Siberian jays in northern Finland, photos


Siberian jay, 15 March 2015

Still 15 March 2015 in northern Finland. After the dippers, to the Siberian jays. Like this one.

Siberian jay on snow, 15 March 2015

They came down from the trees to the snowy roadside, attracted by raisins.

Siberian jay still on snow, 15 March 2015

Siberian jay still on snow, turning its head, 15 March 2015

They were not shy.

Siberian jay on snow, on 15 March 2015

Stay tuned for the next blog post, about the birds of 16 March 2015, our last morning in Finland!

Dippers of Kuusamo, Finland, 15 March 2015


After 14 March 2015 in north-east Finland came 15 March. Our last full day in Finland. Again, we went to the dipper nest where we had already been on 14 March. On this video, you can hear the dipper sing. You can also see the dipper’s environment; the water, flowing fast through ice and snow. But, you cannot see the dipper.

Dipper on snow, 15 March 2015

On this photo, you can.

The dipper sang on rocks in the river, and on the wooden bridge.

Dippers on bridge, 15 March 2015

A second dipper, extremely probably his female partner, joined him on the bridge.

Dipper sings on rock, 15 March 2015

Then, back to the river for a song.

Dippers on bridge again, 15 March 2015

And back to the bridge again.

Dippers still on bridge, 15 March 2015

Dippers on snow, 15 March 2015

Then, together in the snow.

Dipper on rock, 15 March 2015

Then, to an ice-covered rock.

Dipper on rock, water streams past, 15 March 2015

While the water kept speeding past the birds.

Every now and then, the dippers would bring nesting material to the wooden nestbox under the bridge.

Meanwhile, a red squirrel crossed the bridge, covered with snow.

Other birds near the dipper nest: great spotted woodpecker. Great tit.

A raven flies past, calling.

Then, we continue to a field where a northern hawk-owl has been seen. However, we don’t see the owl. We do see mountain hare tracks.

A bit further, pine grosbeaks high up a tree. They are not feeding on Swedish service tree berries this time, but on coniferous tree cones. Like their scientific name says: Pinicola enucleator; literally, ‘inhabitant of coniferous trees, removing cones’ cores’.

In another big coniferous tree: a siskin.

Back to the garden of photographer Hannu Hautala. There is a yellowhammer at a feeder; not many other birds.

We continued to a Siberian jay spot. That will be a separate blog post.

This video is called Hazel Grouse / Bonasa bonasia.

A bird species which we saw once in Finland, in the evening dusk.

In the morning of 16 March, our last morning in Finland, we still saw dippers and other birds. So, stay tuned!

Sea eagles back on Orkney islands after 142 years


This February 2013 video from Sweden is called White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla).

From Raptor Politics in Britain:

White-tailed eagles nest in Orkney after 142-year absence

A pair of sea eagles are currently nesting on RSPB Scotland’s Hoy nature reserve. It is the first time these birds have attempted to breed in Orkney since 1873. The news suggests Orkney may become the next stop on the sea eagles’ celebrated recolonisation of Scotland. Alan Leitch, RSPB Scotland’s Sites Manager in Orkney, said, “This is a great moment for Hoy and Orkney. Sea eagles are utterly magnificent birds, with a wing span of up to 2.4 m or 8 feet. To see them over the hills of Hoy is a forceful reminder of the sheer beauty of nature.” “Too often with wildlife, once it’s gone it’s gone. It is a privilege to welcome these birds back to a landscape they inhabited for thousands of years.”

Sea eagles have a long history in Orkney. The Bronze Age burial tomb at Isbister, South Ronaldsay (the ‘Tomb of the Eagles’) famously contains their bones, while a Pictish symbol stone found at the Knowe of Burrian, Harray, features a beautifully carved bird.

Sea eagles became extinct across the UK in the early 19th century due to combination of widespread habitat loss and human persecution, with the last bird shot in Shetland in 1918.

Following successful reintroductions since the 1970s on Rum, Wester Ross and more recently in Fife, sea eagles are now reclaiming their former ranges. Success for the pair in Hoy, which have returned to Orkney of their own accord, would represent a significant expansion in breeding range for the birds in Scotland.

The nearest sea eagle territories to Orkney are in the north-west of Scotland, although the origins of the pair currently nesting in Hoy are not yet known. Either or both birds could have hatched in the wild in Scotland, or even in Scandinavia.

