This video from the USA says about itself:
Early in the morning of April 20, 2015, a pair of Wood Ducks investigated the Texas Barn Owls‘ box. The female owl responded with a series of aggressive reactions that resulted in the ducks departing.
By Greg Palast in the USA:
Chelsea Manning and the Deepwater Horizon Killings
Chelsea Manning, the military whistleblower, [before the] 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig accident, leaked information that might have saved the 11 BP workers who died that spring in the Gulf of Mexico. While Manning tried to warn us, BP covered-up what they knew.
Published: April 20, 2015
Let me explain.
The BP drilling rig blew itself to Kingdom Come after the “mud” — the cement used to cap the well — blew out.
The oil company, the federal government and the industry were shocked — shocked! — at this supposedly unexpected explosion in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
But BP knew, and Exxon and Chevron knew, and the U.S. State Department knew, that just 17 months earlier another BP offshore rig had suffered an identical, disastrous blow-out halfway across the planet in the Caspian Sea.
In both the Gulf and Caspian blow-outs, the immediate culprit was the failure of the cement, in both cases caused by the use — misuse — of nitrogen in the cement mix, a money-saving but ultimately deadly measure intended to speed the cement’s drying.
The cover-up meant that U.S. regulators, the U.S. Congress and the public had no inkling that the cost-saving “quick-dry” cement process had failed on an offshore rig only a year before the Deepwater Horizon blew.
But Pvt. Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning tried to warn us. The details of the Caspian Sea blow-out off the coast of Baku, Azerbaijan, were revealed in the secret State Department cables Manning released in December 2010 through Wikileaks. Cables from the U.S. ambassador relayed a summary of confidential meetings in which BP’s top Azeri executive confided that their big Caspian offshore rig suffered a “blow-out” in September 2008 leading to the “largest such emergency evacuation in BP’s history” — its likely cause “a bad cement job.”
The message was relayed to Washington after BP’s American partners in the Caspian, Exxon and Chevron, asked the State Department to find out why BP had ceased to drill in the Caspian, costing them all millions. State, then headed by former Chevron board member Condoleezza Rice, got the oil chiefs their answer – then joined them in keeping it secret.
[Not knowing about the Manning cables, I had to find out about the Caspian blow-out the hard way. Just days after the Deepwater Horizon blow-out, I received a tip from an eyewitness to the Caspian disaster. To check out the facts, I flew to Baku, where my British TV crew and I found ourselves placed under arrest by a team of goons from the Azerbaijan secret police, the military and some of BP’s oil-well-insignia-sporting private security clowns. As a reporter for British Television, I was quickly released — with the film of the bust captured on my little pen camera. But, terribly, two of my rig-worker witnesses disappeared.]
Had BP or the State Department ‘fessed up to the prior blow-out — a disclosure required by U.S. and British regulations — it is exceptionally unlikely that BP would have been allowed to use the quick-dry cement method in the deep Gulf of Mexico.
Indeed, there may have been a complete prohibition on the drilling, because Department of Interior experts had opposed deep drilling in that part of the Gulf. To lobby the government to allow drilling there, just six months before the Deepwater Horizon blew, BP executive David Rainey and the presidents of Exxon USA and Chevron testified before Congress that offshore drilling had been conducted for 50 years “in a manner both safe and protective of the environment.”
It is hard to imagine the oil companies defeating the Interior experts had the executives admitted to the major blow-out in the Caspian Sea.
Ultimately, Rainey was indicted for the crime of making false statements to Congress on a lesser matter. However, indicting the executives for concealing the earlier blow-out was not possible because our own State Department participated in the cover-up.
And that’s what Manning exposed — though not quickly enough to save those 11 lives.
Pvt. Manning may not have known about the specific memo of the secret meeting of State and BP. It was one in an ocean of cables she released.
But Manning knew this: The truth can save lives. Or, as Manning was brought up to believe: The truth shall set us free.
And if truth sets us free, then official secrets enslave us.
Years ago, Daniel Ellsberg told me that he was surprised when Judge Stanley Sporkin dismissed all charges against him although Ellsberg had revealed top-secret military intelligence, the Pentagon Papers. The judge noted that the U.S. was unique among nations in having no “official secrets act,” no law against telling the truth to the public.
No more. The brutal 35-year prison sentence for Manning on espionage charges and the continuing manhunt for Edward Snowden makes it clear that the Obama administration considers truth-telling a crime.
