Migrating Bewick’s swan discovered in Lithuania


This 1 November 2016 video is called Flight of the Swans – Ground crew find Daisy Clark.

The Flight of the Swans blog writes about this today:

Sacha [woman following migrating Bewick’s swans on a paraglider] ‘s in Lithuania and has found tagged swan Daisy Clarke!

Baltic sea birdlife


This video is called Spotted Nutcracker in Lithuania.

From BirdLife:

Lithuania: A Baltic Sea holiday

By Marguerite Tarzia and Julius Morkunas, 12 July 2016

If you’ve already island hopped through Greece, Spain and Italy, then why not head for the Baltic coast for a different sort of holiday? While we can’t guarantee that the ‘Baltic Beach escape’ will be the next on trend thing to do during the summer, there’s wildlife, beautiful views and originality on your side! The Baltic Sea coastline is shared by nine countries, offering different food, culture, languages and scenery. What more could you want on a holiday?

It is easy to travel between Baltic countries by ferry. This gives you the opportunity to spot seabirds and harbour porpoises as you travel from one country to another. It will also give you an appreciation for the quantity of ship traffic in this enclosed sea, which is one of the highest in the world.

Plenty of seabirds to see

The most spectacular time to visit the Baltic for seabirds is in autumn and winter, when migrating seabirds such as the Velvet Scoter, Long-tailed Duck and Common Eider arrive to feed just off the coasts of the southern Baltic countries.

Despite its global importance for seabirds during winter, you can still get your seabird fix during your summer break! If you are lucky you might see some of the resident auk species, such as the Razorbill and Common Guillemot. If passing by the Swedish island of Gothland, look out for the small island of Stora Karlso, where up to 10,000 pairs of Common Guillemot breed during the summer.

A number of tern species can also be found breeding along the Baltic coast, such as the Caspian Tern, the Common Tern and the Sandwich Tern. The Caspian Tern breeds mostly along the Swedish and Finnish coasts and is considered regionally vulnerable due to its small population size and predation by invasive species (fox, mink) and gulls.

If you enjoy Great Cormorant colonies, visit the Curonian Spit in Lithuania. There are approximately 3.000 pairs of birds nesting high up in pine trees alongside some of largest sand dunes in Europe. You will hear and smell them before you see them!

Watch out for lots of ships and climate change

The Baltic Sea has become increasingly busy, with shipping of goods and people and development of energy infrastructure. There are a number of potential impacts to seabirds from this high density traffic, including chronic oil pollution and the risk of oil spills, and disturbance to the birds’ foraging grounds. Not to mention the possibility of more invasive marine species being introduced to the Baltic Sea, leading to ecosystem-wide changes in fish and benthic communities (those living at the lowest levels of the sea)! We need to better understand the cumulative impact of all these activities on the birds and other marine species.

Meanwhile, the Baltic Sea ecosystem is already changing: climate change and eutrophication (caused by pollution from land/agriculture) are altering food supplies for seabirds and their available habitat. As warmer winters reduce the sea ice, seabirds are moving to different parts of the Baltic Sea, including further north. This makes monitoring their population numbers even more challenging.

Seabird bycatch

As you pack up your beach lilos and head home, migrating seaducks will be preparing to take your place along the coast. At the same time, the fishing communities dotted along the coast start preparing for their winter fishing season. Many of the fishermen are looking to catch Atlantic Cod and Pike Perch.

This sometimes spells bad news for seabirds in the Baltic Sea, as it is a particularly problematic region for accidental capture of seabirds in fishing gear, especially in nets. It is currently estimated that up to 76,000 birds are caught by nets in the Baltic Sea each year.

The good news is that through our Seabird Task Force, fishermen and our team are working together on possible solutions to this problem. You can see more about the experimental panels that we have been attaching to nets on our website.

