Really white, leucistic, wagtail video

This 24 August 2018 video from the Netherlands shows a white wagtail with leucism.

This 9 April 2011 video shows how a ‘normal’ white wagtail looks.

The video says about itself:

White Wagtail – Motacilla alba (alba)

The race that breeds in continental Europe and is mainly only a passage migrant in the UK, where the subspecies “yarelli”, “Pied Wagtail” is the resident breeder. This bird filmed at Paphos Sewage Works, Cyprus, on March 31st 2011.

Bird guide for young people of Cyprus

This video is called Birding Cyprus (April 2016).

From BirdLife:

9 Jan 2018

Cyprus presents a bird guide for young explorers

By Elena Markitani

BirdLife Cyprus’s latest publication ‘What’s that bird?’ is a bird guide for young explorers. Elena Markitani explains why it’s especially important in Cyprus to introduce children to the wonders of the natural world while they are young.

Every great naturalist or ornithologist was a child once. But what first opened that child’s eyes to the wonders of nature? Was it a loving parent or an inspiring teacher? Did they experience some perfect ‘lightbulb’ moment – ‘WOW! Look at that bird, the fast one diving through the sky…it’s amazing!’

This was our thinking at BirdLife Cyprus when we first embarked on the daunting task of publishing a bird guide for children. All the usual design frustrations and printing dilemmas were just the tip of the iceberg – the real challenge was being able to re-imagine things that we know so well from a child’s point of view. But how else could we hope to reach our target audience?

The resulting book – ‘What’s that bird? A bird guide for young explorers’ – is just one of the many actions BirdLife Cyprus has been taking to inspire younger generations about the natural world around them. And it’s one that I am particularly proud of – within its beautifully illustrated pages, sixty-three amazing birds of Cyprus (and their habitats) are waiting to be discovered, explored and treasured!

We launched the guidebook in very appropriate surroundings – on a sunny morning at Athalassa Park (just on the outskirts of capital Nicosia) with families joining us for birdwatching and a ringing demonstration. Memories of writers’ block and looming deadlines evaporated into thin air the moment we saw all the children’s faces light up with excitement and curiosity as they picked up the book.

It was magical watching the kids eagerly flip through the pages and seeing their imaginations take flight with their new feathered friends. To see them raise their little hands to correctly shout out ‘Blackcap’ when asked ‘what bird am I holding?’ and then shout out ‘YES!’ in unison when asked ‘shall we release it back into to nature?’ We’ve also gotten fantastic feedback from parents and teachers who are happy to find themselves in the company of some very enthusiastic young “ornithologists”! One parent told us that her five-year-old son, who can’t yet read, has spent hours showing her all the pictures one-by-one. Another parent has found themselves having to learn about Coots just to keep up with their child’s questions.

Moments like this give us real hope here at BirdLife Cyprus – and more often than not, we find that we need it. This beautiful island we call home is also home to 95 regularly occurring breeding species, including important populations of Masked Shrike, Chukar and Black Francolin. But there is trouble in paradise: illegal killing and trapping of birds is wildly out of control. Every year, around two million birds are illegally killed here. This illegal, non-selective and cruel practice has become so ingrained into our culture that shaking it off seems almost impossible. The fantastic response we’ve had to this very special bird guide reminds us to focus on the ‘almost’. After all, today’s young explorers will build tomorrow’s new traditions!

‘What’s that bird? A bird guide for young explorers’ was possible thanks to the support of Oak Foundation. The bird illustrations were done by wildlife artist Paschalis Dougalis whom we thank for his wonderful work.

Elena Markitani – Development Officer, BirdLife Cyprus

Baillon’s crakes, new research

This video says about itself:

Baillon’s Crake (Porzana pusilla)

24 March 2015

♂ Zakaki pool, Cyprus, 23rd March 2015. (Also referred to as Zapornia pusilla)

For more information about the status and distribution of this species see the following link.

For information about birding in Cyprus see the following link.

From the Journal of Avian Biology:

Complex migration and breeding strategies in an elusive bird species illuminated by genetic and isotopic markers


Unlike the annual bi-directional movements of over 200 bird species within the Palaearctic–Afrotropical region, irregular movements such as irruptive migration with a low degree of philopatry are reported for a variety of species depending on highly seasonal and unpredictable resources. These flexible movements allow for itinerant breeding – consecutive breeding attempts in two or more geographically different regions during the same annual reproductive cycle.

