Kayakers rescue trapped young dolphin, video


This video from Scotland says about itself:

30 June 2015

Three juvenile dolphins in Northbay on the Isle of Barra. One of the dolphins was completely trapped in seaweed and shallow water. After a successful rescue the dolphin joined the other two for a fine display of thanks! Rescue was performed by a group from Clearwater Paddling.

See also here.

New bird reserve in Scotland


This video from Britain says about itself:

22 December 2011

As difficult species go, the Long and Short-eared Owl pairing are amongst the most challenging to identify, especially in flight. The latest identification video from the BTO offers tips on how to separate both, in flight, perched and by calls.

From Wildlife Extra:

New RSPB reserve for Scotland

A tranquil area of wetland and grassland on the south-eastern edge of Alloa has become RSPB Scotland’s newest nature reserve, and the charity’s first in Clackmannanshire.

Black Devon Wetlands is a special place for birds and wildlife, such as snipe, short-eared owls, teals and black-headed gulls.

Work to improve the various habitats at the site has already started, with much more planned for the next few months. Visitors are also set to benefit from new paths, viewing areas and signage, and a series of events will be advertised in the near future.

RSPB Scotland’s Anne McCall, who’s the Regional Director for South and West Scotland, said: “We’re delighted to be taking on the management of the Black Devon Wetlands and we hope to transform it into a reserve that will not only help wildlife, but also provide local people with a great nature experience right on their doorstep.

“The Inner Forth is internationally recognised as an important place for birds, and the establishment of this reserve adds to a wider mosaic of habitats that are beneficial for a whole range of different species, as part of the RSPB’s landscape-scale project, the Inner Forth Futurescape.”

Black Devon Wetlands were originally created when soil was excavated from the site to cap an adjacent area of landfill. Its managed lagoons were first formed by Clackmannanshire Heritage Trust, and these were then extended in the mid 2000s by the council’s landfill project.

Councillor Donald Balsillie, Convener of Enterprise and Environment, said: “Clackmannanshire Council is pleased that the award-winning Black Devon Wetlands are being leased to RSPB Scotland to carry forward its development.

“The council and RSPB Scotland are working in partnership through the Forth Coastal Project, funded by the Coastal Communities Fund and the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative, a Heritage Lottery funded project, to enhance the wetlands habitat and accessibility.

“This joint working will ensure the long term management by a respected conservation body for this unique natural heritage site located right on the doorstep of Clackmannanshire residents.”

This project has also been made possible with the contribution of the LIFE+ financial instrument of the European Community – EcoCo and Clackmannanshire Heritage Trust.

British Royal Navy killed whales, report published at last


This video says about itself:

Long-finned Pilot Whale Species Identification

From New Scientist:

Pilot whales cuddle in the abyss

26 June 2013

THE abyss is a scary place. So perhaps it is no surprise that long-finned pilot whales like to stick close together when they plunge into the murky depths. New observations show that they often stay within metres of each other as they dive, and even stroke each other with their flippers.

Long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas) are social animals that live in large pods. They were known to keep together at the surface, but their behaviour underwater was largely unknown.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Royal Navy bomb explosions caused mass whale deaths, report concludes

Noise from underwater bombs caused 19 pilot whales to beach and die off the coast of Scotland in 2011, say government scientists

Rob Edwards

Wednesday 24 June 2015 14.09 BST

Four large bombs exploded underwater by the Royal Navy were to blame for a mass stranding which killed 19 pilot whales on the north coast of Scotland in 2011, government scientists have concluded.

A long-delayed report released on Wednesday by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs says that the noise from the explosions could have damaged the hearing and navigational abilities of the whales, causing them to beach and die.

On 22 July 2011, 70 long-finned pilot whales swam into the Kyle of Durness, a shallow tidal inlet east of Cape Wrath, Europe’s largest live bombing range. Despite attempts to herd them back out to sea, 39 were left stranded by the tide.

Concerted efforts by expert teams and local people managed to refloat 20, but 19 ended up dead. It was one of the largest mass strandings in recent years, and it prompted a government-funded investigation by 12 scientists from laboratories across the UK.

Their report reveals that three 1,000-pound bombs were detonated in the sea nearby by the Royal Navy’s Northern Diving Group in the 24 hours before the whales were stranded. A fourth 250-pound bomb was exploded after stranding began.

The bombs were left over from military exercises in which planes target Garvie Island, a small rocky outcrop 4.5km from the Kyle of Durness. Some bombs miss the island, fail to detonate and sink to the seabed, where they have to be located and disposed of for safety reasons.

“The magnitude, frequency and proximity of the multiple detonations in the day prior to the stranding, and the single high-order detonation shortly after the beginning of the mass stranding, were plausible sources of significant disturbance to any neighbouring marine mammals,” the report says.

