Herons, videos and new book


This April 2015 video is about Dutch artist Erik van Ommen making purple heron pictures; for his new book Mijn Reigerparadijs (My Heron Paradise). It is about all European heron and egret species.

This is another video for that book; about the great egret.

This video for Van Ommen’s book is about little egrets, and their roost on Schiermonnikoog island.

This video is about drawing little egrets.

This is another video for that book; about squacco herons.

This is another video for that book; about grey herons in a Japanese style garden.

This video is about depicting a grey heron.

This is another grey heron video.

And yet another grey heron video.

This is another video for that book; about a little bittern. Recorded in Lesbos in Greece.

This is another video for that book; about the bittern.

This is a video about a boat-billed heron.

This video is about drawing western reef herons in Mauritania.

This video is about drawing a juvenile black-crowned night heron.

This video is about drawing an adult black-crowned night heron.

Mijn Reigerparadijs, cover

About Erik van Ommen’s boek (translated):

My Heron Paradise

NEW! Published May 16, 2015.

112 pages, full color and bound in hardcover. 23 x 21 cm
ISBN: 978 9050 11 5308. KNNV Publishers 2015

The book contains numerous drawings, etchings, oil paintings, watercolors and linocuts by Erik van Ommen. It covers all European heron species. The book concludes with a chapter on drawing birds in pencil, ink and watercolour.

Defend wildlife against attacks, video


This video says about itself:

Nature is under attack – #itsmynature

11 May 2015

Europe’s land, forest, water and marine resources are at risk.

Vital laws that protect our most precious nature could be weakened if we don’t raise our voice.

Tell your politicians that you want nature to be defended here.

#NatureAlert #itsmynature

From BirdLife:

BirdLife launches #itsmynature campaign

By BirdLife Europe, Mon, 11/05/2015 – 20:06

Today we launch our campaign “It’s my nature” (#itsmynature). We have chosen this motto for a million reasons.

Here are just three:

1) From the beginning of the modern economy we have called our natural resources “Common goods”. They belong to all of us, each and every one of us. Air, water, biodiversity, life. Nature is the ultimate “common good”, and there must be a limit to what can be owned, consumed, sold, or destroyed. Because this air is my air, this water is my water, my bird, my tree, and my river. It’s my nature, and you can’t take it away from me.

2) Because “I am” the landscape where I grew up, the field where my father taught me football, the tree that shaded my first kiss, the colours and perfumes of flowers that announced Spring, the Seagulls on my roof that remind me that I am a sailor and should be out at sea. I am these things, they are me, we are connected. It’s my nature.

And 3) Because human beings are not only about slash and burn. Not only about destruction. We care, we protect, we shelter and love. It’s our nature, it’s my nature (to protect Nature). And it’s your nature, too.

Now, please, go and make your voice heard.

If you are a conservation expert, fill in the expert questionnaire instead.

It’s a tale of two miracles. The first: over 100 NGOs, in 28 European capitals, are launching a campaign today to stop Juncker’s attack against the laws that protect Nature. The second? By re-reading the Directives we’ve rediscovered an idea of Europe we can love: one of a community that protects its nature: here.

Red herrings, Trojan horses and booby traps: debunking 5 myths and lies on the “need to overhaul” nature protection laws: here

Hungary’s nature is in peril: here.

The challenge of bringing marine wildlife back in EU waters: here.

African Governments meeting in Brazzaville, Congo, last week agreed to a set of steps to address illegal trade in wild fauna and flora. At the International Conference on Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in Africa on 27-30th April 2015, leaders issued a strongly worded Brazzaville Declaration, agreeing to collaborate to stem the rising scourge that is estimated to cost African countries about US$200 million annually: here.

Help migratory birds in your garden


This video says about itself:

Birds at Birdlife Malta‘s Reserves

4 April 2009

This video shows that birds can be enjoyed in the wild state in the Maltese Islands. Creating habitat, like Birdlife Malta did at the reserves at Simar and Ghadira helps birds to find refuge during their migration and breeding seasons.

From BirdLife:

Make Spring come Alive in your garden or balcony this year!

