How chaffinches and starlings sing

This 29 April 2020 video from Britain says about itself:

Are you struggling to tell apart the birds in your garden based on their song? Ahead of #InternationalDawnChorusDay, BTO’s Training Manager, Nick Moran, will be teaching you which bird is which.

In this video, Nick familiarizes you with the songs of Chaffinch and Starling. Both common garden birds with a wide variety of noises, they’re worth adding to your repertoire.

Song thrush, mistle thrush, different songs

This 30 April 2020 video from Britain says about itself:

Are you struggling to tell apart the birds in your garden based on their song? Ahead of #InternationalDawnChorusDay, BTO’s Training Manager, Nick Moran, will be teaching you which bird is which.

In this video, Nick explains how to tell apart the similar-looking Song and Mistle Thrush based on their song. Have you ever considered that Song Thrush sounds like punk music?

Dunnocks singing, wrens singing, video

This 28 April 2020 video from Britain says about itself:

Are you struggling to tell apart the birds in your garden based on their song? Ahead of #InternationalDawnChorusDay, BTO’s Training Manager, Nick Moran, will be teaching you which bird is which.

Next up are Dunnock and Wren. As the UK’s most numerous bird, Wren song can often be heard exploding from the undergrowth. Nick’s unique mnemonic will make sure you’ll recognise it next time you hear it!

How robins and blackbirds sing

This 27 April 2020 video from Britain says about itself:

Are you struggling to tell apart the birds in your garden based on their song? Ahead of #InternationalDawnChorusDay, BTO’s Training Manager, Nick Moran, will be teaching you which bird is which.

In this video, Nick tells you how to separate Robin and Blackbird song. Two of our most common garden birds, you’ll almost certainly hear these songs on a daily basis.

How dunnocks and house sparrows sing, video

This 25 April 2020 video from Britain says about itself:

Are you struggling to tell apart the birds in your garden based on their song? Ahead of #InternationalDawnChorusDay, BTO’s Training Manager, Nick Moran, will be teaching you which bird is which.

In this video, Nick explains the differences between House Sparrow and Dunnock. Although these birds may look similar, their songs betray the fact that they aren’t closely related at all.

Jackdaws, carrion crows, the difference

This 21 April 2020 video from Britain says about itself:

BTO Garden BirdWatch – Telling apart Jackdaw and Carrion Crow

Join BTO’s Paul Stancliffe as he explains how you can tell apart the Jackdaws and Carrion Crows in your garden.

You can record the birds in your garden with #GardenBirdWatch and contribute to science. Find out more, and sign up today, at

Still ‘Grenfell’ flammable cladding in Britain

This 8 March 2019 video from Britain says about itself:

Grenfell: The Deadly Cladding No One is Removing

After the Grenfell fire killed 72 people, many promises were made. Politicians vowed they would never let such a tragedy happen again.

But survivors say lessons are not being learned fast enough.

21 months after the fire, 354 buildings in England still have flammable cladding on them. In London, at least 176 high-rise buildings are yet to remove their Grenfell-style cladding.

Residents living at Northpoint in Bromley say they are facing bankruptcy and have been “abandoned” by the government.

It comes as police say criminal charges over the Grenfell Tower fire won’t be considered until the end of 2021. Survivors group, Grenfell United, say they feel “frustrated and disheartened” by the lack of progress.

By Alice Summers in Britain:

Nearly three years after the Grenfell Tower inferno, flammable cladding still widely used in UK

4 April 2020

A widely used type of building cladding has proven in tests to be highly flammable.

Nearly three years after the inferno at Grenfell Tower in June 2017, when aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding led to the rapid spread of a fire that killed 72 people, high-rise buildings across the UK are still covered in dangerous combustible material.

The test carried out on High Pressure Laminate (HPL) cladding resulted in flames ripping through the test structure in minutes, failing the safety assessment by a large margin.