The three initial explosions could have had a “significant detrimental effect on the hearing and therefore navigational competence of any cetaceans in proximity,” it adds. The fourth bomb “might have served to drive the animals further inland”.

Loud noises can damage the hair cells in the ears of whales vital for detecting pressure changes, leaving them “functionally deaf”, the report points out. “Long-finned pilot whales are known to follow other members of the pod and appear to spook relatively easily.”

It criticises the Royal Navy’s visual checks for whales before bombs are exploded as “insufficient”, and recommends improved monitoring. It also highlights the routine use of devices elsewhere in the world that burn out rather than detonate bombs.

“Given the potential damage to marine life from the high-order explosions of conventional disposal techniques, it is questionable why this method has not been used routinely in the past,” the report says.

The lead author of the report, Andrew Brownlow from Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) in Inverness, was pleased that it had “finally” been published. It was hard to be definitive about the causes of mass strandings, he said.

“However we have suggested mitigation strategies which will hopefully reduce the plausible risk from these types of high-energy detonations on marine life. It is hoped they will be taken on board.”

According to Sarah Dolman, Northeast Atlantic programme manager for Whale and Dolphin Conservation, it was “no coincidence” that the whales were stranded hours after the bombs were exploded.

She said: “Why has it taken four years to publish the report and what measures have the Ministry of Defence (MoD) put in place to evaluate and minimise the impacts of detonations around Garvie Island, to ensure that it adequately protects whales and dolphins since then?”

The MoD said that it accepted the findings of the report. “It identified a number of possible factors that may have influenced events, one of which was the detonation of underwater explosives,” said a spokesman.

“The recommendations will be considered by the MoD and implemented where appropriate. Additional mitigation has already been put in place during munitions disposal activities conducted since 2011.”

Save Scottish red squirrels


This video is about two red squirrels feeding on walnuts.

From Wildlife Extra:

Major push to save Scottish Red Squirrels from extinction

Five charitable, government and landowning bodies in Scotland have united in a bid to secure the future of the iconic Red Squirrel.

It is the UK’s only native squirrel and numbers have declined rapidly since the introduction of Grey Squirrels from North America in the 19th century.

Since 1952, 95 per cent of Reds in England and Wales have been wiped out, and today 75 per cent of the UK’s remaining population is found in Scotland.

However, Greys still threaten the existence of the native Reds because they transmit the deadly squirrelpox virus, although they are largely immune.

The project aims to continue to prevent the spread northwards of Grey Squirrels and squirrelpox via a programme of squirrel control in a zone running coast to coast along the Highland Boundary Fault.

It will also define and map priority areas for Red Squirrel conservation in south Scotland, and co-ordinate the control required of the Greys to sustain a healthy red population.

Dr Aileen McLeod, Scottish Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, says: “Scotland has adopted a pioneering approach to protecting our Red Squirrel population, which involves a number of organisations working together.

“The number of Red Squirrels in Scotland is increasing and they are now returning to their former habitats.

“This has been most notably in the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Ayrshire, and the north-east of Scotland where people are once again seeing Red Squirrels visiting the bird feeders in their gardens.

“It is due to the great work being carried out by various stakeholders, such as the Scottish Wildlife Trust through the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrel’s project, landowners, Forestry Commission Scotland, and volunteers who have been undertaking targeted control of Grey Squirrels.

“I am also delighted that RSPB Scotland is now involved in Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels, and will bring a wealth of knowledge to the project, which will benefit Red Squirrel conservation in Scotland.”

Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland, says: “We are in the privileged position of owning and managing more than 80 nature reserves across Scotland, and we already posses a huge responsibility for delivering on the conservation of our native Red Squirrels.

“We have been very impressed with the work of the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels project, as it represents what we believe is the very best chance of preventing the extinction of this species on the British mainland.

“We are really pleased not only to be joining forces with the member organisations to help contribute to this important work, but also to commit hard-won charitable funds to this excellent project. We are looking forward to a very productive and constructive partnership.”

Project Manager for Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels, Mel Tonkin, says: “Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels has already been successful in beginning to reverse the downward trend for Red Squirrels in Scotland, but our work will need to continue for many years to really secure the future of the species.

“We are therefore delighted with this new partnership with RSPB Scotland. The RSPB has plenty of experience in the challenges of long-term species conservation and brings with it the opportunity to get a lot more people engaged in Red Squirrel conservation.”

Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels is a partnership project between the Scottish Wildlife Trust, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates, and the Red Squirrel Survival Trust.

SNP, stop Cameron’s fox hunting plans, petition


This video from Britain says about itself:

21 May 2015

*SIGN HERE TO KEEP THE BAN*

There is no rational or logical reason to chase a fox until it is too exhausted to flee for it’s life. Getting thrills from seeing an innocent animal get ripped apart by hounds is absolutely barbaric.

