The video is from 23 February 2015.
This is a long-tailed duck video.
Monday, March 2, 2015
Dearborn adds another new species!
On 1 March 2015, Larry Urbanski found a Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis) in the Rouge River near the Ford Rouge Plant. There is a photo attached to his eBird checklist (sign in may be required for one or both links) and the bird appears to be a male.
Mike O’Leary and I attempted to locate the bird this morning, and found a Long-tailed Duck that appears to be a female, or at least doesn’t look like the bird found yesterday. …
Long-tailed Duck is the 260th species on the Dearborn list.
Most of the Rouge River is still frozen solid. The areas in the Ford Rouge boat slip and adjacent waters stay open all year. Other waterfowl present included a couple hundred Common Mergansers, at least 24 Red-breasted Mergansers, Canvasbacks, a few Ruddy Ducks, Common Goldeneye, Redheads, and Greater Scaup. There were at least 20 Great Black-backed Gulls — a species not recorded in Dearborn until 1987. Ten sort of miserable looking Great Blue Herons hugged the shoreline, as did 10 Black-crowned Night-herons. There is a small pond inside the plant next to the river that accepts warm-water discharge from one of the steel mill facilities, and a bunch of night-herons have wintered there for years.
Many thanks to Larry Urbanski for this great find.
Posted by Julie Craves.
This video says about itself:
1 March 2015
See how the small bee is moving around the anthers to collect pollen as well as diving its head down the base for nectar. Honeybees differ in that they will only collect either pollen or nectar. The bee was on the flower for a much longer time than a honeybee would have been.
From daily The Independent in Britain:
Monday 2 March 2015
Well it’s been a long wait, but spring is here now, at least by the Met Office definition, which classifies the new season as consisting of March, April and May (the older, astronomical definition has it beginning from the vernal equinox, which this year is 20 March, but we tend to go with the Met Office these days). And with Sunday being the first day of it, I went out to look for signs, and was not disappointed.
In Kew Gardens at the moment you can see what must be one of the most vivid springtime displays in the whole country: millions of blooms of early crocuses which are forming vast mauve sheets over the ground. The flower is Crocus tomasinianus, originally from eastern Europe, and in English sometimes called Whitewell purple. From a distance, the massed ranks of the blooms seem to glow, to shine like pale-purple light in the grass. It’s an astonishing spectacle.
The rest of Kew is still a bit bare, but the snowdrops are proudly out in the bluebell wood and there are subtler signs of the new season: the black-headed gulls on the lake are resplendent in their shiny new chocolate-brown headgear (which in winter shrinks to just a dark dot behind the eye), and the dunnocks, those nondescript but subtly attractive birds which we used to call hedge sparrows, are everywhere reeling out their song, which some people say is like the sound of a squeaking shopping trolley: streedly-streedly-streedly-stree.
Yet the most interesting sign of spring greeted me when I got back and switched on the computer: it was an email from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) giving the latest details of the BTO cuckoos in Africa. Since 2011, Britain’s leading bird research organisation has been satellite-tracking cuckoos on their mammoth migratory journeys from Britain to their African wintering grounds, and the project has revealed a wonderful wealth of hitherto unknown information: where wintering British cuckoos end up (the Congo rainforest), how they get there (some via Italy, some via Spain) and how they return (all of them via West Africa).
The journeys are arduous and full of risk, and sometimes the birds don’t make it: Indy, the cuckoo sponsored by The Independent, died in Cameroon in 2012. Currently 13 cuckoos are being tracked in Africa, including Chris (named after the naturalist Chris Packham) who has been going strong since 2011, and is thus being tracked on his fourth successive Africa trip; and what the BTO email told me was the heartening news that all of the birds are now on their way back, and heading northwards. There’s our spring down in Africa, flying steadily towards us.
They’ll be here in about six weeks, and when they arrive, their two-note musical call is the most instantly recognisable of all our springtime sounds. But the cuckoo, of course, has a double identity: it is not just the supreme spring-announcer, it is a notorious cheat, laying its eggs in the nests of other birds, (the technical term is a brood parasite).
Have you ever wondered how it does it? I mean, how it manages to get its single egg into the nests of its host species, such as reed warblers, meadow pipits and pied wagtails, where the cuckoo chick throws out the other eggs or nestlings and ends up as a monstrous intruder many times the size of the hapless foster-parents who are straining to feed it?
