Two magpies drive sparrowhawk away

This 14 July 2016 video shows two magpies driving a sparrowhawk away from a garden in Noordwijkerhout in the Netherlands.

Cleem van Gool made this video.

White whale Migaloo protected by Australian police

This video from Australia says about itself:

24 September 2012

A one in a million chance encounter with Migaloo the white Humpback Whale as he leaves the Great Barrier Reef, migrating back to Antarctica after spending the worst of the southern hemisphere winter off Port Douglas.

From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 28 July 2016:

Migaloo under escort as whale watchers get too close for comfort

By Elise Kinsella and Damien Larkins

Authorities are escorting Migaloo the white whale up the south-east Queensland coast after a complaint of onlookers getting too close.

The Queensland State Government is investigating a complaint about people getting too close to the white whale off the Gold Coast.

As white whales are classified as special management marine creatures, boats must stay 500 metres from them, and aircrafts and drones must keep a distance of 610 metres.

Rangers will begin helping to protect Migaloo during his northern migration on Thursday, until he reaches the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Queensland Environment Minister Steven Miles said it was important whale watchers respected the protection zones.

“The last thing we would want to see is for a whale like this to be injured in a boat strike,” he said.

“It’s just so important people keep their distance, especially as we understand there are a number of boats there.”

He said whale watchers could be fined if they went within the protection zones.

Humpback whales, they are big creatures, they can behave erratically,” he said.

Southern Cross University whale expert Dr Wally Franklin said tourist boats could stress humpback whales if they came too close.

“It’s very important while these whales are in this northward migration not to interfere with their travel, not to get in front of them,” he said.

“You only approach him at a very slow speed, matching his speed; you only come in from the left or right and do not interfere with his line of travel.”

White whale-watching rules:

Boats must stay 500 metres away

Aircraft and drones must stay 610 metres away

Approach whales from parallel and slightly to rear – never from behind or head-on

Move off slowly and leave no wake

Do not get into the water

United States warship named after anti-war Harvey Milk

This 2015 video from the USA is called Harvey Milk / First Gay Politician (Biography TV).

This month, the United States Navy announced new names for several of their new warships.

United States warships and warplanes often have names of people in history. Eg, there is the military plane called the Spirit of Strom Thurmond. Republican Senator Strom Thurmond is one of the most racist bigots in US history.

Among the new warships’ names are several of people a lot better than Thurmond. They include women’s rights activist Lucy Stone and abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth. And activist against discrimination of LGBTQ people Harvey Milk.

The new names in themselves are signs that some historical oppression has been abolished. Slavery against which Sojourner Truth (and Lucy Stone) fought was officially abolished in the 1860s. The ban on United States women voting against which Sojourner Truth and Lucy Stone fought was abolished in 1920.

As for Harvey Milk, during Barack Obama’s presidency the homophobic ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ rule in the US military was abolished.

San Francisco politician Scott Wiener writes:

When Harvey Milk served in the military, he couldn’t tell anyone who he truly was.

Harvey Milk was in the United States navy as a conscript during the Korean war.

There is a paradox in this new warship’s name.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

A friend of Milk’s thinks it is ironic that a warship is now named especially after him because Milk was against the Vietnam War and was part of an anti-militarist movement. “In my time men used to say they were gay to stay out of military service.”

So, this new name looks like ‘pinkwashing‘ of wars all over the world.

There is similar ambiguity about naming warships after Lucy Stone and Sojourner Truth. Their abolitionist movement opposed slavery, and oppression of women; but it opposed wars as well.

The Liberator, the paper of Stone’s and Truth’s abolitionist movement, wrote:

Anti-War Pledge – War with Mexico

June 5, 1846 …

desiring to show our utter abhorrence of slavery, and of every act either of the state or the individual, which means to support it,— and to bind ourselves before God and the world, to side with the oppressed, and not with the oppressor, we hereby pledge ourselves, neither by act or deed, to aid, support, or countenance the Government in the War with Mexico….. to refuse enlistment, contribution, aid and countenance to the War.

Bird conservation in Argentina, 100 years

This video is about birds and other animals in Argentina.

By Aves Argentinas, 28 July 2016:

The early days of Aves Argentinas

Today Aves Argentinas turns 100 years old. Where does the organization come from? What was the vision of its founders? And, given the colourful variety of birds living in the country, how did the dull-looking Rufous Hornero become the national emblem of the country? We take a look back in time.


28 July: With the Great War raging across continents, a group of 21 scientists and naturalists meet in the Montserrat neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. They discuss a future where people are aware of the importance of conserving biodiversity.

They imagine a world where people, thanks to information, education and research, come to fully understand that birds are indicators of the health of our environment and that by conserving birds’ habitats, we secure the planet for generations to come.

