Good Irish little tern news


This is a little tern video from Sweden.

From the Kilcoole Little Tern Conservation Project in Ireland:

Friday, 22 May 2015

Egg-citing news for Kilcoole!

After a week of hopeful waiting and scanning the shingle with our telescopes, our patience was rewarded yesterday. Just before dark, we spotted a Little Tern sitting among the stones while all the other Terns had gone to roost. She was sitting on two eggs, so we are delighted to announce our first Little Tern nest for the 2015 season!

Last year’s Terns began laying on the 25th of May due to very bad weather the week before. This year, the first nest was laid on the 21st of May, four days earlier. However, even four days earlier, the Terns began nesting later than expected. Perhaps this is due to last week’s gale winds and heavy rain.

We have not come across a second nest since last night, but judging by the courting activity and the large number of Terns, we are expecting lots more! Our largest colony count this week was in and around 200 Terns. Hopefully many of these will choose to stay and nest in Kilcoole.

Susan and Paddy

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.

Rare great snipe in Spain


This is a great snipe video from northern Sweden.

From the Llobregat delta, near Barcelona, in Catalonia, Spain, there is a Twitter message today: in the Remolar marsh, a great snipe.

This is a rare bird species in western Europe.

Young red-backed shrikes, new research


This video is about a red-backed shrike (and a male and a female whinchat) in Sweden.

Translated from Stichting Bargerveen in the Netherlands:

Friday, April 24th, 2015

The migratory behavior of adult red-backed shrikes has already been researched quite well, but about young shrikes we still know very little. Last year, a select group of 20 young shrikes in good condition were equipped with a data logger that records the migration route. Do these inexperienced animals immediately take the same route [as adults] or should they still learn?

Saving Cuban crocodiles


This video says about itself:

Cuban Crocodile (Crocodylus rhombifer)

17 October 2011

Watch the Cuban Crocodile and learn how to recognize its unique characteristics. This video captures behaviors and identifies the size, shape and distinctive markings of the Cuban Crocodile. The Cuban Crocodile can be found in the wild and at a number of zoos around the world. Our Cuban Crocodile video is an ideal study guide for students, kids and children who want to learn more about wild animals.

From Phys.org:

April 19, 2015

Kids of Cold War crocs going to Cuba on conservation mission

Cuba’s efforts to sustain the critically endangered Cuban crocodile are getting a boost from Sweden, home to a pair of reptiles that Fidel Castro gave to a Soviet cosmonaut four decades ago.

A Stockholm zoo on Sunday is sending 10 of the couple’s children to Cuba, where they will be placed in quarantine and eventually released into the Zapata Swamp, said Jonas Wahlstrom, the zookeeper who raised them.

“It’s the dream of any zoo director to be part of releasing animals into the wild,” said Wahlstrom, 62, clutching one of the stout-legged youngsters outside its enclosure at the Skansen aquarium and zoo in Stockholm. The 10 crocodiles each are about 1 ½ years old and a meter (yard) long.

The Cuban crocodile, once found across the Caribbean, is restricted today to two swamps in Cuba, where it is threatened by interbreeding with American crocodiles, habitat loss and illegal hunting.

Wahlstrom said he received his original couple during a 1981 trip to Moscow. They had ended up in the Soviet capital after Castro gave them to cosmonaut Vladimir Shatalov in the 1970s as a token of friendship between the communist nations.

“He (Shatalov) brought them back to Moscow and he had them in his flat until his wife said: ‘No more!’ And then he had to give them to the zoo in Moscow,” Wahlstrom told The Associated Press.

But the zoo officials didn’t have a good space for the aquatic reptiles so they asked Wahlstrom if he could take them to Sweden.

“I had them as my hand luggage back from Moscow,” Wahlstrom said.

Zoo officials in Moscow confirmed the background of the crocodiles and their handover to Wahlstrom.

Later named Hillary and Castro—in a nod to international politics—the two crocodiles have become a star attraction at Wahlstrom’s zoo, where they have been breeding since 1984.

Wahlstrom said he’s sent hatchlings to zoos worldwide, but this is the first time he’s given any to Cuba for introduction into the wild.

Cuba’s representative to Sweden welcomed the move.

“We need this type of crocodiles,” Cuban Ambassador Francisco Florentino said as he inspected the animals before their departure Sunday.

With only about 4,000 animals remaining in the wild, the Cuban crocodile, or Crocodylus rhombifer, is red-listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The population is restricted to Cuba’s Zapata Swamp and the Isle of Youth.

