British young wildlife photographer competition

Chaffinch, 2012 under-12’s category winning photo of the British Wildlife Photography Awards

From the Animal Blog in Britain:

Young Photographers Urged To Get Snapping

Posted on February 4, 2013

Aspiring young wildlife photographers are urged to get out their cameras and get snapping to be in with a chance of winning this year’s WildPix competition, led by RSPB and British Wildlife Photography Awards.

There were 4,000 entries to the two youth categories of the competition last year – under 12s and 12 to 18 age groups – submitted from young people across the UK. Entries don’t need to feature exotic creatures or locations to be in with a chance of winning. Last year’s winner in the under-12’s category scooped the top prize with a stunning photo of a chaffinch taken in his own back garden in Groombridge, Kent.

Suzanne Welch, RSPB Head of Youth and Education, said; ‘The WildPix competition is a great way for young people to get close to the nature around them, in their gardens, local park or nature reserve. Don’t forget our town and city centres have a wealth of wildlife that might surprise people too. Last year’s winner proves that even the most everyday species like a chaffinch can be photographed in an exciting and imaginative way, and we hope our annual Big Garden Birdwatch event last weekend inspires some wonderful entries from gardens.’

Entries are open until 4 May and the winners will be announced in September. Judges include the well-known wildlife photographer and cameraman Charlie Hamilton James, and the editor of the RSPB’s award-winning BIRDS magazine Mark Ward.

Winning images will be published in ‘British Wildlife Photography Awards: Collection 4‘ out later this year, as well as the RSPB youth magazines, and will be displayed along with winners in all twelve categories of this year’s competition in a travelling exhibition.

Find out more about helping young people get to know nature at and more information about the British Wildlife Photography Awards can be found at


United States flycatcher news

Willow flycatcher

By Melissa Mayntz in the USA:

More Habitat for Endangered Flycatcher

February 6, 2013

One small bird now has a lot more habitat to enjoy, thanks to protection from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. According to the Deseret News, more than 200,000 acres of riparian land along more than 1,200 miles of rivers in several western states is now guarded against adverse development, and it is hoped that the protective measure can help safeguard the endangered southwestern subspecies of the willow flycatcher.

Parts of Utah, Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado are included in the protected zones. While the areas are not automatically designated as preserves, this first step in habitat conservation may lead to better analysis of developments as they could harm the endangered species.

Have you seen the southwestern willow flycatcher? Share your sightings in the comments!

Willow Flycatcher
Photo © HarmonyonPlanetEarth

Arizona water pumping decision threatens millions of birds in Globally Important Bird Area: here.

Sea urchins against global warming?

This video is called Army of Sea Urchins – Planet Earth – BBC Wildlife.

From the BBC:

5 February 2013 Last updated at 02:57 GMT

Sea urchin nickel ‘trick’ could be key to capturing carbon

By Matt McGrath, Environment correspondent, BBC News

Researchers say that the natural ability of sea urchins to absorb CO2 could be a model for an effective carbon capture and storage system.

Newcastle University scientists discovered by chance that urchins use the metal nickel to turn carbon dioxide into shell.

They say the technique can be harnessed to turn emissions from power plants into the harmless calcium carbonate.

The research is in the journal, Catalysis Science and Technology.

Many sea creatures convert carbon dioxide in the waters into calcium carbonate which is essentially chalk. Species such as clams, oysters and corals use it to make their shells and other bony parts.
Bubbling under

When the team at Newcastle looked at the larvae of sea urchins they found that there were high concentrations of nickel on their external skeletons.

Working with extremely small nickel particles, the researchers found that when they added them to a solution of carbon dioxide in water, the nickel completely removed the CO2.

“It is a simple system,” Dr Lidija Siller from Newcastle University told BBC News. “You bubble CO2 through the water in which you have nickel nanoparticles and you are trapping much more carbon than you would normally – and then you can easily turn it into calcium carbonate.”

“It seems too good to be true, but it works,” she added.

At present most carbon capture and storage (CCS) proposals are based around the idea of capturing CO2 from electricity generating stations or chemical plants and pumping the stripped out gas into underground storage in former oil wells or rock formations.

But there are still question marks about the possibility that the stored carbon may leak back out again.

The Newcastle researchers say that an alternative approach would be to lock up the CO2 in another substance such as calcium carbonate or magnesium carbonate.

This can already be done by using an enzyme called carbon anhydrase but it is very expensive.

PhD student Gaurav Bhaduri who is the lead author on the research paper explained that using nickel would be a far more economic option.

The dominant technology is still the oldest – absorption of carbon dioxide by liquid amines

“The beauty of a nickel catalyst is that it carries on working regardless of the pH and because of its magnetic properties it can be re-captured and re-used time and time again,” he said.

“It is also very cheap, a thousand times cheaper than carbon anhydrase. And the by-product – the carbonate – is useful and not damaging to the environment.”

Calcium carbonate is said to make up 4% of the earth’s crust.

Plants help slow warming – but there’s a trade-off: here.