New Spanish migratory bird atlas


This 2014 video is called Rare birds in Spain.

From BirdLife:

Coming soon: An atlas of Spain’s migratory birds

By Juan Carlos del Moral, Mon, 31/08/2015 – 09:37

Bird conservation’s key pillars are knowledge of the area of distribution, abundance, trend and size of the populations of birds. In countries like Spain, which see a large number of migratory birds, knowledge of migration routes and resting sites is also necessary. SEO (BirdLife in Spain) has been working for decades with the collaboration of thousands of volunteers to collect data.

SEO’s Bird Monitoring Unit launched the Migra initiative in 2011 to describe the movements of each migratory bird species that breeds or winters in Spain over one or several years. This means tracking, among other things, which species undertake long trips, their migration routes, resting areas during the trip, and wintering areas. In the short term, SEO aims to use Migra data and results from previous studies to compile and publish an atlas of bird migration in Spain.

Migra’s new marking systems – which include satellite transmitters, GPS data loggers and geolocators – establish the location of the bird several times a day for several years, allowing us to know exactly how long they stay in their breeding and wintering areas, when they begin their migration, the route they follow, their speed and altitude, how climate change and weather conditions affect migration, and whether the birds use the same route each time.

The data is stored in the device and can be recovered by recapturing the bird carrying it, downloading over a small distance or receiving them through a satellite system via the Internet. While these devices have their drawbacks and problems of their own (difficulty in recapturing birds to extract data; necessity of the device to be small, very lightweight and aerodynamic; batteries only last a few years), they have yielded much critical information. Since 2011, Migra has tracked data from 332 birds (98 are still active) belonging to 24 species, totalling 634,460 recorded locations (at the time of publishing).

Migra also helps fill the gaps in avian information: There is more data available for certain highly endangered and rare species, very limited information for many medium or large birds and virtually non-existent records for most small Spanish birds. It is important to know the migratory behaviour of each species as soon as possible, because without that information, we will lose track of what existed before and we will not have the basic information available to understand the changes in their biology.

What has been confirmed in recent decades is that many species have changed their migratory behaviour annually. Some of them have shortened their movements and do not cross to Africa (an increasing number of White Storks, Black Storks and Booted Eagles spend the winter on the Mediterranean coast or in the lower course of River Guadalquivir). These changes are thought to be at least partially due to climate change, resulting in milder winters and more food in the breeding areas.

But Migra is not only useful for scientific research. It can also be used as a tool for people to understand the spectacular phenomenon of migration. To this end, SEO proposes to expand the Migra website from Spain to all of Europe, Asia and Africa, across BirdLife International partners. Spreading awareness about migration and the perils migratory birds face among people not familiar with the subject could be a huge conservation tool.

Supermoon lunar eclipse, September 27th, 2015


This video from the USA says about itself:

NASA | Supermoon Lunar Eclipse

31 August 2015

On September 27th, 2015 there will be a very rare event in the night sky – a supermoon lunar eclipse. Watch this animated feature to learn more.

Ed Mazza in the USA about this:

09/03/2015 04:10 AM EDT

It’s a supermoon and a lunar eclipse at the same time, and it’ll be visible in much of the world on the night of Sept. 27 in North and South America and the morning of Sept. 28 in Europe, Africa and parts of Central Asia (sorry, Asia-Pacific — most of you will miss out on this one).

Ancient Egyptian sculpture acquired by Dutch museum


Newly aquired sculpture from the age of Pharaoh Amenhotep III

Translated from the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, the Netherlands:

The Egyptian collection of the Museum of Antiquities has recently been supplemented by a series of objects from the former collection of HC Jelgersma (1897-1982), a psychiatrist who studied Egyptology in his spare time. The most striking object of this is a small statue from the time of Amenhotep III (1391-1353 BC), the father of the famous Pharaoh Akhenaten. It is a thirteen centimeters tall head of a statue that has stood in an Egyptian temple.

Figurine with features of Amenhotep III

The sculpture has the characteristic features of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, but the wig with vertical strands indicates that the head does not represent the pharaoh himself, but a god with the facial features of the monarch. Amenhotep III had hundreds of these idols made for many temples in the country.

Rise and fall of the sun cult

The statue is made of red quartzite, a type of stone that was popular in this period of Egyptian history. Probably the colour was associated with the rising sun. That suited the cult of the sun as almighty god, which was booming at this time and culminated during the reign of Akhenaten. On the forehead was originally the head of a cobra, a symbol of power, worn both by gods and kings.

September 2, 2015

First Danish cosmonaut in space


This video says about itself:

Historic 500th Soyuz rocket sets off from Baikonur

1 September 2015

The 500th Soyuz rocket has successfully lifted off from the Gagarin’s Start launchpad marking a historic milestone for Baikonur Cosmodrome. The spacecraft will deliver three new crew members to the International Space Station.

Russian and Kazakh cosmonauts (Sergey Volkov and Aidyn Aimbetov respectively), along with the first ever Danish astronaut (Andreas Mogensen) have entered history on board Soyuz TMA-18M. The 500th manned rocket launched from the same pad that Yuri Gagarin’s original Soyuz blasted off from on April 12, 1961.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

Soyuz slowly blasts off to space station

KAZAKHSTAN: A Russian, a Dane and a Kazakh blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome to the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday.

