Cuban piping plover, herons and egrets

Royal tern, 12 March 2017

This photo shows a royal tern flying near a beach on Cayo Coco island north of Cuba. We had arrived there on 12 March 2017 from the spot where we had seen a Cuban tody and doves.

There were semipalmated plovers on the beach. And ruddy turnstones. And a willet.

Piping plover, 12 March 2017

And a special bird: a piping plover, on migration from North America.

White great blue heron, 12 March 2017

Also, a big white bird. A great egret? No, great egrets have black legs. This one has greyish legs. So, it is a white form of the great blue heron. In the USA, these white ‘blue’ herons live in southern Florida.

White great blue heron, 12 March 2017

Laughing gull. Grey plover.

Piping plover flies, 12 March 2017

The piping plover flies away.

Great egret and great blue heron, 12 March 2017

Other birds stay. Like this great egret, and this great blue heron (not a white morph this time).

Great egrets, 12 March 2017

One great egret stays. Another one flies away.

Stay tuned for more Cuban coastal birds on this blog!

‘Dangerous tension between nuclear armed Russia-nuclear armed USA’

This video from the USA says about itself:

Stephen Cohen: This is Most Dangerous Moment in U.S.-Russian Relations Since Cuban Missile Crisis

13 April 2017

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has wrapped up a visit to Moscow, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The meetings come at a time of increased tension between Washington and Moscow. On Wednesday during a press conference, President Trump said relations with Russia had reached a new low point. Trump’s comments came a day after the White House accused Russia of attempting to cover up the role of the Syrian government in the recent chemical attack in Syria that killed 87 people. Russia has rejected the claim, saying the U.S. has been too quick to blame Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. We speak to Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University.

What would a US-European-Russian war look like? Here.

Blaming Russia Helps Democratic Party’s Anti-Bernie Elites Maintain Power. Apr 20, 2017. By Norman Solomon: here.

European, Asian bird news update

This video says about itself:

27 October 2016

You probably have never seen a Spoon-billed Sandpiper. There are fewer than 500 remaining on the planet.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper chicks are remarkably independent. After hatching in their far northeastern Russian breeding grounds, the young leave the nest within a day and immediately begin feeding themselves. The father leads them away from the nest and attends to them until they fledge about 20 days later.

The mother bird doesn’t hang around to see how her brood turns out. She departs soon after the young hatch and begins migrating South to China’s Rudong mudflats in Jiangsu and Fujian’s Minjiang River Estuary, where the Spoon-billed Sandpipers fatten up each year before continuing on first to Zhanjiang in Guandong province, followed by Myanmar and Bangladesh for the winter.

After the chicks reach fledging age, the father departs too. All alone, the chicks then start their long journey South a few weeks later. No guide, no map, no GPS. But the baby birds instinctively know exactly where to go. The baby birds join millions of other migratory birds along the East Asian Australasian Flyway.

Unfortunately, the habitats along the flyway, from Korea to China, are under threat. Spoon-billed sandpipers’ habitats have shrunk dramatically, due to reclamation and industrial development in China, and when they reach their Southeast Asian winter homes, they then face the threat of hunters.

Spoon-billed Sandpipers are one of the most threatened species in the world.

But there is hope. The Chinese government is committed to building an Eco-Civilization that focuses more on the value of nature instead of GDP growth alone, and provincial officials are paying increasing attention to protecting the country’s coastal wetlands and mudflats. Efforts are underway to better preserve the Spoon-billed Sandpiper’s feeding grounds, the Rudong mudflat in Jiangsu.

The move to protect China’s wetlands is spreading. At a wetlands conference co-convened on Oct. 18 in Beidaihe by the Paulson Institute, the Convention on Wetlands Management Office of the People’s Republic of China, China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE), and the Hebei provincial government, Hebei’s provincial governor promised to protect his province’s threatened wetlands, too.

The Paulson Institute has launched a month-long campaign to raise awareness of the importance of coastal wetlands and the migratory birds they sustain. We hope to encourage the government officials, the scientists and experts, the NGOs, and the thousands of volunteers working to save these precious resources.

Watch this video, and please share!

It’s up to us to make a change.

From BirdLife:

7 Apr 2017

The Bird Bulletin – Vol. 3

By Gui-Xi Young

Welcome to the latest edition of ‘The Bird Bulletin’ – our new weekly news brief. Every Friday morning, we’ll bring you bite-sized updates from across Europe & Central Asia – now you can kick start every weekend with ‘what a little bird told me!’

