Good wildlife news from Dorset, England

This video from England is called Dorset Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves.

From Wildlife Extra:

1,500 acres of wildlife-rich land purchased in Dorset

April 2014: Nearly 1,500 acres of outstanding wildlife habitat has been bought by Dorset Wildlife Trust and its partners as part of a new conservation project in east Dorset, Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch, called ‘The Great Heath Living Landscape’.

The areas purchased include: Lytchett Bay, Upton Heath, Holes Bay, Parley Common and Ferndown Common. These sites provide habitats for many rare and threatened species, including the Dartford Warbler and all six UK reptiles, including the nationally rare smooth snake and sand lizard. This purchase mean two outstanding areas of natural heritage; the New Forest National Park and the Wild Purbeck Nature Improvement Area can be linked together.

DWT’s Director of Operations, Brian Bleese said: “The purchase of this land is a real investment in the future of Dorset’s heritage, and will make a huge contribution to the quality of our natural environment for decades to come. We are very excited about taking the project into the next phase to help local people and communities benefit from the wealth of wildlife around them.”

The Great Heath Living Landscape is a partnership of Dorset Wildlife Trust, the Erica Trust, Poole Harbour Commissioners, Borough of Poole, Dorset County Council Countryside Service and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust. The project is supported by Bournemouth Borough Council. Christchurch Borough Council, East Dorset District Council and Natural England.

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Saving New Zealand skinks

This video from New Zealand is about Otago skinks.

From Wildlife Extra:

Endangered skinks collected in NZ for breeding

Eighty-five endangered grand and Otago skinks have been collected near Wanaka in New Zealand as part of a as part of a breed-for-release programme

Ongoing decline in western grand and Otago skink populations has prompted the Department of Conservation (DOC) and several other agencies to collect the skinks from their Grandview Range habitat in the Lindis. The skinks will be housed temporarily at zoos, wild life parks and eco-sanctuaries throughout New Zealand, as part of a breed-for-release programme.

“This programme aims to increase numbers of both species so they can be released back into secure sites within their former range,” Grand and Otago Skink Project Manager Gavin Udy said. “It is a great example of conservation agencies and individuals working together to ensure the ongoing survival of an iconic, unique and endangered New Zealand species,”

Grand and Otago skinks are two of New Zealand’s most distinctive and impressive lizards. Known as giant skinks, they are the country’s largest lizards, with Otago skinks growing up to 300mm in length and grand skinks 230mm.

These omnivorous lizards are diurnal, and don’t hibernate. They can live for up to 20 years in the wild, and give birth to live young – two or three a year. Both species are unique to Otago and are two of New Zealand’s rarest reptiles. They are now found in only eight percent of their former range and have the highest possible threat status, ‘Nationally Critically Endangered‘.

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Saving Galapagos giant tortoises

This video is called Giant Galapagos Tortoise (extreme closeup!)

From Wired:

Inside the Galapagos Islands’ Giant Tortoise Rehab Effort

By Jeffrey Marlow


10:24 am

You’re sailing from the Spice Islands across the open ocean to the South American port of Guayaquil, your financial motives rooted somewhere along a broad spectrum of morality and lawfulness. Several months have passed, and food stores and morale are low. Fortunately, you know a spot that will save the day, a cluster of rocky islands jutting out of the east Pacific near the equator.

For centuries, the Galapagos Islands have been a convenience store for ocean-going journeys, the resident Giant Tortoises serving as the perfect solution to the constant challenge of acquiring fresh meat at sea. These enormous beasts could handle the rigors of shipboard life and could be harvested at any time. Ships throughout the 18th-20th centuries would stop at the Galapagos, herd dozens of tortoises onto the decks, and sail off, assured of a reliable protein source for the remainder of their journey. At one point, an American whaling vessel lost track of a captive tortoise, which ambled out of the hold two and a half years later in Nantucket. Befuddled onlookers promptly killed it and made a stew.

And so, slowly but surely, the Giant Tortoise population was decimated. By the mid-1900s, conservationists began to recognize the problem, just as the increasing rate of international tourism and commerce was introducing another mortal threat to the species.