As I see it, the State Department officials who withheld BP’s blow-out secret are as culpable as the oil company in the deaths of those 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon. You can say that the men who died on the rig were victims of the corporate-government enslavement of information, martyrs to official secrecy.
From Wildlife Extra:
The lizard has been named Cnemaspis adii after Aditya Srinivasulu, a young herpetology researcher from Hyderabad who was involved in the discovery.
Zoologists have identified the area around Hampi as having great potential for a rich biodiversity and more new species of smaller vertebrate and invertebrates.
“The discovery is significant because other species of day geckos have been, so far, reported only from the Western Ghats and southern Eastern Ghats in peninsular India,” says lead author Dr Chelmala Srinivasulu.
“This is the first time that day geckos have been found in the central regions of peninsular India between Eastern and Western Ghats.”
Dr Srinivasulu, along with G Chethan Kumar and Bhargavi Srinivasulu, all from the zoology wing of Osmania University in Hyderabad, published their findings in the journal Zootaxa.
This new day gecko species was first discovered by Dr Bhargavi Srinivasulu in 2012 while doing research on bats in the Hampi complex.
This latest team of zoologists studied photographs of live animals and researched on known species of day geckos reported from other parts of India. It is this work that has led to the current confirmation of the new species.
This video from the USA says about itself:
96 Elephants: Take A Stand PSA featuring Billy Joel
16 April 2015
Africa’s elephants have just gotten a powerful new supporter –music legend, Billy Joel. Joel’s voice is heard in a series of new ads supporting the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) 96 Elephants campaign – so named for the number of elephants slaughtered each day by poachers.
With the backdrop of computer-animated elephants coming to life from shards of ivory, Joel’s voiceover warns: “We can’t turn back time, but we can reverse this trend. Don’t be the generation that allowed elephants to go extinct.”
The “Take a Stand for Elephants,” campaign was conceived and developed for 96 Elephants by pro bono partner, Steve Harper, founder of ThisisBonaFide.com.
From Wildlife Extra:
Pop star and pianist Billy Joel sings out for elephants
Singer/songwriter Billy Joel has lent his voice to a series of new ads supporting the Wildlife Conservation Society’s 96 Elephants campaign.
In the ads, computer-animated elephants come to life from shards of ivory and Joel’s voiceover warns: “We can’t turn back time, but we can reverse this trend. Don’t be the generation that allowed elephants to go extinct.”
The six-time Grammy Award winner, who has written 33 Top 40 hits in the US since his first hit, Piano Man, in 1973 has sold more than 150 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling musicians in history.
Last year, he published an impassioned letter on his website in defense of elephants, saying, “I am a piano player. And I realise that ivory piano keys are preferred by some pianists – but a preference for ivory keys does not justify the slaughter of 96 elephants every day.
“There are other materials which can be substituted for piano keys. But magnificent creatures like these can never be replaced.
“Music must never be used as an excuse to destroy an endangered species. Music should be a celebration of life – not an instrument of death.”
Elephants are increasingly in danger. At a conservation summit in Botswana in March, the IUCN reported that the African elephant population had dropped from 550,000 in 2006 to 470,000 in 2013.
East Africa has seen the steepest decline, from 150,000 to about 100,000.
In September 2013, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) launched its 96 Elephants campaign to amplify and support the Clinton Global Initiative “Partnership to Save Africa’s Elephants” by stopping the killing, the trafficking, and the demand.
The 96 Elephants campaign focuses on securing effective moratoria on sales of ivory; bolstering elephant protection; and educating the public about the link between ivory consumption and the elephant poaching crisis.
The “Take a Stand for Elephants,” campaign was conceived and developed for 96 Elephants by pro bono partner, Steve Harper, an independent creative director, designer and animator based in New York and founder of ThisisBonaFide.com.
The campaign will appear across television, radio, print, digital, and out-of-home channels and media.
This video says about itself:
Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius)
There were 5 birds together at Anarita Park, Cyprus, on 18th March 2015. Filmed with a Canon PowerShot SX50 HS hand held.
For information about the status and distribution of this species, see the following link.
From Wildlife Extra:
Carrion Crows in Spain thrive when they have a cuckoo in the nest
Carrion Crow chicks derive benefits from having to share their nest, researchers have found
A study in Spain has uncovered an interesting relationship between Carrion Crows and Great Spotted Cuckoos, reports Springer’s journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.
When the cuckoos lay up to three eggs in the nests of the larger crows, the chicks of both species are often raised together successfully, with the young crows ultimately growing bigger than the cuckoos.