A new book tells in mesmerising detail how the host birds are first outwitted by the female cuckoo, and then by the cuckoo chick. Cuckoo – Cheating By Nature (Bloomsbury, £16.99) is by Nick Davies, the world expert on Cuculus canorus, the Eurasian cuckoo, our bird. He gives a riveting account not only of how the cuckoo evolves deceptive stratagems, such as eggs which mimic the eggs of the host, but also of how the host birds evolve defences, such as learning to reject any eggs which seems slightly different from their own.
This is in effect an “evolutionary arms race” and its complexities are elucidated with exemplary clarity and humour by Professor Davies, who is Professor of Behavioural Ecology at Cambridge and has spent the past 30 years studying cuckoos and discovering their tricks, at Wicken Fen to the north of the city. (He also, for good measure, discovered, through studies in the Cambridge Botanical Garden, that the humble and unglamorous dunnock, mentioned above, has the raciest sex life of any small songbird, everywhere looking for lurve).
His new cuckoo study, which is published next week, is an even more fascinating take on curious behaviour. I’ve just read it, and it’s a terrific read.
Rare glimpse of elusive rail
By Martin Fowlie, Mon, 02/03/2015 – 15:34
An ornithological search-team have caught a glimpse of one of the world’s most threatened waterbirds, the Critically Endangered Zapata Rail Cyanolimnas cerverai. The sighting is the first documented in more than four decades and offers hope to conservationists working to ensure its survival.
First described in the early twentieth century, the only nest that has ever been found was by ornithologist James Bond -a name appropriated by Ian Fleming (himself a birder) for 007- and little has since been discovered about its behaviour and breeding ecology. Hopes were fading that viable populations of the Cuban waterbird remained.
The fleeting encounter, now made public, occurred in November 2014. After a series of coordinated surveys of south-west Cuba’s Zapata Swamp, ornithologists (including Andy Mitchell and staff from the Cuban Museum of Natural History) struck gold only after deciding to cut thin strips (rides) into the sawgrass to momentarily expose the secretive birds as they moved through the wetland.
“In the first instance, the head protruded from the sawgrass at the side of the ride,” recounted Andy Mitchell. “After a few seconds the bird emerged slowly into the open, stopped for a few seconds before moving off into the sawgrass on the other side of the ride.”
Now rediscovered, conservation efforts for Zapata Rail will target the wetland in which it was spotted, an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area covering 530,695 ha of wetland in southern Matanzas province. A new project management plan will be developed to assess the species’ current population size, distribution and status.
The sighting is the latest victory in BirdLife’s Preventing Extinctions Programme, which aims to halt extinctions through rigorous science and practical conservation delivered by a range of partners on the ground.
This music video is called John Zorn – The Zapata Rail.
This video says about itself:
7 July 2011
This video was taken on one 5 day safari holiday, and shows clips of the larger birds seen at Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivaisha and in the Masai Mara, Kenya. The birds range from the flamingos and pelicans, Fish Eagles and waders of the Lakes, to the vultures, ostriches and secretary birds of the plains.
By Obaka Torto, Thu, 26/02/2015 – 09:21
We need more women in conservation!
“Women do a lot of things and they do it perfectly. However when it comes to conservation, they are supposed to be behind. Why?”
This question was not asked by a woman, but by a man called George Gathu. George is one of the staunch, male supporters of the new Lari Women for Integrated Development (LAWID) grassroot women’s group at the Kikuyu Escarpment IBA in Kenya. “If we educate our women, and we put our houses and children in their care, why wouldn’t they be able to lead elsewhere?”
George’s question came back various times during a two-day experience exchange meeting in February 2015 in Nairobi, which brought together the leaders of five small conservation projects in Kenya and Uganda. These projects, funded by Conservation International (CI) under its Women in Healthy Sustainable Societies programme, aim to provide a better understanding of the gender dimensions of conservation, and support women’s involvement in environmental decision-making.
“We were like cows on a tether”
As part of the CI-funded project, the women of LAWID were trained by KENVO (a BirdLife Site Support Group) and a local organisation called GROOTS. They learned about local resource use mapping, the application of locally relevant laws and regulations, and organisational management. As a result, they have produced physical maps of their environment, and are already advising the local authorities about issues such as tree planting, waste disposal, and how to make local natural resource management more gender-sensitive.