Alan Leitch continued, “As Hoy’s first breeding sea eagles in nearly 150 years, we expect this young pair will attract a lot of attention over the next few weeks or months.

“The birds are nesting on the Dwarfie Hamars. To give them the best chance of success, anyone keen to see the birds should keep their distance and ideally keep dogs under close control in the vicinity. The roadside car park for the Dwarfie Stone is a good place to watch from but lingering too long at the Dwarfie Stone itself could alarm the birds.”

“Nesting sea eagles are specially protected by law, so if you see any signs of disturbance please pass your concerns onto the police straightaway.”

The sea eagle is a globally threatened species: there are only around 10,000 pairs in the world, a third of which live in Norway. The re-introduction of sea eagles to their former haunts aims to expand their range and help ensure their survival.

Also known as white-tailed eagles, they are the UK’s largest bird of prey. The birds take around five years to mature enough to breed, but can live into their 30s, generally forming long-term and monogamous bonds with their mates.

The pair currently nesting in Hoy have frequented the area for the last three springs and summers. Both are young birds, thought to be four to five years old, and this is their first known nesting attempt. Although they are inexperienced parents and may not be successful in raising chicks this summer, RSPB Scotland staff are optimistic that the birds will persevere over the coming years to make Hoy their home.

The local RSPB Scotland team are happy to answer questions about the sea eagles, and can be contacted on 01856 850176 or at orkney@rspb.org.uk (office closed Monday 6 April).

April 17th, 2015

Cuckoo Hennah wins Africa-Britain race


This video from England says about itself:

Cuckoos On Dartmoor

21 August 2013

Discover more about the story of cuckoos on Dartmoor and hear about an exciting project that will be tracking their migration to Africa.

From Wildlife Extra:

The Great Cuckoo Race is won – but not by Dudley!

We have a winner! First back to Britain after his long migration from sub-Saharan Africa was Hennah, who was satellite tagged in the New Forest last May and was named after First Lieutenant William Hennah who was on HMS Mars in the Battle of Trafalgar.

Bookmakers William Hill has been betting on the inaugural Great Cuckoo Race, involving the migration of 17 tagged cuckoos, with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) tracking their progress from Africa to the UK.

Dudley had become the odds-on favourite after extending a commanding lead and touching down in France while all the other cuckoos were still in Africa. But Hennah came through at 25/1, arriving on 15 April after making fast progress on the final leg.

Hennah was last picked up on radar on the 9th February in Sierra Leone, but just as hope was fading that he was even alive, a faint signal was picked up from the New Forest, which steadily grew as the sunny weather charged his solar-powered tagging device.

BTO scientist in charge of the project, Chris Hewson, explained that the lack of signals over the desert, when we might expect there to be good exposure to the sun, could be down to Sahara dust on the solar panels which meant the tag was unable to charge and send a signal. Exposure to rain later would have washed this off and allowed the tag to transmit the cuckoo’s recent location.

William Hill gave a free £500 charity bet to BBC Springwatch presenter Chris Packham on the race, but his namesake Chris is still south of the Sahara and nowhere near the finish line – so William Hill instead will be doubling the amount and donating £1000 to the British Trust for Ornithology.

The bookmakers have made Dudley 2/1 favourite to win the race next year, with Hennah offered at 3/1 to repeat his success.

William Hill’s pioneering partnership with the British Trust for Ornithology was set up to raise awareness about the decline of the cuckoo, as populations have been in serious decline over the past century. Further details can be found at www.bto.org/cuckoos.

Fukushima disaster kills birds


This video is called Japanese Wild Birds.

From Science World Report:

Bird Populations in Fukushima Plummet After Nuclear Disaster

Apil 16, 2015 11:46 AM EDT

Bird populations may have declined to a large extent in Japan’s Fukushima province due to the disaster that occurred there in 2011. Scientists have taken a closer look at bird populations and have found that since the March 11 earthquake, which caused the nuclear catastrophe, bird populations have plummeted.

“We were working with a relatively small range of background exposures in this study because we weren’t able to get into the ‘hottest’ areas that first summer after the disaster, and we were only able to get to some ‘medium-hot’ areas the following summer,” said Tim Mousseau, one of the researchers, in a news release. “So we had relatively little statistical power to detect those kinds of relationships, especially when you combine that with the fact that there are so few barn swallows left. We know that there were hundreds in a given area before the disaster, and just a couple of years later we’re only able to find a few dozen left. The declines have been really dramatic.”