While the exact brands of cladding and insulation were not released, the Metal Cladding and Roofing Manufacturers Association (MCRMA), an industry association, said it used a structure made of a “standard” version of the widely used HPL cladding and phenolic foam insulation to carry out the large-scale fire test known as British Standard (BS) 8414. This is the official test to which combustible materials must be subjected to in order to assess compliance with building regulations.

In 2018, insulation company Kingspan revealed that a system using HPL cladding had previously failed at least one BS 8414 test. Yet HPL has continued to be widely used across the country. In the recent MCRMA assessment, flames reached the top of the nine-metre-high test wall in just seven minutes and 45 seconds, with temperatures exceeding 700°C, forcing the test to be halted early. The test should last at least 30 minutes and the temperature recorded must stay below 600°C for a material to pass.

The fire spread inconsistently, with the flames not immediately catching hold extensively across the cladding and appearing relatively benign before suddenly taking hold in the joints between the panels and ripping through the cladding system in minutes. Panels “pinged off” the rivets holding them in place, creating air space and rendering the fire barriers almost useless in slowing the spread of the flames.

The results demonstrate that HPL systems pose a similar level of risk to the polyethylene-cored ACM cladding used on Grenfell, which failed the same test in six minutes and 35 seconds in the summer of 2017.

While it is not known exactly how many buildings are clad in HPL, research conducted by the housing publication Inside Housing found that 91 of the 1,612 high-rise buildings it surveyed were covered in this material. However, there are approximately 12,000 high-rise buildings over 18 metres tall across the country, with a further 100,000 buildings between 11 and 18 metres, so the real number of tall buildings using this cladding is probably in the thousands.

An additional survey by insulation manufacturer Rockwool identified 340 high-rise buildings with non-ACM cladding, many of which will be using HPL materials.

Warnings have been made about the danger of HPL for years, with industry experts calling on the government to implement large-scale testing and removal.

No tests were carried out to assess any HPL materials until midway through last year, when an HPL product treated with a fire retardant narrowly passed a BS 8414 test, despite temperatures rising to over 600°C after 25 minutes. The government issued guidance to local housing authorities stating that HPL could still be used on existing buildings if it was not combined with flammable insulation.

“Standard-grade” HPL was not subjected to any tests until the test in March this year, despite it being much more widely used than flame-retardant versions.

In a letter to the government, Dr Jonathan Evans, technical committee chair at the MCRMA who helped organise this recent test, said that he had called for the government to test standard-grade HPL in its post-Grenfell testing programme, but they had “flatly refused.”

“The foundation of [the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s] independent expert panel’s advice has been the ‘view’ that ACM [cladding] presents a unique danger despite there seemingly being no test evidence to support this. This is not ‘expert advice’—it is little more than wishful thinking. You can’t hide forever how these materials perform,” Dr Evans wrote.

He added, “From a fire and rescue perspective, the performance of a standard HPL system is practically the same as that of polyethylene-cored ACM—you’ve got just a few minutes to prevent a very serious fire from rapidly developing.

“Arguably, due to the higher fuel content, an HPL fire might be more difficult to fight than ACM due to the greater heat release rate,” he warned.

A 2019 study led by Professor Richard Hull, professor of chemistry and fire science at the University of Central Lancashire, already highlighted the danger of HPL materials, which have been associated with previous fire fatalities. Window panels using this material were installed at Lakanal House, a tower block in south London where six residents lost their lives in a fire in 2009 and another 20 were injured.

HPL cladding was also used on a student accommodation block belonging to the University of Bolton in the north of England, known as The Cube, where a massive fire broke out in November 2019. There were no fatalities, but two students had to be treated by paramedics for injuries, and the 211 students lost all their belongings.

Hull’s study found that HPL cladding releases heat 25 times faster and burns 115 times hotter than non-combustible products. Speaking to Inside Housing in 2019, Hull stated, “I think that HPL has been neglected, and shouldn’t have been neglected.