This one came in the form of fire ants, a voracious invasive species with a taste for baby tortoise. “Within 20 minutes of hatching,” says naturalist Ernesto Vaca, “they swarm and make the baby tortoise disappear.” Other human-transported pests, like rats, dogs, and cats, have developed similar dietary proclivities. With the species now facing a genuine threat to its survival, the Centro de Crianza was founded on Isabela Island, and conservationists went into crisis mode, airlifting tortoises with helicopters and initiating a breeding program.

It took a while to develop effective breeding techniques, but today, the Centro boasts a near-perfect success rate from egg to teenage tortoise. The rescue program continues in full force, as the habitat surrounding Isabela Island’s many dome-shaped volcanoes have been deemed unsafe for tortoises because of the fire ant threat. Employees and volunteers venture into the dense forest to retrieve tortoise eggs, which are then placed into computer-controlled incubators back at the Centro. The sex of the fledglings is determined by egg incubation temperature – above 37.5 °C leads to females, below produces males – allowing the Centro to generate its ideal ratio of 60% females and 40% males. Just before hatching, the eggs are buried in sand to simulate natural conditions and ensure that baby tortoises can dig upward and outward, a capability that bodes well for future robustness. Until the young tortoises are two years old, they’re placed in cages to offer protection against rats. By five, they’re in open-air enclosures, having received microchips that will track their movements once released into the wild.

And that, after all, is the ultimate goal, to repopulate the Galapagos with one of its most iconic species. Already, several hundred adults have been reintroduced to Espanola, an island particularly hard-hit by wave of threats over the decades. But the long-term prognosis is murky, especially as the invasive species that predate upon tortoises continue to grow in numbers. One option is to bolster the invasive species eradication efforts; another is that the animals will merely live the first few years of their lives in controlled conditions. But for now, the stabilization of the Giant Tortoise population is a victory in itself, a promising example of how conservation efforts can bring an organism back from the brink. As human impact on the unique Galapagos ecosystems increases, the model of tortoise rehab may prove useful in protecting other species from extinction, allowing the islands to maintain their unique treasure trove of biodiversity.

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Abu Dhabi’s sea turtle nesting sites

This video is about hawksbill turtles in the Caribbean.

From Wildlife Extra:

Abu Dhabi’s islands could gain global recognition as important marine turtle nesting sites

April 2014: Abu Dhabi’s Bu Tinah and Zirku Islands could soon become recognised around the world as important marine turtle nesting sites. The country’s Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has submitted a proposal to the Indian Ocean and South East Asia (IOSEA) MoU Secretariat to include the two islands in their network.

The critically endangered Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and the endangered Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) can be found in Abu Dhabi’s waters and nest on at least 17 offshore islands from mid-March to mid-June. The EAD’s aerial and field survey findings indicate that about 5,750 sea turtles inhabit Abu Dhabi’s waters during the winter season and 6,900 during the summer season.

“Our marine environment is a treasured part of our heritage, our past, our present and our future. Furthermore, marine turtles and their habitats are key indicators of the health of our environment and so this is why, at EAD, we have been closely studying, monitoring and protecting them since 1999,” said Thabit Zahran Al Abdessalaam, EAD’s Senior Advisor on Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity.

“By having Bu Tinah and Zirku Islands included in the IOSEA Marine Turtle Site Network, this will help ensure their long-term conservation. It will also yield a range of socio-economic benefits for the local community in the Western Region, as conservation also means cleaner coastal waters, protecting the habitat used as nursery grounds for seafood species that support commercial and subsistence fisheries, and the overall protection of mangrove and reef habitat to reduce threats from coastal hazards.”

The two islands will be evaluated by the Secretariat, which is part of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, who will take into consideration different factors including their ecological and biological significance, their governance as well as their regional and global representation.

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Hummingbirds, flowers and iguana in Costa Rica

Montezuma's oropendola male, 17 March 2014

Still the morning of 17 March 2014 near the Sarapiqui river in Costa Rica. After the earlier Montezuma’s oropendola’s, we see this bird species again. Doing gymnastics on a branch again.

