Puffin migration and reproduction research

This 2015 video is called Puffins Pick the Perfect Home.

From the University of Oxford in England:

Puffins that stay close to their partner during migration have more chicks

Female winter foraging is also critical to puffin pair breeding success

April 7, 2017

Summary: Many long-lived birds, such as swans, albatrosses or indeed, puffins, are known for their long-lived monogamous, ‘soulmate’ pairings. Now a study has found that puffin pairs that follow similar migration routes breed more successfully the following season.

Puffin pairs that follow similar migration routes breed more successfully the following season, a new Oxford University study has found.

Many long-lived birds, such as swans, albatrosses or indeed, puffins, are known for their long-lived monogamous, ‘soulmate’ pairings. Scientists have long understood that in these species, reproductive performance is influenced by pair bond strength and longevity, with long-established pairs usually better at rearing offspring. However, in species like puffins which have to migrate to distant wintering grounds during the non-breeding season, very little is known about how mates maintain their pair-bond and behave. Do they keep in contact to maintain their relationship? Or do they go their own way and abandon their mate until the following spring?

The new study which features in the April 7th 2017 edition of Marine Ecology Progress Series, focused on whether puffin pairs stayed in contact during the winter months or instead headed off and migrated independently, prioritising their individual health and wellbeing, and whether this had any effect on the pairs’ subsequent breeding success.

Over the course of six years, the team from Oxford’s Department of Zoology, in collaboration with the London Institute of Zoology, used miniature tracking devices called geolocators to track the migratory movements and behaviour of 12 pairs of Atlantic Puffins, breeding on Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire. They assessed if and how much pairs’ migratory strategies were related to their future breeding performance and fitness.

While pair members migrated separately, their routes were notably similar during the first part of the winter. Partners would then follow separate paths at the later end of the season, but synchronised their timings of return to the colony in spring.

A key finding of the study is that pairs which followed more similar migration routes bred earlier and more successfully the following spring, showing that there is a clear benefit for puffins to migrate close to their mates. This proximity may make it easier for pairs to synchronise their return to the colony in spring.

The findings also reveal that while migrating close to its partner is key to a puffin’s reproductive success, there are other factors at play. Female puffins were found to forage more than males, proving critical to their breeding success the following season. Female puffins that foraged more over winter were able to lay eggs earlier and rear pufflings more successfully, most likely because they were in a better pre-breeding condition.

Dr Annette Fayet, a Junior Research Fellow of Queen’s College, Oxford and of the Department of Zoology at Oxford University, who is lead author of the study, said: ‘While migrating close to one’s partner leads to more successful breeding in puffins, female winter foraging effort seems to be even more critical to ensure high reproductive success. A likely explanation for this finding is that female puffins which spend more time fuelling up over winter return to the colony in better condition and are able to lay higher quality eggs, rearing stronger chicks. Overall it seems that prioritising individual condition is more important for seabirds’ breeding success than maintaining contact with their partner outside of the breeding season. However, following similar migration routes to one another may help synchronise returns to the breeding colony, which is known to be important for pair bond and breeding success in many migratory birds.’

Moving forward the team hopes to build on the findings and recent technological developments, investigating the movements and behaviour of seabirds when they are at sea. Dr Fayet said: ‘At the end of the breeding season puffins disappear at sea for over eight months before returning the following spring, and scientists have long had questions about where they go during that time. However, until recently tracking devices were too big to use on small birds like puffins. The recent miniaturisation of tracking technology mean we can now study the at-sea movements of puffins and other small migratory seabirds remotely over months and even years. Complex analytical techniques like machine learning can also be used to identify behaviours in tracking data, allowing us to know not only where birds go, but also what they do at sea (e.g. flying, foraging). This will help us study seabirds’ at-sea ecology and behaviour, which is currently poorly understood, but the results will also be invaluable for the conservation of seabirds, which are currently threatened by ocean pollution and overfishing, making them the most endangered group of birds on the planet. This includes puffins, which have been dramatically declining in the last few decades.’


Baby barred owl born, video

This video from the USA says about itself:

On April 6th around 9 P.M., the Barred Owl female left the nest box and revealed the first Barred Owl hatchling! The young chick, covered in white natal down, can be seen moving around the bottom of the nest box while the adults caterwaul in the distance. Assuming this was the egg that was laid on March 5th (the first of the clutch), it took 32 days for the chick to hatch—on the long side of a typical Barred Owl incubation period that ranges between 28–33 days. Keep watch as Egg #2 could hatch at any moment!

There are three eggs in the nest, expected to begin hatching around April 5. Thanks for watching!

Watch live here.

Jim Carpenter, President and CEO of Wild Birds Unlimited, has hosted a camera-equipped owl box in his wooded backyard in Zionsville, Indiana, since 1999. Set more than 30 feet high against the trunk of a pignut hickory tree, this Barred Owl box was first occupied in 2006. Since then, the box has hosted several nests, including successful attempts since 2013.

