Grass snake expansion in Flanders


This video is called Britain in COLD BLOOD – The Grass Snake (Natrix natrix).

Translated from Knack weekly in Belgium, 7 July 2014:

The grass snake is on the rise in Flanders. The snake which until recently did not live in Flanders has been observed 27 times since the beginning of this year. VRT TV reports this.

The grass snake hibernates and lays its eggs inter alia in compost heaps. Probably the animal was brought from Germany with compost and the snake came to Limburg province that way.

Hummingbirds and snake in Costa Rica


This is a fiery-throated hummingbird video.

Still 28 March 2014 in Costa Rica. After the hummingbirds of San Gerardo de Dota, we went to a bit lower part of the mountains.

Fiery-throated hummingbirds, 28 March 2014

At 10:30, we stopped at a place with many hummingbirds. Fiery-throated hummingbirds were the species most attracted to the feeders.

Fiery-throated hummingbird on branch, 28 March 2014

Fiery-throated hummingbird feeding, 28 March 2014

Fiery-throated hummingbird on a branch, 28 March 2014

Fiery-throated hummingbirds on branches, 28 March 2014

Fiery-throated hummingbirds on branch, 28 March 2014

Other species: volcano hummingbird.

Magnificent hummingbird male, 28 March 2014

And magnificent hummingbird; both male and female.

Magnificent hummingbird female, 28 March 2014

And green violetear.

Hairy woodpecker, 28 March 2014

There was also a hairy woodpecker, feeding nestlings.

Sooty thrush, 28 March 2014

Sooty thrushes were present. We would not see them again, as they are birds of higher mountain levels.

Here, we also saw our only Costa Rican snake: a black-speckled palm-pitviper. A poisonous species, living only in the mountains of Costa Rica and Panama.

New wolf snake species discovery in Cambodia


This video from Thailand is called Common Wolf Snake – Lycodon capucinus; about a relative of the newly discovered snake.

From Wildlife Extra:

Distinctive new wolf snake species discovered in Cambodia

A new wolf snake species has been discovered in Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains.

Wolf snakes are nonvenomous members of the family Colubridae, and named after their large teeth that are found in both jaws.

This distinctive, almost chequered, coloured snake was discovered by Cambodian herpetologist Neang Thy, Fauna & Flora International’s (FFI) research adviser in Phnom Penh, in a high altitude montane rainforest.

He said: “Given its unique colouration, submontane habitat and altitudinal separation from other wolf snakes in the region, the species will probably prove to be endemic to the Cardamom Mountains.”

The new snake has been named Lycodon zoosvictoriae by Thy in honour of the Zoological Parks and Gardens Board of Victoria in Australia, which has supported FFI’s studies in the region for several years.

Thy said: “The support FFI received from Zoos Victoria has helped build the capacity of Cambodian researchers and conservationists and has greatly improved understanding of Cambodia’s reptiles and amphibians. Naming this species in honour of Zoos Victoria will ensure a memorable and historical record of the support they’ve given FFI, both in discoveries and conservation of the Cardamoms.”

This discovery is the eighth new snake to be found in the Cardamom Mountains since survey work began in 2000.

This video is called Elusive New Wolf Snake Species Found In Cambodian Mountain.

The scientific description of this new species is here.

Good Guatemalan migratory birds and amphibians news


This video from Guatemalsa is called Saving the Sierra Caral.

From Wildlife Extra:

Creation of new Guatemala reserve has big implications for bird migration

Conservationists are celebrating the government in Guatemala’s formal establishment of a new 47,000 acre (19,013 hectare) protected area that will safeguard some of the country’s most endangered wildlife.

The reserve is home to three species of threatened birds, a host of migratory birds that breed in the United States, a dozen globally threatened frogs and salamanders, five of which are found nowhere else in the world, and the rare Merendon palm pit viper (Bothriechis thalassinus), an arboreal, blue-toned venomous snake.

The National Congress of Guatemala established the National Protected Area by an overwhelming pro-conservation vote of 106 in favour out of a total of 125 congressmen present in the session.

It is the first new protected area designated by the Guatemalan Congress in nine years.

The Core Zone of the area, the 6,000 acre Sierra Caral Amphibian Conservation Reserve, was established in 2012 by Fundación para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO) with assistance from, among others, the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), the World Land Trust, Global Wildlife Conservation and Southern Wings.

Tucked away in the eastern corner of Guatemala near the Caribbean Sea and running along the Honduran border, the newly protected area is named the Sierra Caral Water and Forest Reserve.

