English birds news update

This video from Britain is called BTO Bird ID – Goldcrest & Firecrest.

Spurn Bird Observatory from England reports on Twitter today seeing a quail, a hawfinch, a firecrest, a great grey shrike and an olive-backed pipit.

Avocet chicks in England, video

This is a video about an avocet and its chicks, in RSPB Fairburn Ings nature reserve in Yorkshire, England.

Criminal ‘canned fox hunting’ in Britain

This video from Britain says about itself:

Kidnapped for Cruelty – Hunting Exposé 2015

11 June 2015

Hunts try to justify their cruelty of chasing and killing foxes by claiming that they need to keep the fox population down.

In May 2015 the League Against Cruel Sports carried out an undercover investigation on land linked to the Middleton Foxhounds hunt, near Malton in North Yorkshire.

What we found was shocking.

After canned lion hunting in South Africa, canned fox hunting in Britain

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

16 fox cubs ‘reared for the hunt

Saturday 13th June 2015

A MAN has been arrested after hand-reared fox cubs were found feet away from hunt dog kennels, sparking fears they were raised to be hunted.

An investigation by animal rights group the League Against Cruel Sports (Lacs) discovered the 16 cubs in a barn near the Middleton Hunt Kennels in Malton, North Yorkshire.

Fox hunting was banned in 2004 and the Middleton Hunt denies any wrongdoing.

“There were no vixens or adult foxes, which suggests the cubs were forcibly removed from their earths,” said Lacs spokeswoman Ginny Reid.

“We’ve known for a long time that this is a practice carried out by many hunts, but this is the first footage that graphically shows the scale of what they are doing, and links it directly to members of the hunt.”

Images were given to the press hours before police raided the barn and rescued the cubs, which are now in a sanctuary.

See also here.

In fact, as more foxes were needed for hunting than were present, large numbers of animals were imported from Europe to be sold at markets in England: here.

More details of the sickening badger baiting incident from Flintshire are here.

Leucistic guillemot at Bempton Cliffs, England

Leucistic guillemot

The bird on the left of this photo, taken at Bempton Cliffs in England by Steve Clifton, is a normally coloured guillemot (as are the birds at the bottom of the picture).

The other guillemot, on the right, is leucistic.

Britain’s oldest dinosaur discovered

This American Museum of Natural History video says about itself:

How Are Dinosaur Fossils Prepared in the Laboratory?

9 October 2012

Fossil preparators are highly skilled technicians who restore the naturally fractured bones and teeth of fossil to the original state, somewhat like art conservators restore damaged paintings and sculptures.

When fossils arrive from the field, they are encased in plaster jackets, and the rock, or matrix, which was deposited around the fossils. Fossil preparation involves cutting open the plaster jacket and removing this matrix surrounding the fossil. The matrix may be soft and crumbly, when the sand or mud is poorly cemented together, or it can be extremely hard, when the sediments are well cemented. Accordingly, a wide variety of tools is required to remove the matrix and stabilize the fossil. Commonly, dental tools are used to carefully pick away sediment near the bone, along with custom-made needles composed of carbide steel. Formerly, chisels and hammers were used to remove blocks of matrix further away from the bone, but recently, smaller mechanical tools have taken their place. These include small grinding wheels, miniature jackhammers called air scribes, and tiny sand-blasters, all powered by compressed air.

When using these tools, the work is often conducted while peering through a precision microscope under high-quality lighting to make sure delicate features on the fossils are not damaged. Preparators carefully select the materials used to strengthen or repair specimens. Adhesives, glues, and fillers must stand the test of time and not become brittle or discolored, just like the materials used to conserve works of art. The types of materials used are recorded in order to aid future preparators if further preparation or repair is required.

This video is part of a series, “Dinosaurs Explained,” produced by the American Museum of Natural History. In the series, Museum paleontologists answer the most frequently asked questions about dinosaurs.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Britain’s oldest dinosaur fossil found on North Yorkshire coast

Experts say they have identified 176m-year-old sauropod from fossil backbone discovered on a beach at Whitby

Monday 1 June 2015 20.00 BST

Experts say they have identified Britain’s oldest sauropod dinosaur from a fossil bone discovered on the North Yorkshire coast.