Donald Trump’s attack on art

This video from the USA says about itself:

4 May 2014

During Adolf Hitler‘s rise to power in the 1930s, one of the many groups he targeted during his quest to remake the world in his image was modern artists. The Nazis confiscated works by Matisse, Van Gogh, Picasso and others, and at a historic art show in 1937 displayed modern art pieces as “degenerate art.” Erin Moriarty of “48 Hours” takes us on a tour of the recreated event at the Neue Galerie in New York City.

By David Walsh in the USA:

The significance of Trump’s proposed elimination of arts, humanities spending

7 April 2017

Various protests have been organized in recent weeks by arts groups opposed to Donald Trump’s plan, part of his budget proposal for 2018, to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The proposal also defunds the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Institute of Library and Museum Service.

The most sizable rallies took place in Washington, D.C., New York City and Boston. In addition, a petition opposing the cuts, organized by various liberal groups, including PEN America, People for the American Way, and the Nation, and which warns about “a new Dark Ages in America,” has been signed by some 240,000 people to date.

The NEA and NEH are among 19 government agencies, as the WSWS noted recently, “most of them long targeted for destruction by ultra-right ideologues and Christian fundamentalists,” slated for outright destruction.

The two organizations at present receive a pittance, $148 million each in 2016, a tiny fraction of the nearly $4 trillion federal budget.

The attack on the endowments, each of which received funding last year the equivalent of the cost of one Air Force F-35A fighter, has primarily political and ideological motives.

In keeping with the administration’s thuggish character, Trump officials defended the savage budget plan on the grounds that it was helping move the country “toward fiscal responsibility” and “eliminates and reduces hundreds of programs and focuses funding to redefine the proper role of the Federal Government.”

The eradication of the token amount the US government has been spending on culture goes hand in hand with a proposed increase in the Pentagon’s budget to a staggering $639 billion. Money that went to dance companies and libraries and local theaters will go instead to killing people in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, North Korea and other parts of the globe, apparently the “proper role of the Federal Government.”

According to the Hill, “The proposed cuts hew closely to a blueprint published last year by the conservative Heritage Foundation, a think tank that has helped staff the Trump transition.”

Outfits like the ultra-right Heritage Foundation, which do nothing with their time except calculate how every possible penny of the national income can be shoveled into the pockets of the super-rich, like to posture as friends of the “little people” when it comes to the NEA and similar organizations. “The NEA is welfare for cultural elitists,” claims the Foundation. Or, in the words of White House budget Director Mike Mulvaney, “The president finally got to the point where he said, ‘Do I really want to make the coal miner in West Virginia, or the auto worker in Ohio, or the single mom in Detroit pay for the National Endowment of the Arts or the Corporation for Public Broadcasting?’ And the answer is no.”

One can make all manner of criticism of the NEA and NEH, but for the defenders of unending war and repression and billion-dollar boondoggles for giant corporations to complain about the miserable subsidy of the arts and humanities in the US as an example of “elitism” goes beyond obscene hypocrisy into some other, yet uncharted realm.

The hostility of the extreme right toward the NEA has almost nothing to do with what the toothless, thoroughly cowed agency actually does. The fascistic, militaristic right fears art because of what art might do, has done. This is the significance of one such attack on the NEA and NEH: “These are all propaganda arms for the far-left. They don’t deserve a penny of taxpayer money. Why should American citizens have to pay for globalist, anti-American, socialist propaganda? This budget is urgently needed.”

Utterly absurd, but the fears are legitimate. Socially critical art, very little of which the NEA actually subsidizes, would challenge the status quo and would almost inevitably be “far-left” and “socialist.”

We have commented before: “The assault on art, on the artistic personality itself, by the American political establishment flows from its crisis and its predatory aims. The ruling elite is frightened by everything it cannot control, cannot understand, everything that does not serve the interests of the market. It is instinctively hostile in the US at present to truthful and penetrating depictions of life. Such depictions must show it up for the anti-democratic, authoritarian, rotten husk that it is.

“The ruling elite knows as well that it cannot inspire serious art. In the honest and forthright, it only inspires disgust and loathing. Endless war, a policy of everything for the rich, continuous attacks on the rights of the people—under these conditions only the most miserable toady and the opportunist gravitate toward the powers that be. The artist, particularly the young artist, must find a new orientation, based on opposition to the status quo in every one of its aspects.”

Every civilized society subsidizes serious art work, which, by its very nature, is not geared toward earning a profit. The production of work that reflects on and brings out the deepest character of the society, including its most serious flaws, should be the responsibility of that society. Any healthy society, that is. As we noted in 2004, and things are far more advanced now, American capitalism is so decayed and rotten that its rulers and their apologists cannot bear to see an honest portrait of life in this country. Hence, the instinctive and relentless desire to stifle art and the artist.

