Celebrate International Bat Night in English church, 28 August


This 29 September video from the USA says about itself:

Bats: Guardians of the Night

Visit Bat Conservation International to learn more about these amazing species and what we can do to protect them.

From Wildlife Extra:

Unique opportunity to celebrate International Bat Night

On Friday 28 August, to mark International Bat Night, The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) is offering wildlife enthusiasts, their families and friends the opportunity to stay overnight in a 13th century church inhabited by a colony of Natterer’s bats.

Guests are invited to sleep in the aisle of the church and sample “champing” (church camping) whilst learning more about the mysterious creatures overhead from bat experts on site.

The event will take place at The Church of St John the Baptist in Parson’s Drove, Cambridgeshire, a stunning Grade II* church which has been in The CCT’s care since 1974 and which is a long-time favourite of both bats and architecture enthusiasts.

An expert bat-handler will lead the evening with a presentation about the fascinating animals and everyone will have a chance to try out the bat detectors.

After sunset, the bats will appear from under the church roof and guests can help The CCT count them as they emerge for their night’s feeding.

The unique break was inspired by The CCT’s hugely successful champing holiday breaks, which give people the chance to stay overnight in some of the UK’s most beautiful churches.

Camp beds will be provided in the aisles of the church so guests can get some rest before rising at 4.30am to enjoy the spectacle of the bats swarming back to the church. A hearty breakfast will be provided at 8.30am.

The bat survey will be crucial in helping ecologists on site understand more about these mysterious creatures. For more information about the event please visit The CCT website here.

This event is suitable for children over eight. Families with younger children are welcome to join in without champing at the evening-only event. Tea, coffee and squash included in the ticket price and all children will receive a free bat toy!

Bat Champing Packages cost from £45 (£25 for under 16s) including breakfast, bat talks, bat detectors and bed in an aisle of a stunning 13th century church

Bat Watching Evening tickets are available for £5 (£2 for children)

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.

Cougars of Wyoming, USA on the Internet


This video is called Mountain lion (Felis concolor).

From Wildlife Extra:

Wild American cougars to become internet stars

Panthera, a wild cat conservation organisation, has launched The Cougar Channel – an interactive website that is uncovering the secret lives of the ‘American lion’ by sharing never-before-seen footage and photographs with the world.

The cougar channel provides an intimate glimpse into the day-to-day encounters, threats and behaviours of the individual cougars monitored through Panthera’s Teton Cougar Project in northwestern Wyoming. Placing cameras in natal dens and on cougar kills, Panthera’s scientists have captured footage of kittens playing and nursing; cougar families feeding, grooming and curiously inspecting Panthera’s cameras; and Panthera’s scientists tracking and collaring cougars to reveal how to better protect the species.

Science Director for Panthera’s Puma and Jaguar Programs, Dr. Mark Elbroch, said: “Our goal is to provide a fascinating and engaging digital experience that will help demystify this elusive and often misunderstood big cat and spark interest in preserving the species.

Cougars play a critical role in the landscapes they occupy, so we are thrilled to give these wild cats the spotlight they deserve. Finally, people can see the natural behaviors and challenges cougars face…and the conservation efforts that are crucial to ensuring their survival.”

Often referred to as mountain lions, panthers, or pumas, cougars have the largest geographic range of any terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere, from Alaska to the southern tip of Chile, yet little is known about the species. Today, the cougar is often mischaracterized as a vicious, solitary predator, leading to persecution across its range.

Dr. Howard Quigley, Director of Panthera’s Puma Program and Executive Director of Panthera’s Jaguar Program, shared, “The GPS collars, remote cameras and other research methods we are utilizing aren’t just helping us collect this fascinating footage – they enable us to track cougar movements, identify dens and monitor kittens from an early age. These data are expanding our scientific understanding of the species’ ecology, and ultimately allowing our scientists to better preserve the future of the wild cougar.”

Mysterious whale beached in Massachusetts, USA


This 26 July 2015 video is called Sowerby’s beaked whale: Reclusive deep-water whale washes up on US beach.

From CNN in the USA:

Beached beaked whale has marine biologists scratching their heads

By Lorenzo Ferrigno and Pilar Melendez, CNN

Updated 2154 GMT (0454 HKT) July 26, 2015

The carcass of a deep-sea beaked whale found washed up on a Plymouth, Massachusetts, beach is so rare that it has marine experts confounded: What is its exact species, and how did it get to shore?

The 17-foot toothed female whale, which weighs nearly 1 ton and has dark purplish skin with a long slender snout, was found washed up on a stone jetty.

It is believed to be a Sowerby’s beaked whale, but its type is so rarely seen that New England Aquarium biologists “have been conferring to determine the exact species,” aquarium officials said in a statement released Saturday.

“The beaked whale carcass is fairly fresh and in good condition,” the statement said. “At first inspection, the long, streamlined whale did not have any obvious entanglement gear or scars or obvious trauma from a vessel strike.”

The deep diving Sowerby’s whales are usually found on the continental shelf, hundreds of miles out to sea, the statement said.

Marine biologists with the New England Aquarium performed an animal autopsy Saturday at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and are investigating what caused the whale to wash ashore, according to the statement.

An employee with Plymouth Marine and Environmental Affairs staff called in the whale at 10 a.m. Friday, Plymouth harbormaster Chad Hunter told CNN.

“The best way to describe it, it looked like a dolphin,” Hunter said. “But much bigger.”

Plymouth natural resource officers anchored it to avoid it washing out, he said. Because of the whale’s enormity, the staff had to wait until high tide, around 5 p.m. Friday evening, to remove the carcass from the rocks.

The whale was then towed it to the pier and lifted it by crane onto an aquarium trailer, Hunter said.

“Deep diving whales you generally don’t see near the coast, so it is very unique for it to wash up on the beach,” Hunter said. “We have had a number of whales and dolphins end up on shore over the years, but never this species to my knowledge.”

New England Aquarium staff last handled a beaked whale in 2006 in Duxbury, Massachusetts.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution could not be reached for comment or necropsy results.