Andean flamingos’ eggs, chicks in England

This 2014 video is called ANDEAN FLAMINGO MATING DANCE. It shows these birds in their natural environment in South America.

An Andean flamingo with her Chilean flamingo chick, photo Slimbridge Wetlands Centre

From the BBC, 10 August 2018:

Slimbridge flamingos foster chicks in fertility bid

Flamingo chicks have been fostered by another species of the bird at Slimbridge Wetland Centre.

Three pairs of Andean flamingos at the Gloucestershire reserve were given eggs of their Chilean counterparts to nest.

The Andean flamingos had been prompted to lay eggs by the hot weather but the flock has been infertile for 19 years so were left chick-less once again.

All three chicks have hatched and staff say they are confident they will survive.

Experts at Slimbridge spotted that the recent high temperatures had prompted the Andean birds to start laying for the first time since 2003, but the eggs were not viable.

‘Fickle breeders’

Their keepers decided that, as the Chilean flock was also laying multiple eggs, a foster program might help prompt fertility in the Andean group.

They gave six of the birds a handful of eggs to nest and hatch and now the young chicks are being raised by them.

One of the foster mums came from the last set of successful Andean chicks, raised in 1999.

“Flamingos are fickle breeders and can go years without nesting successfully”, they explained.

“It’s a wonderful and welcome surprise that the Andeans have started laying again after nearly two decades,” said aviculture manager Mark Roberts.

“There’s no doubt the recent heat has had the desired effect so with the Andeans in full parenting mode we gave them Chilean chicks to bring up as their own.

“Chilean flamingos are relatively similar to the Andean but they survive on different diets.”

Some of the Andean flamingos arrived at the centre in the 1960s and have been at the reserve longer than any staff.

Slimbridge is the only place in the world where all six species of flamingos can be seen.

See also here.

Saving farmland birds in England

This video from England says about itself:

23 January 2018

Across the UK, farmland birds are in danger. In some places, populations have fallen by 50%. But at Sherborne in Gloucestershire, the National Trust is working with local farmers to reverse that trend. Thanks to their efforts, numbers of linnets, goldcrests and skylarks are soaring.

Winter wildlife in England

This video from England says about itself:

What wildlife can you discover on a winter walk?

At Sherborne Park in Gloucestershire, there’s lots of wildlife to see even in winter. Find out more and discover new places to see wildlife here.

Including red kites, fieldfare, mute swan, teal, robin and others.

Cetti’s warblers and goldcrests in England

This video from Wales is called Cetti’s Warblers calling.

From the Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire, England, on Twitter today:

Holden Tower- Cetti’s Warbler (+ another calling) and Goldcrests in the thorns below the hide.

Bewick’s swans migration to England

This video is called SlowMotion: Bewick’s Swans Fly [with some geese].

From Wildlife Extra:

Bewick’s swans fly from Eastern Europe to Gloucestershire in great numbers

Since Christmas a great number of wild Bewick’s swans have been arriving at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust centre at Slimbridge in Gloucestershire as cold weather has moved in from Eastern Europe.

Eighty one swans made the final leg of their annual migration from arctic Russia during the recent cold clear nights, doubling the size of the Slimbridge roost.

The arrival of lots of swans in this way – dubbed a ‘swanfall’ – generally coincides with the first cold snap of winter, as the birds seek ice-free wetlands to feed and roost.

The swanfall is a welcome surprise after mild weather allowed the birds to remain as far east as Estonia earlier this month.

WWT Wildlife Health Research Officer, Julia Newth, helps conserve the Bewick’s swans, which have been in decline since the 1990s.

“The arrival of lots of Bewick’s swans is a traditional harbinger of cold weather and it feels truly wintry here at WWT Slimbridge with crisp, clear days and hundreds of swans crowding onto the lake at dusk,” she says. “It has been a fantastic spectacle for everyone who’s visited over the Christmas break.

“Sadly, there’s a serious side and the number of Bewick’s swans in Europe has dropped by over a third, but we’re doing all we can to get to the bottom of the problem and everyone who visits is supporting the conservation of these beautiful wild birds.”