Tips from a local: Julius Morkunas

“The Curonian Spit in Lithuania is definitely worth visiting, even if you only have one or two days to spend along the coast. It is a great place to see the Tawny Pipit: you can see while on the beach or walking in the sand dunes. In August you can find Little Gulls and Black Terns hunting in the waves. Autumn is also a great time to visit the Curonian Spit: hundreds of thousands birds pass through it as they migrate.

Šventoji is another great beach, where just a few minutes away is a meadow with breeding Citrine Wagtails, cranes, Black Storks, Marsh Sandpiper and harriers. Just take binoculars and go through the grassland to the east of the beach.

Also, don’t forget to look closely at the ground under your feet; you could find some bits of amber.”

First ever calandra lark in Lithuania


This video, recorded in Spain, is called Calandra Lark – (Melanocorypha calandra).

From Tarsiger on Twitter today:

Calandra Lark – Calandra melanocorypha – Arokiuru near Panevezys, the 1st record for Lithuania.

Saving birds in Europe


This video from Lithuania is called Globally threatened Aquatic Warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola) in Nemunas Delta in 2012. It says about itself:

4 June 2013

Aquatic Warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola) is the only globally threatened passerine bird found in mainland Europe.

Lithuania is among eight countries worldwide with suitable breeding habitats for this rare species. From 2011 it is breeding only in Belarus, Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania. In 2012 63-64 singing males were found in Lithuania.

Aquatic Warbler is a habitat specialist occurring mainly in open sedge fen mires and marshy habitats. Today it is facing extinction due to an increasingly abandoned farmland or transformation of meadows into a grazing land. Therefore its conservation is closely linked to sustainable farming practices.

Video recording made with special permission from Lithuanian Environment Protection Agency.

For more info about Aquatic Warbler conservation in Lithuania and Latvia visit www.meldine.lt/en.

From BirdLife:

BirdLife Partners are LIFE masters!

By Elodie Cantaloube, Mon, 28/04/2014 – 15:34

Each year, the European Commission evaluates all completed projects funded through the LIFE programme and this year, 4 out of the 11 Best LIFE Nature projects receiving the award have been implemented by BirdLife partners. Tomorrow, an award ceremony will be held in Brussels where the leading BirdLife Partners, OTOP (Poland), the RSPB (UK), BirdLife Finland, HOS (Greece) and SPEA (Portugal) will receive an award.

Iván Ramírez, Head of Conservation at BirdLife Europe stresses “It is an extremely important recognition for our partnership, 2013 was a difficult year for conservation, but even more for our BirdLife Partners that fought the financial crisis without weakening their conservation objectives. These four awards are just another example of their incredible work.”

OTOP (BirdLife in Poland) and the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) joined forces in the “Aquatic Warbler” project aiming to improve the conservation status of the Aquatic Warbler, at the edge of global extinction.

Europe hosts 99% of the global population of the Vulnerable Aquatic Warbler and Poland is a critical habitat for their survival, being its second-largest population stronghold. During the past century, this species experienced a steep decline due to the drainage of its territories for agriculture. The Aquatic Warbler LIFE project, spanning from 2005 to 2011, sought to stabilise populations at key sites (totally 4,200 ha) in Poland and Germany through the enlargement of suitable habitats and improvements to their condition. The project resulted in increasing populations of the bird species and the re-occupation of restored habitats. New management and enforcement plans are now in place and the future of the species is secured thanks to the project “Facilitating Aquatic Warbler habitat management through sustainable systems of biomass use.”

Kokemäenjoki – From Ancient to the Present Estuary, Kokemäenjoki Wetland Chain”, a BirdLife Finland project aiming to restore natural sites on the River Kokemäenjoki.

The purpose of the Kokemäenjoki project, started in 2006 by BirdLife Finland, was to restore five valuable natural sites on the River Kokemäenjoki, including eight Natura 2000 areas. Mowing and excavation were used to prevent overgrowth and preserve the wetlands that were at risk of becoming marshy and overgrown, causing the loss of valuable species. The area was also managed by cultivating and furrowing the reed roots, imitating the effects of being trampled by cattle, which has proven to be very effective at other similar sites. Birdwatching towers and information boards were put up and a number of nature trails were laid to increase awareness of the incredible natural value of the area. Finally, management and land use plans were developed to ensure future sustainable use of the site for both conservation and recreational activities.

