Dutch marsh harrier, all the way to Ghana and back


This video, from Spain, shows a female marsh harrier, a red kite and a raven quarreling about food.

Translated from the Dutch ornithologists of Werkgroep Grauwe Kiekendief:

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A newcomer to the GPS logger research is marsh harrier “Roelof”, an adult male provided last summer with a GPS logger. Roelof returned this spring to East Groningen, with a logger packed with GPS positions. He turned out to have had a highly remarkable journey! …

Roelof returned on April 15, 2015 in East Groningen, where he presented himself at the local antenna network where we can remotely read stored GPS data. …

In the autumn of 2014 Roelof flew via Spain to his first wintering area in Senegal, where he arrived on 27 September. This route falls exactly within the narrow migration flyway which is usual for marsh harriers. Christiane Trierweiler et al. described that harriers do not remain all winter in a single area, but during the winter they move to southern areas as the northern areas get dry. These are mostly trips of several hundred kilometers.

Roelof left his first wintering area on November 10 to land about 500 kilometers to the south in Guinea. To our surprise Roelof did not stay there until the end of the winter, but he left the area on January 26 to fly 1,700 kilometers along the West African south coast, eventually ending up all the way in Ghana! Ghana is really far away for a Dutch marsh harrier, outside the ‘normal’ wintering area.

On the shores of Lake Volta

In Ghana Roelof stayed around the shores of Lake Volta. This huge lake is probably a good wintering place for marsh harriers and the question is how he ever ‘found’ this place. Did he come here in his youth by chance, making the place by now a fixed point in his annual schedule? Or perhaps Roelof has eastern genes telling him that in winter this is the place to be? Monitoring young harriers will be the key to answering this kind of exciting questions.

Roelof left the Volta Lake on February 28, keeping a northwesterly course. Aided by a firm tailwind he was ‘blown’ across the Sahara until he reached the ocean coast in the Western Sahara. From there he continued his journey towards the northeast, where he made two short stops in Morocco (as befits a marsh harrier). From Morocco, he flew straight back to exactly the same reed bed in eastern Groningen …

This photo by Ben Koks shows marsh harrier Roelof, on the left, and his female partner. On Roelof’s back, one can see his GPS logger.

A sanderling’s life


Sanderling G3BGGW on Texel, 31 December 2014 (photo Micheal Hermes)

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands:

The life of G3BGGW – 12 February 2015

No, not a character from Star Wars. G3BGGW is a sanderling which was ringed in Iceland in May 2013. He was found dead on February 1, 2015 on Texel. What makes this bird so special is that he was not only seen several times in the past two years, but he was even seen alive a day before his death. So, the day of his death is very accurately known, something bird researcher Jeroen Reneerkens has experienced only a few times. Such small birds are almost never found when they die, let alone so quickly.

What’s in a name?

Thanks to his rings this sanderling was recognizable. When he came in sight of the telescopes of various bird watchers, viewers have noted the series of rings and passed the information on to the ring station. The letters in his name are about the colours: G = green, B = blue, W = white; the numeral 3 indicates that one of the rings is a flag, in this case a green flag, this was on “position 3”: above the rings on the left leg. Bird rings are read from left to right and from top to bottom.

Winter beach guest

Sanderlings are found on Dutch beaches outside the breeding season, so from late July to late May. The largest numbers you see on beaches in the winter months. They breed in the far north. … Those little birds that fast run back and forth with the surf – that are sanderlings. It seems like they are trying to go as close as possible to the water without making their feet wet. But actually they are looking for worms that appear quickly from the sand when the seawater flows over them. In the water there is plankton on which the worms feed. The birds try to catch the worms.

Lifespan

In Iceland G3BGGW was ringed and weighed. He weighed 71 grams and had OK fat stores to fly even further towards Greenland to breed. In winter sanderlings slim to about 50-55 grams. Five months later, he was seen on Texel, north of beach post 12. Then he came back a year later on the island, on November 5, 2014 at beach post 9. Presumably he remained until his death in this environment. Two days before his death he was seen on the parking lot near the beach. That is very strange for such a beach bird. There it cannot find food. The birdwatcher thought that he did not look too healthy there. The next day the bird was seen again on the beach and the next day he lay dead along the road to this beach.

Research

Jeroen Reneerkens for years has been doing research into sanderlings. To do that, he has a large network of people in many countries who help with the rings and retrieval of this species. Except for Iceland also in Greenland, Scotland, England, the Netherlands, Portugal, Mauritania, Ghana and Namibia research teams are involved. There are 6,000 birds ringed and 61,000 observations noted. A chore, but it provides a lot of information on which the survival of sanderlings can be mapped accurately. Furthermore, the scientists discovered that while most sanderlings are worm eaters, they eat shellfish only in Ghana! They swallow them in their entirety and so have strong stomach muscles. The life of bird G3BGGW is not over. Jeroen will investigate this bird further. By viewing its organs and fat, he hopes to find out why the animal died: by disease, age, something else? Such a fresh dead bird is an unique opportunity!

‘ISIS result of Bush’s, Blair’s Iraq war’, United Nations’ Kofi Annan says


This 15 January 2015 video from Britain says about itself:

Tony Blair Not In Jail? I Literally Don’t Understand: Russell Brand The Trews (E235).

From RT.com:

US invasion of Iraq helped create ISIS – former UN chief

Published time: February 08, 2015 16:10

Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general, said the US-led invasion of Iraq was a mistake and helped to create the Islamist State militant group. He also blamed regional powers for making the conflict worse.

“I was against this invasion and my fears have been founded. The break-up of the Iraqi forces poured hundreds if not thousands of disgruntled soldiers and police officers onto the streets,” Kofi Annan told the Munich Security Conference on Sunday. He added that some of these former security force members went on to join the Islamic State.

