Breeding shorebirds in Northern Ireland, new study


This video is called Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata) (with northern lapwings in the background).

From Bird Study:

Population estimates and changes in abundance of breeding waders in Northern Ireland up to 2013

3 July 2015

Abstract

Capsule: The third survey of breeding waders in Northern Ireland showed large declines in the abundance of Eurasian Curlew, Northern Lapwing and Common Snipe since 1987.

Aims: To estimate the size of the breeding populations of selected breeding wader species in Northern Ireland in 2013 and population changes since previous surveys in 1987 and 1999.

Methods: Complete surveys of all potentially suitable breeding habitats were undertaken in randomly selected 2 km squares in each of 146 land-dominated 10 km squares across Northern Ireland. Square selection and a two-visit field method replicated previous surveys conducted in 1987 and 1999.

Results: Northern Ireland breeding populations of Eurasian Curlew, Northern Lapwing and Common Snipe were estimated to be 526 (±95% CI: 252–783), 860 (277–1545) and 1123 pairs (527–1782), respectively. These estimates represent significant declines in abundance of 82%, 89% and 78% respectively since 1987.

Conclusion: Breeding populations of Eurasian Curlew, Northern Lapwing and Common Snipe have declined dramatically since 1987 and the distributions of all species are becoming increasingly fragmented and restricted towards the western counties of Tyrone and Fermanagh. Urgent conservation action is needed to prevent the disappearance of these species from the wider countryside.

British governmental child abuse inquiry starts


This video from Northern Ireland says about itself:

1 June 2015

A man who was abused at Belfast’s Kincora boys home four decades ago calls for the scandal there to become part of a wider UK inquiry into historic child abuse cases.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Inquiry into Westminster child abuse ring begins

Friday 10th July 2015

THE long-delayed inquiry into historic child abuse finally got underway in London yesterday.

The independent inquiry was set up last year amid claims of an Establishment cover-up following allegations that a paedophile ring operated in Westminster in the 1980s.

However, it has been beset by controversy since it was first announced by Home Secretary Theresa May last July after both the first and second choices for inquiry chair were both forced to stand down.

Baroness Butler-Sloss stood down in July last year over the role played by her late brother, Lord Havers, who was attorney general in the ’80s.

Her replacement Dame Fiona Woolf resigned following a barrage of criticism over her “Establishment links,” most notably in relation to former home secretary Leon Brittan, who died earlier this year.

Officially opening the probe at the Queen Elizabeth II centre in Westminster, third choice New Zealand high court judge Justice Goddard said the inquiry faced a “daunting task.”

Justice Goddard said: “This inquiry provides a unique opportunity to expose past failures of institutions to protect children.”

Thatcher government plans to deport Hong Kong people to Northern Ireland


This video from Mauritius says about itself:

Demonstration against UK occupation over Chagos

Event: Peaceful march
Date: Wednesday, 7 April, 2010
March co-ordinator: LALIT

To put on the agenda once again the original demands for full decolonization, the re-unification of Mauritius, for base closure and environmental clean-up, and for the right to return and reparations for all Chagossians. What this means is that the march is perhaps the beginning of a new long-term campaign that needs to be built up on these issues.

After the British Harold Wilson government deported all people forcibly from Diego Garcia island in the Chagos archipelago to give place to a United States military (and torture) base … after Wilson’s Conservative successors in the 1970s seriously discussed the possibility of ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Northern Ireland by driving all people opposed to the Great Britain-Northern Ireland union violently south across the six counties-twenty-six counties border (recalling the seventeenth century, when the English military said to the Irish people of Ulster: ‘To Connacht, or to hell!’), now this about the later Thatcher administration …

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Thatcher files: Ministers considered Hong Kong relocation

Friday 3rd July 2013

THE government seems to have seriously considered a proposal for the entire population of Hong Kong to be shipped lock, stock and barrel to Northern Ireland, newly released documents show.

This hare-brained scheme was suggested during the height of the Troubles by Reading University lecturer Christie Davies, who asserted that when Britain handed back Hong Kong to China in 1997 there would be no future for its 5.5 million inhabitants.