By Shaun Hurrell, Mon, 20/04/2015 – 16:01

The arrival of migratory birds signals a change in seasons, when life is in full swing. Use this cue to get out and enjoy nature, and at the same time give something back. Follow our advice and make simple changes to make your garden, balcony, or school bird-friendly with Spring Alive this year.

Spring Alive is a movement started by a BirdLife, organised by OTOP (BirdLife in Poland) to encourage children and adults to take action for the migratory birds they learn about. This season, Spring Alive has provided easy-to-use information and directions to help you to help birds. Whatever time you have and whatever size space, you can take action for birds in your garden. Whatever country you live in, you can also get in touch with your local BirdLife Partner for local advice for benefitting birds in your garden and get involved with local Spring Alive events.

Pretend your garden or balcony is your own nature reserve, and you are the warden. If everyone in Africa and Europe makes their garden bird-friendly, imagine how much better birds and biodiversity will do! You might be lucky enough to get a visit from Spring Alive migratory bird species and be able to help them rest and refuel, but you will be sure to be rewarded by local wildlife thriving in your garden too.

Cuckoos are not garden birds, so how can I help them?

Make your garden friendly for species such as Dunnock and Robin, who are host species for cuckoos. Also, grow honeysuckle, nettles and sallow which are all good for caterpillars including some hairy ones, which Cuckoos love! Cuckoos are therefore a great example of how our gardens are part of the wider ecosystem – what we do between our fences may affect species that don’t even use that space.

Visit the Spring Alive website for more advice and get in touch with your local Spring Alive / BirdLife Partner.

And once you have done it – share it – show and tell us about your achievements on the Spring Alive facebook and flickr pages!

If you build it, they will come!

European wild bee species threatened


This video says about itself:

Olivia’s Wild Bees

21 August 2007

A young American biologist studies wild bees on the island of Lesvos, Greece. She explains her work and the bees’ role in nature.

From Wildlife Extra:

One in 10 bee species faces extinction

The first-ever assessment of all European wild bee species shows that 9.2% are threatened with extinction, while 5.2% are considered likely to be threatened in the near future.

A total of 56.7% of the species are classified as Data Deficient, as lack of experts, data and funding has made it impossible to evaluate their extinction risk.

The assessment was published as part of The IUCN European Red List of Bees and the Status and Trends of European Pollinators (STEP) project, both funded by the European Commission.

It provides – for the first time – information on all 1,965 wild bee species in Europe, including their status, distribution, population trends and threats.

“This assessment is the best understanding we have had so far on wild bees in Europe,” says Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Director, IUCN Global Species Programme. “However, our knowledge about them is incomplete as we are faced with an alarming lack of expertise and resources.

“Bees play an essential role in the pollination of our crops. We must urgently invest in further research in order to provide the best possible recommendations on how to reverse their decline.”

The report shows that 7.7% of the species have declining populations, 12.6% are stable and 0.7% are increasing. Population trends for the remaining 79% of bee species are unknown.

Changing agricultural practices and increased farming intensification have led to large-scale losses and degradation of bee habitats – one of the main threats to their survival.

For instance, intensive silage production – at the expense of hay-cropping – causes losses of herb-rich grasslands and season-long flowering, which constitute important sources of forage for pollinators.

The widespread use of insecticides also harms wild bees and herbicides reduce the availability of flowers on which they depend. The use of fertilisers promotes rank grassland, which is low in flowering plants and legume species – the preferred food resources for many bee species.

Intensive agriculture and farming practices have caused a sharp decline in the surface area of dry steppes, which house the Vulnerable Andrena transitoria bee – a formerly common eastern Mediterranean species that spreads from Sicily to Ukraine and into Central Asia.

Ploughing, mowing or grazing of flowering plants, as well as the use of insecticides have led to a 30% population decline of the species over the last decade, and its extinction in certain countries.

Climate change is another important driver of extinction risk for most species of bees, and particularly bumblebees.

Heavy rainfalls, droughts, heat waves and increased temperatures can alter the habitats that individual species are adapted to and are expected to dramatically reduce the area of its habitat, leading to population decline.

A total of 25.8% of Europe’s bumblebee species are threatened with extinction, according to the assessment.