There are 317,056 supporters so far, keep it going and share the petition to save foxes from this unnecessary torment.

From Change.org in Britain:

Important petition asking SNP NOT to abstain when the vote takes place on whether the UK’s hunting ban should be repealed

John Fitzgerald, Kilkenny, Ireland

May 17, 2015 — With the UK ban on cruel hunt practices under threat, here is a very important petition asking the Scottish National Party (SNP) NOT to abstain on any vote called by Prime Minister Cameron to overturn the blood sports ban in Britain.

The SNP MPs could make the difference between the ban remaining in force and the unthinkable return of fox hunting, hare coursing, and stag hunting to Britain. Please sign this here.

Foxhunting ban: scores of Conservatives will vote against repeal, minister predicts. Tracey Crouch, minister for sport, predicts that 30 to 40 Conservative MPs will help defeat attempts to repeal the hunting ban by either abstaining or voting against it: here.

Cameron’s fox hunting plans stopped by Scottish nationalists?


This video from Britain says about itself:

Illegal Fox Hunt by Cameron’s local hunt

18 December 2012

Anti fox-hunt protesters filmed this footage of a hunt in Oxfordshire in which a fox is chased by hounds and killed. Members of the Heythrop hunt, Richard Sumner and Julian Barnfield, admitted illegally hunting a fox on land in the Cotswolds after the footage was passed to the RSPCA for investigation. They were due to be sentenced on Monday. David Cameron has previously ridden with the Heythrop hunt.

From Common Space in Scotland:

SNP could make voting U-turn and oppose Tory fox hunting plans

Angus Robertson says that party will consider voting against repeal after “massive lobbying” campaign

18 May 2015

Liam O’Hare

THE NEW team of SNP MP’s at Westminster could be set to vote against a repeal of the fox hunting ban, despite an earlier commitment to not vote on the issue.

Writing in the Guardian earlier this year, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon explicity ruled out voting on foxhunting, as part of the SNP’s policy to not vote on matters that do not impact on Scotland.

In the article on 8 February 2015, Sturgeon said: “The SNP have a longstanding position of not voting on matters that purely affect England – such as foxhunting south of the border, for example – and we stand by that.”

However this position could now be reversed with group leader at Westminster Angus Robertson saying that the 56 SNP MPs would be looking “very, very closely” at the legislation after the party has been contacted by people opposing the plans.

Scotland banned hunting with dogs in 2002, followed by England and Wales two years later.

The Conservatives have pledged to hold a House of Commons vote on repealing the ban, with Tory MP Simon Hart saying it could take place within months.

Speaking on Sky News’ Murnaghan show, Robertson insisted that the SNP would not make a decision until they had seen the legislation.

“The SNP has of course opposed fox hunting and it’s with SNP votes that now no longer continues in Scotland,” he said.

“There’s a massive lobbying operation going to try and ensure that the ban is not repealed in the rest of the UK.

“SNP MPs still have to consider the legislation, which we haven’t seen. We need to see it, but of course we will be looking at that closely.

“You do of course understand that the UK Government imposes its will on Scotland without any significant legitimacy whatsoever, so we’re having legislation foisted on Scotland with only one MP.

“So we have to look at all of the issues coming forward in this new parliament following the independence referendum on its merits and we’ll be doing that when we see the legislation that is proposed by the government.”

The SNP is now by far the third largest party at Westminster and it has claimed that it will provide the “effective opposition” to the Conservative government.

The party has traditionally not voted on “devolved” issues at Westminster, but this position was rolled back during the General Election campaign, with Nicola Sturgeon suggesting that the party may vote on issues such as the privatisation of the NHS.

Robertson says that the party will listen to those who “care passionately” about the issue before making a decision on whether to vote against the repeal of the fox-hunting ban.

“We have to look at all of the opportunities we have to exercise our voice and our vote at Westminster and we will be doing it on the basis of seeing the proposals that are actually made and then making up our mind.

“There are a lot of people who care passionately about this issue and I understand why. Many of them have been getting in touch in recent days and I would like to assure them that we will be looking at the case they’re making very, very closely and will do so on the basis of the legislation when its proposed.”

Among those calling for the SNP to vote against fox hunting is the Labour party.

“The barbarism of fox hunting is clear for all to see,” said Labour’s environment spokeswoman at Holyrood, Sarah Boyack.

“Scotland’s moral voice as part of the UK doesn’t end at Berwick-upon-Tweed and the SNP must make clear they will vote against any bill which would repeal the hunting ban.”

SNP considers voting to stop lifting of foxhunting ban: here.