The alternative, he suggested, was to resettle them in a new “city state” to be established between Coleraine and Derry, revitalising the stagnant Northern Ireland economy.

Recently released National Archives files show that the idea sparked a flurry of correspondence in Whitehall.

When details appeared in October 1983, George Fergusson, an official in the Northern Ireland Office, sent a memorandum to a colleague in the Republic of Ireland department of the Foreign Office, declaring: “At this stage, we see real advantages in taking the proposal seriously.”

Among the benefits, he suggested, was that it would help convince the unionist population that the British government was committed to retaining Northern Ireland.

If this moronic scheme would have gone ahead, then it would have run into trouble from bigotry among the most fanatical of unionists in Northern Ireland. These are not just bigoted against pro-republican Northern Irish people. Or against Romanian people. Or against Jews. There is also nasty racism against people of Chinese ancestry there.

Gannets share food, new study


Gannet colonies in Britain, Ireland and France

From the University of Leeds in England:

Gannets don’t eat off each other’s plates

Published Thursday 6 June 2013

Colonies of gannets maintain vast exclusive fishing ranges despite doing nothing to defend their territory from rival colonies, scientists have discovered.

A team of researchers led by the University of Leeds and the University of Exeter observed that northern gannets, which can fly hundreds of kilometres on a single fishing trip, avoided visiting the fishing grounds of gannets from neighbouring colonies.

The findings, published in the journal Science, could transform our understanding of animals’ foraging patterns because individual gannets do nothing to enforce this territory or communicate its boundaries when out at sea. A bird entering from a neighbouring colony would be free to fly and fish unhindered.

Co-lead author Dr Ewan Wakefield, postdoctoral researcher in the University of Leeds’ Faculty of Biological Sciences, said: “The accepted view is that exclusive foraging territories are associated with species such as ants, which aggressively defend the feeding areas around their colonies, but this opens the door to a completely new way of thinking about territory. We found the gannet colonies also had neatly abutting and clearly defined feeding areas. Gannets may be a byword for gluttony but, clearly, they don’t eat off each other’s plates.”

This 2014 video is called Torpedo Gannet Diving! – Nature’s Great Events w/ David Attenborough – BBC.

Researchers from more than 14 institutions in the UK, Ireland and France tracked the flights of nearly 200 northern gannets flying from 12 colonies around the British Isles.

Rather than seeing criss-crossing flight paths as the birds headed out from their colonies, they found themselves plotting a strictly segregated map. The most striking example was seen off the west coast of Ireland where gannets from two colonies, Bull Rock and Little Skellig, are within sight of each other yet head off in different directions.

The explanation has nothing to do with territorial behaviour, but instead seems to be a matter of mathematics reinforced by the culture of colonies.

Dr Thomas Bodey, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Exeter and joint-lead author of the study, explained: “Gannets get their chance when shoals of fish are forced to the surface, often by predatory whales and dolphins, but when the gannets start plunging into the water and feeding on a shoal, the fish start diving. You have to be one of the first gannets to get there and that is where the maths comes in: if you go into an area that is being used by birds from a closer colony, there is a higher chance that individuals from that colony will be there first.”

The same applies when waste is being thrown off the backs off trawlers, another key feeding opportunity for gannets.

Cultural transmission within the colonies then seems to reinforce the geographical calculus.

“Gannets readily follow each other when at sea. Finding such separation between colonies, even when visible from each other, indicates that competition for food cannot be the only explanation and suggests cultural differences between colonies may be important. As with humans, birds have favoured routes to travel, and if new arrivals at a colony follow experienced old hands then these patterns can quickly become fixed, even if other opportunities potentially exist,” Dr Bodey said.

The northern gannet is Europe’s largest seabird, with a wingspan of around 2m, and nests on steep cliffs and rocky islands. Attaching the matchbox-sized satellite transmitters and GPS loggers used to track the birds was sometimes a major challenge. At the biggest mainland UK colony at Bempton Cliffs in East Yorkshire, a military abseiling team from the Joint Services Mountain Training Wing was called in to help.

The UK supports 60-70 per cent of the world’s northern gannets and the discovery that colonies depend on particular sea areas has implications for the location of marine protected areas and offshore energy development.