In order to illuminate migratory and breeding strategies of the erratic wetland species Baillon’s crake Zapornia pusilla across the W-Palaearctic–Afrotropical region, we used a set of six DNA microsatellites as well as δ2Hf values of individuals sampled at one African and four European breeding sites. We investigated the degree of genetic population structure within and among different sites and assigned individuals’ feathers of unknown origin to their probable moulting (hence breeding) site using a likelihood approach.

We found three genetic clusters, differentiating into one ‘European’ and two ‘African’ populations. Connectivity between the sampling sites was probable as genetic ‘African’ individuals were found in breeding conditions in Europe and vice versa. Likewise, assigned moulting locations based on δ2H isoscapes suggested trans-continental movements as well as moulting and possibly breeding by the same individual both in African and European breeding grounds.

Both isotopic and genetic data reveal the Baillon’s crake pursue a complex migration and breeding strategy, allowing as well for irruptive movements and itinerant breeding across the W-Palaearctic–Afrotropical region. However, a better knowledge about the species’ distribution as well as a more comprehensive data set, including samples from the southern and eastern boundaries of the distribution area would be necessary to improve the spatial resolution to the precision required to unambiguously infer migration directions and extent of exchange between African and European breeding grounds

I have been privileged to see a nesting couple and their youngsters of this rare species.

Stop bird poaching in the Mediterranean

Stop bird poaching in the Mediterranean

From BirdLife:

Illegal Killing of Birds in the Mediterranean

The BirdLife Partnership presents ”The Killing”, a review based on the first ever comprehensive scientific study to quantify the scale and scope of illegal killing across the Mediterranean region.

The results are gruesome. Despite legal protection, illegal bird killing is taking place at quite extraordinary and unsustainable levels. While many turn a blind eye, an estimated 25 million birds are being illegally massacred annually.

In some countries such as Cyprus, Syria and Egypt, more than two million birds are illegally shot, glued or trapped each year.

The report identifies three individual locations – the Famagusta area in Cyprus, the Menbej-Tishreen Dam area in Syria and the El Manzala area in Egypt – where, staggeringly, more than half a million birds are being illegally slaughtered each year.

Populations of 40 different migratory songbird species that were once abundant in Europe are declining and some are now in free-fall. Many have already disappeared from much of their former range.

European Turtle-dove (Streptopelia turtur) has declined by 30% throughout Europe since the start of the millennium and in some countries by as much as 90% in the same period. Yet more than one million are still illegally killed each year.

Our birds deserve safer flyways. To tackle these threats, our conservation efforts need to be scaled up at the worst locations we have identified, coupled with effective and well-coordinated local, regional and national advocacy.

We invite you to share the information in this review so we can all prevent the future of these birds ending in nets, glued to branches or illegally shot for fun.

The BirdLife Partnership is committed to making the Mediterranean a safer place for birds, biodiversity and people. Join the cause!

NatureWatch, new app launched

This video says about itself:

23 March 2015

NatureWatch is a new iPhone application from BirdLife International which allows you to plan your wildlife adventures, share your experiences, and help conserve some of the best sites for wildlife in the world.

NatureWatch is available in the App Store and covers 533 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas in Australia, Cyprus, Fiji, Lebanon, Malaysia and South Africa.

From BirdLife:

NatureWatch App Launched! Watch nature, share moments, conserve sites

By Nick Askew, Mon, 11/05/2015 – 12:10

NatureWatch is a new iPhone App from BirdLife International which allows you to plan your wildlife adventures, share your experiences, and help conserve some of the best sites for wildlife in the world.

“Covering 533 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas in Australia, Cyprus, Fiji, Lebanon, Malaysia and South Africa, NatureWatch gives people who care about these sites a global voice”, said Patricia Zurita – BirdLife’s Chief Executive.

By downloading NatureWatch from the App Store, you can easily find all the information you need to enjoy your next adventure through accessing the latest maps, information sheets and sightings from each site.

The new App also allows you to share your magical moments with nature as they happen with your family, friends, colleagues and other NatureWatch users.

NatureWatch users can view lists of key bird species at each site, share their latest sightings and report any threats to the sites in real time.

“With NatureWatch in your pocket, you’re helping BirdLife and our Partners to monitor each site, plan the best actions, and respond to threats”, added Zurita.