The scientists also analyzed how the response of bird species differed between Fukushima and Chernobyl. One contrast was that migratory birds fared worse in the mutagenic landscape of Chernobyl than year-round residents, whereas the opposite was true for Fukushima.

“It suggests to us that what we’re seeing in Fukushima right now is primarily through the direct result of exposure to radiation that’s generating a toxic effect-because the residents are getting a bigger dose by being there longer, they’re more affected,” said Mousseau. “Whereas in Chernobyl, many generations later, the migrants are more affected, and one possibility is that this reflects differences in mutation accumulation.”

The findings are published in the Journal of Ornithology.

Malta poacher sentenced for killing northern lapwing


This is a video from the Netherlands about a northern lapwing and its chicks.

From the Times of Malta:

Thursday, April 16, 2015, 14:55 by Matthew Xuereb, Caroline Muscat

Hunter sentenced to three months in jail – ‘did not know’ that lapwing cannot be hunted in spring

Offender has pending case of attempted murder

Updated 6.08pm – Shaun Demicoli, 37 of Birzebbuga was sentenced to three months imprisonment and had his shotgun confiscated this afternoon after he admitted to shooting and injuring a lapwing bird early this morning. He also admitted breaching bail conditions imposed in 2011 and last year and relapsing. His pending cases include a charge of attempted murder of a Tunisian man.

Wearing a bus driver’s uniform, Mr Demicoli told the court that he did not know that that kind of bird could not be hunted in spring.

Mr Demicoli also had his hunter’s licence suspended for three years and was fined €200 for breaching the bail conditions. The court recommended that he should not lose his job, which he was given only recently.

He said he would appeal and walked out of court – the sentence only comes into force once the appeal is decided.

Lawyer Jason Grima was defence counsel.

The bird, which was handed to the police, was shot between Birzebbuga and Hal Far even though, in terms of Spring hunting rules, only turtle dove and quail can be legally hunted, in limited numbers.

The FKNK hunters’ federation said the offender was reported by other hunters. He is not one of its members.

It appealed to other associations to suspend him if he is their member, and said abuse will not be tolerated.

The incident followed another yesterday when Stefan Micallef, 43, of Naxxar, shot a protected cuckoo in Manikata. He was filmed by BirdLife volunteers hiding the bird under a bush after shooting it.

Mr Micallef told a court that he mistook the cuckoo for a Turtle dove, but was fined €2,500 and had his licence suspended for three and a half years. His shotgun and ammunition were confiscated. The sentence came with a stern warning from the court that protected species must not be shot.

Following the referendum, won by those in favour of the spring hunting season, the Prime Minister Muscat stressed on Sunday that illegal hunting would not be tolerated.

The incident yesterday was followed by a backlash on social media calling on Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to keep his word with #josephzommkellmtek and #closetheseason.

Earlier today, the Parliamentary Secretary for Animal Welfare, Roderick Galdes was asked to define what the prime minister meant when he said that the season would be closed if there was flagrant abuse.

He told the media there had to be major abuse such as happened last autumn when the season was closed.

ST HUBERT HUNTERS: IGNORANCE BY THE PERPETRATOR

Kaccaturi San Ubertu (KSU) in a statement said it commended the immediate action taken by the authorities in apprehending and sentencing the persons responsible of shooting protected birds.

“Today’s incident, where a protected bird was shot, exemplifies ignorance on the part of the perpetrator being unaware that spring hunting is only practiced on turtle dove and quail. It also highlights an ambiguity in our gun licensing system where a person with a criminal record involving aggression of a police officer and a pending case of attempted murder is allowed a gun licence.”

Birds singing in England


This video from Britain says about itself:

Getting to grips with warblers 4: Whitethroat Vs Lesser Whitethroat

In the fourth of our series of videos aimed at helping with the tricky task of identifying warblers, we take a look at Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat. BirdTrack reports show that May is a good time to catch up with them. So it’s a good time to brush up on the songs and ID features of these two common species.

By Graeme Lyons, in Sussex, England, on Twitter today:

Cetti’s Warbler, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat all singing at Woods Mill right now!