World’s oldest Terek sandpiper discovered in Belarus

This is a 2012 Terek sandpiper video from Belarus.

From BirdLife:

World’s oldest tagged Terek Sandpiper discovered in Belarus

By Sanya Khetani-Shah, 24 June 2016

It was a regular day in the field for ornithologists at the birds ringing station in the Turau Meadow, Belarus on 13 May, 2016. That is, until they caught a Terek Sandpiper.

While this is cause for excitement in itself (the species is rare in Belarus; there’s even a sculpture of it in the neighbouring town of Turov), what really caused researchers and birdwatchers to take notice was the band on the bird’s leg: it showed that the bird was 17 years old, the oldest of its kind in the world, with 200.000 kilometres of flight under its belt (or wing).

Ornithologists from the Academy of Sciences of Belarus discovered that this Terek Sandpiper was banded as a chick in a meadow near the village of Zapesochye on 21 June, 1999 – the year the Turau meadow ringing station was founded. Since then, ‘meetings’ have occurred between the bird and ornithologists during recatching in 2005, 2011 and now in 2016.

Before this discovery, the known maximum age of a tagged Terek Sandpiper was 16 years (that bird was found in Finland). The Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) of Turau Meadow seems to be a favourite spot for the seniors of the species: recently, two other Terek Sandpipers – 14 and 15-year-old birds – were caught there, said Pavel Pinchuk, director of the Belarusian birds ringing centre.

The 17-year-old Terek Sandpiper again draws our attention to the banding of birds to learn more about them and their migration patterns.

In recent years, there have been more and more opinions that banding as a way of studying birds is becoming outdated and is no longer effective enough. Metal bands are being replaced by modern equipment.

However, any transmitter fixed to birds and transmitting signals will never stay alive as long as a simple band; the lifespan of a transmitter is usually only a few years and it can fall prey to technical issues. Finding a bird with a 17-year-old band still attached to it shows that this method’s importance cannot be underestimated.

The fact that this old Terek Sandpiper came back to the same spot more than once for the last 17 years also shows that it is vital for birds to have a safe site that they can return to. The Turau Meadow IBA is home to thousands of waders and other wetland birds.

APB (Birdlife in Belarus) is working hard to ensure it stays that way: a management plan has been developed for this territory and volunteers clear the flood plain of the river Pripyat of bushes every summer. The Waders’ Festival also takes place on 1 May every year, and it raises awareness among locals and city visitors about the importance of preserving this unique avian habitat.

Good seabird news from Malta

This November 2015 video is called Saving Malta’s Seabirds – Protecting our Seas.

From BirdLife:

Malta’s first marine Special Protection Areas announced

By Sanya Khetani-Shah, 29 Jun 2016

Good news for endangered Maltese seabirds! The national government has given Malta its first eight marine Special Protection Areas (SPAs) specifically for birds. Now that these sites have been designated, Malta will also be fulfilling its obligation of implementing the EU Birds Directive.

The eight SPAs now form part of the EU-wide Natura 2000 network, which is essential for the protection and long-term survival of Europe’s natural heritage on land and at sea. They will improve the conservation of all three protected and declining seabird species in Malta: the Yelkouan Shearwater, Scopoli’s Shearwater and European Storm-petrel. This is of global importance as Malta is home to 10% of the world’s Yelkouan Shearwaters, 3% of Scopoli’s Shearwaters and 50% of the Mediterranean subspecies of European Storm-petrels.

The inventory of these sites was created by BirdLife Malta in collaboration with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB, BirdLife in the UK), the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA, BirdLife in Portugal) and Malta’s Ministry for Sustainable Development, Environment and Climate Change through the LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project, which came to a successful end on 28 June. Throughout the project’s lifespan (September 2011-June 2016) BirdLife Malta’s researchers identified the most important sites at sea frequented by seabirds – marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) – and proposed to the national government that they be legally protected and managed as SPAs.

The project came to a close at an event in Ċirkewwa to announce the SPA designation and present the project’s findings. Malta’s Environment Minister Josè Herrera opened the proceedings and European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella – in a video message – described this project as a cause for celebration and also as a perfect example of the value of collaboration.

“With the hard work of BirdLife Malta and its partners, the problem [biodiversity loss in Europe] is addressed and nature is protected,” he said, while appealing for more international collaboration to protect seabirds.

The next step in seabird conservation in the country will be the creation and implementation by the Maltese authorities of management plans for all the marine protected areas, as well as eventually monitoring them to ensure that seabirds and other marine life are safe and that these areas have Good Environmental Status (meaning that they are biodiverse, clean and used sustainably) by 2020.

