Welsh solidarity, Canadian governmental inhumanity, toward refugees


Three-year-old refugee Aylan Kurdi, dead on a Turkish beach

By Luke James in Wales:

Cardiff MP opens doors for Calais aid

Friday 4th September 2014

Jo Stevens and councillors call for Wales to show its best spirit

LABOUR MP Jo Stevens has converted her constituency office into a collection centre for aid that will be rushed to refugees across Europe.

As Tory PM David Cameron continued to sit on his hands in the face of a humanitarian crisis yesterday, Ms Stevens threw open the doors of her office for donations.

The Cardiff Central MP issued an urgent call to residents of the Welsh capital for clothes, sleeping bags, tents, blankets and baby slings.

Two former Cardiff Labour councillors, Cerys Furlong and Siobhan Corria, are also running drop-off points in other parts of the city.

The political pals began the collection after seeing the distressing photo of young child Aylan Kurdi, who was found drowned on a beach in Bodrum, Turkey.

Ms Stevens told the Star: “I was chatting to a couple of friends and we thought what can we do that’s practical to help.

“All three of us are mothers so the photograph of the young boy was absolutely horrific to us.

“That photo has galvanized people into taking action.”

The plight of refugees, particularly from war-torn Syria, is something Ms Stevens has been passionate about since well before she was elected in May.

But with more than 922 asylum seekers in Cardiff — three times as many as nearby Bristol — the crisis is a major issue in her constituency.

By comparison, there are just 10 in the whole of Oxford where Mr Cameron is an MP, according to official figures obtained by Labour MP Paul Flynn through a freedom of information request.

“I have a lot of Syrian refugees who come to my surgery, along with people from other war-torn countries in the Middle East,” said Ms Stevens.

“So every week I’m seeing and hearing horrific stories — and that’s from people who have managed to get here.”

“We need some leadership from the government. This is a humanitarian disaster and we just need to something about it.”

Four sleeping bags were the first donation received by the MP yesterday, while “lots more” constituents had called to say they would be making deliveries.

One constituent had even contacted her on social media to offer their home to a refugee.

All donations must be received by Friday September 11 when they will be taken to Calais and distributed across Europe by aid agencies.

More details can be found at www.jostevens.co.uk.

Britain left humiliated by Cameron’s pathetic comments on the devastating humanitarian crisis. CAMPAIGNERS and MPs joined forces yesterday to condemn David Cameron’s shameful and “pathetic” response to the escalating refugee crisis: here.

This video from Canada says about itself:

Aunt of Syrian Migrant Blames Canada for Deaths

3 September 2015

The sister of a Syrian refugee who lost his family on a smuggling boat accident says she blames the Canadian government for the deaths. Teema Kurdi had applied to sponsor the family’s entry into Canada, but was denied because of paperwork.

Little Aylan Kurdi and his family had fled the Syrian town Kobani, destroyed by war brought there by ISIS terrorists. They tried to leave Turkey, where they were not in any way safe: Turkish soldiers had killed Syrian Kurds like them, including refugees like the Kurdi family, before.

However, that did not seem to move the Canadian Conservative government of Stephen Harper to show any humanity.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Canada shunned family of boy who drowned

Friday 4th September 2015

Refugee father tells how sons and wife died

CANADA refused an immigration request from the Syrian family whose two small boys and mother tragically drowned on Wednesday, an MP has revealed.

New Democratic Party (NDP) MP Fin Donnelly submitted a request on behalf on the boys’ aunt, Teema Kurdi, only to see it turned down by immigration officials.

The boys’ father Abdullah Kurdi described how the people-trafficker in charge of their overloaded rubber boat had panicked in the rough waters of the Aegean Sea and jumped overboard.

“I took over and started steering. The waves were so high and the boat flipped. I took my wife and my kids in my arms and I realised they were all dead,” he said.

“All I want is to be with my children at the moment.”

The heartbreaking photo of the body of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, washed up on a beach in Turkey after he died along with his elder brother Galip and mother Rehan, has encapsulated the horror of the Mediterranean refugee crisis.

A report by the UN Human Rights Council said yesterday that more than 2,000 Syrian refugees had drowned while trying to reach Europe since the start of the civil war in their country in 2011.

