Poetry about wildlife, competition


This video says about itself:

Australian Birds The Best Documentary

29 May 2014

Great video about Australian birds

Australia has about 800 species of bird, ranging from the tiny 8 cm Weebill to the huge, flightless Emu. It has been suggested that up to 10% of bird species may go extinct by the year 2100 as a result of climate change.

Many species of Australian birds will immediately seem familiar to visitors from the northern hemisphere – Australian wrens look and act much like northern hemisphere wrens and Australian robins seem to be close relatives of the northern hemisphere robins, but in fact the majority of Australian passerines are descended from the ancestors of the crow family, and the close resemblance is misleading: the cause is not genetic relatedness but convergent evolution.

From BirdLife:

A Call to Verse

By Martin Fowlie, Fri, 23/01/2015 – 15:00

Calling all BirdLife poets! There is still time to enter 2014’s RSPB/Rialto Nature Poetry Competition. The deadline is GMT midnight on March 1: so you have six weeks to polish draft poems or versify anew.

Last year’s winner, Colin Hughes, drew his inspiration from watching Black Kites circling New Delhi, India: familiar sights across so many major cities in Asia and Africa.

Colin said that he stood at a window, ”watching several hundred of the city’s huge population of pariah kites gathering at sundown”, reflecting that it was a day in which ”the papers had reported that more than half the world’s population now lives in cities”. After Tokyo, with its staggering 38 million people, Delhi is the world’s second most densely populated metropolis and, with a forecast that 2050 will see two thirds of us living in cities, it seems highly likely that encounters with nature, the fuel of so much poetry, will be increasingly urban. Colin’s winning poem is reproduced in full below.

In 2013, locations and species that inspired poets to enter the competition ranged widely: from China to New Zealand, from Ireland to Peru; and from cats and rats to condors and eels, iguanas and juniper trees. All were grist to the mill of people’s verse, with many poets, as competition judge, Ruth Padel, reported, creating lines that were “breathtaking and beautiful but also painful because so many poems, underlined, rightly, what a precarious state nature is in”.

This year’s judge is the celebrated British poet, broadcaster and writer, Simon Armitage, author of more than twenty collections and co-editor, with Tim Dee, of the anthology, The Poetry of Birds. Simon’s own work draws deeply on nature and landscape; he has recently walked the Cornish coast, a follow up to his “troubadour trek” along the UK’s Pennine Way, paying his way by giving poetry readings en route. This journey was celebrated in his book, Walking Home.

Like Ruth (and 2012’s judge, Andrew Motion), Simon will, no doubt, have a great swathe of entries to consider this year, so please do join the fray! You might find your words being celebrated round the world, just like Colin’s poem.

Kites

Seems all the city’s sly guys pitched up at the park.
A couple of hundred pariahs, idly climbing spirals
Of dense dusk air, twisting their two-finger tails:
A devil crowd, loafing on thermals, presaging dark.
This is no free-flowing flock, no liquid shoal that wheels
As one in-unison wave: these are scavenger anti-souls
Forming vortices of slo-mo dervishes,
Each spiky silhouette in separate gyration.
Hell-born hoodlums, who thrive on all that perishes.
Some pack out the lifeless branches of a leafless grove:
They lift lapels to check the contents of their pockets,
Correcting brown-coat buttons with a flick of their beak-knives,
Or brush the Delhi dust from their death-black jackets;
Then one by one flap up to join the anarchist claque
That cracks the abnegate sky – that lumbering bomber stack
Of cut-outs, off on a night-raid, stark-hard flags unfurled.
They soar and scorn the din, pharp-parping to damnation,
The busy-ness below, the choke-locked inner ring,
The humans who learned today they’re more than half urban.
No: this couldn’t-care-less congregation would not lift a wing
If you told them tomorrow is doomsday, and they the last left alive.
Forewarned, they’d still flop off to run their lazy rackets,
Go poke through piles of plastic trash in derelict dives,
Then gather to shrug disdain at the end of the day, or world.

By Colin Hughes, 1st Prize winner, 2013

British secret police spying on journalists


This video says about itself:

Australia Looks To Jail Journalists, Approve Spying

27 September 2014

The Australian government is primed to give the nation’s spy agency unfettered access to citizens’ computer networks and potentially put journalists in jail thanks to drafted national security reform laws passed by the country’s Senate Thursday, The Sydney Morning News reported. Read more here.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

GCHQ captured emails of journalists from top international media

• Snowden files reveal emails of BBC, NY Times and more
• Agency includes investigative journalists on ‘threat’ list
• Editors call on Cameron to act against snooping on media

James Ball

Monday 19 January 2015 15.04 GMT

GCHQ’s bulk surveillance of electronic communications has scooped up emails to and from journalists working for some of the US and UK’s largest media organisations, analysis of documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals.

Emails from the BBC, Reuters, the Guardian, the New York Times, Le Monde, the Sun, NBC and the Washington Post were saved by GCHQ and shared on the agency’s intranet as part of a test exercise by the signals intelligence agency.

The disclosure comes as the British government faces intense pressure to protect the confidential communications of reporters, MPs and lawyers from snooping.