The Slimbridge Bewick’s swans are the subject of one of the most intensive wildlife studies in the world. Each individual swan can be identified by the unique pattern of yellow and black on its beak.

The study has been running continuously for 50 years and has recorded the life histories of nearly 10,000 swans during that time.

WWT has expanded its swan research over the decades and linked up with researchers throughout the migratory swans’ range in northern Europe and Russia.

Together they have managed to get international protection for a chain of wetlands along the way that are vital for the swans to feed and rest.

Despite protection for their wetland habitats, the swan population has gone into decline. WWT is currently raising money through its Hope for Swans appeal in order to deliver the Bewick’s Swan International Action Plan, which aims to stabilise the population.

For information on swans and where to see them, or to read Julia’s blog about the Slimbridge swans and her research, visit

Bewick’s swans in Lauwersmeer, the Netherlands: here.

Rare moth in English garden

This video says about itself:

This is footage of a couple of oleander hawk moths emerging from their cocoons. Found the caterpillars while cutting back our oleander bushes. Did a little research into what they were and decided to put a few in a box to see what happened. Watched them feed, shed skin, cocoon and then managed to see these ones emerge about a couple of weeks later. These are very beautiful moths, and quite large. We measured one with a wing span of 11cm. That to me is a big moth. Was very interesting to see it change from a caterpillar through all the different stages it went through into a fabulous moth.

From Wildlife Extra:

Very rare moth spotted in a Gloucestershire garden

One of the UK’s rarest and most spectacular moths has been spotted in a Gloucestershire garden – the first time it has been seen in the county for eight years, wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation (BC) has revealed.

BC Gloucestershire Branch has only ever received five records of the moth being seen in the county, with the last in 2006.

The oleander hawk-moth was recently recorded in the Cotswolds by Jean Booth, who found it near to her tobacco flowers – a known food plant of the giant moth.

The moth can be identified by the swirling cream and pinkish-brown markings on its green coloured forewing. A white band across the front end of its abdomen is also distinctive.

BC Gloucestershire Branch member Mrs Booth from Gretton near Winchcombe, said: “When I saw this great big moth by the plants I knew it was a hawk-moth, but it wasn’t one I’d seen before so I had to go and check my books.

“When I realised it was an oleander, all I could think was ‘Wow’! It was so big and had the most beautiful markings. I’ve only been recording moths for just over a year and still can’t believe this rare migrant made its way to my garden.”

There have been very few recent sightings of the oleander hawk-moth in the UK as it breeds abroad in very warm, open places.

If it does make its way over here, it is often to southern England between August and October. The most reported in any one year was in 1953 when a total of 13 were seen.

The wildlife charity’s Head of Moth Conservation, Mark Parsons, says it was a wonderful find: “This large and striking moth is rarely encountered in this country and is not seen every year. This individual probably originates from North Africa, which has perfect breeding conditions for this species. Jean was extremely lucky to see one of these magnificent moths, as most recorders never see one during a lifetime of recording.”

Anyone interested in taking up mothing or finding out more about Gloucestershire’s moths, are invited to join a special event taking place in Coleford on Friday 19 September. Find out more by visiting

More crane nests in the Netherlands

This video is called WILD COMMON CRANE (Grus grus), SLIMBRIDGE WWT, GLOS, ENGLAND. 23 09 13.

This morning, Vroege Vogels radio in the Netherlands reported that this year there are seven crane nests in Fochteloërveen nature reserve in Drenthe province.

That is an increase, compared to earlier years.

Cranes in the Netherlands in 2016: here.

Good Dutch eel news

This video says about itself:

2 Aug 2012

The European Eel is one of the continent’s most enigmatic species. However, eel numbers have diminished by 90 per cent over the last 30 years due to overfishing, habitat loss and man-made obstructions to their migratory pathways. Russell Beard travels to Gloucestershire, England, to meet conservationists and fishermen who are working together to secure the future of the species.

Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands reports that, after bad times for eels, this year twice as many young eels, called elvers, migrated into Dutch waters as in earlier years.

However, it is still too early to say whether this is a lasting improvement; and we don’t know yet how any of these young eels will reach adulthood.

Dutch badger video

This video is about a badger on a meadow near Beekbergen in the Veluwe region in the Netherlands.