One of the LAWID members, Anne Gacambi, put it like this: “We used to be in the village, walking around like cows on a tether. We were not empowered. But now our minds are open and we became strong!” The group already has more than 45 members and has started a range of environmentally-friendly income-generating activities such as fruit tree nurseries, briquette making out of rubbish, and the production of fireless cookers.
Should men be scared?
The meeting participants, in an attempt to answer George’s question, came up with a long list of barriers that prevent the effective involvement of women in conservation. These ranged from practical (“even if women are invited to meetings, they have no transport to get to them”) via socio-economic (“women don’t own the land, so why should they be involved in how we want to use it?”) to cultural and traditional barriers (“women are like children, they can’t make decisions”).
They also identified solutions to remove these barriers, and already piloted some of these ideas through the five projects that were funded by Conservation International. However – no fear! – all participants agreed that whatever we do, we should not cut out the men. As Nelly Wangari from KENVO said: “It is obvious we have to work with both men and women – you can’t walk on one leg!”
Kame Westerman, CI’s Gender Advisor, said: “Watching the evolution of these five projects over the last nine months, and learning from their work and the enthusiastic people leading them, has been inspiring. These are great examples of how small, dedicated funding can help us to better understand how to promote more equitable conservation for both men and women.”
Kame also took the opportunity of her visit to Kenya to provide a gender awareness training to the BirdLife Africa Partnership Secretariat staff – which, it has to be said, didn’t come a day too soon….
Do you want to know more? (you should!)
Please follow the series of articles that will be produced about the five ‘women and environment’ projects in the next few weeks on http://www.birdlife.org/africa/project/ci-women-healthy-sustainable-societies. They will explain once and for all why involving women in conservation is more than just common sense – it is actually pretty smart!
The BirdLife International Africa Partnership Secretariat is managing a small grants portfolio of five innovative projects at selected Eastern Afromontane Important Bird Areas / Key Biodiversity Areas in Uganda and Kenya, on behalf of Conservation International.
This video says about itself:
Champions of the Flyway – Birding Extreme!
17 August 2014
Extreme Birding in full power!
A major new international bird race has been taking place in Eilat, Israel – one of the world’s most spectacular migration hot spots and rewarding birding destinations.
The next Eilat Birds Festival will take place on the 15-22 March 2015, we are already taking bookings so don’t hesitate and migrate south to Eilat for a birding vacation of a lifetime!
See you in the field!
Jonathan Meyrav on behalf of the festival staff
The 2015 Champions of the Flyway race will take place 25th March 2015 – THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO GET INVOLVED!
By BirdLife Europe, Fri, 27/02/2015 – 09:22
In 2014, the Israel Ornithological Center (SPNI; BirdLife in Israel) and BirdLife International launched a new and exciting project – Champions of the Flyway. This annual race aims to raise funds to tackle the illegal killing of birds in Europe. This race is anything but common: teams from around the world come together and compete to observe and register as many bird species as possible within a 24 hour period.
Each year, the funds gathered by sponsors, participants and supporters will be used to support a different Conservation NGO’s work on illegal killing of birds. Last year, $30,000 was raised and given to Bird Conservation Georgia (SABUKO), which used the money for the Batumi bottleneck project. This project saw the creation of a feature length documentary about the incredible annual migration of nearly 1 million raptors over Western Georgia. This project also supported educational programs for children and work with local communities on the implications of illegal trapping and hunting.
Birders taking part in the inaugural 2014 event were of many different nationalities and represented many different businesses, conservation organisations and bird clubs. The 2014 winners were the Palestine Sunbirders, a joint Israeli-Palestinian team that recorded an impressive 169 species. Aware of their advantage in the field, they shared the coveted “Champions of the Flyway” title with the first place international team from the U.S., the Cornell Ebirders.
The next race for the Champions of the Flyway is taking place in Eilat, Israel’s southernmost city on the Red Sea, and one of the world’s most spectacular migratory hot spots. Donations raised from this event will go to BirdLife Cyprus, to help them tackle the overwhelming scale of illegal bird killing and trapping that occurs on this small Mediterranean island. See below how to participate.
