Frigatebirds back on Ascension Island after 180 years

This video about Ascension Island is called Nesting Frigate Birds and Turtle Babies – Planet Earth – BBC.

From Wildlife Extra:

Frigate birds reappear on Ascension Island after 180 year absence

A UK bird has been found breeding again on a remote island, almost 180 years since it was last recorded there.

December 2012. Two Ascension frigatebirds were spotted sitting on nests on Ascension Island, a UK Overseas Territory. The species has previously been confined to the outlying Boatswain Bird Island, which is just 1km², for decades after taking refuge there when feral cats overran the main island of Ascension.

Millions killed by cats

The seabird population on the tropical UK Overseas Territory, previously numbering into the tens of millions, was devastated by the cats which were introduced onto the island in the early 19th Century to control introduced rats and mice. The RSPB began a project to remove feral cats on Ascension Island in 2002. The project was supported by funding from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the island was formally declared feral cat free in 2006.

Globally threatened

The Ascension frigatebird is a globally threatened species found nowhere else in the world. It is one of the 33 Globally Threatened British Birds found in the UK’s Overseas Territories, and is considered Vulnerable to Extinction by the IUCN.

Dr Tim Stowe, the RSPB’s International Director, said: “This is the news we have been waiting for since starting the project more than a decade ago. Many species on the UK Overseas Territories are threatened by non-native species and this project marks a landmark in conservation. Ascension is the largest, inhabited island where feral cat removal has been attempted and proved successful. What a wonderful Christmas present.”

The discovery was made by members of the Army Ornithological Society, together with members of the Ascension Island Government’s Conservation Department.

Ascension Frigatebirds

Ascension frigatebirds are sometimes called Man O’War birds or Pirate birds because they steal other birds’ food in flight. They are almost as big as albatrosses, and although seabirds, they can’t swim.

The adult male Ascension frigatebird is black overall, with a glossy green and purple sheen, but during courtship it develops a bright red gular (a flap of skin) that inflates to form an impressive heart-shaped balloon. The adult female is more rusty-brown, particularly around the collar and breast, and some individuals have patches of white on the breast and abdomen.

Ascension Island birds

Ascension Island is a small, remote, volcanic island in the South Atlantic. It is rich in unique flora and fauna. At the time of its colonisation by Europeans in 1815, it was thought to host 20 million individual seabirds, including the Ascension Frigatebird

Derren Fox from Ascension Island Conservation, said: “We were out with the Army Ornithological Society to work on some other seabirds in the area when Andrew Bray from AOS came up to us with a photograph of the bird on a nest. We were all incredibly excited and went to see the site and survey for further nests in the area. It’s a great moment for Ascension conservation and a superb example of collaborative work between the FCO, RSPB and Ascension Island Conservation.”

Feral cat eradication

A Foreign and Commonwealth spokesperson, said: “We are delighted at the news that, after almost 180 years, the frigatebirds have returned to Ascension to breed again. The feral cat eradication project has been a real success and we are grateful to the RSPB for their skilful management of the initiative. This is great example of the practical impact of the UK’s wider commitment to working with the Territories and environmental partners to protect the bio-diversity of crucial habitats. The UK underlined that commitment with the recent launch of ‘Darwin Plus’, a £2m fund to support environmental work across the Territories. We very much hope to see more innovative projects take advantage of this and help further safeguard the extraordinary biodiversity of our Territories.”

The project to bring frigate birds back to Ascension Island has been a 10-year collaboration involving the RSPB with Wildlife Management International Ltd, the Ascension Island Government (in particular, seabird restoration fieldworkers: Raymond Benjamin, Adrian Bowers, Darren Roberts, Stedson Stroud, Anselmo Pelembe, Tara Pelembe, Dane Wade, Nathan Fowler, Richard White), many volunteers, the Army Ornithological Society, and Ascension Island Government Environmental Health (Kevin Williams and team for rodent control).

Funding for RSPB’s work on Ascension has come from the FCO, Defra’s Darwin fund, and the European Union.

A team of scientists has launched a satellite tracking program that monitors rare Ascension frigatebirds in an effort to better understand where the species goes when foraging at sea. The tracking data collected by the research project can be viewed at The project is set to run for two years and is funded by the Darwin Initiative, University of Exeter and Ascension Island Government Conservation Department.

Christmas Island Frigatebird: here.

US wildlife agency animal cruelty

This video from the USA says about itself:

11 June 2014

It was reported last year that the U.S. government killed 4 million wild animals! Why did they do this? Trace explains their reasoning, and why these killings are so controversial.

From Wildlife Extra:

US Congress calls for investigation of US wildlife agency cruelty

Staff boasting about their cruel exploits

December 2012. The secretive United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) ‘Wildlife Services’ department has run into very hot water again. The Sacramento Bee, the highly respected newspaper, has uncovered a series of abuses by the USDA Wildlife Services involving cruelty to animals by ‘Wildlife Service’ staff, who then proceeded to boast about their deeds on social media.

The case gained prominence when photos revealed that a member of the Wildlife Services, Jamie Ohlson, posted images of a coyote that was caught in a leg trap being attacked and killed by his dogs. Ohlson also posted images of himself posing with the tattered remains of the coyote. Aside from the abuse and suffering heaped on the poor coyote, to boast of this cruelty via social networking implies that Mr Ohlson is really not the right person to be doing this work.

Ohlson is not alone though. In a very similar case the Washington Post revealed that a U.S. Forest Service Employee Josh Bransford posed with a wolf that he had just shot. The wolf in question was actually caught in a leg trap, and Bransford shot the immobilized wolf before posing with the dead animal with a big grin on his face. Why why why would anyone do that?

US Congress

The Sacramento Bee‘s report has prompted 4 members of the US Congress to write an open letter calling for “A full and thorough investigation of Wildlife Services“. The letter also noted that whilst the US Army permits reporters to accompany them into battle, the Wildlife Services refused permission for the Sacramento Bee‘s staff to accompany Wildlife Services staff.

‘Wildlife Services’  have featured in Wildlife Extra before. They cull more than 1 million animals every year, often from the air, and spend millions on aerial gunning and ‘wildlife control’. At least 10 staff have been killed in air crashes, and dozens more badly injured.

Wildlife Services-a barbaric, wasteful and misnamed agency within the US Department of Agriculture, has been having their way for almost a century, our government’s secret war on wildlife has been killing millions of native predators and birds as well as maiming, poisoning, and brutalizing countless non-targeted and endangered species, along with quite a few pets and seriously injuring people: here.