“The aim of creating democracy without the existing institutions ushered in corrupt sectarian governments,” Annan said. He added that the country has been unstable ever since and this has proved the perfect breeding ground for Sunni radical Muslims, who have become affiliated with the Islamic State.

The Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) stunned the world last summer by capturing large swaths of Iraq and Syria, including the city of Mosul in mid-June. The group has created what it calls an Islamic caliphate that straddles the Iraq-Syria border.

The Islamic State has advocated the rape and selling into slavery of women they capture. IS rules state that it’s permissible to rape a slave “immediately after taking possession of her” and that it’s okay “to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse.”

“The Islamic State is destroying the diversity and pluralism in the Middle East,” Annan concluded.

In order to halt the spread of extremism, Annan said that governments must do more to tackle problems such as unemployment, rather than just arresting critics of the regimes.

In northern Iraq, the communists have set up their own armed units alongside Kurdish peshmerga and Iraqi regular forces to defend communities against “fascist” Isis. The Co-ordinating Committee of Communist Parties in Britain (CCCPB) seminar also heard how Nato member Turkey and Western allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar had facilitated the rise of Isis: here.

‘I didn’t think of Iraqis as humans,’ says U.S. soldier who raped 14-year-old girl before killing her: here.

The US invasion of Iraq was based on lies and has lead to unspeakable horrors. It is time for accountability, says former UN representative to Iraq, Hans von Sponeck: here.

Nearly a year after the debacle suffered by US imperialism and the regime it imposed during more than eight bloody years of war and occupation of Iraq—the fall of the country’s second largest city, Mosul to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)—a similar collapse has unfolded in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar, Iraq’s largest province: here.

Sanderlings in Ghana, new study


This video is about sanderlings in Wijk aan Zee in the Netherlands.

From Ardea ornithological journal:

Population increases in non-breeding Sanderlings in Ghana indicate site preference

Ntiamoa-Baidu Y., Nuoh A.A., Reneerkens J. & Piersma T. 2014

To be able to set priorities in species conservation planning, we need to know how these species prioritize the environment themselves, i.e. what they consider to be better and worse sites. We present a unique and relevant case from tropical West-Africa based on 20 years of monthly counts of wetland sites spread along the 550 km long coast of Ghana.

The Ghanaian Sanderling Calidris alba population increased almost fourfold from average monthly total counts of c.1350 Sanderlings to 4850 during the study period. Interestingly, with this considerable increase, the sites with the larger numbers at the start of the survey showed the smallest relative increases during 20 years of monitoring. This pattern is consistent with a buffer effect and suggests that with an increasing overall population the best quality sites are filled up, so that additional birds will be forced to use lower quality sites.

The preferred site in Ghana, a stretch of beach near the village of Esiama between the Amansuri-Ankobra estuaries, is now entirely unprotected. We argue that the site should be placed higher on the conservation agenda given the fact that up to 3.5% of the Sanderling population connecting Greenland with West- and southern Africa rely on this site.

The complete study is here.

Sanderlings of Abaco: here.

Anti-female genital mutilation campaigner Efua Dorkenoo, RIP


This video says about itself:

Cutting the rose: female genital mutilation | Efua Dorkenoo | TEDxUCLWomen

In this talk, Efua Dorkenoo, Advocacy Director for Equality Now and a founder of the Foundation for Women’s Health, Research and Development (FORWARD), a British charity that supports women who have experienced FGM speaks of the current implications of FGM and shares the ongoing efforts dedicated to eliminate this practice.

Event Summary– On December 6th 2013, the first university in the UK to admit men and women on equal merit, University College London (UCL) hosted its first ever TEDxWomen event.

By Hilary Burrage in Britain:

Obituary: Efua Dorkenoo

Thursday 23rd October 2014

Anti-FGM campaigner and writer (1949-2014)

EFUA DORKENOO, who died of cancer in London last Sunday, will be remembered with respect and gratitude for many things, but most of all for her many years of hard-headed and deeply committed campaigning to erase the cruel scourge of female genital mutilation (FGM), which even now blights the lives of — or kills — millions of girls and young women across the globe, year on year.

Striking in both her physical presence and her wider influence, Dorkenoo’s sway and work to stop FGM came to span much of the globe.

In the past year she saw both massively increased concern to address FGM in Britain, and, just a week before she died, the formal launch of the African-led movement, The Girl Generation: Together to End FGM, of which she was programme director.

Born in Ghana, where as a young nursing student she saw at first hand the grim realities of FGM, Dorkenoo then relocated to work in London, becoming an example par excellence of how to combine practical activism, political acumen and solid scholarship to great effect in FGM campaigns.

Dorkenoo understood that none of these elements was likely, alone, to achieve the outcome which she unerringly demanded.

To eradicate FGM, communities, political will and professional skills all need to be aligned, with their own specific briefings, data and messages — so that’s what Dorkenoo, recipient of a master’s degree in public health and an OBE for public service, delivered.

In 1983 Dorkenoo founded Forward, a British women’s health organisation campaigning against FGM. She collaborated for decades with the World Health Organisation and in later years she led FGM programmes for both Equality Now and the international health/development organisation Options.

Dorkenoo’s legacy is already many thousands of girls and women untouched by the looming terror in their communities of FGM.

Those who remain to take forward her life’s work are determined that soon these terrors will reside firmly, only and forever in history.

HILARY BURRAGE

Hilary Burrage is a sociologist, consultant and writer. She is currently writing a book on eradicating FGM in Britain.

SIERRA LEONE CONTEMPLATING BANNING FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION “Sierra Leone’s decision to back an international treaty on the rights of women in Africa could lead to a new law banning female genital mutilation (FGM) in a country where the practice is rife, campaigners said on Tuesday.” [HuffPost]