Save turtle doves now


This is a turtle dove video from France.

From BirdLife:

24 May 2017

Flying Start – new hope for the Turtle-dove

Joscelyne Ashpole from RSPB (BirdLife UK) explains why there is new hope for the Turtle-dove across its migratory flyways.

In ancient Greek mythology, the European Turtle-dove Streptopelia turtur was purported to be sacred to Demeter, goddess of the harvest and agriculture. As a species of cultivated areas and woodland, the Turtle-dove would have been a familiar farmland sight – as it would continue to be for a great many centuries to come. Today, however, the Turtle-dove – like all too many of Europe’s once common farmland birds – is declining at an alarming rate in numerous countries across our continent and is now listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List.

“The sharpest declines that we know about are found along the western flyway”

A long-distance flyer, the Turtle-dove migrates from its European breeding grounds to winter in Africa. All three main migratory flyways – western via France and Spain, central via Italy and eastern via Greece – present perilous hurdles including lack of food and water, hunting and illegal killing as well as sea and desert crossings to reach sub-Saharan Africa. But the sharpest declines that we know about are found along the western flyway: from the UK, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands down through France, Spain and Portugal. Overall, the European population is estimated to be declining at a rate of 30-49% over a 16 year period. But in the UK, the situation is even worse with numbers plummeting by almost 95% in the last twenty years.

To reverse this downward spiral, the Turtle-dove was chosen to be one of the 16 iconic bird species targeted by the EU-funded LIFE EuroSAP project, launched in 2015. The project studies the entire life-cycles and migratory routes of some of the most charismatic and threatened birds in Europe with a view to developing specific Species Action Plans (SAPs) to conserve populations on a continental scale.

The first draft of the European Turtle-dove Action Plan – coordinated by BirdLife International and the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK)[1] – was published this April. It details an initial set of proposed conservation actions to tackle habitat loss, lack of food availability and the impact of hunting over a ten year period.

This draft is now out for consultation: governments, conservation organisations, scientists, hunting organisations and other groups from across the Turtle-dove’s European, Central Asian and African range, now have the chance to comment on and shape the Action Plan before it is launched in early 2018. So far, the process has involved more than 130 experts from across countries and disciplines; it’s truly great to see the Turtle-dove – a fabled symbol of fidelity – bringing together such a diverse array of people. We’ve gotten off to a flying start and it feels like there could be new hope for the future of the Turtle-dove in Europe.

Joscelyne Ashpole is a Species & Habitats Assistant Officer at RSPB (BirdLife UK).

You can view the draft Turtle-dove Action Plan online via the Species Action Plan Tracking Tool.

European bird news update


This video says about itself:

Adriatic Flyway – The Central European Route for Migratory Birds

15 December 2015

On their flight from North and Central Europe to Africa migrating birds mainly take three routes: the Western route via Gibraltar is certainly the best known. This is the route taken by most birds flying from breeding grounds in Great Britain, many from mud flats of the Dutch and German Wattenmeer and also from Scandinavia. The Eastern route leads across Eastern Europe (the Baltic, Belorussia, the Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria) into Turkey, over the Bosphorus and on over the Middle East to reach Africa.

The third route is often forgotten. It is known as the Central European migration route or the Adriatic Flyway. This route runs parallel to the Eastern route in Siberia and Northern Europe but later bears westward from Poland and Hungary over the Balkans and on over the Adriatic Sea, Southern Italy, Sicily and Malta to Africa. Many water birds from Central Europe, but also from North and East Europe and even Asia take this migration route to reach the Sahel region.

The movie introduces several important wetland areas in the Balkans and shows the threatened situation of migratory birds in this region.

For more information: here.

From BirdLife:

21 Apr 2017

The Bird Bulletin – Vol. 4

By Gui-Xi Young

Welcome to the latest edition of ‘The Bird Bulletin’ – our new weekly news brief. Every Friday morning, we’ll bring you bite-sized updates from across Europe & Central Asia – now you can kick start every weekend with ‘what a little bird told me!’

ONE WEEK to save farmland birds! The European Commission’s Public Consultation on the Common Agricultural Policy is open for only 1 more week. Join our E-Action and show your support for sustainable, nature-friendly farms with one click. #LivingLand.

SEAL OF APPROVAL – on the eve of France’s Presidential elections, our French partner LPO has asked voters to consider who is #LeCandidatDeLaNature?