“We have been working to obtain the legal declaration of this new protected area for more than seven years,” said Marco Cerezo of FUNDAECO, a leading Guatemalan conservation organisation.

“Finally, the biological importance of Sierra Caral has been recognized by our National Congress. This new protected area brings us a step closer toward our dream, which is the conservation of key stop-over and wintering habitats for migratory birds along their flyway across Caribbean Guatemala.”

Along with other forested sites in the region, Sierra Caral contains critical overwintering and stopover sites for nearly 120 species of neotropical migratory birds, along with 13 species that are regionally endemic and three threatened species: highland guan, great curassow, and keel-billed motmot.

Migratory birds include the Canada warbler, Kentucky warbler, wood thrush, painted bunting, worm-eating warbler, and Louisiana waterthrush. Thirty-three migratory species with population declines in their breeding grounds have been reported in Sierra Caral.

Exploration of these mountains over the past two decades has yielded several new discoveries of beetles, salamanders, frogs, and snakes. At least 118 species of amphibians and reptiles are reported for this area, including seven endemic amphibians only recently discovered there.

“Guatemalan officials demonstrated great vision in establishing this protected area,” said Andrew Rothman, Migratory Bird Program Director at ABC. “They have preserved a key link in the migration corridor between North and South America for migratory birds and ensured North American breeding songbirds will have stopover and wintering ground habitat to use during migration.

“Without question, it is a key addition to Central America’s roster of protected areas.”

Thousands of years ago, the Sierra Caral Mountains were likely islands where species evolved that are found nowhere else.

With the additional convergence of North and South American flora and fauna in this region, Sierra Caral is one of the most unique places for wildlife on Earth.

Dutch wildlife passages for adders and other animals


This video is about the start of the eco-acqueduct construction near Rouveen in the Netherlands in February 2014.

Since the days of the Roman empire, there are aqueducts, leading water across roads.

In the Netherlands and other countries, there are now ecoducts, enabling wildlife to cross dangerous roads.

Now, near Rouveen village, in the Olde Maten area near the Weerribben nature reserve in the Netherlands, there is the first eco-acqueduct leading nature reserve water across a canal, enabling water animals, land animals and people to pass safely the canal and a road.

This video is called Adders Dancing (Vipera berus).

Also, more to the south in the Netherlands, from Limburg province, translated from L1 TV on 15 May 2014:

The Meinweg National Park has a first with the first light-transmitting adder tunnel in the Netherlands.

Which will be inaugurated next week. The Forestry Commission has been working for ten years at corridors for Meinweg adders. This tunnel, which is the final step, will go under the main road in the park.

Venomous snake

The adder is a Dutch venomous snake which is common in the national park. It loves light and heat. The Forestry Commission expects that the adders will now start using the tunnel as well.

The tunnel is about 8 meter long and 80 cm wide.

Getting Wildlife (Safely) to the Other Side of the Road: here.

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Mating adders, video


It is mating season now for adders in the Netherlands.

The male is a bit smaller and greyer than the female, and has more contrasting colours.

Roelof Jansen made the video.

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Flying snakes, new research


This video is called Flying Snakes – The Physics Of Snakes That Fly.

From Wildlife Extra:

Flying snakes intrigue scientists

They glide through the air with the greatest of ease…

March 2014: Forget Snakes on a Plane, there are some species of snakes in the world that are at home in the air. Three species of snake in the genus Chrysopelea are known to glide, and one, Chrysopelea paradisi, has even been seen turning in mid-air. They can travel as far as 100ft through the air, jumping off tree branches and rotating their ribs to flatten their bodies and move from side to side.

Animal flight behaviour is an exciting frontier for engineers to both apply knowledge of aerodynamics and to learn from nature’s solutions to operating in the air. Flying snakes are particularly intriguing to researchers because they lack wings or any other features that remotely resemble flight apparatus.

Before you envision flying snakes raining down from the sky, the ones involved in this study are small — about 1m in length and the width of your thumb — and live in the lowland tropical forests of Asia and Southeast Asia.

Virginia Tech Assistant Professor Jake Socha, renowned for his work with flying snakes, recently teamed with Boston University and George Washington University researchers to explore the snakes’ lift and wakes using computer simulations.

Previously, experiments in a wind tunnel had returned an unexpected finding: the snake’s shape is not only good at generating a force of lift, but it also gets an extra boost of lift when facing the air flow at a certain angle.

“After experiments uncovered this, we decided to use computer simulations to try to explain it,” says Lorena Barba, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the George Washington University.

So much of the aerodynamics of animal flight — especially that of flying snakes — remain a mystery. Scale is important, but also the manner in which flight is achieved.

