British Mammal Society photo competition

Surfing seal

The maker of this photo wrote:

Surfing seal – This surfing seal was taken at Godrevy on the north coast of Cornwall. It shows interesting behaviour that I have never seen before. I preempted this was going to happen as it was showing signs of being playful, so I stayed even longer to see if it would do what I was hoping it would do.

From Wildlife Extra:

Mammal Society photographic competition challenges public misconceptions

February 2013. Capturing ‘extraordinary’ behaviour of Britain’s mammals was just one of the criteria the judges were looking for when examining entries to The Mammal Society Mammal Photographer of the Year competition.

Marina Pacheco is The Mammal Society’s chief executive. Commenting on the high standard of the competition entries, she said: “Compared with birds or even insects, mammals can be difficult to see, let alone photograph.

So, we knew that inviting photographers to capture mammals’ unusual behaviour was going to be a tall order. However, we were thrilled by the 370 submissions. Our entrants have not only captured the essence of British mammals, but from deer to dolphins and red deer to rats, they’ve also captured the sheer diversity too.”

Rat winner

Often feared and shunned, brown rats are perhaps an unlikely photographic model. However, Roy Rimmer, of Wigan, Greater Manchester, defied public misconceptions and used technical excellence to freeze the motion of a jumping rat. Wildlife photographer Kate MacRae was one of the judges. She said: “This image quite literally ‘leapt’ out at me when I first saw it. Often misunderstood and unfairly depicted, I loved the unique energy in this capture.”

From the Mammal Society site:

In 2012-2013 we ran the first Mammal Photographer of the Year competition for amateur photographers. Judges, including Kate MacRae, AKA “Wildlife Kate”, and photographer Steve Magennis are looking for images that tell a story, show rare behaviour, highlight mammals in a fragile environment, or make the ordinary extraordinary. The aim was to bring mammals into public focus, raising awareness of the issues they face, and hopefully encouraging us to appreciate the species that are often overlooked but essential to the health of our habitats.

Judge Kate MacRae has created an online gallery of all 2013 winners and finalists here:

The Mammal Society’s full shortlist of 199 images can be viewed here, as well as the 16 winners and finalists.

In pictures: Mammal photo winners: here.


Welcome subscriber #900, Kate!

Welcome at this blog

Today, subscriber #900 started following Dear Kitty. Some blog.

It is Kate, of Happy and Healthy Kate blog.

All subscribers are very welcome, of course. But numbers ending on 50 or 00 are a bit special.

I hope that I will not disappoint Kate (or other readers) in the next few days, when there will be less blog posts than usually, if any.

However, the posts will be about a new, beautiful subject; and will eventually return to normal frequency.

Bird watching in India

This video is called Birds of India – Bulbuls, Thrushes, Starlings.

From The Telegraph in Calcutta, India:

Experts flock to count feathered friend populace

– Sighting of 35 species, 550 birds in a day makes city hotspot for keen watchers


Zoom in your telescopes, bird-watchers, the ultimate nature’s theatre is within the city limits.

Ornithologists have identified bird-watching sites around Patna that could be a delight for those who are fond of watching them closely. Species, including Lesser Whistling Duck, Osprey, Brown Shrike, Indian Cormorant, White Breasted Kingfisher, Bronze-Winged Jacana and Purple Moorhen can be seen in sufficient numbers at several low-lying areas around the capital. At present, bird-watchers from Patna travel all the way to Begusarai’s Kabar Lake and Gidhi Lake in Nalanda to watch the feathered friends.

A team of experts from the state and Hasko Nesemann, a German scholar, identified several bird-watching sites on Sunday as part of Big Bird Day, 2013. The day is celebrated across India. Teams and individuals go out and watch birds to whichever area is convenient to them and report their sightings at the end of the day. These sightings are compiled into a cumulative list of birds seen on a single day.

The areas selected for bird watching were mostly wetlands in urban and suburban Patna. Areas near Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH), Patna City and Old Bypass are some of the hotspots for the bird lovers.