“As you leave behind the smells of the forest and the sounds of the birds, with NatureWatch you can also give something back for the conservation of the site you have visited.”

NatureWatch has been generously supported by the IBAT Alliance (BirdLife International, Conservation International, IUCN and UNEP-WCMC), the Aage V. Jensen Foundation and UK Darwin Initiative, and has been developed in Partnership with BirdLife Partners in Australia, Cyprus, Fiji, Lebanon, Malaysia and South Africa.

BirdLife logos

Cuckoos in nests help carrion crows

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 our Common Cuckoos utilise the nests of Reed Warblers, the growing cuckoo chick will push other eggs and chicks out of the nest.

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.”

‘Unique’ black flamingo in Cyprus

A black flamingo is seen in a salt lake at the Akrotiri Environmental Centre on the southern coast of Cyprus April 8, 2015. Reuters/Marinos Meletiou

From Reuters news agency:

Thu Apr 9, 2015 2:35am BST

Black flamingo, possibly unique, spotted in Cyprus

AKROTIRI, Cyprus | By Michele Kambas

An extremely rare black flamingo has been spotted on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, exciting nature lovers who said it may be the only bird of its type ever seen.

The flamingo, seen on the banks of a salt lake on Wednesday morning, is thought to have a genetic condition known as melanism, which causes it to generate more of the pigment melanin, turning it dark, rather than the usual pink color.

“From what have seen on the Internet, there was only one other sighting … in Israel, so maybe this is the second one,” said Pantelis Charilaou, head of the environmental department of the British Sovereign Bases, territory under the control of former colonial power where the bird was seen.

The flamingo, entirely black, save for a tuft of white feathers on its rear, was feeding with others on the banks of the lake on Wednesday afternoon. Experts said it may be the same one that was spotted in Israel in 2014.

This is a black flamingo video from Israel. From 2013; not 2014.

The sighting in Cyprus happened during a flamingo count at a sprawling salt lake at the Akrotiri environmental center on the southern coast of Cyprus.

“A melanistic individual is a very, very rare sighting … basically its the opposite of an albino when the individual produces more melanin than normal,” Charilaou told Reuters Television.

Up to 20,000 greater flamingos descend on Aktoriri salt lake each year.

The “Nature Watchdogs” keeping Cyprus’ wildlife safe.
Each morning, volunteers patrol Cyprus’ most valuable natural habitats in order to keep them in pristine condition. This is their story: here.

Birdwatchers collect money for Cyprus birds

This video from Israel says about itself:

Champions of the Flyways Bird Race, Eilat April 1st 2014

The Media Birders (including British Birdfair co-founder Tim Appleton, BBC Producer/Director Stephen Moss and David Lindo The Urban Birder) try to decipher some birds.

From BirdLife:

Cyprus is the big winner of international bird race

By Martin Fowlie, Tue, 31/03/2015 – 15:32

The second Champions of the Flyway Bird Race took place in southern Israel on March 25th and after an amazingly tense and exhilarating 24 hour race the winners were announced at a spectacular awards ceremony held at the Eilat Hilton and attended by Mr Amir Halevi, General Director of the Israel Ministry of Tourism.

The main winners by far of the 2015 race are the birds of Cyprus, with over $50,000 raised so far for BirdLife Cyprus to help them tackle the overwhelming scale of illegal bird killing and trapping that occurs on this small Mediterranean island.

Brilliantly organised by BirdLife Partner – Society for Protection of Nature in Israel – Champions of the Flyway is not only an important fundraiser, it also raises international awareness of the plight of migratory species by celebrating the miracle of migration and reaches out to millions of birders and other interested members of the public who follow the race live online.

Leading the international race field with an incredible 168 species were the “Cape May Bird Observatory American Dippers” who received prize binoculars from Swarovski Optik, the awards ceremony sponsors. They magnanimously donated these straight to BirdLife Cyprus who were delighted to receive them for their monitoring work.

In an extremely close second place were the “Arctic Redpolls” from Finland. The young Finnish team also executed a highly impressive race and ended up just short of the title with 167 species!

Team “Reservoir birds” from Spain and the Finnish “Northern Lights” shared third place with 163 species.

The Israeli Champions of the Flyway race was also extraordinary, top Israeli birdwatchers competed alongside amateurs, retired doctors, army generals and over 15 children. The winners of the Israeli Champions of the Flyway race were the JBO Orioles from the Jerusalem Bird Observatory. The team finished with a huge total of 179 species.