This would be the first time that Cuban crocodiles raised abroad are introduced into the wild in Cuba, according to Natalia Rossi of the Wildlife Conservation Society. She’s been involved in other efforts to protect crocodiles in the Caribbean island nation but not the Swedish project.

However, the crocodiles first would be genetically screened to ensure that they come from a pure breed, Rossi said.

The Cuban crocodile can be distinguished from its American cousin by the way it walks and its characteristic bony ridge behind the eyes. But you cannot distinguish hybrid crocodiles from pure-bred Cuban crocodiles by their appearance, Rossi said.

Wahlstrom said he was sure his crocodiles were pure Cubans and expected them to adapt quickly to the real world.

“A crocodile is always ready for the wild,” Wahlstrom said. “They are always aggressive.”

As if to emphasize his point, the baby croc he was holding briefly writhed out of his grip and snapped at an AP journalist’s jacket.

Sea eagles back on Orkney islands after 142 years


This February 2013 video from Sweden is called White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla).

From Raptor Politics in Britain:

White-tailed eagles nest in Orkney after 142-year absence

A pair of sea eagles are currently nesting on RSPB Scotland’s Hoy nature reserve. It is the first time these birds have attempted to breed in Orkney since 1873. The news suggests Orkney may become the next stop on the sea eagles’ celebrated recolonisation of Scotland. Alan Leitch, RSPB Scotland’s Sites Manager in Orkney, said, “This is a great moment for Hoy and Orkney. Sea eagles are utterly magnificent birds, with a wing span of up to 2.4 m or 8 feet. To see them over the hills of Hoy is a forceful reminder of the sheer beauty of nature.” “Too often with wildlife, once it’s gone it’s gone. It is a privilege to welcome these birds back to a landscape they inhabited for thousands of years.”

Sea eagles have a long history in Orkney. The Bronze Age burial tomb at Isbister, South Ronaldsay (the ‘Tomb of the Eagles’) famously contains their bones, while a Pictish symbol stone found at the Knowe of Burrian, Harray, features a beautifully carved bird.

Sea eagles became extinct across the UK in the early 19th century due to combination of widespread habitat loss and human persecution, with the last bird shot in Shetland in 1918.

Following successful reintroductions since the 1970s on Rum, Wester Ross and more recently in Fife, sea eagles are now reclaiming their former ranges. Success for the pair in Hoy, which have returned to Orkney of their own accord, would represent a significant expansion in breeding range for the birds in Scotland.

The nearest sea eagle territories to Orkney are in the north-west of Scotland, although the origins of the pair currently nesting in Hoy are not yet known. Either or both birds could have hatched in the wild in Scotland, or even in Scandinavia.

Alan Leitch continued, “As Hoy’s first breeding sea eagles in nearly 150 years, we expect this young pair will attract a lot of attention over the next few weeks or months.

“The birds are nesting on the Dwarfie Hamars. To give them the best chance of success, anyone keen to see the birds should keep their distance and ideally keep dogs under close control in the vicinity. The roadside car park for the Dwarfie Stone is a good place to watch from but lingering too long at the Dwarfie Stone itself could alarm the birds.”

“Nesting sea eagles are specially protected by law, so if you see any signs of disturbance please pass your concerns onto the police straightaway.”

The sea eagle is a globally threatened species: there are only around 10,000 pairs in the world, a third of which live in Norway. The re-introduction of sea eagles to their former haunts aims to expand their range and help ensure their survival.

Also known as white-tailed eagles, they are the UK’s largest bird of prey. The birds take around five years to mature enough to breed, but can live into their 30s, generally forming long-term and monogamous bonds with their mates.

The pair currently nesting in Hoy have frequented the area for the last three springs and summers. Both are young birds, thought to be four to five years old, and this is their first known nesting attempt. Although they are inexperienced parents and may not be successful in raising chicks this summer, RSPB Scotland staff are optimistic that the birds will persevere over the coming years to make Hoy their home.

The local RSPB Scotland team are happy to answer questions about the sea eagles, and can be contacted on 01856 850176 or at orkney@rspb.org.uk (office closed Monday 6 April).

April 17th, 2015

King eider duck in Cornwall


This is a video about a king eider duck among common eider ducks in Sweden.

From birding.uk.com:

Sunday 8th March 2015 Cornwall Bird Sightings

Falmouth – KING EIDER (1[st] w[inter] dr[a]k[e]) still at*Maenporth from coast path south of beach at 0815hrs