Bee-eaters win photography prize

European bee-eaters, photo José Luis Rodríguez / Wild Wonders of Europe

From Der Spiegel weekly in Germany:


Wild Wonders of Europe Photo Prize Goes to Cuddling Bee-Eaters

More than 10,000 images were submitted for the annual Wild Wonders of Europe photography competition last year. Now the judges have made their selections. The winners offer a spectacular glimpse at Europe’s wild beauty.

In the tradition of one of the largest nature photo contests ever undertaken, more than 10,000 images were submitted for the “Wild Wonders of Europe” competition, but only two won the grand prize.

Hobbyists, semi-pro and professional photographers from 27 countries captured pictures of European animals in the wild between August 2010 and November 2011, and the jury chose their favorites this month.

The first-place image in the adult category came from Spaniard José Luis Rodríguez, who managed to photograph nine European Bee-eaters nestled onto a single branch together on a rainy May day. First place in the “Young Crew” youth category, went to 17-year-old Frenchman Quentin Martinez, who went underwater for a unique perspective of a marsh frog paddling along the surface.

“Both images are so colorful and have such an exotic look to them — they could have been taken in Africa or Asia. But no, they are shining examples of the beauty of our natural heritage here in Europe,” said the project’s Media Director Bridget Wijnberg in a statement.

Both have been awarded a trip to the Norway’s Svalbard archipelago this August, where they will be able to photograph polar bears, walrus, seals and birds in their native Arctic habitat.

The Wild Wonders of Europe project claims to be the world’s biggest nature photography-based conservation initiative. It began with sending 69 of Europe’s best wildlife photographers to all of Europe’s 48 countries between May 2008 and 2009 to capture images of its diverse natural beauty. It has been followed by annual online photography competitions focused on nature, plants and wildlife since then.

More bee-eater photos (not by José Luis Rodríguez, not entered for the Wild Wonders of Europe competition, not from Spain, but from Portugal) are here; along with other bird photos.

Tasmanian swift parrot endangered

This video from Australia is called The Swift Parrot – Lathamus Discolor.

From Emu, a journal of BirdLife Australia:

Nesting requirements of the endangered Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolor)

30 May 2012


Declines in avian biodiversity are being reported worldwide. A better understanding of the ecology of many species is fundamental to identifying and addressing threatening processes and developing effective mitigation measures.

The Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolor) is listed as endangered and is an obligate migrant that breeds only in Tasmania, wintering in mainland Australia. The species nests in tree-hollows and forages primarily on flowers of the Tasmanian Blue Gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and Black Gum (Eucalyptus ovata) during the breeding season.

Surveys for Swift Parrot nests conducted over three consecutive breeding seasons identified 130 Swift Parrot nests in 117 trees. Sites were between 12 and 130 ha in area with up to 49 nests found at an individual site.

Swift Parrot nest-trees were characterised as being large eucalypts (mean diameter at breast height = 105 cm) with five or more potential hollows (mean = 8.6) and showing clear signs of senescence. Reuse of nests was uncommon over the 3 years and the infrequency of reuse was most likely related to poor flowering of Tasmanian Blue Gums around nesting sites in years following recorded nesting.

To protect the species, conservation actions need to account for the spatiotemporal variation in the availability of Swift Parrot breeding habitat and recognise there may be several years between the use of a particular site. Given the number of nests found at individual sites this will require the management or reservation of suitable forest stands with old-growth characteristics across the landscape, rather than focussing on individual trees or historical nesting sites.

Ground-based survey methods both overestimate and underestimate the abundance of suitable tree-cavities for the endangered Swift Parrot: here.