Scottish wildlife photography competition

This video from Scotland says about itself:

4 July 2014

This is what you could experience with a visit to the Scottish Seabird Centre.

From Wildlife Extra:

Scottish Seabird Centre launches 2015 photography competition

The Scottish Seabird Centre, visitor attraction, conservation and education charity, has launched its 2015 photography competition.

The categories to enter are: Landscape, Scottish Wildlife, Worldwide Wildlife, Environmental Impact, Creative Visions of Nature and World Flora – under 16s can enter in all categories.

However, as the Scottish Seabird Centre Nature Photography Awards are in their tenth year, to mark this anniversary there are two new categories: Nature’s Foragers and Nature Condensed.

Following the success of last year’s awards, which had over 430 entries, the judges for are Scottish Natural Heritage’s award-winning photographer Lorne Gill, professional freelance photographer Graham Riddell and Scottish Field Editor Richard Bath, and they will be joined by guest judges for the two new categories.

Tom Brock OBE, Chief Executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, says: “These awards will identify the best photographic talent from all age groups and encourage people to study, appreciate and share the wonders of the natural world in a sustainable way.

“Our Nature Photography Awards have grown significantly over the last ten years, and are now firmly established as a high quality and prestigious annual photography competition.

“The new categories make this year’s competition even more exciting. I would encourage amateur photographers and film fans worldwide to take a chance and submit their best images and short films.”

For the first of the new categories, and to celebrate Scotland’s Year of Food & Drink, the Centre has introduced the category Nature’s Foragers where entrants are invited to consider our natural larder and how different species engage with it.

The challenge will be to compose an image that can say something about the diversity of natural provisions available or the canny way some wildlife find their lunch.

The guest judge for this category will be Hebridean author Fiona Bird who has written Kids’ Kitchen (Barefoot Books, 2009); The Forager’s Kitchen (Cico Books, 2013) and Seaweed in the Kitchen (Prospect Books, 2015).

Manuela Calchini, VisitScotland Regional Partnerships Director, says: “The Year of Food and Drink is all about celebrating our outstanding culinary delights and unique dining experience.

“It’s fantastic to hear that the Scottish Seabird Centre has incorporated this message into their 2015 photography competition.

“Food and drink is such an integral part of our lives so I’m sure there will be plenty of opportunity for entrants to get snap happy and capture that prize-winning picture.”

Fiona Bird adds: “I am delighted to be invited to judge the foraging category. We should all relish the opportunity to explore and taste Scotland’s natural larder.

“Most foragers eat locally and every forager eats seasonally; they are, of course, mindful that if they pick all of the spring blossom there won’t be autumn berries, and the birds and the bees will lose out.”

For the second new category, budding film makers have the opportunity to enter for the first time in the Nature Condensed category.

Entrants in this category will create a maximum of one minute’s footage, focusing on any of the themes outlined in the photographic categories.

This new category will also have a guest judge, Laura Miller, News Anchor from STV Edinburgh.

Laura says: “‘I am delighted to be involved in the Scottish Seabird Centre Nature Photography Awards 2015 in this their tenth anniversary year.

“The competition is the perfect platform for local amateur photographers, young and old, and it showcases a wealth of talent.

“I feel privileged to be judging the inaugural ‘short film’ category and can’t wait to see this year’s entries.’’

The deadline for entries is Sunday 18 October.

Judges will meet to decide on a shortlist in each category. The shortlist will then be on display from 20 November in the Seabird Centre and online for the public to cast their votes, until Sunday 21 February 2016.

In each category there will be a winner selected by the judges as well as a winner selected by the voting public. Winning photographers have the opportunity to secure a whole host of prizes, which will be unveiled soon at

To enter the Nature Photography Awards visit

Common scoters not migrating together

This video is called Male common scoter (Melanitta nigra).

From daily The Independent in South Africa:

Birds of a feather don’t fly together

July 28 2015 at 08:53am

London – The British Royal Family famously never travel on the same plane to ensure the survival of the monarchy in the event of a disaster.

Now scientists say Britain’s most endangered duck employs a similar tactic by splitting up when it comes to their migration.

Despite its name, the common scoter is down to just 40 breeding pairs in the UK – mostly in the Scottish Highlands.

Researchers who tagged four birds nesting in the same loch found they flew to different winter locations in Scotland, Ireland and Morocco.

A spokesperson for the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust said: “The fact they stay apart in winter is a bit like the Royal Family never flying together – it means they can’t all be affected by a single issue like a storm or oil spill.”

The discovery is useful in the trust’s attempts to discover what is behind the falling population in Britain as the scoter is thriving elsewhere. “Whatever is causing their decline is more likely to be in the summer when they’re all together in the Highlands,” said the spokesperson.

Common scoters and other birds in Scheveningen, the Netherlands: here.

Zebra finch parenting, new research

This video says about itself:

Zebra finch courtship song

15 November 2012

A Zebra finch male sings to a female that he thinks is attractive. She’s just not that into him though. Better luck next time fella.

From the Washington Post in the USA:

Bad parenting? Baby zebra finch don’t tolerate it. They look for better role models

By Darryl Fears

July 23 at 12:00 PM

Bad parenting is for the birds. Even baby zebra finch know this.