Stripe-throated hermit, 17 March 2014

A stripe-throated hermit hummingbird. Some hermits are big for hummingbirds, but this one is one of the smallest species.

Flower, Costa Rica, 17 March 2014

It likes the beautiful flowers, which grow here. And in the botanical garden on the other site of the road, where we would go later and where the flower photos were taken.

Flower, in Costa Rica, 17 March 2014

Flower, in Costa Rica, on 17 March 2014

Green iguana, 17 March 2014

Much bigger than the little hummingbird is a green iguana.

We cross the main road. Groove-billed anis on the other side.

Two social flycatchers on a wire.

A house wren. A singing grey-crowned yellowthroat.

A pond in the botanical garden attracts damselflies.

A black-cheeked woodpecker in a tree.

A Central American agouti walking in the garden.

A scaly-breasted hummingbird on a branch cleans its feathers.

A black-cowled oriole in another tree.

In yet another tree, a yellow-olive flycatcher.

Rufous-tailed hummingbird, 17 March 2014

A rufous-tailed hummingbird; sometimes, on a branch; sometimes flying.

A masked tityra. A boat-billed flycatcher.

Back across the main road. In a treetop, an olive-throated parakeet.

Clay-coloured thrush, Costa Rica, 17 March 2014

A clay-coloured thrush.

Butterfly, Costa Rica, 17 March 2014

We walk along the forest trail. A butterfly.

Summer tanager male, 17 March 2014

A bird from North America wintering here: a male summer tanager.

Montezuma's oropendola, 17 March 2014

Let us finish this blog post like we started it, with a Montezuma’s oropendola.

Stay tuned!

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Conservation awards for 2014

This video is called Blue-throated Macaws in the Barba Azul Nature Reserve, Bolivia.

From BirdLife:

By Martin Fowlie, Wed, 09/04/2014 – 09:37

The Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) has announced this year’s conservation team awards. Twenty six grants have been awarded in 16 different countries worth a total of $450,000.

This year’s projects form another extremely diverse group ranging from conservation of Slender-snouted Crocodile in Gabon, to surveying and assessing three Red Listed tree species in the Western Ghats of India. This year, for the first time, the CLP will be supporting a project from Antigua and Barbuda.

“These awards have identified 110 young conservation leaders from developing countries early in their careers. They join a global network of more than 2,500 conservationists in the CLP alumni. These people are committed to conservation and improving the state of nature globally”, said Kiragu Mwangi, BirdLife’s CLP Programme Manager.

Bird species that will be the focus of some of this year’s projects include the Critically Endangered Blue-throated Macaw, Sociable Lapwing, Black-breasted Puffleg and Siberian Crane. A further two projects will focus on the Serra do Urubu Important Bird and Biodiversity Area in north-eastern Brazil and the Inter-Andean Slopes and Chocó Endemic Bird Areas in Colombia.

In addition to funding all participating team members will get the chance to access a wealth of conservation expertise and receive training from within the CLP Partnership.

All award-winning team members will become part of the CLP alumni network that supports approximately 2,500 conservation leaders. The Alumni Network provides ongoing professional development to our emerging leaders and positions them to multiply their impact in the conservation sector.

“Through this programme, we invest in ongoing professional development and mentoring to further build skills and knowledge”, said Kiragu.

Alumni members also receive access to additional grants, mentoring from CLP staff and training. A representative from each award-winning team will also take part in CLP’s two-week Conservation Leadership & Management Training Workshop in June 2014 at a remote ecological research station in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies.

Four of the 2014 award winning teams will be mentored by BirdLife Partners – Asociacion Armonia (Bolivia), SAVE Brasil (Brazil), Aves y Conservación (Ecuador) and Nigerian Conservation Foundation.

The CLP has supported over 554 projects since the programme’s start in 1985.

The CLP is a unique partnership between BirdLife International, Conservation International, Fauna & Flora International and Wildlife Conservation Society. The mission of the CLP is to advance biodiversity conservation globally by building the leadership capabilities of early-career conservation professionals working in places with limited capacity to address high-priority conservation issues.