BirdLife Greek and Portuguese Partners complete the project “Concrete Conservation Actions for the Mediterranean Shag and Audouin’s gull in Greece”.

This project, run by HOS (BirdLife in Greece) and SPEA (BirdLife in Portugal), focused on improving the conservation status and breeding performance of Audouin’s Gull and Mediterranean Shag, which inhabit the Aegean Sea and Ionian Sea areas of Greece. The project actions addressed the most relevant threats for the conservation of these two species, namely, rat predation, gull competition and commercial fishing activities that cause accidental birdcatch. Specific actions at project sites included the complete removal of all rats from five Natura 2000 sites, the modification of fishing gear and/or fishing regulations to reduce seabird bycatch and the pilot implementation of control measures to reduce Yellow-legged gull populations, a competitor for food and nesting sites. As a parallel result, 41 marine Important Bird Areas (IBAs) were identified and will be included in the Greek Natura 2000 network, securing their protection as a necessary step to avoid habitat loss and degradation. The project was of utmost importance for seabird and marine conservation in the Eastern Mediterranean; it improved critical habitats, allowed for better seabird breeding sites and created a model that could be easily repeated by neighboring countries.

SPEA and RSPB receive a second award for the project “Safe Islands for Seabirds”.The Azores islands used to be the home of millions of breeding seabirds, but today most of these colonies have decreased drastically as a result of introduced predators and invasive exotic plant species. Started in 2009 and focusing on Corvo (the smallest of all Azorean islands) and Vila Franca islet, this project worked towards the conservation of seabird colonies in the Azores, through habitat restoration and control and eradication of invasive alien species. It also built the first “pest-proof fence” in Europe, following successful experiences carried out in other remote areas such as the Hawaiian islands and New Zealand. As part of a wider restoration plan, several tests evaluating the chances of making Corvo an alien-free island were also implemented. The future of the pest-free fenced zone will be secured thanks to a management protocol signed into place by SPEA and the local authorities.

For more information, please contact Elodie Cantaloube, Media and Communications Officer at BirdLife Europe.

Scientists confirm worst fears: new EU Policy on Agriculture is bad for nature: here.

CIA torture in Lithuania scandal


This video is called Revealing CIA‘s political secrets in Europe(2010).

From the Baltic Times:

Lithuanian prosecutor accused in Guantanamo Bay case

Jan 29, 2014

From wire reports, VILNIUS

Vilnius Regional Court has ruled that prosecutor unfoundedly refused to launch a pre-trial investigation into allegations that Mustafa al-Hawsawi was illegally transferred to and secretly detained and tortured in secret CIA detention centre in Lithuania in 2004-2006, says Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HRMI) in a statement.

In September last year HRMI and REDRESS submitted a complaint against prosecutors calling for an investigation into the allegations. The request was refused, and the NGOs appealed to Vilnius Circuit Court, which upheld the prosecutor’s decision.

The higher instance court, however, overruled the judgement and found that prosecutors hastily refused to open an inquiry. The court believed that before making a categorical conclusion that there was no crime committed, the prosecutor should have tried to question al-Hawsawi, currently kept in detention in Guantanamo, and send requests to US institutions.

“This judgement is of great significance on national as well as international level,” said HRMI’s representative Meta Adutaviciute. “It is a huge step forward in protecting human rights [in] Lithuania.”

Al-Hawsawi has not been able to bring a complaint himself, or provide any information to any organisation to bring a complaint on his behalf, because of strict classification rules in place in the United States. The complaint was therefore based on information obtained from public sources.

Lithuania is perceived to be the country with the most widespread government corruption, according to an international survey involving almost 40 countries: here.

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