Cetti’s warbler warbles on Texel island


This 14 April 2020 video is about a Cetti’s warbler warbles on Texel island.

Cetti’s warblers are recent immigrants to the Netherlands from southern Europe.

They are common now in the southern Dutch Biesbosch national park; but still rare in northern regions like Texel.

British Conservative government neglecting PPE for doctors


Hospital workers take part in a protest calling on the government to provide PPE across Britain for all workers in care, the NHS and other vital public services

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 3 May 2020:

Almost half of doctors forced to buy own PPE or rely on donations

ALMOST half of doctors have bought their own personal protective equipment (PPE) or relied on donations from charities and firms, according to the biggest survey of front-line staff during the crisis.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said its survey response from 16,000 doctors published today was a “damning indictment of the government’s abject failure” to supply front-line staff with life-saving protective wear.

It revealed that 48 per cent of doctors surveyed had directly purchased PPE for themselves or their department or had received donations from a charity or local firm.

Recovered black kite freed in Malta


This 2 May 2020 video says about itself:

This Black Kite was recovered on the 24th March 2020 from Żebbuġ in Gozo. It was found by the Gozo Police following a report made by a member of the public. The bird was handed over to BirdLife Malta and eventually taken to the government veterinarian to be examined. Fortunately, it was just exhausted from its migration journey and had no other injuries.

Following a couple of weeks with BirdLife Malta during which it regained its strength, the protected bird of prey was ready to be released. Black Kites are highly-prized illegal hunting targets so we took it to Comino, a protected bird sanctuary, to release it there so that it could hopefully continue with its migration safely. The raptor was ringed prior to being released.

Black Kites (Astun Iswed in Maltese) are regular migrants, both in spring and autumn, although more common during the autumn. In spring they are seen in March and April.

Footage by BirdLife Malta. Editing by Nathaniel Attard.

Immigrant workers get COVID-19


This 9 April 2020 video says about itself:

Australia’s migrant workers left without support in the face of COVID-19

Migrant workers, like Aaren, pay taxes to support a system they have no access to. With the government now telling ‘visitors’ it’s time to go home, many of them are left without options or support.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

The coronavirus has been diagnosed in 28 Eastern Europeans in Velp in Gelderland province. They are labour migrants who had come to the Netherlands to work and who live together in a complex. They are now isolated on a ship in Arnhem and have to stay there until they are healthy.

The other 21 residents of the complex have to be quarantined for a fortnight. Mayor Van Eert of Rheden wishes the residents recovery and strength. “It is a difficult time for residents to be sick in a country where you don’t speak the language”, she told Omroep Gelderland regional broadcasting organisation.

Bullfinch couple, common terns and lapwings


This is a Eurasian bullfinch video from Sweden.

Today, there was a bullfinch couple at the Muggenbult viewpoint in the Naardermeer nature reserve.

And a blackcap singing.

Also at the Muggenbult: sedge warbler. And reed warbler (audible, but hidden in the reedbed). Reed bunting. House sparrows. Common tern. Nesting black-headed gulls. Great cormorants. A mute swan.

Not far from the Muggenbult: northern lapwings in a mating season flight. A buzzard flying. A white wagtail scurrying in the mud.

A swift drank from a ditch while flying near the Naardermeer visitors’ centre. Also near the visitors’ centre: a stonechat.

Barn swallows flying. Dragonflies flying as well.

Aye-aye lemurs of Madagascar


This 2019 video says about itself:

Aye aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) – the bizarre lemur, the demon of the night from Madagascar

Aye-aye is one of the most bizarre mammals. It is the largest nocturnal primate in the world. Local people on Madagascar greatly fear this animal and kill it if they can. They believe that aye-aye is a bad spirit and they will die if it appears in the village.

In fact, it is specialized in eating grubs, which it gets our of the holes in the wood by its long middle finger. It taps on the wood before and detects the grub with its huge ears. Aye-aye has always growing incisors which enable it to bite to the wood. Apart from insects, it eats also fruits and seeds and that is why it comes to the plantations. Nobody knows how many aye-ayes are left in the forest of Madagascar.

Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, RIP


This 2 May 2020 video says about itself:

Iconic Nigerian drummer dies: Tony Allen, a top Fela collaborator

Legendary Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, who created afrobeat along with his old bandmate Fela Kuti, has died at the age of 79 in Paris, France.