TAKE ACTION – change the future of food and farming with 1 click! Only 3 weeks until the European Commission’s Public Consultation on the Common Agricultural Policy closes. We have launched a Europe-wide E-Action so citizens can support sustainable, nature-friendly farms. #LivingLand.

CZECH MATE – the Czech parliament has finally approved a new law that sets precise rules for protecting wildlife in national parks (from hunting, logging and other destructive acts). 117 deputies voted in favour, overturning the President’s veto. Well done to our partner CSO for championing this long fight!

From dusk till dawn – Birdwatch Ireland is co-sponsoring a landmark breeding Woodcock survey. The research group will monitor dawn and dusk ‘roding flights’ when males fly circuits above the woodland canopy in search of receptive females! Read more…

Happy Bird Day! – Last weekend Slovakians marked their annual ‘Bird Day’ with a traditional ‘welcoming of the cranes’. The magnificent birds stop in large numbers at the Senianske ponds during spring migration season. The event, organised by SOS-BirdLife Slovakia has become a festival of fun for the family, drawing over 1,000 visitors. See more…

SAVE SPOONIE – Every year, the Spoon-billed sandpiper attempts its epic 11,000km migration from Bangladesh to Arctic Russia – the most dangerous flyway in the world due to human interference. Its numbers have plummeted down to only 400 individuals. Help BirdLife protect key ecological sites on the Yellow Sea mudflats and save Spoonie’s resting habitat! Donate here…

Well that’s all for today’s ‘Bird Bulletin’ – tune in next week for more cheeps, chirps and chatter.

Bye Bye Birdies!

Japanese snow monkeys video

This BBC video says about itself:

15 March 2017

In Northern Japan, Steve Backshall finds the elusive snow monkey. Winter shrinks their feeding grounds making them easier to spot.

Hundreds of neonazis in German military

This 2013 German ZDF TV video is called (translated): A task for [German ‘defence’ war minister] Von der Leyen. It says that neonazis in the German armed forces were not dismissed, but even promoted.

Now, in 2017, it looks like Minister Von der Leyen has not fulfilled that task.

From the (Conservative) Daily Telegraph in England:

Almost 300 German soldiers investigated over Nazi salutes and attacks on asylum seekers

By Justin Huggler, Berlin

10 April 2017

The German military is investigating almost 300 of its troops on suspicion of Nazi sympathies and far-Right extremism, it has emerged.

Those under investigation include serving soldiers who gave the Nazi salute and shouted “Heil Hitler”, “Sieg Heil” and “Heil our Führer”.

One soldier posted a picture of Adolf Hitler on WhatsApp with the caption: “Missing since 1945: Adolf please report! Germany needs you!” In another case, a soldier physically attacked a group of asylum-seekers after asking if they were Christian or Muslim.

A total of 275 military personnel are currently under investigation by MAD, the German military’s counter-intelligence service. The investigations emerged in a written answer to a parliamentary question from the opposition Left Party. In a 15-page response, the defence ministry noted its concern that many of the more serious cases had been dealt with too leniently by the military.

The MAD is investigating cases from the last six years, many of which have already been resolved by the military’s disciplinary authorities. Only 11 of those currently under investigation have been discharged. The soldier who posted the picture of Hitler was fined €800 but allowed to remain in the military. A soldier who gave a Hitler salute while serving in Latvia was also allowed to remain in uniform.

In another case, a soldier posted a picture of a machine-gun on social media with the caption: “The fastest German asylum procedure, rejects up to 1,400 requests per minute”. All charges against him were dropped, on the grounds there was no evidence of dereliction of duty.

Of the cases under investigation, 12 date back to 2011-2013, 20 are from 2014, 47 from 2015, and 143 from 2016. There have been a further 53 so far this year. There was no official explanation for the dramatic rise in recent years, but it may be linked to the influx of over a million asylum-seekers over the last two years.

“I expect the armed forces to take an uncompromising approach against far-Right extremists in their personnel,” Ulla Jelpke, a senior Left Party MP said. “Anyone who performs like the SA [Nazi party storm-troopers] must be thrown out, and must be prevented from getting access to arms.”

Der Spiegel calls for a strongman in Germany: here.