In close second, the Pied Bushchats from the Yerucham center for creative ecology scored 176 species and the “Terns” from Ma’agan Michael took 3rd place with 170 species.

The “Guardians of the Flyway” award – the team raising the most money towards the anti-trapping campaign in Cyprus – was handed to the Birdwatch/Birdguides Roadrunners. The team raised over $7500.

The third trophy presented at the awards ceremony was for the team enabling others to see the most species, enjoy the event and promote the cause. The ‘Knights of the Flyway’ was awarded to the Next Generation Birders team that besides running a great race with 157 species, took the time to share valuable information before and during the race, put other teams on great birds (and mammals) and sacrificed their own time to help others. The NGB team won a pair of Swarovski Optik SLC’s that they will donate to a BirdLife project of their choice.

If you would also like to contribute to BirdLife Cyprus’ work preventing the illegal trapping of birds please donate online through the BirdLife team page here.

More information about the race results, images and stories from the field can be found on the Champions of the Flyway official website.

Save the birds of Cyprus

This video is called 10 years BirdLife Cyprus: Protecting Nature, Inspiring People.

From BirdLife:

Tackling illegal trapping in Cyprus

By Shaun Hurrell, Tue, 23/12/2014 – 16:09

“I wouldn’t want to be a bird because it is so difficult”, said a young girl in a school in Cyprus.

She had just been a migratory bird herself, whilst taking part in a board game created by BirdLife Cyprus, as part of their illegal bird trapping communications campaign. The realisation of a little Blackcap’s plight clearly made a big impression on her.

In Cyprus, the illegal trapping of birds is a chronic and gut-wrenching problem. On this island every year millions of migrating birds stop for a rest on their arduous journeys across the Mediterranean Sea only to find they cannot take off again.

Their feet are stuck in glue, which trappers have heedlessly pasted onto sticks. The birds suffer an agonising death from thirst and exhaustion, or at the greedy hands of the trappers. Or just as inhumane is the death in fine ‘mist’ nets where every attempt to escape causes further entanglement. Based on the last systematic sample, there were over 13km of mist nets estimated on Cyprus in the autumn in 2013 and an unknown number of limesticks, many accompanied by bird-calling devices that imply a safe resting spot for the weary migrants but actually lure birds to their death.

The reason: ambelopoulia. A local ‘delicacy’ consisting of trapped Blackcap and other tiny songbirds, eaten whole – legs, beak, entrails and all. A plate of a dozen ambelopoulia sells for between €40 and €80 in law-breaking restaurants.

The majority of Cypriots do not consider bird trapping a serious issue, despite it being illegal by national legislation since 1974. But with 152 different bird species implicated, of which 78 being classified as threatened; and more than 2.5 million birds killed every year it becomes clear that an ecological disaster is taking place under the radar.

So a major shift in public opinion is needed: with funding from the MAVA Foundation, BirdLife Cyprus embarked on a zero-tolerance communications campaign to shift public opinion against ambelopoulia and trapping. In Cyprus it is quite ground-breaking to be disseminating in-your-face environmental messages, and BirdLife Cyprus is taking their campaign right into the public eye. They have placed huge Make the Change: Say No to Ambelopoulia posters on billboards on major highways and in notorious trapping areas, and pushed further with national media coverage in the lead up to the spring hunting season.

The campaign is dispelling the myth that bird trapping is still the harmless, small-scale tradition it perhaps used to be: in fact it is a lucrative and industrialised business earning mafia-like criminal networks a total of around €15 million illegally each year, according to the state Game and Fauna Service. “This initiative funded by the MAVA Foundation gave us the platform we needed to jump to a new level in our communications campaigning”, said Martin Hellicar, Research Coordinator, BirdLife Cyprus. Martin and the team are focusing their messages on the huge scale of the organised slaughter and the reckless non-selectivity of the criminals’ trapping methods. When informed, the public are largely against it.

BirdLife Partners recognise that long-term commitments are needed to solve such a chronic problem as illegal killing, so it is important to cut the recruitment of the next generation. As well as pushing for political and consumer change, BirdLife Cyprus’ communications campaign is finding a way into the trapping communities through school visits. Sadly, many children there have seen nets and limesticks in use. “At one particular school”, said Natalie Stylianou, Media Officer for BirdLife Cyprus, “the first mention of the word ambelopoulia caused one young boy to immediately rub his belly and lick his lips.” It is a difficult arena, but one that the team are making a big difference in.

