male and a female. Although they were captured in the world’s deepest cave, they were not found at the deepest point.”

A research paper on the cave beetle was published here in Zootaxa.

July 2, 2014

See also here.

Hand-reared spoon-billed sandpiper breeding in the wild


This video says about itself:

Spoon-billed Sandpiper: Courtship

Within days of arriving on the breeding grounds, Spoon-billed Sandpiper courtship begins. Males perform display flights over favored areas to attract females and establish territories and females select a mate. Once together, a pair becomes inseparable. They forage within earshot of each other, copulate frequently, and prospect for potential locations to nest. This video, shot during the first few days of a pair’s seasonal courtship, captures some of these rarely witnessed behaviors including an attempted copulation and a nest scrape display.

Video includes commentary by The Cornell Lab [of Ornithology]‘s Gerrit Vyn.

Filmed June 6, 2011 near Meinypilgyno, Chukotka, Russia.

From Wildlife Extra:

Hand-reared spoon-billed sandpiper returns home to breed

An extensive hand-rearing programme, aimed at saving the highly endangered spoon-billed sandpiper, is celebrating the news that for the first time one has returned to its Russian ancestral grounds to breed, two years after she was released.

This is a major milestone for the programme, which is a collaboration between WWT, Birds Russia, Moscow Zoo and the RSPB working with colleagues from the BTO, BirdLife International, ArcCona and the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force.

It aims to give the chicks a head start to ensure they survive their crucial first days of life, and stabilise the species’ population, which is estimated at 100 breeding pairs in the wild.

The team carefully removed eggs from breeding grounds on the tundra of the Chukotka region in eastern Russia to be monitored, hatched and nourished in the nearby village of Meinypil’gyno before being released.

Rearing and releasing birds on the breeding grounds increases the number of young birds in the wild in autumn by about 25 per cent.

But this is only the start as, once released, the birds embark on a 5,000 miles migration to South Asia, facing exhaustion, starvation, illegal hunting and getting caught in fishing nets in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Pavel Tomkovich of Birds Russia said: “Two years ago I attached a tiny plastic leg flag to this bird, so that we’d recognise it if it was ever seen again.

“The odds were severely stacked against that happening, but amazingly she was spotted, first by birdwatchers in Taiwan in April and now we see her here at her birthplace ready to have young of her own.”

Norbert Schäffer, the RSPB’s head of international species recovery, said: “It’s great to see parts of the plan to protect this precious species coming together, but it’s a long road and there is still a lot more to do in terms of tackling the problems on the flyway.

“This is a huge international effort involving many different partners and with everyone doing their bit.”

Amur tiger swims from Russia to China


This video is about Amur tigers.

From Wildlife Extra:

Film shows Amur tiger swimming across Russia’s border to China

An Amur tiger has been filmed swimming across the Ussuri River from Russia to China.

The rare episode took place close to Russia’s Bolshekhekhtsirsky Nature Reserve and China’s wetlands of the Sanjiang Nature Reserve.

Its swim was filmed by two Chinese fishermen on their mobile phones.

“In general, it is a usual thing for a tiger to swim across rivers, but in this case I am amazed at the river width – 300-350 metres – that the tiger covered successfully,” said Pavel Fomenko, biodiversity conservation program coordinator at WWF Russia Amur branch.

“The tiger’s swim across the Ussuri can be regarded as a search for prey, or a mate, or new habitats. It is very important for the Chinese colleagues to monitor the tiger translocation. I hope the rare predator will be safe in China”.

This area is a transboundary corridor used by tigers when crossing the Sino- Russian border.

“It is significant to monitor the Amur tiger and its prey base progress jointly by Russia and China,” saif Shi Quanhua, senior programme manager of the Asian big cats program of WWF China.

“Our task today is to keep track of this tiger movements, to work with local people and governmental agencies in order to safeguard the animal regardless of the place where it stays – in China or back in Russia”.

Watch the film HERE.

Rare sociable lapwing courtship video


This is a video of rare sociable lapwings: their courtship on spring migration in the Nogai steppe, Dagestan, Russian federation, 30 March 2014.

After spending the winter far apart in Eastern Sudan and Western Saudi Arabia respectively, Boris and Irina (two of our satellite-tagged Sociable Lapwings) have apparently reunited in Azerbaijan during their long journeys home to Kazakhstan: here.

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