“We focused on the waterbodies along the low-lying areas of the city that are ideal for flocking of aquatic birds. The NMCH pond, Punpun embankment and areas near the old Bypass were some of the spots where rare birds were sighted. The survey gave an idea of what we have in terms of avian diversity around the city,” said Samir Kumar Sinha, the manager of Wildlife Trust of India and a member of the state wildlife board.

“In Patna, we could spot 35 species and around 550 individual birds in one day,” Sinha said.

The team also raised concerns about the degrading state of permanent waterbodies around the capital.

“On the basis of the survey, I am of the view that the aviation diversity is fairly rich around Patna. Apart from the low-lying areas, we also surveyed the banks of Ganga (from Gandhi Ghat to Digha Ghat) and spotted nine species of birds. However, the degradation of permanent waterbodies has become a concern because of large number of man-made factors. We should pay heed to their conservation,” said Gopal Sharma, a scientist at Zoological Survey of India, Patna.

What freshwater seals eat

This video from England says about itself:

Some footage shot in the Farne Isles diving with Grey Seals.

Translated from Ecomare museum in the Netherlands:

Until now it was unknown what gray seals in our fresh water eat. But a gray seal which washed up dead on the fresh water side of the Afsluitdijk dam now has changed that. When scientists investigated the cause of its death they also examined what the animal had eaten. In the stomach and intestines of the adult female researchers found seven different species of fish. Perch, flounder, ruffe, zander and smelt were the most eaten. Which the seal had all caught in the IJsselmeer lake.

Afsluitdijk fish migration plan: here.

Seal in Veluwemeer: here.

Cuckoo spring migration back from Africa

This video says about itself:

Singing male Common Cuckoo near Dogubayazit at the Ishak Pasa Seray, Turkey.

From Wildlife Extra:

Summer is on its way! Cuckoos heading back towards the UK from Africa

Cuckoos have left their winter grounds

February 2013. For many, the song of the Cuckoo is the sign that summer is here. If this is the case then, according to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), summer is on its way back.

Scientists at the BTO have spent the winter keeping a watchful eye on five very special Cuckoos. All five have been fitted with satellite tags that relay information approximately every two days to the BTO headquarters in Thetford, Norfolk, opening a door into their lives away from their breeding grounds in the UK.

Cuckoos heading back

Having spent the last four months feeding along river valleys in the mighty Congo Rainforest, maybe sharing their winter location with gorillas and African Grey Parrots, three of the five are on their way back. Welsh Cuckoo, David, was the first to move. On 30 January, he was 980km (608 miles) north of his winter location, in the Central African Republic. He has since travelled another 300km (186 miles) west and is now in a remote patch of forest in southern Cameroon.

Chance, the Scottish Cuckoo, followed shortly after, overtook David and is now, as of 25 February, in Ghana, at the northern tip of Lake Volta. The third Cuckoo, Lloyd, made his move on the morning of the 19 February, travelling 204km (126 miles) north-west of his wintering location. He is still south of the Equator but could cross it any day now.

BTO Cuckoo project’s Rachel Gostling, said, “It is fantastic to watch this year’s tagged Cuckoos making their way back to the UK, and to see that summer is on its way. Since we started tracking Cuckoos we have discovered loads of new information about their migration and it’s going to be interesting to see if these birds in the second year of the project confirm what we saw from the Cuckoos last spring. Perhaps they will surprise us yet again and reveal more pieces of the Cuckoo behaviour jigsaw”

She added, “Anyone can follow the Cuckoos as they undertake their incredible journeys by visiting to see where they are now”

The UK has lost over half of its breeding Cuckoos during the last twenty-five years. The BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey shows that Cuckoos are doing better in some areas of the country than in others, with the decline in England (63%) being greater than in Scotland (2%) and Wales (34%), but it is less understood why are they are declining at the different rates.

The aim of the project is to better understand the pressures that these different populations face once they have left the UK for the winter months.