With the initial MAVA foundation funding, the team first produced educational materials and the success of this catalysed further funding for an educational package including a cartoon animation in which a friendly blackcap clearly explains his plight, and the aforementioned board game.

This is the cartoon animation.

BirdLife Cyprus have developed a Strategic Action Plan against illegal bird trapping that, for the first time, brings together all relevant stakeholders to agree a common framework.

“We have now managed to persuade them that we need a game-changer”, said Martin.

“We are close to having everyone put their name to an agreed new start, and from every angle begin to make a real difference in the number of birds slaughtered,” said Martin.

In May 2014 with funding from the MAVA Foundation, BirdLife organised a workshop involving a group of 26 representatives from conservation NGOs in the Mediterranean (including 13 BirdLife Partners- that’s over 10% of the whole Partnership) with one common thought  in mind: we will work together to protect migratory birds in the Mediterranean. “The strength of the BirdLife Partnership lies in the power of many,” said BirdLife’s Director of Conservation, Richard Grimmett. “Things can change. Give them a chance and the birds will come back.”

Referring to the regional support BirdLife has provided through the Capacity Development for Flyway Conservation in the Mediterranean project, Martin says:

“We are a little island besieged by illegal trappers, so to know you are not alone is really important.”

IMF blackmails Cyprus into making people homeless

This music video from Ireland is called Lough Sheelin Eviction, by the Wolfe Tones.

The song tells about one of many similar tragedies in nineteenth-century Ireland.

The Wikipedia article about the lake Lough Sheelin writes about it:

Lough Sheelin (from Irish: Loch Síodh Linn meaning “lake of the fairy pool”) is a limestone freshwater lough (lake) in Ireland located in County Westmeath, County Meath and County Cavan near the villages of Finnea (also spelled Finea) and Mountnugent and the town of Granard, (County Longford).

The lake is naturally populated by brown trouts whose native stocks had depleted in recent years, hence the Central Fisheries Board stocking with farm reared the lake for the pleasure of anglers.[1] Trout stocks are estimated to be over 100,000.

It is also the setting of the song “Lough Sheelin Eviction”, made popular by The Wolfe Tones. The lyrics tell the sad, but unfortunately, too typical story of a family being evicted from their home by an unforgiving & merciless landlord. Absentee landlords were common in Ireland and for many landlords the main interest was income rather than the conditions of their tenants. Many landlords realized that they could get a higher income by turning their properties to pasture than to continue with the old practice of collecting rents from tenant farmers. Evictions were the most common way of getting rid of unwanted tenants. In the song the woman, Eileen, dies in the cold and the man is forced to flee his native land in order to find a new home.

It seems that the International Monetary Fund of Ms Christine Lagarde now want to bring back the horrors of nineteenth century Ireland to the twenty-first century. Not only in Ireland, but in other countries as well.

Often, one hears that decisions by parliaments are expressions of democracy. To hell with democracy, the International Monetary Fund apparently thinks; if such a parliament’s decision benefits poor people who are threatened with homelessness, instead of Big Banking for which the IMF stands.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

IMF holds back Cyprus bailout funds

International Monetary Fund says expected tranche of €88m will not be paid after parliament suspended new foreclosure law

Friday 19 December 2014 02.56 GMT

The International Monetary Fund has said it will not release a further €88m (£69m/US$108m) in bailout money for Cyprus on Friday after the country’s parliament delayed a key foreclosure law that was due to take effect at the end of December. …

The eurozone released its latest tranche of bailout loans to Cyprus in November after the government amended laws on foreclosures and on forced sales of mortgaged property in line with the conditions of the loan. The original laws would have made it easier for the country’s hobbled banks to start collecting on bad loans, which account for around half of all loans. …

Lawmakers said they approved the suspension to give the government time to draft additional insolvency legislation that would act as an extra buffer protecting those who lost jobs or saw their income slashed amid the country’s near financial meltdown from also losing their homes. …

This is the second time that Cyprus has run into trouble with its creditors over the foreclosures law. In September Cyprus’s eurozone partners refused to release a bailout instalment after parliament passed additional legislation weakening the law. The hurdle was overcome after lawmakers backtracked and amended some of the legislation while the supreme court struck down other pieces as unconstitutional.