Endangered Australian regent honeyeaters’ victory in court


This video from Australia says about itself:

Release of captive bred Regent Honeyeaters

21 April 2015

The fourth and largest release of captive bred Regent Honeyeaters (Anthochaera phrygia), undertaken in the Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park in Victoria’s north-east. The release of around 80 birds bred at Taronga Zoo will add to the wild population in north east Victoria and southern New South Wales, and increase community awareness and participation in the post-release monitoring program.

From BirdLife:

Win for Critically Endangered Australian Regent Honeyeater in Court Decision

By BirdLife Australia, Mon, 14/03/2016 – 03:54

BirdLife Australia is celebrating a landmark court decision to protect the Critically Endangered Regent Honeyeater. In a desperately needed win for the Critically Endangered bird, the NSW Land and Environment Court has found in favour of a challenge to the approval of a development which would have destroyed its habitat. In the decision, it was recognised that the Regent Honeyeater is in “grave peril” and that Cessnock City Council acted improperly in approving a Development Application for a steel fabrication facility in Regent Honeyeater habitat in the Hunter Economic Zone (HEZ) in the Lower Hunter Valley, NSW.

Friends of Tumblebee, represented by community legal center EDO NSW, claimed that a Species Impact Statement (SIS) should have been carried out to properly assess the impacts of clearing for the development on Regent Honeyeaters. The Court agreed, concluding that in the absence of an SIS, the approval issued by Council is invalid. The Court added: “Preservation of this area is therefore of vital importance to the long term survival of the species. Habitat destruction is a primary reason for its imperiled status.”

The Regent Honeyeater may number as few as 350-400 birds in the wild.

The decision also recognises the important contribution BirdLife’s Regent Honeyeater data made to informing the decision, a testament to the huge amount of effort our volunteers put into searching for this elusive species each year.

BirdLife Australia is well aware of the significance of the HEZ for Regent Honeyeaters. In 2007/08 one of the most significant known Regent Honeyeater breeding events of the last decade (approximately 20 nests and up to 100 individuals) was recorded within the HEZ. Dean Ingwersen, BirdLife Australia’s Regent Honeyeater Recovery Coordinator, said “the Lower Hunter Valley is one of only four known core areas for Regent Honeyeaters and the HEZ site is possibly the most important part of these lowland forests for the species.” Dean added, “the biggest threat to the species is loss of habitat, so this is a common sense decision in the conservation of these birds. Further to the breeding event in 2007/08, this site has been one of the most consistently used in NSW in the past decade and is likely to be an important refuge under drying climatic conditions in the future.”

The HEZ is situated on one of the largest wooded remnants in the Hunter Valley and was rezoned for industrial purposes by the NSW Government in March 2002 after minimal ecological investigations. Since rezoning occurred, numerous ecological studies have shown that the HEZ contains a remarkably large range of threatened flora, fauna and ecological communities, including being one of the most important single sites for Regent Honeyeaters.

The Lower Hunter Valley Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) was recognised as one of five “IBAs in Danger” across Australia in a report by BirdLife Australia in 2014, due mainly to the threat posed by the broader HEZ development. The decision is welcome by BirdLife’s Woodland Birds for Biodiversity Project Coordinator, Mick Roderic; ”from the start this proposal failed to consider the ecological impacts the development would have on a range of threatened species. The ruling supports our long-held view that loss of these woodlands would imperil the Regent Honeyeater, a species our organisation and volunteers work tirelessly to save.”

The decision also demonstrates that cumulative impacts of smaller proposals within larger “staged” developments need to be properly considered by consent authorities.

Entangled southern right whale saved


This video from Australia says about itself:

Removing fishing line from Southern Right Whale at Roseville

Taken aboard My Girl 11/08/2015.

From daily The Independent in Britain about this:

Sydney fishermen film the moment they remove fishing line and plastic from a whale‘s head after it ‘came up to them for help’

‘It was surreal, we couldn’t believe our eyes’

Adam Withnall

Thursday 13 August 2015

A group of fishermen have captured extraordinary footage of the moment they helped free a whale from entangled rubbish after it seemed to seek out their help.

Michael Riggio, 17, and Ivan Iskenderian told the local Manly Daily newspaper they were sailing home from a fishing trip when they noticed the animal, thought to be a southern right whale, near Sydney, Australia.

The fishermen said the whale, which appeared some way up Middle Harbour just north of the New South Wales city, appeared to be looking for them to do something.

While Mr Riggio took photographs, Mr Iskanderian was able to reach out to the whale and remove a large mass of fishing lines and plastic that had got caught on the animal’s face.

“It was right on his lip… he seemed like he wanted it off,” Mr Iskenderian said.

Another man out on his boat in the same stretch of water, Ron Kovacs, was able to take a video of the moment the rubbish came free.

He posted it to Facebook, and explained that the whale had spent some time taking an unusual amount of interest in a group of boats.

“He had a big scar on his back, and some fishing line and two plastic bags on his head,” Mr Kovacs said.

“He [kept] popping his head up so you could reach out and remove the garbage. He tried on my boat bit [it was] a bit harder as we are a bit higher – I made one grab for the bag but missed.

“He later came up to a trailer boat and presented his head as they removed the bag and [then] the fishing line. It was as if he wanted them to take it off.”

Mr Riggio, who posted a selfie of the experience on Instagram, said it was “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, just seeing it so close”.

The fishermen said that after the rubbish was removed, the whale seemed to show its appreciation by slapping its fin on the water. Mr Iskenderian said: “It was surreal, we couldn’t believe our eyes.”

Canada: Stranded [Killer] Whale Rescued From Jagged Rocks By Duct Tape And Towels: here.