Full Project List

Future Conservationist Awards (up to $15,000)

  • Assessing Extinction Risk of Kenya’s Exploited Coral Reef Fish
  • Conservation Assessment of Ibadan Malimbe in South-Western Nigeria
  • Combining Research and Local Community Involvement to Save Lemur in Madagascar
  • Conservation Beyond Breeding Grounds: Tracking Sociable Lapwing in Eritrea
  • Conservation of Slender-Snouted Crocodile in the Lake Region of Gabon
  • Toward Sustainable Logging in São Tomé, São Tomé and Príncipe
  • Conserving Endangered Silvery-Brown Tamarin in Highly Degraded Forests, Colombia
  • Monitoring Harlequin Frogs in Sierra Nevada, Colombia
  • Conservation Status Assessment of Salamanders in Santander, Colombia
  • Unravelling the Occupancy Patterns of Guiana Dolphin in Southeastern Brazil
  • River Dolphin Population Assessment in Yarinacocha Lagoon, Peru
  • Promoting Local Participation in Habitat Conservation of Black-breasted Puffleg, Ecuador
  • Status Surveys of Focal Species in the Magdalena Medio, Colombia
  • Baird´s Tapir Conservation in Nombre De Dios National Park, Honduras
  • Conserving West Indian Whistling Duck on Antigua and Barbuda’s Offshore-Islands
  • Preventing Extinction of the Critically Endangered Blue-Throated Macaw, Bolivia
  • Tackling Invasive Alien Species in the Western Ghats Hotspot, India
  • Conservation of Otter Habitat Through Stakeholder Participation, India
  • Survey and Assessment of Threatened Trees in Western Ghats, India
  • Effect of Landscape Change on Mammals in Eastern Ghats, India
  • Protecting Horseshoe Bats of Romania

Follow-up Awards ($25,000)

  • Promoting Conservation of Threatened Birds in Western Colombia
  • Promoting Conservation Through Ecotourism and Education in Serra Do Urubu Important Bird Area, Brazil
  • Conserving Siberian Cranes in China Through Sustainable Water Management
  • Conserving Livelihoods and Semnopithecus Ajax: Resolving Conflicts Around Khajiar-Kalatop Sanctuary-Chamba

Leadership Awards ($50,000)

  • Dugongs for Life: Engaging Malagasy Communities in Marine Ecosystem Stewardship
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Sunbitterns, tiger heron in Costa Rica

Montezuma's oropendola nesting colony, 17 March 2014

Still 17 March 2014 near the Sarapiqui river in Costa Rica. Not only frogs and spiders there; but, of course, also birds. Like this Montezuma’s oropendola nesting colony.

Montezuma's oropendola male at nesting colony, 17 March 2014

Some oropendola males do their mating season gymnastics performances, while singing their songs.

Montezuma's oropendola male, at nesting colony, 17 March 2014

And a female white-necked jacobin hummingbird.

A yellow-crowned euphonia. And an orange-billed sparrow.

Red-throated ant tanager, 17 March 2014

A male red-throated ant tanager, singing on a branch.

Red-throated ant tanager male, 17 March 2014

Red-throated ant tanager female, 17 March 2014

There was a female as well.

Sunbitterns with fish, 17 March 2014

At the river bank, two rare sunbitterns. One of them catches a fish. It is not as dexterous at swallowing it as real bitterns.

Sun bitterns are called “zonneral”, sun rail, in Dutch. But they are not closely related to either rails or bitterns.

Sarapiqui river, 17 March 2014

We go a bit further along the river.

Pug-nosed anole, 17 March 2014

A lizard on a tree trunk. A pug-nosed anole male?

Fasciated tiger heron, 17 March 2014

A fasciated tiger heron among the rocks.

Fasciated tiger heron catches food, 17 March 2014

It catches food from the river.

Fasciated tiger heron, Sarapiqui river, 17 March 2014

A spotted sandpiper.

A neotropic cormorant flies along.

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New Mexico dinosaurs, new study

This video is called Theropod cladogram.