BirdLife Cyprus plans to use the funds to tackle the illegal killing problem through a range of activities: continuing the systematic monitoring of birds that has been undertaken every spring and autumn since 2002; developing strategic action plans at a national level to deter illegal hunting and raise awareness at a social level; creating an awareness-raising campaign inspired by their 152 species affected by illegal trapping; and creation of a banding station for birds in Cape Greco to teach communities about birds and their habitats.
You can easily take part in the Champions of the Flyway in one of the following ways:
Create a Team – To take part in the race, please come to Eilat in spring 2015. All you need is to enlist 2 friends and create a team. Please feel free to contact us for more details.
Sponsor a team – You can sponsor any team to help cover their participation costs.
Donate on behalf of your team – All teams are competing against each other to raise the most funds and be awarded with the Protectors of the Flyway prize. You can choose a team and pledge a donation on their behalf through their Just Giving page.
Support our work against the illegal killing of birds – All donations will be processed through BirdLife International.
Please join us in the Champions of the Flyway campaign, spread the word and donate. This is a chance for birders and nature lovers to actually make a difference, to directly take part in bird conservation. Together we can stop the illegal killing and allow birds to fly safely through the sky.
You can keep informed and follow the race at Twitter “Champs of the Flyway” @Flywaychampions
This video says about itself:
Please support: The Messenger Documentary
9 February 2015
The Messenger is a visually thrilling ode to the beauty and importance of the imperiled songbird, and what it means to all of us on both a global and human level if we lose them.
From British Bird Lovers:
Film About Songbirds Launches Crowdfunding Bid
Sunday, 01 March 2015
A Canadian independent film production company has turned to crowdfunding to help them finish a documentary about the plight of songbirds and the remarkable research work being done to help solve the problems they face.
SongbirdSOS Productions, which is based in Toronto, is asking the public to help them raise $50,000 CAD to enable them to finish The Messenger and support its distribution. The Messenger is described as a visually thrilling ode to the beauty and importance of songbirds, and what it will mean to all of us on both a global and human level if we lose them.
SongbirdSOS Productions is owned by award-winning director Su Rynard and producers Joanne Jackson and Diane Woods. They teamed up with a French documentary production company, Films a Cinq, to make the film.
Director Rynard captured some beautiful slow motion footage of songbirds in flight during the production process. You can get a small taste of what to expect in the film in the fundraising video.
Travelling from the northern reaches of the Boreal Forest to the base of Turkey’s Mount Ararat to ground zero in Manhattan, the documentary team meet the people who are examining the threats to songbirds exposing the very real concerns behind their declining numbers.
Work began on the film almost 5 years ago. The first three years were devoted to creative development and raising money to shoot. In 2012 it won the Best Feature Documentary Pitch Award at Sunnyside of the Doc in La Rochelle, France. Shooting began in 2013 and most of 2014 was spent in the edit suite.
The money raised from the crowdfunding appeal will cover professional post production costs, including completing the sound mix, picture editing, colour grading, and mastering followed by an educational and social outreach campaign.
There has been an alarming decline in the global populations of songbirds in recent years. Destruction of habitat, increased urbanization and industrialization, climate change and the use of toxic chemicals as well as an unnatural abundance of predators and scavengers have all contributed to the loss.
Dr. Bridget Stutchbury, the author of Silence of the Songbirds says, “We may have already lost half the songbirds that filled the skies only 40 years ago. Within a few generations, many species may be gone forever.”
Scientific data from the 2012 European Bird Census Council shows that farmland birds have declined over 50% since 1980. The Eurasian Skylark has declined 51% since 1980. The State of the UK’s Birds 2012 also reported a loss averaging 50 House Sparrows per hour, and 835 Winter Wrens each day.
The North American Breeding Bird Survey indicates massive declines since the annual bird counts started in 1966. Bobolink 64%; Canada Warbler 66%; and the Wood Thrush 62%. This is just a small fraction of similarly disturbing statistical data.
The potential impact of this loss of important ecosystem services like pest control and pollination from diverse bird species is troubling and has far reaching implications.
The Messenger is aiming to change not only the way people think about bird conservation but also the natural world and wildlife in general.
You can support The Messenger by donating to their campaign here.