The claim that art should rely on the “market” is not, as is claimed, an argument for letting “the people decide.” In fact, the “people” would have absolutely no say in the matter. The decisions would be left entirely to the handful of conglomerates who already determine much of what the American and world’s population sees and hears on a daily basis.

If one wants to know what the “genius” of the market produces, consider the current fare on Broadway or the films in the “Top Box Office” list in the US, which include Beauty and the Beast, The Boss Baby, Power Rangers, Kong: Skull Island, Logan, etc. Has such a list ever been more dispiriting? This is what art-by-conglomerate produces, mostly empty bombast. This is the dream of the ultra-right and the American elite as a whole, the suffocation of art as a means of sharpening the critical faculties of the population.

The argument that the loss of public funding would be more than made for up by private sources, even if it were true, reveals the kind of art the American establishment—including figures like the wealthy, preternaturally pompous and smug George Will (“Abolish the National Endowment for the Arts,” March 15)—has in mind: work that is acceptable to wealthy benefactors, produced by artists who are in the humiliating position of being beholden to these “philanthropist” millionaires and billionaires. As we wrote in 2010: “This dependence on the largess of the wealthy is degrading and intellectually restrictive in the best of times. In a period of crisis, it threatens catastrophe. Now the very presence of music, art and drama in a given community may depend on the financial vicissitudes of the ultra-rich.”

Genoa G8 police brutality victims compensated at last

This 2002 Associated Press video says about itself:

1. Wide shot pan of Genoa city and port
2. Various activists clapping to mark the moment of Carlo Giuliani’s death
3. Close up Carlo’s father, Giuliano Giuliani, shaking hands with people and clapping
4. Release of balloons
5. Photo of Carlo
6. Photo of police vehicle that ran over Carlo Giuliani
7. Flowers marking his death
8. Demonstration with poster
9. Shops barricades over the front
10. Deserted streets
11. Wide shot thousands on march
12. Ground shot of march
13. Top shot of marchers
14. Close up top shot of marchers with banners
15. Police outside McDonald’s
16. Demonstrators at front of march
17. Police at McDonald’s
18. Wide shot thousands of marchers, pullout
19. Banner and protestors
20. Sign with cross through riot police
21. Riot police heading towards marchers who wanted to go towards a prison
22. Wide shot standoff during demo
23. Police walking away
24. Top shot march


Tens of thousands of people held commemorations in Genoa, Italy, on Saturday for an anti-globalisation protester killed last year by police at the Group of Eight summit.

A 23-year-old protester, Carlo Giuliani, was shot dead …

Since his death, Giuliani has become a symbol for the movement, with activists condemning his death as an act of police brutality.

During Saturday’s commemoration in the square where Giuliani was killed, protesters let loose colored balloons printed with the words “Ciao Carlo” at the time of the shooting, 5:27 p.m. (1527 GMT). …

Crowd estimates varied with police saying about 60,000 people attended while organizers estimated it at 100,000.

The overwhelming majority of demonstrators held peaceful demonstrations.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

After 16 years compensation for demonstrators abused in Genoa

Today, 15:07

Six demonstrators who were injured in 2001 at the G8 summit in Genoa will each receive compensation of 45,000 euros from the Italian authorities. Italy admits that the police used excessive force.

The summit of eight major industrialized countries was marred by violent clashes between protesters and police in July 2001. In three days, hundreds of people were injured. One demonstrator was shot dead … .


Amnesty International spoke of the greatest violation of human rights in a Western country since World War II. Most criminal cases against the responsible police officers of the last few years led to acquittal, especially as torture is not a crime in Italy.

In a case before the European Court of Human Rights Italy and six protesters have now reached a settlement. The authorities will not only pay 45,000 euros per person, but also costs.


In 2015, the European Court already awarded damages of 45,000 euros to an injured demonstrator. Also Italy was then commissioned to work on the inclusion of torture in the Criminal Code. However, that has still not happened.

Wild tulips follow the sun

This 7 April 2017 time-lapse video is about woodland tulips; the only wild tulip species in the Netherlands.

The tulips follow the sun.

Nelly made this video.

Trumps bombs Syria, peace movement reacts

This video from England is called Don’t Bomb Syria Protest – London, 2015

By Moustafa Bayoumi in the USA on 07 April 2017:

Trump’s senseless Syria strikes accomplish nothing

It deepens a war which the US has no idea how to end

Donald Trump, the man who just over a month ago wanted to bar entry of all Syrian refugees into the United States, now wants us to think that he cares deeply about Syrian children. I don’t believe it.