Certainly not Macron, with his plan of an environmentally destructive gold mine in French Guiana, and his pro-Big Oil record when he was minister. Certainly not Marine Le Pen, with her climate change denialism and links to polluting Big Business. Certainly not Fillon with his links to Total Big Oil.

There is no Green Party candidate. Leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon has proposed many pro-environment measures.

And they posed the question in style – a giant 50m2 chalk mural of a white seal suddenly appeared overnight on the square of La Défence in Paris. As the seal faded under the footsteps of passersby throughout the day, man’s destructive impact on nature was brought into stark relief. Check it out!

Spring into action! Spring Alive’ is a BirdLife initiative to get kids interested in nature. Their big ‘Bird Quiz’ kicks off next Monday (24th April) so follow on Facebook for 5 days filled with facts and fun!

And last, but certainly not least….

WALK WITH THE PENGUINS on a sub-Antarctic island and enter their magical, yet threatened, world. Seeing is believing – watch our breathtaking new 3D 360-degree film now and #ProtectAPenguin today!

Well that’s all for today’s ‘Bird Bulletin’ – tune in next week for more cheeps, chirps and chatter.

Bye Bye Birdies!

BirdLife unveils its latest publication, ‘European Birds of Conservation Concern’, in Parma Italy. This essential handbook will help every country in Europe to identify their bird conservation responsibilities: here.

European, Asian bird news update


This video says about itself:

27 October 2016

You probably have never seen a Spoon-billed Sandpiper. There are fewer than 500 remaining on the planet.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper chicks are remarkably independent. After hatching in their far northeastern Russian breeding grounds, the young leave the nest within a day and immediately begin feeding themselves. The father leads them away from the nest and attends to them until they fledge about 20 days later.

The mother bird doesn’t hang around to see how her brood turns out. She departs soon after the young hatch and begins migrating South to China’s Rudong mudflats in Jiangsu and Fujian’s Minjiang River Estuary, where the Spoon-billed Sandpipers fatten up each year before continuing on first to Zhanjiang in Guandong province, followed by Myanmar and Bangladesh for the winter.

After the chicks reach fledging age, the father departs too. All alone, the chicks then start their long journey South a few weeks later. No guide, no map, no GPS. But the baby birds instinctively know exactly where to go. The baby birds join millions of other migratory birds along the East Asian Australasian Flyway.

Unfortunately, the habitats along the flyway, from Korea to China, are under threat. Spoon-billed sandpipers’ habitats have shrunk dramatically, due to reclamation and industrial development in China, and when they reach their Southeast Asian winter homes, they then face the threat of hunters.

Spoon-billed Sandpipers are one of the most threatened species in the world.

But there is hope. The Chinese government is committed to building an Eco-Civilization that focuses more on the value of nature instead of GDP growth alone, and provincial officials are paying increasing attention to protecting the country’s coastal wetlands and mudflats. Efforts are underway to better preserve the Spoon-billed Sandpiper’s feeding grounds, the Rudong mudflat in Jiangsu.

The move to protect China’s wetlands is spreading. At a wetlands conference co-convened on Oct. 18 in Beidaihe by the Paulson Institute, the Convention on Wetlands Management Office of the People’s Republic of China, China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE), and the Hebei provincial government, Hebei’s provincial governor promised to protect his province’s threatened wetlands, too.

The Paulson Institute has launched a month-long campaign to raise awareness of the importance of coastal wetlands and the migratory birds they sustain. We hope to encourage the government officials, the scientists and experts, the NGOs, and the thousands of volunteers working to save these precious resources.

Watch this video, and please share!

It’s up to us to make a change.

From BirdLife:

7 Apr 2017

The Bird Bulletin – Vol. 3

By Gui-Xi Young

Welcome to the latest edition of ‘The Bird Bulletin’ – our new weekly news brief. Every Friday morning, we’ll bring you bite-sized updates from across Europe & Central Asia – now you can kick start every weekend with ‘what a little bird told me!’

TAKE ACTION – change the future of food and farming with 1 click! Only 3 weeks until the European Commission’s Public Consultation on the Common Agricultural Policy closes. We have launched a Europe-wide E-Action so citizens can support sustainable, nature-friendly farms. #LivingLand.

CZECH MATE – the Czech parliament has finally approved a new law that sets precise rules for protecting wildlife in national parks (from hunting, logging and other destructive acts). 117 deputies voted in favour, overturning the President’s veto. Well done to our partner CSO for championing this long fight!