The journalists’ communications were among 70,000 emails harvested in the space of less than 10 minutes on one day in November 2008 by one of GCHQ’s numerous taps on the fibre-optic cables that make up the backbone of the internet.

The communications, which were sometimes simple mass-PR emails sent to dozens of journalists but also included correspondence between reporters and editors discussing stories, were retained by GCHQ and were available to all cleared staff on the agency intranet. There is nothing to indicate whether or not the journalists were intentionally targeted.

The mails appeared to have been captured and stored as the output of a then-new tool being used to strip irrelevant data out of the agency’s tapping process.

New evidence from other UK intelligence documents revealed by Snowden also shows that a GCHQ information security assessment listed “investigative journalists” as a threat in a hierarchy alongside terrorists or hackers.

Senior editors and lawyers in the UK have called for the urgent introduction of a freedom of expression law amid growing concern over safeguards proposed by ministers to meet concerns over the police use of surveillance powers linked to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (Ripa).

More than 100 editors, including those from all the national newspapers, have signed a letter, coordinated by the Society of Editors and Press Gazette, to the UK prime minister, David Cameron, protesting at snooping on journalists’ communications.

In the wake of terror attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices and a Jewish grocer in Paris, Cameron has renewed calls for further bulk-surveillance powers, such as those which netted these journalistic communications.

Ripa has been used to access journalists’ communications without a warrrant, with recent cases including police accessing the phone records of Tom Newton-Dunn, the Sun’s political editor, over the Plebgate investigation. The call records of Mail on Sunday reporters involved in the paper’s coverage of Chris Huhne’s speeding row were also accessed in this fashion.

Under Ripa, neither the police nor the security services need to seek the permission of a judge to investigate any UK national’s phone records – instead, they must obtain permission from an appointed staff member from the same organisation, not involved in their investigation.

However, there are some suggestions in the documents that the collection of billing data by GCHQ under Ripa goes wider – and that it may not be confined to specific target individuals.

A top secret document discussing Ripa initially explains the fact that billing records captured under Ripa are available to any government agency is “unclassified” provided that there is “no mention of bulk”.

The GCHQ document goes on to warn that the fact that billing records “kept under Ripa are not limited to warranted targets” must be kept as one of the agency’s most tightly guarded secrets, at a classification known as “Top secret strap 2”.

That is two levels higher than a normal top secret classification – as it refers to “HMG [Her Majesty’s government] relationships with industry that have areas of extreme sensitivity”.

Internal security advice shared among the intelligence agencies was often as preoccupied with the activities of journalists as with more conventional threats such as foreign intelligence, hackers or criminals.

One restricted document intended for those in army intelligence warned that “journalists and reporters representing all types of news media represent a potential threat to security”.

It continued: “Of specific concern are ‘investigative journalists’ who specialise in defence-related exposés either for profit or what they deem to be of the public interest.

“All classes of journalists and reporters may try either a formal approach or an informal approach, possibly with off-duty personnel, in their attempts to gain official information to which they are not entitled.”

It goes on to caution “such approaches pose a real threat”, and tells staff they must be “immediately reported” to the chain-of-command.

GCHQ information security assessments, meanwhile, routinely list journalists between “terrorism” and “hackers” as “influencing threat sources”, with one matrix scoring journalists as having a “capability” score of two out of five, and a “priority” of three out of five, scoring an overall “low” information security risk.

Terrorists, listed immediately above investigative journalists on the document, were given a much higher “capability” score of four out of five, but a lower “priority” of two. The matrix concluded terrorists were therefore a “moderate” information security risk.

London’s Metropolitan Police were accused yesterday of hiding the truth about spying on journalists. The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said that the Met had refused to reveal information about its use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) to spy on journalists at trade magazine Press Gazette: here.

UK admits unlawfully monitoring legally privileged communications. Intelligence agencies have been monitoring conversations between lawyers and their clients for past five years, government admits: here.

THE government is facing yet another court climbdown after admitting its policies allowing spooks to snoop on communications between lawyers and their clients were unlawful. Government lawyers admitted on Wednesday that safeguards to prevent the spying from taking place were inadequate and breached the European Convention on Human Rights rules: here.

BRITISH spooks were accused of acting like they are above the law yesterday after a fresh tranche of allegations about illegal mass surveillance. Reports yesterday accused government spy agency GCHQ and the US National Security Agency (NSA) of stealing confidential codes from a Dutch Sim card manufacturer that allow them to hack into mobile phones around the word: here.

USA: POLICE RADAR CAN SEE INSIDE HOMES: The radar devices, which have been deployed across the country for FBI and police units, sense any movement by humans inside homes. [USA Today]

Monitoring Mediterranean Lesser Crested Terns (Thalasseus bengalensis emigratus) in Libya


petrel41:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/NS8VqOs5f-Y?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent
This video from Australia says about itself:

Lesser Crested Tern (Sterna bengalensis)

Filmed at Manly Marina, SE Queensland, Sept 1996 using Canon EX1Hi8 & Sigma 400mm lens. With Pied Oystercatchers, Crested Terns, Caspian Terns and Silver Gulls.

