Deer, wild boar lives saved by new measures


This video from Belarus is called Red Deer. Roar. Fight.

Translated from conservation organisation Natuurmonumenten in the Netherlands:

Friday, June 12th, 2015

Along roads where the roadsides have been made wide and open, fewer collisions with wild animals will happen. These are the first encouraging results of measures taken by Natuurmonumenten.

Along two roads running through forests where many wild animals live, Natuurmonumenten made the roadsides more open last year. They are the Peeskesweg in the Bergherbos and the Sandbergweg in the Leuvenumse bossen (Veluwe region). Their verges are managed by Natuurmonumenten. Motorists now have a better view and will see game earlier, so they will be less surprised when the animals come out of the woods. Conversely, it is expected that the animals are now more alert because when they leave the forest they come first into an open space.

Fewer collisions

Along the Peeskesweg between 2010 and 2014 16 roe deer were hit (no red deer and wild boar live there). Along the Sandbergweg during the last three years, 13 wild boar, 12 roe deer and 11 red deer were hit. Since the measures, there have been two boar and one roe deer fatalities. If the number of wildlife collisions will remain low, then Natuurmonumenten will encourage road authorities, such as municipalities and provinces, to wherever possible, take the same measures.

Slovakian birds, news update


This is a marsh harrier video from Belarus.

From Tomas Novak in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Twitter today:

Best sightings from yesterday: c50 White Stork, Black Stork, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Common Quail, Turtle Dove, Bee-eater, Black Woodpecker.

British children asked to imitate bitterns


Chris Packham asks children to imitate bitterns

After the red deer sound imitation contests … and the Tyrannosaurus rex sound imitation contest for children … now BBC wildlife TV presenter Chris Packham asks children up to yen years old on Twitter to imitate bittern sound for BBC TV program Springwatch.

This is a video about a bittern, February – March 2014, Belarus.

Good Dutch kingfisher news


This is a video from Belarus about a kingfisher eating a frog.

Translated from the Dutch SOVON ornithologists:

Friday, April 10th, 2015

In 2014 the little kingfisher made a giant leap forward. Estimated at around 370 pairs in 2013, the numbers shot up. The first estimate for 2014 on the basis of breeding bird censuses for Sovon amounts to roughly 700 pairs. Thanks to the two recent mild winters, you are more and more likely to see a blue flash speeding along. 2015 may very probably become a record year again.

Good grey heron and moorhen news


This is a grey heron video from Belarus.

On 17 January 2014, all over the Netherlands, water birds were counted. By now, about 80% of the results are in the computer database. That means about 4.5 million birds. Some important areas, like the Scheldt delta in Zeeland province, IJsselmeer lake and Lauwersmeer, are still missing; so, figures are provisional.

About 30% more great egrets were counted compared to 1914. Grey herons rose 50%, as there are plenty of rodents.

There are 57% more moorhens than last year, after years when things did not go well for this species.

So far, great crested grebe numbers are 21% up compared to 2014.

English migratory birds news


This video is about snow buntings in Belarus, on 22 February 2013. Most birds are in winter plumage, but some are already in summer plumage.

Today, Tom Cadwallender reports on Twitter from Boulmer, Northumberland in England that thirty snow buntings are present there.

Also, small groups of migrating little auks are passing there.

Good British bittern news


This is a bittern video from Belarus.

From the RSPB in Britain:

Booming bird bounces back

Last modified: 15 December 2014

Bitterns, elusive heron-like birds once extinct in the UK, have had a record year in England with the highest number of individuals recorded since the 1800s, thanks to support from an EU conservation programme. Government figures recently showed many threatened species are still declining, but this story demonstrates that it is possible to bring back species from the brink.

Funding from the European Union’s LIFE-Nature programme, which supports environmental and nature conservation projects, has allowed a partnership of organisations including the RSPB to successfully create and restore wetland habitats for bitterns and other wildlife.

… The main ‘special conservation measure’ available is designation and appropriate management of the key breeding and wintering sites as Special Protection Areas (SPAs). For example, the North Norfolk coast is part of a network of bittern SPAs in the UK, five for breeding birds and ten for wintering birds. SPA status means that a site has robust protection from potentially damaging land-use change.

Male bitterns have a unique way of declaring their territories, pumping air through their throats to produce a loud “booming” sound. This reverberates across the marshland for several miles, earning the bittern old country nicknames like “miredrum”. The shy, well-camouflaged birds are extremely difficult to find so bittern numbers are calculated by the numbers of booming males heard among the reeds. Each year an army of volunteers, landowners and nature reserve staff spends many hours tracking down the birds while they are booming. In 1997, at the start of the EU LIFE bittern project, they found 11 booming males at seven sites. In 2014, there were 140 “boomers” across 61 sites. 14 of these sites are current or former gravel pits, brick pits or open coal mines, demonstrating the important role restored quarries and similar sites can play in securing the long term future of bitterns and other wildlife.

RSPB Minsmere was the stronghold for this bird for many years. But with the effects of climate change such as loss of freshwater coastal wetlands in mind, conservationists realised that it would be better if a number of suitable habitats were available in areas that were safe from sea level rise, and spread across the country, to ensure the bittern’s future. A second set of funding from EU LIFE-Nature from 2002 to 2006 allowed the RSPB and others to create more than 300 hectares of new reedbed, around the same size area as the City of London. In addition, 350 hectares of reedbed were restored, and nearly 40 km of ditches were restored or created across 19 sites. Now if a particular bittern population is struggling, there will always be birds from other locations to boost their numbers. This year, the highest number of bitterns were at RSPB Ham Wall, inland marsh habitat in Somerset, where 20 birds were booming from the reeds. Somerset now has England’s largest bittern population.

Further good news is that action for bitterns has also benefited other reedbed species such as water voles, great white egrets and rare small dotted footman moths. Functioning reedbeds also provide free services for people, including water filtration and flood mitigation.

RSPB scientist Simon Wotton said: “I’ve been working with bitterns for 10 years and it is wonderful to see how they have responded to the habitats we have restored for them. They’re amazing birds to watch so it is incredibly rewarding to see their numbers growing.”

Across the country many conservation groups and private landowners have worked together to bring bitterns back. For example, the National Trust at Wicken Fen, Natural England at Shapwick Heath, and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust at Potteric Carr. Other partners include Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Suffolk Wildlife Trust, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, Sussex Wildlife Trust, Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Somerset Wildlife Trust.

Simon Clarke, Somerset National Nature Reserves Manager at Natural England said: ‘The Avalon Marshes in Somerset, including Natural England’s Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve, now supports a thriving population with around 45 booming male bitterns and at least 20 recorded nests, whereas only seven years ago there were none. This impressive network of reedbeds and marshes has also supported breeding little bitterns and great white egrets in recent years, showing just what can be achieved through large scale habitat restoration in a short space of time.”

Building materials company Hanson and RSPB work together to create a large wetland reserve a few kilometers from bustling Cambridge. A heaven for bitterns and other rare wildlife is shaping up amidst intensive farmland, thanks to creative restoration work following extraction of gravel: here.