From dusk till dawn – Birdwatch Ireland is co-sponsoring a landmark breeding Woodcock survey. The research group will monitor dawn and dusk ‘roding flights’ when males fly circuits above the woodland canopy in search of receptive females! Read more…

Happy Bird Day! – Last weekend Slovakians marked their annual ‘Bird Day’ with a traditional ‘welcoming of the cranes’. The magnificent birds stop in large numbers at the Senianske ponds during spring migration season. The event, organised by SOS-BirdLife Slovakia has become a festival of fun for the family, drawing over 1,000 visitors. See more…

SAVE SPOONIE – Every year, the Spoon-billed sandpiper attempts its epic 11,000km migration from Bangladesh to Arctic Russia – the most dangerous flyway in the world due to human interference. Its numbers have plummeted down to only 400 individuals. Help BirdLife protect key ecological sites on the Yellow Sea mudflats and save Spoonie’s resting habitat! Donate here…

Well that’s all for today’s ‘Bird Bulletin’ – tune in next week for more cheeps, chirps and chatter.

Bye Bye Birdies!

Refugee children’s plight in Europe


Pro-refugee graffiti in Serbia, photo Mitra Nazar

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Ten-year-old Jami from Afghanistan sleeps between rats in Serbia

10 April 2017

Jami is only ten years old, comes from Afghanistan and has been on the road for six months. Via Iran, Turkey and Bulgaria, he ended up in Serbia. He sleeps in an abandoned factory behind the railway station in Belgrade, on a dirty mattress between rats. “It’s better here than in Bulgaria,” Jami says. “There, I was beaten by the police.”

Aid organizations including Save the Children and Refugee Foundation are sounding the alarm about children traveling alone on the former Balkan route. …

Jami is also traveling alone. His parents have remained in Afghanistan. He says his parents always cry when he hears them on the phone. But they had no choice but to send him off because the Taliban put his family under pressure. …

Most stories of beatings, robberies and expelling people illegally from the country come from the EU countries Hungary, Croatia and Bulgaria. That latter country pushes them over the border to Serbia; Croatia and Hungary push them back into Serbia. Unaccompanied children are not spared.

According to Save the Children, the European Union must do more to tackle the problem of unaccompanied refugee children in the Balkans. “The EU must have a plan for these children not be left to their fate, instead of saying that the borders are closed and they do not come anymore,” says [Jelena] Besedic [of Save the Children in Serbia]. “Because they still come.”

Western Bonelli’s warbler video


This is a western Bonelli’s warbler video.

These south European birds spend the winter in Africa.

Citrine wagtail video


This is a citrine wagtail video.

I was privileged to see this beautiful European and Asian bird in Poland and the Netherlands.

European bird news


This video from Malta says about itself:

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:

24 Mar 2017

The Bird Bulletin

By Gui-Xi Young

Welcome to the first edition of ‘The Bird Bulletin’ – our new weekly news brief. Every Friday morning, we’ll bring you bite-sized updates from all across Europe & Central Asia – now you can kick start every weekend with ‘what a little bird told me’!

SPRING IS IN THE AIR – Have you heard? Spring has officially sprung according to BirdLife Malta. Keen birdwatchers have observed teams of spring migrating ducks over the MaltaGozo channel: Ferruginous ducks, Garganeys, Pintails, Shovelers, Eurasian Teams [sic: Teals] and Wigeons.

INTRODUCING Ferula mikraskythiana, the latest cellular sensation to take the botanical world stage by storm! Yes, that’s right – biologists from SOR-BirdLife have discovered a whole new species of flowering plant in Romania. Read more…

Atlantic Puffin at the crossroads: alarm bells rang out when the iconic seabird was red-listed as being ‘vulnerable’ to global extinction in 2015. This week, marine experts gathered for an international workshop organised by Fuglavernd/BirdLife Iceland to address this dramatic decline. Read the RSPB’s report on Reykjavik here.

As William Shakespeare wrote “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”. Thousands of swans – the Danish national bird – have been killed by collisions with power lines in recent weeks. The area where this is happening has been dubbed ‘the field of death’ by the media. Our Danish partner DOF has posted heart-breaking visual evidence online; amid public outcry, the energy company involved has now engaged in a constructive dialogue with DOF in order to prevent further casualties.

Our ‘office’ bird is back! There are very few birds around our Brussels office so we are particularly fond of the little Black Redstart that frequents the hotel roof across from us. It is a migrant (to the west Mediterranean) and Wim Van Den Bossche, our Flyway Conservation officer, last recorded it here last autumn on 26th of October 2016. What a journey for such a little fellow! Listen to its high pitched song here.