I myself have fond memories of little terns over the harbour in Benghazi in Libya.

There should be more good news like this from Libya, instead of all the bad news of bloodshed for oil.

Originally posted on North African Birds:

RAC/SPA-UNEP/MAP, 2014. Monitoring Mediterranean Lesser Crested Terns Thalasseus bengalensis emigratus. By Baccetti N. and Zenatello M. (Ed.), RAC.SPA, Tunis. 26p + Appendices. PDF

Summary:

The Mediterranean Lesser Crested Terns, Thalasseus bengalensis emigratus, is a Mediterranean endemic seabird, potentially vulnerable to many sources of threat. In 2012, within the framework of the MedMPAnet Project, a study was conducted on this species in Libya, especially in Garah, a potential future MPA where the largest fraction of the seabird global population is concentrated.

Actions and methods are described to monitor the breeding population of the Mediterranean Lesser Crested Tern, which is currently confined to Libya. The aim is providing a tool which will allow a coherent and safe approach to a population of extremely high conservation value, which is potentially vulnerable to many sources of threat, not least monitoring itself.

Assessing changes in population size, distribution and breeding success is crucial…

View original 93 more words

Will triton snails save Australia’s Great Barrier Reef?


This video from Hawaii is about a triton snail at Lanai lookout in Oahu eating a crown of thorns starfish.

From Wildlife Extra:

Giant snail the solution to Barrier Reef’s Crown-of-thorns problem?

Beautiful as it may be, the Crown-of-thorns Starfish has had a devastating effect on parts of the Great Barrier Reef

Good news for Australia in the battle to save delicate coral organisms on the Great Barrier Reef from annihilation by the rapidly multiplying and invasive Crown-of-thorns Starfish.

Scientists have discovered that the scent of the Triton Sea Snail is repellent to the giant starfish.

The Crown-of-thorns has been responsible for 40 per cent of coral cover loss on the Great Barrier Reef in the past 30 years.

University of the Sunshine Coast senior lecturer Scott Cummins says they have learned that the Triton Snail is one of the starfish’s natural predators.

“We put [the snail] next to the Crown-of-thorns Starfish and they reacted quite obviously,” he says.

“They started to run away, which is quite an important finding because it tells us they do have very poor eyesight, so they are sensing or smelling their main predator.”

At the moment, in an effort to save the reefs, divers search for the starfish and administer a lethal injection which was developed by James Cook University, but this is very costly an labour intensive. This new discovery may provide the long-term answer to the problem.

“The snail is releasing a complex mixture of molecules,” explains Cummins. “We want to narrow it down to exactly what the molecule is then hopefully we can take that and put it into some slow release system on the reef.”

Australian Institute of Marine Science researcher Dr Mike Hall says the decline of the giant Triton Snail, prized for its beautiful shell, might have partially contributed to the population explosion in Crown-of-thorns Starfish that has had such a devastating effect.

The snail has been protected in Australia since the 1960s but it is still extremely rare on the Great Barrier Reef.

One should hope that triton snails will also help against another threat to the Great Barrier Reef: the disastrous environmental policies of Tony Abbott’s government in Australia.

Seven ways the Australian government in totally screwing up the environment: here.

DNA extracted from 40,000 year old giant kangaroos


This video is called When did Marsupial and Placental Mammals split?

From Wildlife Extra:

Scientists extract DNA from 40,000 year old giant kangaroos

The study of DNA reveals that the red kangaroo was a close relative of the extinct giant wallaby

A team of scientists led by Dr Bastien Llamas and Professor Alan Cooper from the University of Adelaide‘s Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) have succeeded in extracting DNA sequences from two extinct Australian species: a giant short-faced kangaroo (Simosthenurus occidentalis) and a giant wallaby (Protemnodon anak).

These specimens died around 45,000 years ago and their remains were discovered in a cold and dry cave in Tasmania.

Relatively good preservation conditions in the cave allowed enough short pieces of DNA to survive so researchers could reconstruct partial “mitochondrial genomes” ─ genetic material transmitted from mother to offspring and widely used to infer evolutionary relationships.

“The ancient DNA reveals that extinct giant wallabies are very close relatives of large living kangaroos, such as the red and western grey kangaroos,” says lead author Dr Bastien Llamas, ACAD senior research associate.

“Their skeletons had suggested they were quite primitive macropods, a group that includes kangaroos, wallabies, pademelons and quokkas, but now we can place giant wallaby much higher up the kangaroo family tree.”

The research has also confirmed that short-faced kangaroos are a highly distinct lineage of macropods, which had been predicted on their unusual anatomy.

Although the ancient DNA confirms that the short-faced kangaroos left no descendants, it also shows their closest living cousin could be the banded hare-wallaby (Lagostrophus fasciatus), which is now restricted to small isolated islands off the coast of Western Australia.

“Our results suggest the banded hare-wallaby is the last living representative of a previously diverse lineage of kangaroos,” says co-author Professor Mike Lee of the South Australian Museum and the University’s School of Biological Sciences.

“It will hopefully further encourage and justify conservation efforts for this endangered species.”