“One would fear that because of all the attention that has gone to the ACM buildings [that] the next disaster is likely to involve HPL rather than ACM—because they haven’t had the fire risk assessments and so on.”

Next to nothing has been done by the authorities to even address the danger posed by ACM cladding. According to government data, more than 400 residential blocks, in the public and private sectors, were found, after testing, to have flammable cladding. Yet as of January 16, 2020, at least 315 private and public high-rise buildings in England remain covered in ACM cladding. Remedial work has been completed on only 135 buildings, all but one in the public or social sectors, for which a pitiful £400 million has been made available since October 2018.

A further paltry sum of £200 million was made available in May last year, supposedly to handle at-risk buildings in the private sector. Taking account of the negligible remedial work done so far, between 13,300 and 17,100 households, comprising tens of thousands of people, live in unsafe privately owned homes. At the current rate, remediation on public sector blocks covered in ACM would take until October 2022, and private blocks not until October 2033.

With popular revulsion at government inaction growing, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in his March 11 Budget an additional £1 billion “Building Safety Fund” for the removal of dangerous cladding of all forms from high-rise buildings. Sunak’s announcement came after the National Housing Federation calculated that total costs for removal work are expected to easily top £10 billion in the social housing sector alone.

The lack of testing and removal work carried out thus far is testament to the deplorable levels of contempt evinced by central and local government for the lives of working-class residents. In March, the government-established Grenfell Recovery Taskforce reported that while 194 of the 201 households made homeless by the Grenfell fire are now in permanent homes, six households are still in temporary accommodation and one household is still in a hotel.

Last month, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry was halted due to the coronavirus crisis. While necessary to protect its participants, the inquiry is further delayed. A timescale that was not set to publish the findings of phase two of its proceedings until 2023 will be pushed back even further, while those corporations and government bodies guilty of social murder roam free under protection from prosecution offered by this state-orchestrated whitewash.

Dangerous combustible cladding still not replaced on 70% of buildings: here.

Visual arts for threatened British birds

This 14 February 2020 video says about itself:

‘Red Sixty Seven’ seeks to raise awareness of declining birds and secure additional funds for BTO and RSPB scientists to carry out important research, work that should help to address the causes of decline. The project takes its name from the UK Red List of Birds of Conservation Concern, which currently contains 67 species.

An artwork has been produced for each species, together with a written piece by some of the UK’s leading writers. The artworks are being sold to raise funds, through 67 ‘tickets’ sold in January and guaranteeing the purchaser an artwork, determined by the drawing of lots. Find out more here.

Climate change British storm Dennis flood disaster

This 14 February 2020 British TV video says about itself:

Storm Dennis: ‘Danger to life’ declared as UK braces for 70mph winds | ITV News

The Met Office has issued a “danger to life” weather warning as the UK braces itself for Storm Dennis – a second weekend of gusty weather.

Storm Dennis is forecast to batter large swathes of the country with 70mph winds and up to 140mm (5.5in) of rain in some areas.

Experts have also warned a “perfect storm” of heavy rain, strong winds and melting snow could leave hundreds of homes across the UK flooded this weekend.

The Environment Agency (EA) said the flood impact from the weather system is likely to be worse than last weekend’s Storm Ciara due to rain falling on already saturated ground.

From the BBC today:

Flooding hits as Storm Dennis continues to lash UK

Flooding has hit parts of the UK as heavy rain and strong winds caused by Storm Dennis continue to lash the UK.

Firefighters rescued people in south Wales, where the Met Office issued its first red rain warning – meaning there was a likely risk to life – since 2015.

Homes have also been flooded in Herefordshire, where one resident said the storm had hit “like a tornado“.

More than 300 flood warnings have been issued across the UK, as rivers continue to rise.

There are currently four severe flood warnings in England and two in Wales, which also mean there is a danger to life.

