Portuguese birds, new Internet site


This is a lesser spotted woodpecker video from Portugal.

From BirdLife:

Portugal’s birding at your fingertips

By Nuno Barros, Tue, 26/05/2015 – 14:50

Now available at your fingertips, all you need to know about more than 100 species of bird and birdwatching in mainland Portugal, the Azores and Madeira archipelagos. Yes, you can find all the information you need to know about all the best birding sites that the country has to offer, itineraries, and many other interesting facts and figures on the Portuguese Society for the Study of Bird’s (SPEA/BirdLife partner) new website.

Found in the south-western part of Europe, Portugal is a small but beautiful country, home to friendly people, a huge myriad of habitats, and many southern European bird species. In the last few years, more and more birdwatchers have come and discovered the many wonders of birding in Portugal, mostly in the Alentejo and Algarve regions. The country’s year round great weather conditions and ease of spotting elusive birds like the Black-winged Kite, Little Bittern, Great Bustard or Azure-Winged Magpie draws birders from far and wide.

Even in the peak of winter you can expect to see more than 100 species in a week, and with a bit of luck, enjoy some sunny days. And Portugal is so small, so it’s easy to jump from one amazing birding hot spot to another, and along with the local cuisine, culture and landscapes, a visit is simply a must.

There are certainly many other places to go birdwatching in Portugal and it’s islands, but this platform provides birdwatchers with what SPEA thinks are all you need to know about the “best” birding sites around, places that not surprisingly overlap with Important Bird and BiodiversityAreas (IBAs), the conservation background that is SPEA’s stronghold.

So all bird lovers, we invite you to come and explore our website, and see what this magnificent corner of Europe has to offer. You can also come to our next Sagres Birdwatching and Nature activities Festival, from 1-4th October, to celebrate some of Portugal’s birdwatching wonders.

Big Triassic amphibian fossil discovery in Portugal


This video says about itself:

24 March 2015

Excavation in Portugal of giant Triassic fossil amphibian Metoposaurus algarvensis – Paleontology dig.

From Associated Press:

Researchers Find Fossil of ‘Super Salamander’ Species

LONDON — Mar 24, 2015, 11:01 AM ET

Fossil remains of a previously unknown species of a crocodile-like “super salamander” that grew as long as a small car and was a top predator more than 200 million years ago have been found in southern Portugal, researchers announced Tuesday.

The species grew up to two meters (six feet) in length and lived in lakes and rivers, University of Edinburgh researchers said.

The team said the species, given the name Metoposaurus algarvensis, was part of a wider group of primitive amphibians that were widespread at the time but became extinct. They are the ancestors of modern amphibians such as frogs, and are believed by paleontologists to have lived at the same time the dinosaurs began their dominance.

Steve Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who led the study, said the new species, which had hundreds of sharp teeth, is “weird compared to anything today.”

It was at the top of the food chain, feeding mainly on fish, but it was also a danger for newly appeared dinosaurs and mammals that strayed too near the water, Brusatte said.

The team says the find establishes that this group of amphibians lived in a more diverse geographic area than had been thought.

Andrew Milner, an expert on early amphibians at the Natural History Museum in London who was not involved in the study, said the find “is another piece of the picture.” The Portuguese site has “very good potential to give us more and different types of animal” from the Upper Triassic period, he added.

The dig in Portugal began in 2009 and took several years. The “super salamander” bones were uncovered in a half-meter thick layer of rock in a hillside that is “chock-full” of bones, Brusatte said. The team hopes to raise funds to continue excavating the site.

See also here.

The scientific description of this newly discovered species is here.

Saving the birds of Portugal’s Berlengas archipelago


This video is about the Berlengas islands in Portugal.

By BirdLife Europe, Fri, 09/01/2015 – 17:08:

New project to repair and protect the Berlengas archipelago’s rich ecosystem

Only 30 people live in the Berlengas archipelago off the Portuguese coast, yet there is a lot of activity to report from these small islands. Included in UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR), Berlengas is known to be home for several species of marine birds and for hosting a diverse ecosystem. Unfortunately, the beautiful archipelago and its surrounding waters have suffered during the recent economic conditions; despite the efforts of national authorities to conserve the fragile ecosystem, the area is rapidly deteriorating.

In June 2014, the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA, BirdLife Partner), joined  a partnership with the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forestry, the Municipality of Peniche and the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa. Together, they planned an integrated combination of sustainable development, responsible tourism and conservation of natural resources at the Reserva Natural das Berlengas, aiming to become a model of good management of a Protected Area. The resulting Life + Berlenga Project was launched that same month with an initial investment of €1,380.000, 50% of which came from European Commission funds. The project aims to restore the natural resources of the archipelago and, at the same time, to benefit the local communities whose livelihoods depend on tourists visiting the island.

The project will include plans for sustainable exploitation of natural resources, action to avoid incidental seabird bycatch in fishing gears, control of mammalian species introduced by humans and control of invasive plants which threaten the most iconic bird species, such as the Common Guillemot.

There will also be a strong advertising campaign using the latest technologies to promote Berlengas as a top European tourist destination.

The Berlengas archipelago receives more than 200,000 visitors a year, notably because of the rich biodiversity it hosts, which makes the islands a natural paradise to be treasured.