Small Theropod Teeth from the Late Cretaceous of the San Juan Basin, Northwestern New Mexico and Their Implications for Understanding Latest Cretaceous Dinosaur Evolution

Thomas E. Williamson, Stephen L. Brusatte

Published: April 07, 2014


Studying the evolution and biogeographic distribution of dinosaurs during the latest Cretaceous is critical for better understanding the end-Cretaceous extinction event that killed off all non-avian dinosaurs. Western North America contains among the best records of Late Cretaceous terrestrial vertebrates in the world, but is biased against small-bodied dinosaurs.

Isolated teeth are the primary evidence for understanding the diversity and evolution of small-bodied theropod dinosaurs during the Late Cretaceous, but few such specimens have been well documented from outside of the northern Rockies, making it difficult to assess Late Cretaceous dinosaur diversity and biogeographic patterns.

We describe small theropod teeth from the San Juan Basin of northwestern New Mexico. These specimens were collected from strata spanning Santonian – Maastrichtian. We grouped isolated theropod teeth into several morphotypes, which we assigned to higher-level theropod clades based on possession of phylogenetic synapomorphies. We then used principal components analysis and discriminant function analyses to gauge whether the San Juan Basin teeth overlap with, or are quantitatively distinct from, similar tooth morphotypes from other geographic areas.

The San Juan Basin contains a diverse record of small theropods. Late Campanian assemblages differ from approximately co-eval assemblages of the northern Rockies in being less diverse with only rare representatives of troodontids and a Dromaeosaurus-like taxon. We also provide evidence that erect and recurved morphs of a Richardoestesia-like taxon represent a single heterodont species.

A late Maastrichtian assemblage is dominated by a distinct troodontid. The differences between northern and southern faunas based on isolated theropod teeth provide evidence for provinciality in the late Campanian and the late Maastrichtian of North America. However, there is no indication that major components of small-bodied theropod diversity were lost during the Maastrichtian in New Mexico. The same pattern [is] seen in northern faunas, which may provide evidence for an abrupt dinosaur extinction.

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Sungrebe, sunbittern in Costa Rica

Northern rough-winged swallow, 16 March 2014

This photo shows a northern rough-winged swallow. In summer, it nests in North America. We saw it wintering along the Sarapiqui river in Costa Rica.

16 March 2016. After the morning, the afternoon still near the Sarapiqui river in Costa Rica.

A collared aracari on a branch not far away.

Mangrove swallow, river, 16 March 2014

An hour later, we go aboard a boat on the river. Mangrove swallows fly around us. Sometimes, they sit still on fallen trees in or near the river.

Along the banks, a green kingfisher; and a buff-rumped warbler. And a Louisiana waterthrush.

A bit after the northern rough-winged swallow, a great kiskadee, drinking from the river water.

Amazon kingfisher female, 16 March 2016

Then, an Amazon kingfisher, swallowing a fairly big fish.

Green basilisk, river bank, 16 March 2014

A green basilisk.

Great egret, 16 March 2014

A great egret.

Then, the southern relative of the northern rough-winged swallow.

Sack-winged bats, 16 March 2014

Sack-winged bats.

Black vultures, 16 March 2014

Black vultures.

Chestnut-mandibled toucans, 16 March 2016

Chestnut-mandibled toucans; Costa Rica’s biggest toucan species.

A bare-throated tiger heron flying.

A spotted sandpiper on a bank.

Also on a bank: two green iguanas.

Then, a special mammal: a nine-banded armadillo on a sandy bank.

Soon after it, a special bird: a sunbittern.

A semiplumbeous hawk.

Sungrebe, 16 March 2014

Then, again, a really special bird: a sungrebe.

Anhinga, 16 March 2016

An anhinga on a tree which had fallen into the water.

A rufous motmot on a tree on a bank.

A snowy egret flying across the river.

A little blue heron in shallow water near the bank.

As the boat lands, red-lored parrots in a tree.

On top of another tree, a bat falcon.

In the evening, a red-eyed tree frog.

We would see more frogs, and birds, next day. So, stay tuned!

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