White humpback whale off Queensland, Australia


This 10 August 2015 video is called Awesome footage of rare white whale off the coast of Australia | Mashable.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Rare albino humpback whale spotted off the coast of Queensland in Australia

It was spotted on Monday

Hardeep Matharu

Tuesday 11 August 2015

A rare albino humpback whale has been spotted off the coast of Australia.

The mammal, migrating from the Antarctic to warmer waters in the north, was spotted by tourists who had paid charter boats in Queensland, in Australia’s Gold Coast, on Monday.

Aerial footage taken by news cameras captured the moment the huge, unusual animal emerged from under the surface.

The sighting caused speculation as to whether the whale was in fact Migaloo, a world-famous albino humpback which was first seen in 1991 and is known to be one of the three white whales which live in the waters of Queensland.

But Trevor Long, Sea World marine services director, told ABC Radio that this was another albino whale, nicknamed the “Son of Migaloo”.

Mr Long said this animal was smaller and younger than Migaloo and was the other white whale which has been regularly sighted off the east coast of Australia since 2011, according to the Daily Telegraph.

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A study in 2011 found that Migaloo lacked a gene for making an enzyme involved in making melanin, one of the primary dark pigments found in mammalian skin, explaining its light tone.

This particular variation type is reportedly hereditary, meaning it is possible that Migaloo could pass it on to an offspring.

Night parrot discovery in Australia


This video from Australia says about itself:

Help us Save the Night Parrot

9 August 2015

With the recent discovery of the only known population left in the world, we have a second chance to ensure the survival of this unique and remarkable species.

While little is known about the mysterious Night Parrot, no more than 100 individuals are thought to remain. That is why we must move quickly to save it.

The most immediate threat facing this highly vulnerable bird is uncontrolled feral cats prowling their habitat – being both nocturnal and ground-dwelling, the Night Parrot is vulnerable to predation.

If we are to haul it back from the brink of extinction, a recovery team must be on the ground now, implementing feral animal control as a matter of urgency. We will also need to develop a fire management plan before summer, and tackle the issue of human disturbance – the other main risk to the bird’s future.

Together, we can save the Night Parrot. Please donate urgently today.

This 9 August 2015 video from Australia is called Elusive night parrot captured for the first time in 100 years in Queensland.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Night parrot capture and tagging hailed as ‘holy grail’ moment for bird lovers

The area of south-west Queensland where the elusive nocturnal parrot, presumed extinct, was caught is now to be protected

Oliver Milman

Monday 10 August 2015 03.26 BST

The elusive night parrot, a species thought to be extinct for about 100 years, has finally been captured and tagged by scientists as part of a pioneering project to safeguard the remaining ground-dwelling birds.

Aside from two dead parrots found over the past 25 years, the night parrot had not been captured since the 1890s and was presumed extinct by many bird experts.

But in 2013, ornithologist John Young announced that he had taken a few blurry images of the night parrot after a decade spent scouring the spinifex vegetation and caves of the Queensland outback for the bird.

Following an 18-month search for a night parrot, fellow ornithologist Steve Murphy netted one of the birds on 4 April. Feather samples were taken from the bird, and a small tracker, with a battery that lasted for 21 days, was placed on its leg to gain greater insight into the habits of the mysterious creature.

“It’s fantastic to have this bird, which is such an enigmatic creature,” said Rob Murphy, executive manager of conservation group Bush Heritage Australia. “When you talk to bird lovers, this is the holy grail. It’s like finding a thylacine.

“Before this research, we didn’t know what they ate, where they got their water from or anything. We’re really starting from ground zero with the night parrot.”

The area of south-west Queensland where the nocturnal parrot was caught is now to be protected, with the property bought and managed by Bush Heritage Australia.

The tagged bird roamed up to 8km for food each night, but remained in the same nesting site. It is unclear how many of the animals remain, and Bush Heritage is keeping the exact location of its habitat, the only known site for night parrots in Australia, a secret.

“This is such a rare bird that giving the location would attract some well meaning people but also poachers,” Murphy said. “The confidentially of the site has been the best friend to the bird.”

About 30 remote cameras have been set up to gain a better understanding of how many night parrots are in the area. However, these have so far proved less effective than sound recordings that have picked up the sounds of several birds within the prickly spinifex shrubs.

While the drought that has gripped western Queensland has reduced the number of feral cats in the area, the feline predators remain a mortal threat to the night parrot.

Bush Heritage will trial a feral cat “grooming trap” at the site to kill any cats in the area. The trap, developed by South Australian firm Ecological Horizons, contains a range of sensors that determine whether an animal passing within four metres is a cat.

If it identifies the target as a cat, the trap will spray it with a toxic gel that the cat will ingest when grooming.

See also here.

Lorikeets, originally from New Guinea?


This video from Australia says about itself:

Lorikeet Feeding Frenzy

22 November 2012

The feeding of the Rainbow Lorikeets at Bungalow Bay Koala Village which is on the North-east side of Magnetic island, just off the coast of Townsville, Queensland.

From Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, Volume 90, September 2015, Pages 34–48:

Molecular phylogenetics suggests a New Guinean origin and frequent episodes of founder-event speciation in the nectarivorous lories and lorikeets (Aves: Psittaciformes)

Highlights

We report the first DNA sequence-based phylogeny of parrots known as lories and lorikeets.

The group is inferred to have originated within the last 10 million years in New Guinea.

Dispersal and founder-event speciation have been important in their diversification.

Dispersal appears to have been primarily ‘downstream’ from New Guinea and Australia.

Some genus level changes to the group’s systematics are recommended.

Abstract

The lories and lorikeets (Aves: Loriinae: Loriini) are a readily recognizable, discrete group of nectarivorous parrots confined to the Indo-Pacific region between Wallace’s Line and the Pitcairn Island group in the central-east Pacific Ocean. We present the first phylogenetic analysis of all currently recognized genera in the group using two mitochondrial and five nuclear loci.

Our analyses suggest a New Guinean origin for the group at about 10 million years ago (95% HPD 4.8–14.8) but this origin must be interpreted within the context of that island’s complicated, recent geological history. That is, the origin and early diversification of the group may have taken place as New Guinea’s Central Cordillera arose and the final constituent terranes that form present-day New Guinea were accreted. The latter activity may have promoted dispersal as a key element in the group’s history.

We have detected several instances of dispersal out of New Guinea that we argue constitute instances of founder-event speciation. Some phenotypically cohesive genera are affirmed as monophyletic but other genera are clearly in need of taxonomic dismantlement and reclassification. We recognize Parvipsitta Mathews, 1916 for two species usually placed in Glossopsitta and we advocate transfer of Chalcopsitta cardinalis into Pseudeos Peters, 1935. Other non-monophyletic genera such as Charmosyna, Psitteuteles and, probably, Trichoglossus, require improved taxon sampling and further phylogenetic analysis before their systematics can be resolved. Cursory examination of trait mapping across the group suggests that many traits are ancestral and of little use in determining genus-level systematics.

Lorikeet and lori family tree, according to new research

English coastal birds news


This is a knot video from Sweden.

Another video says about itself:

Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) (Scolopacidae: Snipe, Godwits, Curlews etc.)

In Australia the Whimbrel is found in coastal locations during the warmer months of the year. Birds which migrate to Australia generally originate from eastern Siberia. Here filmed on the Cairns seafront in North Queensland. Can be found in Australia with the larger Eastern Curlew.

From Debby Saunders in Dorset, England, on Twitter today:

Ferrybridge on the outgoing tide 3 Knot, 2 Whimbrel, 10 Sanderling, 5 Turnstone, Bar[-tailed God]wit, 80 Dunlin, 20 Ringed Plover.

Great Barrier Reef fish conservation works


This video from Australia says about itself:

Coral trout, Plectropomus leopardus, gather to spawn at dusk around the new moon in spring and early summer at Lizard Island on the northern Great Barrier Reef. Substantial research into the biology and ecology of this highly sought-after table fish has been conducted at the Australian Museum‘s Lizard Island Research Station.

From Science News:

No-fishing scheme in Great Barrier Reef succeeds with valuable fishes

Coral trout thrive but protection has less effect on other reef residents

By Susan Milius

12:15pm, March 26, 2015

An ambitious, hotly debated system of no-take reserves inside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park has boosted the population of its most commercially valuable fishes, says the first 10-year progress report.

Coral trout (Plectropomus species) are now more common and bigger in protected spots than in comparable places still being fished, researchers say online March 26 in Current Biology. The no-take zones also gave these fish populations more resilience, with ample coral trout that had grown large enough to survive when severe tropical cyclone Hamish hit in 2009.

Australian night parrot killed by feral cat


This video from Australia says about itself:

3 July 2013

Thought to be extinct: Queensland bird enthusiast presents first photos of the elusive night parrot.

From the Birds Alive Newsletter, March 2015:

Feral cats versus Night Parrots

The latest twist in the rather secret story of the Night Parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis) is that a cat-killed individual has been found in an area of arid spinifex country SW of Winton, in W Queensland, close to where John Young photographed the species for the first time in May 2013.

Apparently, according to Queensland government sources, professional marksmen have been employed by a private conservation company to patrol the area at night with spotlights, shooting feral cats (Felis catus) on sight. The programme is funded by mining company Fortescue Metals, whose involvement dates back to the reported discovery of Night Parrots in a mineral exploration area in Western Australia in 2005. However, government agencies have been kept in the dark concerning the whereabouts of Night Parrots in Queensland, and the sites where the species occur are on a privately leased grazing property.

Feral cats have long been implicated in the decline of this once widespread species: in 1892, it was reported that ‘numerous’ parrots were killed by cats near Alice Springs. Some observers have noted increases in feral cat populations in recent years in parts of inland Australia. The region around Winton where the parrots occur has been drought-afflicted for several years.