The research also has wide ranging implications for our understanding of animal behaviour. Co-author Dr Keith Hamer, Reader in Animal Ecology in the University of Leeds’ Faculty of Biological Sciences, said: “We knew that species like ants that forage over short distances show segregation, but now we find that segregation not only occurs in gannets but that it is there just as strongly as in ants. That immediately opens the door to asking how many other species that we assumed would not show segregation actually do. There is no reason to believe that gannets are unique.”

Professor Stuart Bearhop, Professor of Animal Ecology at the University of Exeter, said: “We understand an awful lot about what these seabirds do on land, but until recently we knew shockingly little about what they do at sea. The technology is now allowing us to leave the coast with them and we are discovering more and more of these amazing and unexpected patterns.”

The work was funded by the Natural Environmental Research Council, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the Centre National de la RechercheScientifique, the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux, the Alderney Commission for Renewable Energy, the Beaufort Marine Research Award and the European Union. It involved the Universities of Leeds, Exeter, Plymouth, Liverpool, Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork, as well as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France.

Young gannet at Texel bird rehab: here.

Spanish Armada cannons discovery off Ireland


This video says about itself:

17 June 2015

Rare cannons from Spanish Armada discovered in seabed after wreckage from ship washed ashore by storms

From the Irish Times:

Relics from Spanish Armada discovered in Sligo

Artefacts more than 425 years old from merchant vessel found off Streedagh

Wed, Jun 17, 2015, 16:41

Severe winter storms over the last two years are believed to have led to the recent discovery of relics from the Spanish Armada off the Irish coast.

A number of cannons from the merchant vessel La Juliana have been found in sands off Streedagh in Co Sligo since timbers from the exposed wreck began washing ashore in April.

The guns date back to 1588 but are said to be in excellent condition.

Two have been taken off the seabed with archaeologists discovering that one bears a dedication to and depiction of St Matrona, a saint particularly venerated by the people of Catalonia.

It is also dated 1570, the year La Juliana was built, putting the identity of the ship beyond doubt, the Government said.

Heather Humphreys, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, visited the wreck site and saw the archaeological work first hand.

“We have uncovered a wealth of fascinating and highly significant material, which is more than 425 years old,” she said.

“This material is obviously very historically and archaeologically significant.”

Two other vessels from the Armada sank in violent storms in the area in September 1588, La Lavia and Santa Maria de Vision, with more than 1,000 soldiers and mariners drowning when they went down.

They are believed to remain concealed and protected by layers of sand which did not shift in storms over the last two years.

La Juliana traded between Spain and Italy until King Philip II commandeered it for the Armada fleet of 130 ships to invade England and take Queen Elizabeth I’s throne.

The vessel was large, weighed 860 tonnes, carried 32 guns, 325 soldiers and had a crew of 70.

Recovery of the rest of the guns, relics and materials from the sandy seabed off Sligo is expected to last a number of weeks.

Northern Irish pro-marriage equality campaign


This music video from Ireland says about itself:

Bronagh Gallagher – Love Will Find You

19 February 2013

Bronagh Gallagher (aka Derry‘s daughter) with her amazing band absolutely stormed the Glassworks with a blistering set.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Gallagher: Spread joy of same-sex marriage

Friday 12th June 2015

SINGER and actress Bronagh Gallagher has called for same-sex marriage to be legalised in Northern Ireland ahead of her performance at a Belfast marriage equality rally on Saturday.

Ms Gallagher will be supported on stage by Quire, a 30-strong choir of LGBT singers.

The rally in front of Belfast City Hall will follow a march through the city being organised by Amnesty International, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Rainbow Project.

“I was a big supporter of the Yes campaign in the Republic and now I want to see that joy spread to Northern Ireland,” said Ms Gallagher.

“For me, this is dead simple. I think everyone is equal and the law should treat them as equal. No more and no less than that.”

Northern Ireland left behind on gay marriage issue, say Belfast marchers. Thousands join demonstration calling for an end to province’s status as ‘last bastion of discrimination against gay people in these islands’: here.

ABOUT 20,000 gay rights supporters marched through Belfast city centre on Saturday to demand that the legal recognition of same-sex marriage be extended to Northern Ireland: here.