Urban development and the increased frequency of fires also threaten the survival of wild bee species in Europe, according to the experts.

The report also includes an assessment of the Western Honeybee (Apis mellifera) – the most well-known pollinator. The Western Honeybee has a native distribution through much of Europe but it is uncertain whether it currently occurs as a truly wild, rather than domesticated species.

As the Red List only covers wild – not domesticated – species, it has been assessed as Data Deficient. Further research is needed to distinguish between wild and non-wild colonies, and to better understand the impacts of malnutrition, pesticides and pathogens on honeybee colonies, according to IUCN.

“Public and scientific attention tends to focus on Western Honeybee as the key pollinator, but we must not forget that most of our wild flowers and crops are pollinated by a whole range of different bee species,” says Simon Potts, STEP project Coordinator.

“We need far-reaching actions to help boost both wild and domesticated pollinator populations. Achieving this will bring huge benefits to wildlife, the countryside and food production.”

Swifts on their way to Europe


This video from the Netherlands says about itself:

One of the birds of a pair of Swifts breeding on three eggs in one of my nest boxes just entered with some nesting material. Recorded May 28th 2012.

The British Trust for Ornithology reports, on Twitter today, about Morocco:

European Swifts flying high over Marrakech. They are on their way!!!!

Israel’s Netanyahu’s unholy alliance with European anti-Semites


This video from France says about itself:

Le Pen’s National Front accused of backing Holocaust denier for office in Paris

15 March 2014

France’s far-right National Front party has placed a Holocaust denier on its list of candidates for the municipal elections in Paris. The candidate, Pierre Panet, has said he “shares the analysis” of Roger Garaudy, a convicted Holocaust denier but that he doesn’t elaborate on his views because it is illegal in France.

Not only in the USA are there anti-Semitic preachers like John Hagee who pretend to be friends of Israel. Not only is there anti-Semitic warmonger and phone hacker Rupert Murdoch from Australia, pretending to be a friend of Israel.

There are anti-Semitic European fascists like that as well.

From Newsweek in the USA:

Netanyahu’s Unholy Alliance With Europe’s ‘Anti-Semitic’ Far Right

By Charles Hawley / March 24, 2015 11:32 AM EDT

“Fear has won the election,” wrote the Spanish paper El País last Wednesday after Israeli voters once again made the right-wing Likud the country’s strongest political party. “In Israel, fear is king and the one occupying the throne is called Netanyahu.” Other papers across the continent were equally disheartened. “Netanyahu’s victory pushes a dignified settlement of the Palestinian conflict far into the future,” wrote Le Monde. In Germany, Tagesspiegel wrote: “At the end of the tunnel, only a tunnel can be seen.”

But one growing faction in Europe is welcoming Benjamin Netanyahu and his re-election with open arms. On the ultra-conservative periphery, among the xenophobic, nativist fringe, right-wing populists are unabashedly rejoicing. For them, Europe is engaged in a battle against encroaching Islam – and the hardliner Netanyahu, they believe, is doing yeoman’s work on the front lines. “Benjamin Netanyahu’s victory is a good thing for several reasons,” Geert Wilders, the vociferous anti-Islam incendiary from the Netherlands, said in an emailed statement. “We share his criticism of Iran . . . and his opposition to a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria.”

“We are very happy,” agrees Filip Dewinter, a leading member of Belgian right-wing party Vlaams Belang. “It is a good thing for Israel, but also good for right-wing parties in Europe because he understands that the first danger for Europe is Islamisation.” David Lasar, a foreign policy co-ordinator for the Austrian Freedom Party, echoed that sentiment. “For sure, I am very happy,” says Lasar, who has worked hard in recent years to develop ties with staunchly conservative parties overseas. “It is a very important step that Netanyahu has won the election.”

From the perspective of a European chauvinistic periphery that has increasingly been striving for mainstream legitimacy in the recent past, the enthusiasm is understandable. As groups like the Austrian Freedom Party, France’s Front National and the Swedish Democrats have long histories of anti-Semitism, recent years have seen them attempting to refocus their enmity on Islam and Islamists. With that shift has come a recognition that Israeli conservatives, with their rejection of a Palestinian state and hardline approach to Islamism, are their natural allies.

