Euro Birdwatch 2015 results

This video says about itself:

18 December 2014

Migratory birds visit the lagoon of Villafáfila (Spain) every year on their way to Extremadura and Andalusia.

After the results of Euro Birdwatch 2015 in the Netherlands, now results for all of Europe and Central Asia, on 3-4 October.

The organisers write:

The most frequently observed species were:

1. Common Starling
2. Chaffinch
3. Common Coot

The number of people involved: 25.115
The number of birds counted: 4.279.501
The number of activities: 1.046

During the observations rare bird species were encountered in many countries. Among these rarities were the first record of Sardinian Warbler for Luxembourg, Red-throated Pipits in Austria and the Netherlands, Dusky Warbler and Siberian Stonechat in Finland, Broad-billed Sandpiper in Italy, Richard’s Pipits and Yellow-browed Warblers in the Netherlands, 5 Great Bustards and 6 Sociable Lapwings in Turkey, Gyrfalcon and Hume’s Warbler in Sweden, Bonelli’s Eagle in Switzerland and 2.200 Sociable Lapwings in Uzbekistan.

In Montenegro the first ever ringing activities with Montenegrin rings took place!

See also here.

Blackface racism abolished at Spanish Three Kings festival

This video from Spain says about itself:

6 January 2013

Thousands of people take to the streets of central Madrid for the annual Three Kings parade on the eve of the Epiphany. Report by Rob Gillett.

As turns out, that was one of the last time when this was a blackface festival.

From daily El País in Spain:


After years of pressure, Madrid’s King Balthazar to be played by black man

New council to honor longstanding claim by African community regarding January 5 parade

Esther Sánchez

Madrid, 18 SEP 2015 – 09:40 CEST

For the first time ever, one of the stars of Madrid’s annual Three Kings of Orient parade will be played by a black man rather than a white man wearing makeup.

Every January 5, Spanish cities hold street parades celebrating the biblical tale of the Three Wise Men who brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus. That night, children go to bed hoping that the Magi will bring them their Christmas presents.

One of these characters, King Balthazar, has traditionally been portrayed as dark-skinned. But despite longstanding calls for the figure to be played by a person of African descent, the request had so far fallen on deaf ears.

Now, municipal sources say the new leftist government of Manuela Carmena has accepted a petition filed by the Socialist Party.

“It is an old demand by the Afro-Socialist group, and now it looks like it’s going to happen,” said a source.

Socialist councilor Mar Espinar said the decision is more symbolic than it may first appear.

“It is a new step toward the normalization and integration of all peoples, races and cultures that make up the Madrid melting pot,” she said in a release.

Traditionally, city councilors have played the role of the Three Kings.

“Fortunately, this anachronism will be left behind by next Christmas,” said Espinar.

Other Spanish municipalities have been hiring black people to play King Balthazar for some time, including the nearby town of Alcorcón.

New Spanish migratory bird atlas

This 2014 video is called Rare birds in Spain.

From BirdLife:

Coming soon: An atlas of Spain’s migratory birds

By Juan Carlos del Moral, Mon, 31/08/2015 – 09:37

Bird conservation’s key pillars are knowledge of the area of distribution, abundance, trend and size of the populations of birds. In countries like Spain, which see a large number of migratory birds, knowledge of migration routes and resting sites is also necessary. SEO (BirdLife in Spain) has been working for decades with the collaboration of thousands of volunteers to collect data.

SEO’s Bird Monitoring Unit launched the Migra initiative in 2011 to describe the movements of each migratory bird species that breeds or winters in Spain over one or several years. This means tracking, among other things, which species undertake long trips, their migration routes, resting areas during the trip, and wintering areas. In the short term, SEO aims to use Migra data and results from previous studies to compile and publish an atlas of bird migration in Spain.

Migra’s new marking systems – which include satellite transmitters, GPS data loggers and geolocators – establish the location of the bird several times a day for several years, allowing us to know exactly how long they stay in their breeding and wintering areas, when they begin their migration, the route they follow, their speed and altitude, how climate change and weather conditions affect migration, and whether the birds use the same route each time.

The data is stored in the device and can be recovered by recapturing the bird carrying it, downloading over a small distance or receiving them through a satellite system via the Internet. While these devices have their drawbacks and problems of their own (difficulty in recapturing birds to extract data; necessity of the device to be small, very lightweight and aerodynamic; batteries only last a few years), they have yielded much critical information. Since 2011, Migra has tracked data from 332 birds (98 are still active) belonging to 24 species, totalling 634,460 recorded locations (at the time of publishing).

Migra also helps fill the gaps in avian information: There is more data available for certain highly endangered and rare species, very limited information for many medium or large birds and virtually non-existent records for most small Spanish birds. It is important to know the migratory behaviour of each species as soon as possible, because without that information, we will lose track of what existed before and we will not have the basic information available to understand the changes in their biology.

What has been confirmed in recent decades is that many species have changed their migratory behaviour annually. Some of them have shortened their movements and do not cross to Africa (an increasing number of White Storks, Black Storks and Booted Eagles spend the winter on the Mediterranean coast or in the lower course of River Guadalquivir). These changes are thought to be at least partially due to climate change, resulting in milder winters and more food in the breeding areas.

But Migra is not only useful for scientific research. It can also be used as a tool for people to understand the spectacular phenomenon of migration. To this end, SEO proposes to expand the Migra website from Spain to all of Europe, Asia and Africa, across BirdLife International partners. Spreading awareness about migration and the perils migratory birds face among people not familiar with the subject could be a huge conservation tool.

Spanish woman fined for photographing police breaking the law

Gag law in Spain

Photography is not a crime. Not in the USA. Not in Greece. Not in Spain. But hard line right authorities seem to be too stupid to understand that.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Spanish woman fined for posting picture of police parked in disabled bay

Unnamed woman from Alicante ordered to pay €800 under controversial gagging law for posting photo on her Facebook page

Stephen Burgen in Barcelona

Sunday 16 August 2015 12.09 BST

A Spanish woman has been fined €800 (£570) under the country’s controversial new gagging law for posting a photograph of a police car parked illegally in a disabled bay.

The unnamed woman, a resident of Petrer in Alicante, south-east Spain, posted the photo on her Facebook page with the comment “Park where you bloody well please and you won’t even be fined”.

The police tracked her down within 48 hours and fined her.

The Citizens Security Law, popularly known as the gagging law and which came into force on 1 July, prohibits “the unauthorised use of images of police officers that might jeopardise their or their family’s safety or that of protected facilities or police operations”.

Amnesty International condemned the law, saying that photographing police was vital in cases when excessive force had been used. Fines under this section of the law range from €600 to €30,000.

Fernando Portillo, a spokesman for the local police, said the officers had parked in the disabled bay because they had been called to deal with an incident of vandalism in a nearby park. A rapid response is essential if they are to catch the offenders “in flagranti”, he told local media, adding that in an emergency the police park where they can.

Asked how the photo had put the police at risk, he said the officers felt the woman had impugned their honour by posting the picture and referred the incident to the town hall authorities. “We would have preferred a different solution but they have the legal right to impose the fine,” Portillo said.

Last month two couples in Córdoba were reportedly fined €300 each for consuming alcohol in a public place, although they claimed to have had only soft drinks and a pizza.

The gagging law also prohibits demonstrations in the vicinity of parliament or the senate, trying to prevent an eviction or actions of passive resistance such as sit-down protests in the street. Offenders face fines of up to €600,000.