Allen was the drummer and musical director of Fela Kuti’s band Africa ’70 in the 1960s and 1970s.

During that time the pair created afrobeat, combining West African musical styles such as highlife and fuji music with American imports jazz and funk.

The duo recorded more than 30 albums together, before going their separate ways in the late Seventies. Tony Allen remained hugely influential and beloved by generations of musicians.

“Fela’s relationship with Tony Allen, who joined the Fela Ransome-Kuti Quintet in 1964, was one of permanent collaboration, for though Afrobeat was overwhelmingly Fela’s creation, Allen’s drum-patterns were signature ingredients.

“Allen was the anchorman of all Fela’s bands for fourteen years, as the Quintet morphed first into Koola Lobitos, then Nigeria 70, then Africa 70, and finally Afrika 70. Along with most of Fela’s musicians, he left Afrika 70 in 1978, triggering the formation of Egypt 80”, the Nigeria legend’s memorial website wrote about Allen.

How elephants and armadillos get drunk


This 2011 video is called African Animals Getting Drunk From Ripe Marula Fruit.

By Susan Milius, May 1, 2020 at 6:00 am:

Why mammals like elephants and armadillos might get drunk easily

Differences in a gene for breaking down alcohol might help explain which mammals get tipsy

An elephant, a narwhal and a guinea pig walk into a bar. From there, things could get ugly.

All three might get drunk easily, according to a new survey of a gene involved in metabolizing alcohol. They’re among the creatures affected by 10 independent breakdowns of the ADH7 gene during the history of mammal evolution. Inheriting that dysfunctional gene might make it harder for their bodies to break down ethanol, says molecular anthropologist Mareike Janiak of the University of Calgary in Canada.

She and colleagues didn’t look at all the genes needed to metabolize ethanol, but the failure of this important one might allow ethanol to build up more easily in these animals’ bloodstreams, Janiak and colleagues report April 29 in Biology Letters.

The carnivorous cetaceans, grain- or leaf-eating guinea pigs and most other animals that the study identified as potentially easy drunks probably don’t binge on sugary fruit and nectar that brews ethanol. Elephants, however, will feast on fruit, and the new study reopens a long-running debate over whether elephants truly get tipsy gorging on marula fruit, a relative of mangoes.

Descriptions of elephants behaving oddly after binging on overripe fruit go back at least to 1875, Janiak says. Later, a taste test offering the animals troughs of water spiked with ethanol found that elephants willingly drank. Afterward, they swayed more when moving and seemed more aggressive, observers reported.

Yet in 2006, physiologist Steve Morris of the University of Bristol in England and colleagues attacked the notion of elephant inebriation as “a myth”. Among their arguments was a calculation that even if African elephants really were feasting on fallen, fermenting marula fruit, the animals could not physically eat the huge amount necessary at one time to get a buzz (SN: 6/13/17). However, that calculation extrapolated from human physiology. The new insight that elephants’ ADH7 gene doesn’t work might mean they have a lower tolerance for the tipple.

It wasn’t elephants, though, but tree shrews that inspired the new work (SN: 7/28/08). They look like “cute squirrels with pointed noses,” says senior author Amanda Melin, a biological anthropologist also at Calgary, and they have a prodigious tolerance for alcohol. Concentrations of ethanol that would make a human sloppy apparently don’t phase the little animals. She, Janiak and colleagues decided to survey all of the mammal genetic information that they could find to indirectly assess the variety of responses to alcohol. “We were on a patio drinking beer when we first sketched out the paper,” Janiak remembers.

Looking at genetic information available on 79 mammal species, researchers found that ADH7 has lost its function in 10 separate spots on the mammal family tree. These ethanol-susceptible twigs sprout quite different animals: elephants, armadillos, rhinos, degus, beavers and cattle among them.

In contrast, humans and nonhuman African primates have the reverse situation, a mutation that renders their ADH7 some 40 times more efficient at dismantling ethanol than a typical mammalian version. Aye-ayes, with diets rich in fruit and nectar, have independently evolved the same trick (SN: 10/22/19). What gives tree shrews their drinking superpower, however, remains a mystery since they don’t have the same superefficient gene.

Finding the gene dysfunction in the African elephant, however, raises questions about the old inebriation arguments. A slower capacity for clearing ethanol from the body could mean that the smallish amount that an elephant gets from eating its full of fermented fruit might be enough to change their behavior after all, Melin says.