Newly hatched chicks whose parents are poor foragers often get stressed from lack of food, leading them to quickly write off mom and dad. Babies a few days old run off in search of better role models — adults that know what they’re doing.

In a two-year study that followed chicks from the moment they were hatched to the moment they were ready to leave the nest a little more than a month later, researchers found that “stressed chicks got away from their parents earlier,” said Neeltje Boogert, a biologist at the University of Cambridge who led the research. “They didn’t copy their parents behavior.”

Dumping clueless parents for better fill-ins is a positive sign for the finch. “If you had a rough start early in life, you might not be doomed,” Boogert explained. Nothing in the study suggested this behavior is applicable to other animals, or showed any parallels to humans, Boogert said.

Scientists have long studied the consequences of stress on individual animals to examine its impact on their behaviors, Boogert said. She wanted to take it another step by studying social animals such as the finch to determine how they coped. Boogert and her co-authors were slightly surprised to see youngsters diss their parents so quickly. The findings were published Thursday in the journal Current Biology.

When food is scarce, or the temperature in a habitat is too cold, resulting from bad parenting, stress hormones are chronically elevated. The consequence in animals, like humans, is often depression, anxiety, panic attacks, sleep disorder and other detrimental impacts.

The question no one had sought to answer, as far is Boogert knew, is how a social animal would compensate. A study authored by Boogert last year said adding stress hormones to the diets of baby finch had a positive effect because they ended up with more friends by adulthood than young birds that were not stressed. But that study didn’t tell researchers why stressed chicks were making so many friends.

For the more recent research, Boogert fed stress hormones inserted in oils to newly hatched chicks in a lab at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Each finch in the small colony observed for the study was labeled with a bar code for tracking.

Observers noticed right away that finch chicks with elevated stress hormones followed adults different from their parents to feeding stations. In this case, the parents hadn’t done anything wrong — but the artificially stressed out chicks didn’t know that.

The study didn’t bother with studying how parents react to the put-down of being replaced. Clinical stares were glued on the jittery chicks.

“You can turn to other sources of information,” the author said. “I think it is actually a positive message. Instead of being stuck you can change who you’re going to follow and make a better life for yourself.”

See also here.

Atlantic puffins in Scotland, video

This video from Scotland says about itself:

16 July 2015

Got super close to a puffin colony on Treshnish with Staffatours, a boat trip from Oban.

David Cameron defeat on legalizing fox hunting?

This May 2015 video from Britain says about itself:

Doodle Time (David Cameron, fox hunting ban) • Timelapse, Illustration

David Cameron defeat on legalizing fox hunting? See here.

See also here.

Keep the Ban on Fox Hunting: petition here.

Swinhoe’s storm-petrels in the Atlantic

This video from Scotland says about itself:

Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel – 2nd Fair Isle record! 2 in two weeks!

7 August 2013

Ringing and Documenting Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel – Oceanodroma monorhis – August 7th 2013 2:30am. 8th record for Britain – 2nd for Fair Isle and Shetland! Both Fair Isle Records in the past 2 weeks! Caught at night with mist nets and sound recordings. Congrats to Dr Will Miles & Fair Isle Bird Observatory Warden David Parnaby. Also present Shetland Legend Denis Coutts & the young Logan Johnson the only birders to come to Fair Isle in the hope that the 1st Swinhoe’s would be recaptured but they were rewarded with a new unringed bird! Read more here.

From the Journal of Ornithology:

24 June 2015

Searching for a breeding population of Swinhoe’s Storm-petrel at Selvagem Grande, NE Atlantic, with a molecular characterization of occurring birds and relationships within the Hydrobatinae

Mónica C. Silva, Rafael Matias, Vânia Ferreira, Paulo Catry, José P. Granadeiro


Long-distance dispersal plays a critical role in population dynamics, particularly in species that occupy fragmented habitats, but it is seldom detected and investigated. The pelagic seabird Swinhoe’s Storm-petrel, Oceanodroma monorhis, breeds exclusively in the NW Pacific. Individuals have been regularly observed in the Atlantic Ocean since the 1980s, but breeding has never been confirmed.

In this study, we searched for evidence of breeding of Swinhoe’s Storm-petrels on Selvagem Grande Island, NE Atlantic, between 2007 and 2013. During this period, six individuals were captured, sexed and characterized molecularly for two mitochondrial loci, cytochrome oxydase I and the control region, to confirm species identity, survey genetic diversity and estimate evolutionary relationships within the Hydrobatinae.

These individuals were confirmed to be Swinhoe’s Storm-petrels, and all except one are females. Phylogenetic analyses suggest sister relationship with Matsudaira’s Storm-petrel and dismiss misidentifications with other dark rump species. Patterns of genetic variation suggest that dispersal occurred likely by more than a single female. Despite the record of a pair duetting in a burrow, breeding could not be confirmed.

Swinhoe’s Storm-petrels are regularly occurring at Selvagem Grande, but capture/recapture patterns suggest that a possible breeding population is small and likely not self-sustaining. In seabirds, long-distance dispersal events may facilitate colonization of new habitats created in the context of predicted climate change impacts on the marine ecosystems.