Andreas Mogensen became the first Dane in space, while Kazakh Aidyn Aimbetov got his chance to go into space when British singer Sarah Brightman pulled out.

The Soyuz spacecraft will take an unusually long two-day flightpath to the ISS due to safety concerns after the station had to adjust its orbit to avoid orbital debris.

New bird book from the USA, video


This video from the USA says about itself:

The Living Bird Book Trailer

20 August 2015

The Living Bird: 100 Years of Listening to Nature is a new hardcover book from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Oct. 15th, 2015 by Mountaineers Books). With over 200 images by award-winning photographer Gerrit Vyn and essays by Barbara Kingsolver, Jared Diamond, John W. Fitzpatrick, Lyanda Lynn Haupt, Scott Weidensaul, the book celebrates our joyful and complex relationship with birds. “The birds sang us back to life…” —Barbara Kingsolver, from the Foreword. In 2015 the Lab celebrates its 100th anniversary as one of the world’s most prestigious and educationally progressive birding organizations. Available wherever books are sold; pre-order here.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, in Ithaca, New York, is a world leader in the study, appreciation, and conservation of birds. The nonprofit organization includes a vibrant community of 200,000 citizen-science participants from all walks of life, and 5 million bird enthusiasts of all ages who connect with them online at www.allaboutbirds.org. Learn more at www.birds.cornell.edu.

Welsh cuckoo flies to Chad in Africa


This video from Britain says about itself:

BTO Cuckoo Tracking Project – the story so far

26 April 2013

A recap of the BTO Cuckoo Tracking project, covering some of the findings, highlights and what’s coming next.

Thank you to all our sponsors and supporters for making this important project possible.

Follow the progress of the Cuckoos and maybe sponsor one – http://www.bto.org/cuckoos.

From Wales Online:

His wings may be just 23cm long but he’s just flown 3,000 miles – this is ‘David’ the cuckoo from Ceredigion

17:08, 2 September 2015

Updated 17:16, 2 September 2015

By Liz Day

The British Trust for Ornithology is researching the migration of cuckoos. ‘David’ was tagged in Ceredigion and has just crossed the Sahara

His wings are just 23cm long and he has flown more than 3,000 miles in the last two months – meet “David” the cuckoo from Ceredigion.

David is blogging every step of his trip, with a little help from the British Trust for Ornithology, who are hoping his journey will help to shed light on population decline.

And since leaving Wales on July 10, David has flown thousands of miles passing through the likes of France and Italy to Bosnia and Montenegro and most recently crossing the Sahara.

‘We need to understand its cycle’

Chris Hewson, senior research ecologist, said: “We have lost more than half the number of cuckoos in the UK over the last 20 years.

“Clearly we need to understand all aspects of the cuckoo’s annual cycle before we can begin to suggest what might be driving the decline.”

In 2011, researchers launched a satellite tracking programme with the aim of discovering the causes of the decline. Five birds were fitted with satellite tags and monitored during their migration.

According to the trust, although cuckoos had been well studied during breeding season in the UK, little was known about the routes they take to Africa or where they spend the winter months.

‘We have learnt a lot of vital information’

Mr Hewson added: “If we can pinpoint areas of importance, then we can look at whether there are pressures which could explain the losses of the British cuckoo.

“We have learnt a lot of vital information which will help save our cuckoos but, there is still more to discover.”

According to the researchers, catching cuckoos is “not an easy task”, as they are known for their ability to escape from nets.

Male cuckoos like to sit in tall trees, so in order to catch them, the ringer has to persuade them to fly low.

They use large-mesh “mist nets”, made from fine nylon mesh, suspended between two bushes in a V-shape and play a recording of a female to lure them in.

Schoolchildren named birds

A model of a female cuckoo is also placed on a pole next to the net, attracting the males to mate.

When a bird is caught, a tag weighing 5g is attached to its body – about 4% of the body weight of an adult male.

The tags are solar-powered, transmitting for 10 hours and then going into sleep mode for 48 hours, to allow the solar panel to recharge the battery.

Most of the cuckoos tagged are adult males because they are larger and able to carry the tag more easily.

This year, 10 cuckoos are being tracked. The birds – Derek, Dudley, Coo, Charlie, Stanley, Larry, Peckham, Vigilamus and Disco Tony – were named by schools as part of a competition.

For more information, visit www.bto.org.

David’s journey

July 10 – David leaves Wales. He is the last of the tagged cuckoos to leave the UK. He flies 560 miles to the north of France.

July 24 – He leaves France and travels east to the Po Valley in Italy.

July 28 – David flies east to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

August 3 – His tag shows he has flown 130 miles to western Montenegro. He rests near Lovcen National Park.

August 26 – He flies south from Montenegro, covering 1,160 miles in three days.

August 29 – David crosses the Mediterranean Sea and reaches Libya.

September 1 – He crosses the Sahara Desert and reaches central Chad.