In Hungary, police allowed refugees to board trains at Budapest’s Keleti station following a two-day stand-off, only to take them to a refugee camp in Bicske, 22 miles west of the capital.

Desperate and angry people who had been trying to reach the relatively welcoming destinations of Austria or Germany resisted as riot police forced them off.

Amid the scenes reminiscent of the second world war, one woman clutching her small child lay on the tracks in protest until she was forcibly removed.

Hungary’s bitterly anti-immigration Prime Minister Viktor Orban blamed Germany for the crisis, claiming: “We Hungarians are full of fear.”

In the Czech Republic, police said that they had ended the practice of writing identification numbers on refugees’ arms, which critics had said harked back to the nazi Holocaust.

The Greek coastguard reported yesterday morning that it had rescued 751 people in 19 separate incidents in the previous 24 hours, down on more than 1,000 the previous day.

Welsh cuckoo flies to Chad in Africa


This video from Britain says about itself:

BTO Cuckoo Tracking Project – the story so far

26 April 2013

A recap of the BTO Cuckoo Tracking project, covering some of the findings, highlights and what’s coming next.

Thank you to all our sponsors and supporters for making this important project possible.

Follow the progress of the Cuckoos and maybe sponsor one – http://www.bto.org/cuckoos.

From Wales Online:

His wings may be just 23cm long but he’s just flown 3,000 miles – this is ‘David’ the cuckoo from Ceredigion

17:08, 2 September 2015

Updated 17:16, 2 September 2015

By Liz Day

The British Trust for Ornithology is researching the migration of cuckoos. ‘David’ was tagged in Ceredigion and has just crossed the Sahara

His wings are just 23cm long and he has flown more than 3,000 miles in the last two months – meet “David” the cuckoo from Ceredigion.

David is blogging every step of his trip, with a little help from the British Trust for Ornithology, who are hoping his journey will help to shed light on population decline.

And since leaving Wales on July 10, David has flown thousands of miles passing through the likes of France and Italy to Bosnia and Montenegro and most recently crossing the Sahara.

‘We need to understand its cycle’

Chris Hewson, senior research ecologist, said: “We have lost more than half the number of cuckoos in the UK over the last 20 years.

“Clearly we need to understand all aspects of the cuckoo’s annual cycle before we can begin to suggest what might be driving the decline.”

In 2011, researchers launched a satellite tracking programme with the aim of discovering the causes of the decline. Five birds were fitted with satellite tags and monitored during their migration.

According to the trust, although cuckoos had been well studied during breeding season in the UK, little was known about the routes they take to Africa or where they spend the winter months.

‘We have learnt a lot of vital information’

Mr Hewson added: “If we can pinpoint areas of importance, then we can look at whether there are pressures which could explain the losses of the British cuckoo.

“We have learnt a lot of vital information which will help save our cuckoos but, there is still more to discover.”

According to the researchers, catching cuckoos is “not an easy task”, as they are known for their ability to escape from nets.

Male cuckoos like to sit in tall trees, so in order to catch them, the ringer has to persuade them to fly low.

They use large-mesh “mist nets”, made from fine nylon mesh, suspended between two bushes in a V-shape and play a recording of a female to lure them in.

Schoolchildren named birds

A model of a female cuckoo is also placed on a pole next to the net, attracting the males to mate.

When a bird is caught, a tag weighing 5g is attached to its body – about 4% of the body weight of an adult male.

The tags are solar-powered, transmitting for 10 hours and then going into sleep mode for 48 hours, to allow the solar panel to recharge the battery.

Most of the cuckoos tagged are adult males because they are larger and able to carry the tag more easily.

This year, 10 cuckoos are being tracked. The birds – Derek, Dudley, Coo, Charlie, Stanley, Larry, Peckham, Vigilamus and Disco Tony – were named by schools as part of a competition.

For more information, visit www.bto.org.

David’s journey

July 10 – David leaves Wales. He is the last of the tagged cuckoos to leave the UK. He flies 560 miles to the north of France.

July 24 – He leaves France and travels east to the Po Valley in Italy.