So it’s not so bad for crow chicks as it can be for other species of birds who find their nests taken over by a cuckoo youngster.
When Great Spotted Cuckoos parasitise and take over Magpie nests, they do not evict the host’s young from the nest. They do, however, succeed in out-competing the magpie chicks for food, which often leads to the latter’s death.
Carrion Crow chicks, by contrast, sit back and wait for food to arrive while the cuckoo chick does all the begging, discovered Diana Bolopo of the University of Valladolid in Spain, who led a study into the pros and cons associated with this particular parasitic relationship.
Bolopo’s team filmed seven parasitised crow nests and six uninvaded ones in Northern Spain from the 2004 to the 2007 breeding seasons.
They observed how intensely the various chicks begged for food, and how adult Carrion Crows responded to these hunger cries when deciding which chick to feed first.
The sampled parasitised nests contained between one to five crow chicks, as well as one cuckoo chick.
The observations revealed that the cuckoo chicks raised alongside the crow chicks were not able to monopolise the food being brought to the nest.
It appears that crow caregivers prefer to feed crow nestlings rather than cuckoo nestlings.
The fact that cuckoo chicks begged more intensely than crow chicks balanced matters out so that the young ones of each species ultimately received an equal amount of food.
“Despite a higher begging intensity, Great Spotted Cuckoos do not out-compete bigger Carrion Crow nestlings,” says Bolopo.
She speculates that the cuckoo’s begging strategies are part of how it has evolved and adapted to a parasitic life in which it has to compete with either similar or larger-sized nest mates.
“It might actually be advantageous to crow chicks to share the nest with a cuckoo, because the crow chicks do not have to waste so much energy on begging intensely for food on their own.”
This is a seaside sparrow video from the USA.
From National Geographic in the USA:
Deep Impact—The Gulf Spill’s Legacy
Is Gulf Oil Spill‘s Damage Over or Still Unfolding?
Scientists tracking Gulf sparrows, insects, and seabirds try to unravel the mysteries of a landscape changed by oil.
By Craig Welch, National Geographic
PUBLISHED April 14, 2015
Editor’s Note: This is the first of four stories marking the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Read our other story: How Oil Spills Can Literally Break Fish Hearts.
Every spring, scientists tromp through Louisiana‘s mud and waist-high grass, hunting for the hidden nests of a palm-size bird called the seaside sparrow. Their goal: to see whether the massive oil spill from a broken Gulf of Mexico rig known as Deepwater Horizon has hurt creatures that don’t actually inhabit the water.
Five years after the worst oil spill in U.S. history, early reports from this and other research suggest that the ecological damage lingered in unexpected ways. But scientists say cataloging what that means for the Gulf’s future grows more complex with time.
Amid the rushes and cordgrass of the Gulf’s fragile salt marshes, for example, scientists say they made a surprising discovery: Two years after the spill, in meadows once tarnished by soupy petroleum, flies, crickets, spiders, and the seaside sparrows that eat them were less abundant than in areas untouched by the oil.
“There’s very little question that our oiled plots had greatly reduced sparrow densities,” says Stefan Woltmann, an assistant professor of biology with Austin Peay State University in Tennessee. “Nest success was miserable out there.”
Many of these marsh creatures never came in contact with spilled crude, so the connections between the oil spill and their fate are poorly understood. Some scientists suspect that insects important to wildlife were snuffed out by oily residue that released toxic fumes.
Special Report: Five Years After the BP Oil Spill. Wildlife still suffering in the Gulf of Mexico: here.
This video is about young northern lapwings at their nest in the Netherlands.
From daily The Independent in Britain:
Lapwings: Threatened bird species takes sanctuary in a Northern Ireland prison
Prisoners serving life sentences helped create the habitat for breeding lapwings
Monday 20 April 2015
One of the world’s most threatened birds has found a sanctuary within a prison that houses Northern Ireland’s most dangerous inmates.
Prisoners serving life sentences helped create the habitat for around 20 pairs of breeding lapwings. The birds have made their home on a marshy no-man’s-land at HMP Maghaberry, dominated by razor wire and lookouts behind reinforced glass.
Swampy, short grass and the lack of predators such as foxes have created the ideal conditions for breeding chicks, said retired prison guard and gardener Denis Smyth.
“We have to work together as a team, the prisoners and myself. We have a very good relationship with them; there is never a problem,” he said.
Lapwings, which are about the size of pigeons, have suffered a population decline of 50 per cent during the last 25 years as changes in farmland have impacted on habitats.