British puffins hit by storms

This video says about itself:

29 January 2009

In Iceland’s remote Westman Islands, warming weather is threatening a beloved mascot: the Atlantic puffin.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

The accidental death of a seaside entertainer

Friday 28th February 2014

The recent, unprecedentedly violent, sea storms decimated the population of the lovable puffin, writes PETER FROST

Some of the worst sea storms for decades have wreaked havoc among our coastal wildlife. I reported on the way our seal population had been hit some weeks ago and now it is becoming clear that sea birds too have suffered huge losses in the storms.

Among the worst species hit by these storms are the colourful and comical puffin (Fratercula arctica).

This striking bird with its large brightly coloured bill is sometims known as the sea parrot.

Thousands of puffins are feared to have been killed in the recent storms that have hammered Britain for the last month. Dead puffins, as well as the corpses of many other seabirds such as razorbills and guillemots, have been found along many beaches.

Reports have also come in from further afield. The British Trust for Ornithology said it has received record numbers of reports of puffins being washed up dead on the coasts of France and Spain.

These are mostly ringed birds and their unique-numbered leg rings indicate they are from Britain.

Puffins venture far out to sea in winter as they hunt their favourite food, sand eels. Most will fly out to locations in the North Sea but many travel as far as the wild Atlantic Bay of Biscay.

In a normal winter very few dead puffins would be found all along the Bay coast from Brittany to northern Spain. This year, however, the body count has been as much as 10 times higher than normal.

Puffin populations have long been a cause for concern. The large-scale commercial dredging of sand eels – a key part of their diet – for fish farm food and fertiliser has been one major reason of their decline.

Native puffins which head out into the Atlantic for the winter months usually ride out the worst that the weather can throw at them.

Later some head back into the Bay of Biscay before returning home to the same breeding cliff-top burrows they used the previous summer.

The puffin is not a parrot despite its nickname. It is in fact an auk. Other British members of the auk family include razorbills and guillemots and small auks.

Ungainly on land, once at sea they swim well. Puffin feed mainly on small fish, which they catch by diving underwater, using their wings for speedy yet graceful propulsion.

Adult male and female puffins are identical except that the male is usually slightly larger. They nest in cliff-top colonies, digging a burrow in which a single white egg is laid.

The birds are often seen returning with their huge and colourful bills full of wriggling silver fish and sand eels which the chick swallows whole. It is a familiar but always thrilling sight for seaside bird-watchers.

The squarking puffin chick grows fast on such diet. Nest burrows and young chicks are at risk of attacks from other sea birds including gulls and skuas.

Skuas, in particular, have discovered they can easily steal a beakful of fishy food from a puffin just about to feed their chick.

After just six weeks the young puffin is fully fledged. Amazingly, one night it will abruptly swim out to sea and not return to land, or its parents, for several years.

Despite the terrible losses this winter our comical friend the puffin will be back breeding on Britain’s cliffs this summer I have no doubt.

We will expect the adults to arrive back at their breeding colonies in March and April and they will be gone again by mid-August.

Here are a few good places to see puffins. There are impressive breeding colonies at Bempton Cliffs in North Yorkshire; South Stack on Anglesey; on the Farne Islands and Coquet Island off Northumberland; the Isle of May off the Fife coast; and my own personal favourite puffins in Shetland and the Orkney Islands.

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Dutch child abuse scandals bishop Gijsen dies

Gijsen as a bishop in Iceland

Translated from Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad:

June 24, 2013, 13:45

Former bishop Gijsen (80) dies

by Pim van den Dool

Jo Gijsen, the bishop of Roermond from 1972 to 1993, has died. The diocese announced that this afternoon. Gijsen was 80 years old. He had been seriously ill for some time.

During his tenure in Roermond Gijsen was controversial because of his conservative views. He made controversial statements about homosexuality. He said that was against nature and should be rejected under all circumstances.

Gijsen was the highest Dutch church leader who was charged with child abuse. According to a complaint lodged against him Gijsen, when he was a parochial vicar in Valkenburg, did extensive sexual acts with the 10-year-old son of a parishioner in 1958. The now 64-year-old man filed his complaint about this in 2009, before the abuse scandal in the Netherlands was revealed.

The complaint against Gijsen eventually was declared not proven for lack of supporting evidence. The committee for complaints of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church did say that this “certainly did not mean that the facts stated by the complainant would not be true.”

Gijsen often discredited

It was not the first time that Gijsen was associated with sexual abuse. In 2011 the complaints committee called it “unseemly” that Gijsen in 1959, as a dormitory supervisor of the minor seminary Rolduc, spied on a masturbating boy in his chambrette. This complaint was declared inadmissible because Peeping Tom behaviour does not meet the definition of sexual abuse. Gijsen said he had never been in the dormitory, despite witness statements stating the contrary.

From 1996 to 2007, Gijsen was bishop of the Diocese of Reykjavik in Iceland. Last year an Icelandic commission which examined the child abuse in the church there, ruled that Gijsen had acted negligently as bishop by destroying a letter from a victim of sexual abuse.

Gijsen departure came as a surprise in 1993

The departure of Gijsen as a bishop in January 1993 came as a surprise. From one day to another he went to a convent in Austria. According to the diocese for health reasons. Shortly before he left, Gijsen had problems at the seminary in Rolduc, for which he was responsible as a bishop. The deputy head of the seminary turned out to have sex with students. Gijsen knew about it, but did not act decisively. Before the Vatican would report on the issue Gijsen wrote his letter of resignation to Pope John Paul II.

Northern light video

, who made this video, writes:

More details about the “making of” on

The soft light of the arctic regions attracted me magically so that I decided to dedicate a project to it. Around the polar circle light occupies a very important role, especially in winter. During the freezing months the sun creeps only along the horizon providing thus long hours of this tender twilight that occurs before sunrise and after sunset. But the nights are even longer and then another special light brights up the sky: the aurora borealis. In this film I wanted to show how individual the northern lights are: they may dance very fast in a frenetic rhythm or explode in a red-purple firework or they may just glow greenish over the starry sky vaguely distinguishable by the human eye. Every night there is a different night show – if the polar lights appear as they use to be very shy divas.

As a non resident of the Arctic regions it was very difficult for me to hunt the northern lights. I travelled different times to the distant regions at the polar circle. It was not easy enduring the freezing temperatures and the darkness and sleeping in the tent or in the car when the harsh wind was shaking it too strong. But after a year I had the incredible luck to gather enough video material for this film project. Especially on my last trip to Tromsö in february 2013 I experienced incredible beautiful aurora borealis.

The footage was captured in Greenland, Norway (on the Lofoten islands and in the Troms region), Iceland and Finland.

The surreal atmosphere of the landscapes is emphasized thanks to the wonderful music of the talented and creative composer Pablo Garmón