“Rather than fixed wings, animal fliers have flapping wings,” explains Barba. “In the case of gliders, their small scale means they’re always in a flurry of whirling winds. By understanding how they can be graceful and efficient under these conditions, we can in turn use that knowledge to create small flying machines that are equally graceful.”

Whirls of wind can be particularly useful: these little vortices “can give flying snakes an extra lift,” notes Barba. “The shape of the snakes in flight — which is a flattened version of its shape at rest — gets help from little vortices around it.”

Next, the researchers would like to include more elements of the snake’s real gliding conditions into their computer simulations, such as its full body forming an S-shape, rather than working with just a section.

“This will be more difficult to do in a computer model, but it will probably reveal more about the complicated flow patterns snakes take advantage of to be such gifted gliders,” Barba says.

African snake identification


This video from South Africa says about itself:

7 Feb 2014

In this video, a live puff adder is used to show which physical features to look out for when learning how to identify a puff adder.

See also here.

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Flying snakes flying, video


This video says about itself:

Flying snake gets lift from UFO cross section

29 Jan 2014

The bodily cross-section adopted by flying snakes as they glide is not conventionally aerodynamic — but it provides near unbeatable lift.

Read more here.

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Protect beautiful Mozambique rainforest


This video says about itself:

Discovering Mount Mabu

3 March 2011

Earth Focus: Scientists discover new species of wildlife in Mt. Mabu, a remote forest region in Mozambique that was, until recently, one of the few unexplored places left on Earth. Correspondent Jeffrey Barbee follows a research team to Mt. Mabu reporting on their new finds and explaining why this lost Eden is important for conservation.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Protect the Mozambique forest found on Google Earth, scientists say

Mount Mabu rainforest teeming with new and unique species including pygmy chameleons and bronze-colour snakes

Josh Davies

Friday 3 January 2014 07.00 GMT

A remote rainforest in Mozambique discovered using Google Earth has so many new and unique species that it should be declared a protected area, scientists say.

Pygmy chameleons, a bronzed bush viper and butterflies with shimmering yellow wings are among the species in the forests covering Mount Mabu in northern Mozambique.

Discovered in 2005 by scientists using satellite images, the forests, previously only known to local villagers, have proven to be a rich ecosystem teeming with new species of mammals, butterflies, reptiles, insects and plants. The mountain forests have been isolated from a much larger forest block for millennia, meaning there has been no migration between this site and the next mountain for tens of thousands of years, allowing unique species to evolve in isolation.

One such species is a golden-eyed bush viper with bronze-edged scales (Atheris mabuensis) which Julian Bayliss, a conservation scientist for Kew Gardens, found by stepping on during a survey. His team is also waiting to describe a further two species of snake. A new species of chameleon (Nadzikambia baylissi) has already been described from the site, and the researchers are also describing another. The size of a human palm, with a warm yellow chest, green eyes and a spiky crest along its back, Rhampholeon sp. are commonly known as pygmy chameleons.

Bayliss’s team has identified 126 different species of birds within the forest block, including seven that are globally threatened, such as the endangered spotted ground thrush (Zoothera guttata). There are an estimated 250 species of butterfly, including five which are awaiting to be described, like Baliochila sp., a vibrant specimen which has shimmering yellow wings dusted with black. New species of bats, shrews, rodents, frogs, fish and plants are also waiting to be described.

“The finding of the new species was really creating an evidence base to justify its protection,” explained Dr Bayliss, “and now we’ve got enough to declare a site of extreme biological importance that needs to be a protected area and needs to be managed for conservation.”

In first step to making the forest an internationally recognised protected area – such as a national park – the team have submitted an application to have its importance officially recognised . This “gazetting” application has been accepted on a provincial and national level, but is currently waiting to be signed by the government.

If the application is successful, then the forest will be protected from logging concessions seeking valuable hardwoods currently threatening the mountain.

“The people who threaten Mabu are already there, and really what we’re trying to do now is a race against time towards its conservation. It’s getting there early enough to get the wheels in motion to make it a protected area before it’s too late,” said Bayliss.

Along the shores of Lake Niassa/Nyassa, Mozambique, the Manda Wilderness Agricultural Project (MWAP) is training community members from 15 villages in biodiversity-friendly agricultural and agroforestry methods, to increase the provision of habitat for endemic species that are crucial to the success and sustainability of ecological agriculture in the region. This is a small grant project supported by CEPF in the Eastern Afromontane hotspot through the Regional Implementation Team (RIT): here.

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