What I do believe is that our president is a bad actor. He was a bad actor on his old television show, and he’s still a bad actor today. And he’s a bad actor in both senses of the term, which is to say his actions are poorly executed and morally questionable.

Addressing the nation from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, the president announced that he had authorized “a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched.” Trump was referring to a chemical weapons attack on Tuesday that killed more than 80 people, including dozens of women and children, in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. The chemical attack had in all likelihood been carried out by the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

But what will the US’s military strike – a barrage of at least 59 (offensively named) Tomahawk cruise missiles aimed at a lone airfield – really accomplish?

According to reports, the missiles targeted only a single Syrian airfield and not Syria’s air defenses. In other words, the attack does not ground Syria’s air force. Nor did the attack strike any of the Russian aircraft currently bombing Syria. In fact, the Russians were alerted of the attack beforehand (who may, in turn, have also alerted the Syrians). The attack does not significantly degrade the military capabilities of Bashar al-Assad.

So why attack in the first place? Once again, we’re being told by military officials that their actions are intended “to send a message.” What nonsense this is. Will Bashar al-Assad now cease his murderous actions because he’s just been delivered “a message”? How are we supposed to believe there is any strategy to Trump’s actions anyway? Just last week, Nikki Haley, Trump’s UN ambassador, said of Assad: “Do we think he’s a hindrance? Yes. Are we going to sit there and focus on getting him out? No.”

What the erratic flip-floppery of Trump’s foreign policy really means is that America’s foes can easily manipulate the Trump administration into greater and greater military quagmires.

Has the administration considered how Lebanon’s Hizbullah will react to the US bombing their close ally Bashar al-Assad? Is the Trump administration prepared to put large numbers of troops on the ground to accomplish its goals? Will it militarily challenge Russia if needed? Or does the US military now only “send messages”?

The administration seems to have no vision of what it wants to accomplish or what it can accomplish. Trump ended his announcement of Thursday’s strike with the modest goal of ending “terrorism of all kinds and all types.” Good luck with that. Meanwhile, the heart of the problem is that the United States seems always to have only one solution to war: make more war.

None of this exonerates the murderous, thuggish and brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad. The moral and strategic imperatives of our world today demand that the Syrian civil war be brought to a swift and just conclusion. And we must recognize that the end of Syria’s civil war will not be found through military means but through careful deliberation between many different parties.

But we are moving farther away from those goals. At its best, Thursday’s reckless and largely ineffective bombing does little but make US lawmakers feel good about themselves. At its worst, it deepens a war which the US has no idea how to end.

By Jeremy Corbyn in Britain today:

The Labour leader‘s statement on the US missile strikes in Syria

The US missile attack on a Syrian government air base risks escalating the war in Syria still further.

Tuesday’s horrific chemical attack was a war crime which requires urgent independent UN investigation and those responsible must be held to account.

But unilateral military action without legal authorisation or independent verification risks intensifying a multi-sided conflict that has already killed hundreds of thousands of people.

What is needed instead is to urgently reconvene the Geneva peace talks and unrelenting international pressure for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.

The terrible suffering of the Syrian people must be brought to an end as soon as possible and every intervention must be judged on what contribution it makes to that outcome.

The British government should urge restraint on the Trump administration and throw its weight behind peace negotiations and a comprehensive political settlement.

From the Stop the War coalition in Britain today:

Emergency Protest: No to Trump’s Attack on Syria

No to Trump’s attacks on Syria
No to British support
London protest tonight, Downing Street 5-7pm

The Stop the War Coalition​ condemn​s Donald Trump’s decision to launch attacks against Syrian targets. This action will only increase the level of killing in Syria, and inflame the terrible war that has already caused untold misery for the people of the country.

​​This is the worst possible way to respond to the indefensible attack at Khan Sheikhun. As well as ​deepening​ the tragedy of the Syrian people, ​this utterly​​ irresponsible act ​threatens to widen the war and lead the West into military confrontation with Russia. ​

​It is shameful that​ Theresa May​ has rushed to support this act by the most xenophobic and reactionary US president in history. ​

​Stop the War calls for protests today against this or any further attacks​ and against British support or participation. The protest in London will take place today at​ Downing Street​ from 5 to 7pm.

USA: MSNBC’s Brian Williams faced an immediate backlash late Thursday for repeatedly describing the U.S. military strike on Syria as “beautiful”: here.

With the cruise missile attack on Syria, the United States has opened up a new chapter in its war for global hegemony that it began more than a quarter century ago with the invasion of Iraq. The claim that this attack is a response to the Syrian government’s use of poison gas is a transparent lie. Once again, as in the air war against Serbia in 1999, the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, and the attack on Libya in 2011, the United States has concocted a pretext to justify the violation of another country’s sovereignty: here.

Oil price hits one-month high after US launches missile strike on Syria: here.