July 28 – David flies east to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

August 3 – His tag shows he has flown 130 miles to western Montenegro. He rests near Lovcen National Park.

August 26 – He flies south from Montenegro, covering 1,160 miles in three days.

August 29 – David crosses the Mediterranean Sea and reaches Libya.

September 1 – He crosses the Sahara Desert and reaches central Chad.

Dolphin survey off Wales, video


This video from Wales about a bottlenose dolphin survey says about itself:

20 May 2015

First Sea Watch Foundation survey of the 2015 summer season in the Pen Llyn a’r Sarnau Special Area of Conservation. Starring adoptable Dolphin Flint!

Adopt Flint now and help support the vital conservation work of the Sea Watch Foundation!

Ringing young ospreys in Wales


This video from Wales says about itself:

On July 3rd, all three Dyfi osprey chicks were weighed, named and ringed. They were 35, 33 and 31 days old and we kept the tradition of naming them after Welsh rivers and lakes.

See also here.

Welsh Ramsey island bird news


This video from Wales is called RSPB Ramsey Island – why is it special?

From Wales Online:

Ramsey Island conservation staff serenade Manx Shearwaters as part of population survey

20:43, 1 July 2015

By Liz Day

It is thought that Pembrokeshire‘s three islands are home to more than 50% of the world’s population of Manx Shearwater

Conservation staff on an important island nature reserve in West Wales are spending their days serenading seabirds as part of a population survey.

Wardens on Ramsey Island in Pembrokeshire lower an MP3 player into each burrow and play a recording of a duetting pair of Manx Shearwaters, encouraging the birds inside to call back.

Site manager Greg Morgan said: “This is the only way to accurately survey a species that spends most of its life either at sea or underground.

“We play a short burst of a recording and listen for a response. At this time of year, the birds are incubating eggs, so you have the best chance of getting a response because at least one of the pair should be home by day.”

Success story

Greg, who has counted thousands of burrows on the island, is accompanied by his sheepdog Dewi.

“He loves Shearwater surveys, as he can sniff them out long before I get to the burrow,” he said.

“He usually lies down outside a burrow to tell me if it’s occupied or not. He is very well trained and it’s not unusual for dogs to be used to for seabird surveys.”

Greg describes Manx Shearwaters, which have amber conservation status, as the island’s biggest “success story”.

When the RSPB took over Ramsey in 1992, it was full of rats that arrived on shipwrecks in the 1800s and nearly wiped out the species by eating eggs and chicks.

Puffins had become extinct on the island and a survey in 1998 revealed there were just 850 pairs of Manx Shearwaters.

Last year, volunteers on the island installed a puffin sound system and planted decoys in an attempt to lure the distinctive birds to breed on the island, so far without success.

Healthy bird populations

Rats were eradicated from the island in 1999 and although Puffins have not been reintroduced, the population of Manx Shearwaters has rocketed. The most recent population census, carried out in 2012, recorded 3,800 pairs.

It is thought that Pembrokeshire’s three islands – Ramsey, Skomer and Skokholm – are home to more than 50% of the world’s Manx Shearwaters. Skomer is home to 300,000 pairs, while Skokholm has 45,000 pairs.

Greg and his wife Lisa, the island warden, carried out the last full population census in 2012 and between them counted more than 12,000 burrows.

The next full census is due to take place next summer and the wardens are hoping the population will have continue to grow.

“Fingers crossed our next survey will see the population go from strength to strength,” said Greg.

“We have no reason to think that the number will not have increased again. There is plenty of habitat here and the island is still rat-free.”

Migration monitored

To ensure that no rats access the island, there is a quarantine process for visitors and all supplies are inspected before arriving.

Other surveys carried out this year have revealed there are currently 4,400 Guillemots on Ramsey – the highest number ever recorded. There are also 1,200 Razorbills.

“This number is down slightly on previous years, but Razorbills are one of the species hardest hit by the storms in 2013, so it is not surprising,” explained Greg.

Later this month, he will attach data loggers to the Manx Shearwaters to monitor their migration to South America.

The birds leave their nest sites in July to migrate 7,000 miles to Argentina where they spend the winter before returning in late February and March.

For more informations, see rspb.org.uk/ramseyisland.