Go Birding in Portugal: Living Bird editor Tim Gallagher gives a recap of his recent birding trip to southwest Europe.

African 20th century liberation movements, film review


This video says about itself:

Concerning Violence – Official Trailer

A film by Goran Hugo Olsson, 2014, Sweden/U.S.A./Denmark/Finland.

By John Green in Britain:

Friday 28th November 2014

Gordon Hugo Olsson’s film on the anti-imperialist liberation movements globally in the ’60s and ’70s fails to connect with contemporary concerns, says JOHN GREEN

Concerning Violence (15)

Directed by Goran Hugo Olsson

3/5

DURING the cold war, radical Swedish filmmakers set out to capture footage from the anti-imperialist liberation movements in Africa first hand.

With their 16mm footage he discovered in the Swedish Television archives, Goran Hugo Olsson draws on his experience in Concerning Violence to create a visual narrative of the continent.

He bases his documentary on the ideas of Frantz Fanon and his explosive book about colonialism The Wretched of the Earth, written over 50 years ago.

While Fanon’s ideas at the time were iconoclastic and became immensely influential among liberation movements worldwide, this film — despite the best of intentions — hardly does them justice.

It begins ominously with a long and monotonously spoken introduction by academic Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak from Columbia University, who reads from a script.

If you haven’t already nodded off, a series of clips follows using unique archival footage from the archives. They include a night-time raid with the MPLA in Angola, interviews with Frelimo guerilla fighters in Mozambique, as well as with Thomas Sankara, Amilcar Cabral and other African revolutionaries.

These are contrasted with self-revealing interviews with dyed–in-the-wool colonialists including General Spinola, former Portuguese colonial warrior and later short-term president of Portugal.

While we well know that colonial attitudes and the horrific exploitation of Africa still continue today and that imperial countries are still waging brutal wars against struggling nations, the assembled footage feels ancient and no longer really relevant to the present.

Between clips of those anti-colonial struggles we are presented with large text bullet points or slogans taken from Fanon’s book, also read out like a Power Point presentation for dummies.

The filmmakers argue that Fanon’s work is still a major tool for understanding and illuminating the neo-colonialism happening now as well as the violence and reactions against it, but that claim is very open to question.

While it is salutary to be reminded of those anti-colonial struggles during the late 1960s and ’70s — and the sacrifices involved that gave the world so much hope and inspiration — it is also sobering to realise what became of them, demonstrating that a struggle is never finished. That’s something I’m sure Fanon would have agreed with.

Cory’s shearwaters’ honeymoon on the Internet


This is a Cory’s shearwater video.

From BirdLife:

Watch the honeymoon of Cory’s Shearwaters from The Azores as it happens

By Alessia Calderalo, Mon, 20/10/2014 – 14:49

All of us have at some time wondered how a baby feels to be slowly discovering the world. But do we ever wonder how it is for animals? Do we ever ask ourselves how little chicks find the courage to fly away from their nests? Thanks to the project Lua de mel no Corvo (Honeymoon in Corvo) by BirdLife Portuguese Partner Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves (SPEA), we now have the chance to find out!

A key element of the project is an online live video accessible to anyone, showing the progress of Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris diomedea breeding pairs in the Azorean island of Corvo, from nest construction to raising the chicks. The Azores archipelago has the world’s largest breeding population of Cory’s Shearwater and this initiative aims to raise awareness of the responsibility of The Azores for the conservation of this emblematic bird.

It was a world first in 2011 when we had the chance to accompany a couple of Cory’s Shearwater as they honeymooned and raised their chick. Sadly, on that occasion, the chick was eaten by a domestic cat. The progress of this first pair was followed by more than 27,000 people in 70 different countries, a record that we hope to break this year as we follow a new couple and their chick, hatched in July.

Since the launch of this second edition, the project website has already received over 12,000 visits by people eager to follow the first flapping of the couple’s chick. During the first days of its life, the chick was guarded by its parents, but later the pair only visited it regularly to feed it. Soon, the chick will leave the nest for its first migration to the Brazilian and South African coasts, where it will spend the winter, only returning in six or seven years for its first breeding season.

Lua de mel no Corvo is only one element in a range of projects undertaken since 2009 by SPEA, the Regional Secretariat for the Sea, the Natural Park of Corvo Island and the Agricultural Service of Flores and Corvo Island, within the programme LIFE+ Safe Islands for Seabirds, with the aim of protecting seabirds in The Azores. Safe Islands for Seabirds was considered to be one of the best of Life+ projects by the European Commission in 2013. Activities include preventing predation by cats and rats, restoring coastal habitats and raising awareness of seabirds and the threats they face.

“We know that eggs and chicks predation, mainly by cats, occurs with a high frequency, since the new hatched chick is left alone most of the time while its parents are foraging for food in the ocean. At this moment, a domestic cat sterilization program is taking place to prevent the increase of wild populations”, said Tânia Pipa, SPEA’s Project Assistant responsible for the actions in Corvo.

The project Lua de mel no Corvo is supported by Portugal Telecom, the City Council of Corvo and the Azorean Government.
Don’t miss this unique opportunity to witness first hand this beautiful natural phenomenon!

For more information, please contact: Joaquim Teodósio, SPEA Azores Coordinator, or Tânia Pipa, Post-Project LIFE Safe Island for Seabirds Assistant.