The Likud party has been cautiously returning the admiration. …

Sentiments like that are music to the ears of European right-wing parties. “For me, Netanyahu is quite a positive choice,” says Aymeric Chauprade, a member of European Parliament for Front National. “He is very strong against terror and against Islamists.” Kent Ekeroth, a Swedish parliamentarian with the right-wing Swedish Democrats, agrees: “It is far better that Likud won,” he says. “The Left doesn’t take the security situation seriously and, because of that, they are far more likely to appease the Arabs.”

Ekeroth was careful to insist that he wasn’t speaking on behalf of his party. But his message chimes with the increasing number of right-wing populist pilgrims heading to Israel for talks with West Bank settlers, Likud parliamentarians and other conservative leaders. Ekeroth, Dewinter and Lasar have all made the trip, as have Austrian Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache and Wilders. Even Front National leader Marine Le Pen, whose father and party founder Jean-Marie was considered vehemently anti-Semitic, has expressed interest in visiting the country. …

The Swedish Democrats and the Austrian Freedom Party have very questionable pasts. They are still perceived as racists and anti-Semitic by many,” says Yehuda Ben-Hur Levy, a visiting fellow at the Centre for European Reform and a long-time observer of the European far Right. “This is to some extent a way to legitimate themselves – saying, ‘If we go to Israel, you can’t really claim that we are anti-Semitic’.”

Thus far, the right wingers’ visits to Israel have not been given the official stamp of approval. While delegates have often been received by parliamentarians acting independently, they have never been received by a Foreign Ministry delegation or given an official government welcome. But there is some hope on the right that Netanyahu’s re-election may change that. “The understanding between right-wing parties and Israel can only get better under Netanyahu,” says Dewinter of Vlaams Belang. The Austrian press even speculated in December that Strache might soon receive an official invitation.

Israeli daily Haaretz wrote about Herr Strache:

The honor of lighting the torch goes to the brightest jewel in this racist crown – Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of Austria’s Freedom Party. If Jorg Haider was “Hitler’s spiritual grandson,” then Strache is his extremely illegitimate great-grandson. His grandfather was in the Waffen-SS, and his father served in the Wehrmacht. As a university student, Strache belonged to an extremist organization from which Jews were banned, hung out with neo-Nazis and participated in paramilitary exercises with them. Commentators in Austria say that Strache is trying to copy Haider but that he is less sophisticated and ultimately more extreme than his role model. (A selection of Strache’s brilliant comments were published in his interview with Haaretz in March.)

The Newsweek article continues:

Such optimism may not be misplaced. Many conservatives in Israel now see the European right wing as being the only reliable partner on a continent where, they say, anti-Semitism has become rooted in the political mainstream. Right-wing parties, says Kleiner of Likud, “are better at recognising the real danger that Europe is facing from the Muslims . . . . They are less naive than the Left.”

Traditionally, Israeli governments (often secular, or at least not fanatically religious) used to define the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a political conflict about land; not as a religious conflict. When a fanatical Islamophobic Australian Christian tried to burn down the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem in 1969, Israeli police stopped that terrorist. As recently as 2014, Israeli police stopped a Christian fundamentalist terrorist from Texas from blowing up Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem. Defining the Israeli-Palestinian issue as political made that conflict difficult to resolve, but not insoluble.

However, defining the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a religious conflict, as Netanyahu’s Likud party tends to do, pro-or anti-Islam, leads to a conflict where each side claims to have ‘God on its side'; to an insoluble conflict, where Israeli and Palestinian civilians are doomed to live in permanent war. European fascists, hating both Jews and Arabs, love to see both killing each other endlessly.

Such comments endear Netanyahu to the Right. “I am quite happy,” says Fiorello Provera, a senior member of the Italian right-wing party Lega Nord and a former European parliamentarian. “I think that Netanyahu is the right man for the difficult situation.”

Uri Avnery: The Israeli Salvation Front. The huge and growing gap between the very rich and the very poor, which largely parallels the gap between the ethnic communities, is a disaster for all of us: here.