Behavioral ecologist Phyllis Lee has been watching elephants in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park since 1982 and is now director of science for Amboseli Trust for Elephants. “In my youth, we tried to brew a form of maize beer (we were desperate), and the elephants loved to drink it,” she says. She does not take sides in the myth debate, although she muses about the “huge liver” of elephants, which would have at least some detoxifying power.

“I never saw one that was tipsy”, Lee says, although that home brew “didn’t do much for us puny humans either.”

Coronavirus crisis, Asia and Australia


This 2 April 2020 video from India says about itself:

EXPOSED: Manufacturing Firms Lobby With Government To Procure PPE Contracts; Provide Sub-Standard Gear

The first cases from the coronavirus outbreak in India were recorded in Kerala among students who had returned from China, while those with travel history from Italy formed the second wave. The ‘COVID-19’ novel coronavirus caused its first death in India on March 11, with a 76-year-old in Karnataka succumbing.

From the World Socialist Web Site, 2 April 2020:

India: Assam tea workers demand coronavirus lockdown wages

Tens of thousands of tea plantation workers in India’s north-eastern state of Assam protested on April 28 to demand payment of wages during the coronavirus lockdown. The demonstration involved workers from tea gardens across the state.

Workers said that they have not received their wages even though the central and state governments had ordered on March 29 and April 2 respectively that they should be paid in full during the lockdown period.

The protest was called by the All India Central Council of Trade Unions and supported by Asom Sangrami Chaah Shromik Sangha. Protesting workers said that Tea Board India was silent on the outstanding pay.

Gujarat diamond cutters demonstrate against being forced to work in lockdown

Workers from the Diamond Bourse in Surat, Gujarat stopped work on April 28 in protest against being forced to work during the coronavirus lockdown. They accused management of not being concerned about their safety and demanded that they be sent back home to their original towns and villages.

Migrant workers in Tamil Nadu demand safe transport home

Around 100 workers affected by the coronavirus lockdown protested on April 24 outside the Revenue Divisional Office (RDO) in Sriperumbudur. The workers, most of whom are from Jharkhand state, north of Tamil Nadu, gathered near the office in the morning and demanded safe transport to their family homes.

The protest ended after a RDO official told them that the workers could not be sent back to their homes in Jharkhand state because of the lockdown but claimed they would be provided food and water during this period.

Municipal sanitary workers in Ramanathapuram demand time off

Sanitary workers from Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu held a sit-down protest outside the Ramanathapuram Corporation on April 26 to demand time off during the coronavirus pandemic. They told the media that they needed it because their workload had been increased during the pandemic and that were risking their lives. …

Protests continue in Bangladesh

On Tuesday, garment workers at a factory in Jessore walked off the job and demonstrated warning they would not return to work unless their safety was assured. The protested occurred after workers discovered that a fellow employee had tested positive with COVID-19. …

Other protests over unpaid wages were held last Sunday in Dhaka, Narayanganj, and Savar. Some factories have not paid wages for February and March. The workers were supposed to be paid on April 16 but it was postponed to April 25.

Taiwan medics protest for greater hazard compensation

At-risk healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients demanded hazard subsidies on Tuesday, in line with payments made during the SARS outbreak in 2003.

The protest was held outside of the Center of Disease Control headquarters in Taipei and involved representatives from the Taipei Doctors Union and National Taiwan University Hospital Union.

Hazard pay rates announced last week by the Central Epidemic Command Center are lower than amounts paid in 2003. At that time doctor could receive up to $NT10,000 per day and a nurse $6,000.

The new measures also stipulate that only one doctor per ward and one nurse per shift in a ward could apply for the subsidy. …

Thousands of Cambodian construction workers leave sites, fearing coronavirus infection

The Cambodia Construction Association (CCA) has reported that over the last two months over 90,000 workers have left building sites in fear of contracting COVID-19. The CCA said 300,000 workers are usually employed on construction sites.

Meanwhile, thousands of Cambodian garment workers who have been forced back to work have complained that employers are not providing additional protection against the virus.

The Cambodian embassy in Thailand has urged the two million Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand not to return home fearing that they will spread the highly infectious virus.

Australian government fast-tracks review of lockdown measures. By Oscar Grenfell, 2 May 2020. New clusters have emerged, including among meat workers in Melbourne, as governments seek to prematurely end social-distancing measures.