A buzzard calls.

The badger disappears into a wildlife corridor pipe, leading to the forest.

The video is by Sylvia Timmer.

October 2013. Leading animal welfare charity, Humane Society International UK, is appalled by news that an eight week extension to the Gloucestershire badger cull has been granted by Natural England. The charity warns that prolonging the shooting is the very worst thing the government can do because it increases the risk of spreading bovine TB as badgers flee the area: here.

Badger cull to end early in Gloucestershire: here.

British unscientific badger killing

This video is called Badger cubs 2012.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Defra has not been honest on badgers

Saturday 7th Sep 2013

The department has ignored scientific evidence and hidden its own findings to justify culling the animals, says Caroline Allen

This week the second of two pilot badger culls started in Gloucestershire — the first began a week earlier in Somerset.

The government and the National Farmers Union claim that killing badgers is required to control bovine tuberculosis (bTB).

Many independent scientists, naturalists, animal welfare and conservation organisations do not agree.

The pilots are supposed to determine whether cull targets can be met within six weeks and at least 70 per cent of the badger population removed from each cull area.

They are also meant to work out whether shooting free-running badgers at night is a humane way of killing them.

If the pilots are deemed a success the programme will expand with the aim of killing up to 130,000 badgers.

So what are the facts?

Bovine TB is a disease of cattle which can affect a number of other animals, of which badgers are one.

There is no doubting the distress this disease causes farmers or the high cost incurred by culling infected cattle — much of which is borne by the taxpayer.

But there is a serious body of evidence that the badger cull will be ineffective in controlling the disease and that the large sums of money being spent would be better used on other measures such as improving TB testing in cattle, developing better vaccinations for both cattle and badgers and improving biosecurity on farms.

The Randomised Badger Culling Trial, an experiment into badger culling as a preventative measure run between 1998 and 2005, was set by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and cost £50 million.

It concluded that “badger culling cannot meaningfully contribute to the future control of cattle TB.”

It also concluded that other approaches to culling were, at best, going to give only slightly better results and, at worst, would have a detrimental effect.

The form this particular cull takes — shooting badgers — could even increase the incidence of TB by encouraging badger movements into neighbouring areas and then back again.

The examples from other countries used by Defra supposedly to show that culls can be successful have been criticised as other factors, such as new movement controls on cattle, could also account for the reported reductions in bTB.

Even setting aside these scientific objections in order for culling to have any hope of “success” enormous areas — at least 150 square kilometres — need to be covered.

The culls have to be sustained in such areas for at least four years and at least 70 per cent of the land must remain accessible.

This is a massive undertaking. Considering that success, as admitted by Defra’s chief vet, would be defined as a reduction in bTB of around 15 per cent — so leaving 85 per cent of the disease untouched — it seems that efforts would be much better directed elsewhere.

There are also real concerns about the methods by which humaneness is being measured in these pilots, one of the key things they are supposed to assess.

Defra has not explained how it is going to collect and analyse the data.

A heavily redacted document was released following pressure from campaigners, which suggested that the noises made by shot badgers would be comparable to those made by harpooned whales.

Nor was any information about how wounded animals that retreat underground to die from infection or starvation would be considered in the humaneness assessment.

The anatomy of the badger means that free shooting carries a very high risk of leaving badgers wounded and in pain.

The Information Commissioner has ruled that Defra was wrong to hide behind Environmental Information Regulations in refusing to disclose further information about humaneness assessments, and the department now has a short period in which to appeal or produce this information.

Finally there is the ethical question of how we treat our indigenous wildlife.

The removal of up to 130,000 badgers will have a dramatic effect on local populations, with badgers possibly cleared from some areas.

Many people are joining peaceful protests in the cull areas, dismayed by the way the government has ignored scientific and ethical concerns.

Campaigners will be watching the results of these pilots closely.

Confidence in Defra to carry out a proper and accurate assessment remains low and the government’s rhetoric suggests it sees wider culling as the answer, regardless of what the pilots reveal.

Continued pressure on the organisations involved to encourage proper consideration of alternative strategies to tackle bTB is vital.

Caroline Allen is a veterinary surgeon and Green Party national spokeswoman on animal issues.