On that day Aves Argentinas is founded: it will become a pioneer in bird conservation in the Americas.


One year after its foundation, Aves Argentinas chooses the Hornero as the ambassador for their mission, with the first issue of their scientific journal El Hornero. What started as a few articles defining the character and aims of the organisation is now considered a benchmark in the area of neotropical ornithology in Latin America. Why choose the hornero as the name of their magazine?

The Rufous Hornero Furnarius rufus is not your regular brown bird. Its seemingly dull plumage hides a fascinating behaviour. This tiny bird builds mud nests that resemble old wood-fired ovens (the Spanish word horno, means “oven”, giving rise to the English name Ovenbird).

This unique chambered construction is built in many stages, allowing the materials to dry and form a highly weather resistant home that will eventually survive storms and winds. Since their nests are so sturdy, horneros happily build them in the strangest of locations: rooftops, powerlines, street lamps or statues.

Inevitably, their omnipresent visibility has fuelled people’s imagination. Ovenbirds are the harbingers of good luck. Their unique sound announces upcoming times of prosperity. As a South American proverb goes “No thunder ever fell where horneros have nested”.


The first issue of El Hornero opens with an article that might well be written today. Attributed to the founder and former president Roberto Dabbene, the following commentary is published:

“Nobody can debate that the study of birds constitutes one of the most rich chapters in the history of the natural sciences. Once we know the name of the species, we must discover their behaviour, nesting habits, migrations, diet. Few animals provide, in this respect, so much charm to discover.

”The beauty of their forms and colourful exterior blends with their impressive instinct and intelligence. From their songs, expressions of love, to the artistic appearance of their nests, they are not only a study subject but also worthy of admiration.

”But the interest for birds does not end there. There’s also the practical aspect. It’s proven that birds provide indirect services to people. Many feed themselves off insects and small mammals that could wreak havoc in our crops.

“Ornithological societies build a bridge between science and education. Aves Argentinas aims to gather support from all over the country and with the collaboration of members hopes to bring about, in time, a cause that is meaningful and useful for society.”


The year has been described as a mirabilis for many reasons: literary, political and technological. Perhaps most importantly, it was the year that public radio hit the global airwaves. Suddenly, it became possible to reach vast audiences with new ideas and information, and for people to take an active interest in the world beyond their provincial and national borders.

However, sharing ideas on new global perspectives can change the world only if people act on them. That’s exactly what happened at midday on 20 June, 1922, when a group of people from different countries met at the London home of the then UK Minister of Finance to found the International Council for Bird Preservation (ICBP).

This was the world’s first international conservation organisation, as renowned Swedish zoologist Professor Kai Curry-Lindahl described decades later. It’s where the BirdLife International Partnership has its roots. The group, united by their passion for birds, decided that co-ordinated international action was the answer to the various threats birds faced.

In words very similar to those BirdLife still uses 90 years later, their declaration of principles stated: “…by united action, we should be able to accomplish more than organisations working individually in combating dangers to birdlife.”


In April national newspaper La Razón surveys primary schools, asking which could be the most representative bird of Argentina, to become the National Emblem. The hugely successful survey initially seems to show that the majestic Andean Condor Vultur gryphus will be the winner. At the last minute, however, it is the dull-looking Rufous Hornero who becomes the National Emblem.

This is thanks in great part to the efforts of Aves Argentinas: taking interest in the survey, the then president Roberto Dabbene writes to the newspaper, explaining the reason why as the Hornero’s name had been chosen for their scientific journal. More letters follow. The author Leopoldo Lugones writes a poem dedicated to this singular bird, declaring it to be the true symbol of the country.

In the end, the Rufous Hornero is chosen as the National Bird of Argentina.


Former Audubon founder, Gilbert Pearson, finally invites Aves Argentinas to join the ICBP, which years later would become BirdLife International. It takes them one year to become an official member of the BirdLife family, expanding its impact beyond Argentinian borders.


A century later, Aves Argentinas has grown from two dozen founders to a nationwide project, with citizens and scientists alike coming together to save biodiversity. It is important to look back to see what we have achieved, to inspire us to continue tackling the threats with renewed energy.

In 1916 the Sociedad Ornitológica del Plata was founded by a small group of visionaries. Today it counts 3,000 members and works on over 1,000 species. Hernan Casañas, CEO of the organization, reflects on a century of conservation work. A century ago, on July 28 1916, the Sociedad Ornitológica del Plata was born. Leading researchers and naturalists of the time, including the great writer and ornithologist William Hudson, founded the first environmental NGO of Latin America. Today, its name is Aves Argentinas, Latin America’s oldest environmental organisation and BirdLife Partner: here.

Brittle stars of Terschelling island

This video, recorded on 25 July 2016 on Terschelling island in the Netherlands, shows brittle stars.