Right whales are getting tangled in fishing gear, and that’s a big problem: here.

Bird news from Australia


This is a little woodswallow video from Australia.

From Birdline New South Wales in Australia:

Sunday 12 April 2015: Little Woodswallow, Pacific Swift

Euligal State Forest, Kenebri

At least 15 Little Woodswallows at the southern end of Cadet Rd (-30.784096,149.176005). They were perched, feeding young, flying overhead and bombing me. There were also good numbers of White-browed Woodswallows nearby.

Six Pacific Swift over the creek crossing just east of Kenebri an hour earlier. Two White-backed Swallow and 10 Turquoise Parrots were seen at The Aloes en route.

Max Breckenridge 13 April 2015

Australian archbishop arrested in child abuse scandal


This video from Australia says about itself:

17 March 2015

Adelaide Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson has been charged with concealing child sex abuse, committed by another clergyman three decades ago.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Archbishop accused of paedophile cover-up

Wednesday 18th March 2015

AUSTRALIAN Catholic archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson was arrested yesterday and charged with covering up for a paedophile priest during the 1970s.

He said that he was disappointed that New South Wales state police had decided to charge him with concealing a serious child sexual abuse offence, adding that he would fight the charge, which carries a potential two-year prison sentence.

It is alleged that he failed to report child-sex abuse carried out by James Fletcher in the 1970s when they both served in the town of Maitland, north of Sydney.

Mr Fletcher died in prison in 2006, one year into an almost eight-year sentence for raping an altar boy between 1989 and 1991.

A victim of Mr Fletcher’s paedophilia, Peter Gogarty, expressed relief over the charge yesterday, saying: “I think it’s a very, very important day for Australia that we’ve now had someone in such a high position charged.”

Australian sharks feed on dead humpback whale


This video from Australia says about itself:

Tiger Shark Feeding Frenzy – The Death of a Humpback Whale

25 May 2014

When an organism as large as a humpback whale dies in an ocean system, who cleans up that big rotting mess…. We know! Apex predators like the tiger shark are renowned scavengers. This is a collection of footage showing the 3 day process of what happened in Coral Bay when a humpback whale died and washed over the reef.

From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:

Beaches closed as sharks feed on whale carcass near shoreline on NSW South Coast

By Tegan Osborne

Updated about 7 hours ago

Sharks have been seen devouring a dead whale floating close to rocky coastline at South Broulee near Batemans Bay in NSW, forcing authorities to close five beaches.

The young humpback whale was spotted off the rocks at the popular swimming beach on Wednesday morning, according to Stan Wall from Lifeguard Services Australia.

A 100m exclusion zone was set up around the whale and at one point a crowd of more than 300 people gathered to watch.

However, Mr Wall said, after some time, lifeguards in the area were unable to see any spray or air bubbles coming from the animal and it was presumed dead.

“We think it might have come into collision with a boat or maybe even hurt itself on the rocks that we saw it on this morning,” Mr Wall said.

Clear signs the animal was seriously ill: ORRCA

Shona Lorigan, from the Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia (ORRCA), said once the animal died, a group of sharks moved in and began devouring the carcass.

“The sharks are dangerous and are in a feeding frenzy so it’s important that everyone stays away,” she said.

“It’s very important for their own safety – don’t go near a dead animal, particularly one that showed signs of ser[i]ous illness.”

She said the whale was seriously underweight and was infested with large numbers of whale lice.

“There really is very clear evidence that the whale itself was sick before it passed away,” she said.

Ms Lorigan said four members of ORRCA went straight to the beach after calls from the public.

“We got a large number of calls from the beach this afternoon, and that immediately activated our rescue team,” she said.

“While they were in transit… we were on the phone with members of the public advising them on the situation, and we became aware that the animal had passed away.”

Beaches remain closed until further notice

Mr Wall said Shark Bay, North Broulee, South Broulee, North Head and Moruya beaches would remain closed until further notice.

He said lifesavers had met with Eurobodalla Shire Council and would do so again early on Thursday morning to re-assess what, if anything, should be done with the carcass.

“We’re hoping with the change in tides it actually might get washed out [to sea],” Mr Wall said.

A Westpac Lifesaver helicopter was deployed on Wednesday afternoon to help ensure the area had been cleared of people, he said.

Australian marsupial species discovered, killing itself by sex


This video from Australia is called Queensland: The suicidal mating routine of the male marsupial antechinus.

From Reuters:

Scientists Discover New Marsupial That Has Sex Until It Dies

02/21/2014 10:59 am EST

SYDNEY, Feb 20 – Australian scientists have discovered a new species of marsupial, about the size of a mouse, which conduct marathon mating sessions that often prove fatal for the male.

The Black-Tailed Antechinus has been found in the high-altitude, wet areas of far southeast Queensland and northeast New South Wales.

It is identifiable by a very shaggy coat and an orangey-brown coloured rump which ends with a black tail.

But it’s their strenuous mating sessions, which can last for to 14 hours, with both the males and females romping from mate to mate, that is most striking about the animals.

“It’s frenetic, there’s no courtship, the males will just grab the females and both will mate promiscuously,” Andrew Baker, head of the research team from the Queensland University of Technology who made the discovery, told Reuters.

The mating season lasts for several weeks and the males will typically die from their exertions.

Excessive stress hormones in the males that build up during the mating season degrade their body tissue, leading to death. Females have the ability to block the production of the hormone.

The species was found at the highest peak of the World-Heritage listed Gondwana Rainforests, in Springbrook National Park in Queensland, about 900 km (560 miles) north east of Sydney.

The findings about the new species have been published in the science journal Zootaxa. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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