The dinosaur backbone – which dates back about 176m years to the Middle Jurassic period – was found on a beach at Whitby after it fell out of a cliff face.

It represents the earliest skeletal record of this type of dinosaur from the UK and adds to existing evidence from Yorkshire dinosaur tracks that the creatures once roamed freely across this part of the country, say researchers at the University of Manchester.

Sauropods include some of the largest plant-eating dinosaurs that have existed and were a successful group for nearly 150m years.

They possessed distinctive long necks and tails, small heads, a large body and walked on all fours. Some species, such as the Argentinosaurus, grew up to 115ft (35 metres) long and possibly weighed as much as 80 tonnes.

The fossil is said to be an extremely rare find, given that the Middle Jurassic rocks of the world are exposed in very few areas, although dinosaur fossils of a similar age have been found in China and Latin America.

Prof Phil Manning and his team from the University of Manchester used x-ray tomography to study the fossil bone, which is now held in the collections at the Yorkshire Museum in York.

Prof Manning said: “Many scientists have worked on the amazing dinosaur tracks from the Middle Jurassic rocks of Yorkshire.

“It was a splendid surprise to come face to face with a fossil vertebra from the Jurassic rocks of Yorkshire that was clearly from a sauropod dinosaur.

This fossil offers the earliest ‘body fossil’ evidence for this important group of dinosaurs in the United Kingdom but it is impossible to define a new species based upon this single bone.”

Until more bones are discovered the team have nicknamed Britain’s oldest sauropod Alan, after the finder of this prehistoric giant, Alan Gurr.

Sarah King, curator of natural science at the Yorkshire Museum, said: “We have some of the best examples of fossils from the area in our collections and we are delighted to be able to display the vertebra of Britain’s oldest sauropod alongside them for the public to enjoy.”

The vertebra will be on show at the Yorkshire Museum from 8 June.

Blue tit chicks hatched in England, video

This video is from the RSPB Fairburn Ings in Yorkshire, England, about their blue tit nest. It says about itself:

The chicks began to hatch on the 15 May [2015] and this is footage of them in their first few hours.

Britain’s oldest marsh tit in Yorkshire

This is a marsh tit video.

From the BTO Bird Ringing ‘Demog Blog‘ in Britain:

15 May 2015

Old friends welcome in the new CES season

We recently received the following fascinating account of the first CES visit of the year at Foxglove Covert, Catterick, Yorkshire. The first CES visit period of 2015 is now over and we are already hearing stories of how long-term ringing projects can help us learn more about the productivity, abundance and survival of birds in Britain & Ireland.

Tony Crease writes: …

Monday provided the window of opportunity and 12 ringers from the Swaledale Group turned out for visit 1 of our 23rd CES season. With trees still without leaves after the recent very cold weather, the usually lush habitat was less than ideal for hiding the nets. Nevertheless, we had an interesting day catching 204 birds of 25 species. The first Blackcap and Garden Warbler of the year were processed as well as 29 Bullfinches, 23 Willow Warblers and many of our routinely resident species. What was entirely unexpected was the age structure of the birds, some of which we find are surprisingly long lived.

Among the more common species we processed was a four year old Chiffchaff, Chaffinches that were four and six years old respectively and six Blue Tits from four to eight years old. Even more fascinating was a pair of Willow Tits; the female, who had a large brood patch, had been ringed on the reserve as a juvenile on 9 August 2007 and had been caught every year since – a total of 37 times in all!

As if that wasn’t compensation enough for our very early start, to our complete amazement there then followed R084872, a Marsh Tit which had been ringed as a juvenile in the reserve on 10 July 2004. This bird, we believe, must now hold the British & Irish longevity record for that species; it has been re-trapped 42 times and has been recorded at Foxglove Covert every year since except 2010 and 2013.

Increasingly, we are finding more results like these with several passerines, including Blackbirds, quite often living five years or more. It is a compelling aspect of our ringing activities and one that has improved so much with the introduction of IPMR. We load the birds as we ring them so information on original ringing data is readily available.

While visiting our Tawny Owl boxes recently we found one bird that had been breeding in the same next box for 16 years. It is an intriguing subject and one that continually delivers surprises. Life is full of the unexpected and our feathered friends in and around Catterick provide many thought-provoking examples.