Common scoters not migrating together


This video is called Male common scoter (Melanitta nigra).

From daily The Independent in South Africa:

Birds of a feather don’t fly together

July 28 2015 at 08:53am

London – The British Royal Family famously never travel on the same plane to ensure the survival of the monarchy in the event of a disaster.

Now scientists say Britain’s most endangered duck employs a similar tactic by splitting up when it comes to their migration.

Despite its name, the common scoter is down to just 40 breeding pairs in the UK – mostly in the Scottish Highlands.

Researchers who tagged four birds nesting in the same loch found they flew to different winter locations in Scotland, Ireland and Morocco.

A spokesperson for the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust said: “The fact they stay apart in winter is a bit like the Royal Family never flying together – it means they can’t all be affected by a single issue like a storm or oil spill.”

The discovery is useful in the trust’s attempts to discover what is behind the falling population in Britain as the scoter is thriving elsewhere. “Whatever is causing their decline is more likely to be in the summer when they’re all together in the Highlands,” said the spokesperson.

Bird conservation works, new research


This video is about Dalmatian pelicans in Greece.

From BirdLife:

Scientists prove EU bird laws save threatened species

By Sanya Khetani-Shah, Mon, 27/07/2015 – 16:52

The European Union’s Birds Directive – often believed to be one of the world’s most progressive and successful set of nature conservation laws – has had a huge impact in protecting Europe’s most threatened bird species, according to new research by the Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB; BirdLife in the UK), BirdLife International and Durham University in England.

“We analysed information on all bird species breeding across the European Union”, said Dr Fiona Sanderson, RSPB scientist and lead author of the paper. “Our findings confirm that species with the highest level of protection under the Birds Directive [listed in Annex I]… are more likely to have increasing populations, and that these results are most apparent in countries that have been members of the European Union for longer.”

While this may sound natural, the study, published in the journal Conservation Letters, noted that as a result of stronger conservation measures, a majority of Annex I species (like Dalmatian Pelican, Common Crane, White-tailed Eagle and White-Headed Duck) are now improving their populations more than other threatened species that are not on that list.

This could point to a need to better implement protection projects for species across the other annexes as well. The report also stated that long-distant migrants didn’t do as well as those flying short distances, meaning even strong conservation measures are not yet able to sufficiently protect birds from dangers along their migration route and climate change.

The globally threatened Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus Crispus was driven nearly to extinction in Europe in the 20th century due to loss of habitat, degradation, persecution and collision with power lines. However, thanks to the directives, more than 2,500 breeding pairs are now in existence, five times the number of a few decades ago.

White-headed Duck (Oxyura Leucocephala) was just as threatened. There were only 22 left in 1977 because of wetland destruction and persecution, but thanks to strong protection of their habitat and other conservation measures, there are now more than 2,000 in the wild.

Bird species listed in the other annexes are not as lucky. For example, Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa Limosa), despite being part of Annex II, continues to see a rapid decline in population and is listed as ‘threatened’ in Europe and ‘Endangered’ in the EU27. In Europe, the population size has decreased by an estimated 30-49% over three generations, while the EU27 has seen a 50-79% decline.

“Our research proves that, in an era of unprecedented climate change and habitat loss, those threatened birds protected by the Birds Directive are more likely to prosper”, Dr Paul Donald, the RSPB’s principal conservation scientist, said.

The research is being published just days after the closure on 26 July of a public consultation on the future of the European Union’s nature laws. The European Commission is currently reviewing the Birds and Habitats Directives, looking into their effectiveness. Signatures from 520,325 people and 120 NGOs supported the online campaign against this review in the largest public response to any consultation published by the European Commission.

“At a time when the benefits of EU membership are increasingly questioned, this research shows that, at least for nature, the EU is making a huge positive difference,” said BirdLife Europe’s Head of EU Policy, Ariel Brunner. “It would make no sense for the European Commission to demolish legislation proven to work and which enjoys a massive level of support among citizens.”

Read the report here.

Many shelducks moulting in the Netherlands


This video is about shelduck courtship and mating behaviour.

Yesterday, 27 July 2015, Dutch regional broadcaster Omroep Zeeland referred to a ‘tsunami’.

Fortunately, they did not mean a real natural disaster, but, figuratively speaking, many ducks.

About 35,000 shelducks have gathered at the Hooge Platen sandbank in the Westerschelde river in Zeeland province.

This is the biggest number of this species there ever.

The birds have gathered there for their moulting season, when they can’t fly.

Hen harrier news from Terschelling island


This video is about hen harriers during autumn migration in Israel.

Warden Joeri Lamers reports today from Terschelling island in the Netherlands about hen harriers.

In 1994, at least 49 hen harrier couples nested on the island. In 2010, that had declined to six. In later years, no hen harrier nests were found (there may have been undiscovered nests then).

This year, 2015, three nests were discovered for the first time since 2010.

Young hobbies survive stormy weather


This video is about hobbies in Spain.

On 25 July 2015, there was stormy weather in The Hague and elsewhere in the Netherlands.

Would the three young hobbies in the The Hague nest survive that?

Fortunately, the Kiekjesdief blog in The Hague reports that they and their parents did survive. A slideshow about that is here.

These young hobbies are now about three weeks old, and will probably leave the nest in a week’s time.

There is a second hobby nest in The Hague as well.

In the Haagse Bos woodland in central The Hague, the storm meant that fallen trees and branches blocked some cycle paths and footpaths.

As this video shows, wardens are at work to remove these trees and branches.

As does this video.

Falling trees caused the death of at least one red squirrel and one ring-necked parakeet in the Haagse Bos.

Baby owl in Colorado, USA


This video from Colorado in the USA says about itself:

Boulder County Sheriff’s Deputies meet their feathery match!

Our Sheriff’s Office deputies were driving near a campground on July 23 [2015] when they were stopped in their tracks by this young Northern Saw Whet Owl. After some curious head twisting (on both sides) it safely flew away. Watch the deputy have a conversation with the baby owl as it clicks back to her.

See also here.

Great snipes’ great migration, study


This great snipe video was ‘Filmed on the night in Lapponia Sweden in June 2010′.

From Biology Letters:

Great flights by great snipes: long and fast non-stop migration over benign habitats

Raymond H. G. Klaassen, Thomas Alerstam, Peter Carlsson, James W. Fox, Åke Lindström

25 May 2011

Abstract

Migratory land birds perform extreme endurance flights when crossing ecological barriers, such as deserts, oceans and ice-caps. When travelling over benign areas, birds are expected to migrate by shorter flight steps, since carrying the heavy fuel loads needed for long non-stop flights comes at considerable cost. Here, we show that great snipes Gallinago media made long and fast non-stop flights (4300–6800 km in 48–96 h), not only over deserts and seas but also over wide areas of suitable habitats, which represents a previously unknown migration strategy among land birds.

Furthermore, the great snipes achieved very high ground speeds (15–27 m s−1), which was not an effect of strong tailwind support, and we know of no other animal that travels this rapidly over such a long distance. Our results demonstrate that some migratory birds are prepared to accept extreme costs of strenuous exercise and large fuel loads, even when stopover sites are available along the route and there is little tailwind assistance. A strategy of storing a lot of energy before departure, even if migration is over benign habitats, may be advantageous owing to differential conditions of fuel deposition, predation or infection risk along the migration route.