Sarah Bridge, 55, compared Storm Dennis to a tornado and said water had flooded her home in Pontrilas in Herefordshire despite specialist flood doors, reaching her knees.

“It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “The kitchen is completely flooded, I can hear things floating about downstairs.”

The red rain warning in south Wales, which lasted until 11:00 GMT, advised residents to “take action” to keep safe from dangerous weather and avoid travel.

Amy Price, 20, said her family were trapped in the upstairs of their home in Llanover, Monmouthshire, because water on the ground floor had reached as high as the light switches.

“The river started rising about 1am and at 3am it started coming into the house,” she said.

“We started sweeping the water away and then at 6am the river started coming over the bank.”

Wind gusts reached 91mph on Saturday, according to the Met Office, while 142mm of rainfall was recorded at the Cray Reservoir in the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales.

Jessica Falk Perlman, who is on holiday with her family in Crickhowell, Powys, to celebrate her mother’s 60th birthday, told BBC Radio 5 Live that firefighters woke them at 04:00 GMT to tell them they were being evacuated because the River Usk had burst its banks.

But water quickly came flooding into their holiday home, forcing them upstairs and stalling their evacuation.

“The door of our house burst open and water came flooding in right up to the top of the stairs which was quite nerve-wracking at the time,” she said.

She added: “It’s well over the front door of the house, it’s flooded all the way up to the ceiling.”

In Pontypridd, bar worker Jack Jones said he had to leave work on Saturday evening as water from the River Taff entered the bar.

“It came from nowhere,” he said. “To come down this morning and see it like this is quite shocking.”

Of the flood warnings, more than 200 apply in England,more than 70 in Wales, and more than 40 in Scotland – where two people had to be rescued after their car was swept off the road near Newcastleton.

In York, the Environment Agency has predicted the River Ouse could come close to record levels seen in 2000.

Properties were flooded in Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire, on Sunday morning – and residents were urged to take “extreme care” by the area’s Environment Agency manager.

Across the UK road, rail and air travellers also face disruption.

About 170 flights were cancelled as of Sunday morning, affecting at least 25,000 passengers.

The storm has caused disruption at Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Southend, Stansted, Heathrow and Gatwick airports over the weekend.

Rail services have been suspended across south Wales, and in parts of England and Scotland, according to National Rail.

Highways England said strong winds had closed part of the M48 Severn Bridge eastbound and the QEII bridge at the Dartford Crossing, while flooding closed A-roads in South Yorkshire, Herefordshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Gloucestershire.

Amber warnings for rain and yellow warnings for wind are in place for most of the country into Sunday evening.

This means flooding could cause a danger to life, power cuts are expected and there is a good chance transport links will be impacted.

On Saturday, the body of a man was pulled from the sea off the Kent coast.

The man was declared dead at the scene in Herne Bay after emergency services were called at 12:15 GMT. …

A second body was found by the RNLI at about 13:00 GMT on Saturday after a seven-hour search in “rough seas” for a man who fell from a fuel tanker off the coast of Margate.

In other developments on Saturday:

  • The Army helped residents shore up flood defences in Ilkley and Calder in West Yorkshire
  • EasyJet cancelled about 350 flights over the weekend – almost 100 of these are to and from London’s Gatwick Airport
  • About 60 flights were grounded at London’s Heathrow Airport. Most of them are British Airways
  • Rail passengers across the country were urged to check before travelling, with delays and cancellations expected on certain routes
  • For more information, check the BBC Weather website and your BBC Local Radio station for regular updates

Last weekend Ciara brought as much as 184mm of rain and gusts reaching 97mph. It also caused hundreds of homes to be flooded and left more than 500,000 people without power.

But experts have warned Storm Dennis could cause more flooding damage, as already saturated ground is met with a “perfect storm” of heavy rain, strong winds and melting snow.

Government must not ‘shrug their shoulders’ at flood defences, Labour warns: here.

Downing Street defends Johnson’s failure to visit flooded areas as more weather warnings issued: here.