This is also not the end of Malta’s research and conservation projects for seabirds. The LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project is the second of three seabird-related LIFE projects (after the LIFE Yelkouan Shearwater project) being carried out by BirdLife Malta and its international partners over a span of fifteen years. The third project, LIFE Arċipelagu Garnija, was launched by BirdLife Malta a few weeks ago and seeks to complement the findings of the first two.

Good house martin news from Hungary

This video is about a house martin nest in Poland.

After bad news about politicians in Hungary … now good news about birds and school children.

From BirdLife:

School’s out(side) for Spring!

By Shaun Hurrell, 30 Jun 2016

A bell in Hungary rings the start of a noisy week day. Like in many schools, the grounds fill with happy laughter, the bouncing of balls, children running and playing. But this spring a new noise rang through the air of the Ady Endre Primary in Gyál: the chirrrps and tseeps of House Martins on their arrival from Africa. Rather than distracting from studies, the children go outside in their lessons to see what it’s all about! They say there are at least 10 nests under the eaves of the school building, not too far from each other.

Art teacher Ms Viktória Szabó says: “The House Martins have kept busy ever since they arrived, lately by feeding their chicks. We’ve tried taking photos of them but it’s not an easy task because they fly really fast!”

Viktória is sharing her enthusiasm for nature with her classes through the Spring Alive programme, which this year has encouraged children to celebrate the return of Barn Swallows and other migratory birds to their neighbourhoods.

Spring Alive is a BirdLife International educational conservation initiative organised by OTOP (BirdLife in Poland) that encourages children to take action for the conservation of the migratory birds they learn about. Intimately associated with humans, swallows and martins are a species that anyone, almost anywhere can help with.

The 30 pupils of Viktória’s class have learnt loads about swallows and martins. Through music, literature, writing, and environmental studies, Class 3/a now know about their migration, nesting and feeding habits.

“They’ve looked at pictures, listened to presentations, and created drawings and photographs for the Spring Alive competitions of the small colony living on the school grounds,” says Viktória.

They’ve become ‘House Martin Scientists’ and monitored the stages of nest building and chick development, using the material on the Spring Alive website and going outside to see the birds.

Despite all the noises of the school, it is clear the House Martins are not disturbed. Instead, these local birds are perhaps these children’s first window into nature conservation, or even an understanding that the birds they are seeing are shared with other children in Africa.

As the European season of Spring Alive comes to a close, the project will move with the migratory birds into Africa, where the Spring Twin initiative will unite schools between the continents.

10 reasons for your child to celebrate spring with Spring Alive

“Recognising the arrival of migratory birds also brings a broader understanding of nature,” says Karolina Kalinowska, Spring Alive coordinator. “Some bird migrations are so huge, they are almost beyond comprehension. For local children, Spring Alive brings an opportunity to think globally.”

Thinking back to when you were at school – wasn’t it great to go outside and explore? Thanks to Spring Alive these lucky children in Hungary got to do it as part of their lessons!

Spring Alive is an international campaign to encourage children’s interest in nature and the conservation of migratory birds

Spring Alive is an international campaign to encourage children’s interest in nature and the conservation of migratory birds. Spring Alive is organised by OTOP, the BirdLife Partner in Poland, on behalf of the BirdLife Partnership. Wildlife groups, teachers and others who would like to become more involved in Spring Alive should contact the International Manager, Karolina Kalinowska, at

For more information go to:

Follow Spring Alive on facebookYouTube and flickr.

Oystercatcher at windmill, video

This 27 June 2016 video shows an oystercatcher on a pole near the Broekmolen windmill near Streefkerk town in the Netherlands.

Birds in Dutch Zeeland, video

This video shows birds of the Hooge Platen nature reserve in Zeeland province in the Netherlands. Including an oystercatcher with its chick, a spoonbill and various tern species nesting there.

Spoonbills resting, video

This 22 June 2016 video shows 84 spoonbills resting in Biesbosch national park in the Netherlands. Among them, a grey heron; and gadwall and shoveler ducks swimming. While swifts fly past.

Young osprey on video

This 28 June 2016 shows the osprey nest in Biesbosch national park. It is the first osprey nest ever known in the Netherlands.

I saw the nest myself. On the video in my report about that, one can see indirectly at least one young osprey is present, as it defecates in a curve over the side of the nest.

In this new video, one can see a young bird for the first time. Like other videos, it was filmed at a distance of hundreds of meters, as people being closer to the nest might disturb the ospreys.