As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Rare bird spotted in Herefordshire for the first time

ORNITHOLOGISTS reached for the history books when a flying visitor was spotted in Herefordshire for the first time.

The bearded tit, a striking bird with markings which look like it has a drooping black moustache, was seen at a wetland site at the Wellington gravel pits.

Frances Weeks, from the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, said it was the first time the species has ever been recorded in the county.

While the bearded tit is sometimes seen on the east and south east coast of the UK, there are only around 630 breeding pairs in the country.

The bearded tits prefer reed beds, found around the edges of lowland lakes, where they can feed on the seeds of the reeds during the winter.

The Lugg Living Landscape Officer, Sophie Cowling, said this type of habitat is becoming increasingly scarce across the country but that the lakes found to the north of Hereford have the potential to provide large areas of reed bed.

And at Bodenham Lake nature reserve, Herefordshire Wildlife Trust is planning to re-profile areas of the lake to create shallower sides and areas of reed bed.

Ms Cowling added: “This is such an exciting sighting. The bearded tit is exactly the sort of reed bed specialist we are hoping to attract to the reserve." 
 

Fake crane project brings birds back to Britain


November 8, 2016
 
Conservationists dressed in crane costumes have helped bring the graceful grey birds back to Britain's wetlands after they were hunted to near extinction as a delicacy in the Middle Ages.



The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said the hand-rearing of 93 cranes in Somerset, southwest England, had been "instrumental" in bringing the total number of cranes in Britain to 160.

"It's an incredibly useful technique. It allows you to act as a surrogate parent," Damon Bridge, one of the conservationists who reared chicks from eggs as part of the "Great Crane Project", told AFP.

Wearing grey body suits, Bridge and other bird enthusiasts socialised with and fed the chicks with devices shaped like a crane's head and painted with a bird's face in a programme that ended in 2014.

Bridge said the aim was to prevent chicks from "imprinting" on humans before being released into the wild so they don't rely on people to feed them.

The chicks that were reared in this way have survived in the wild and have now themselves begun breeding.

"The population has probably grown to a size where it has reached a critical mass," said Bridge.

The Great Crane Project is a partnership between the RSPB, the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust.

"It's a dream come true... Cranes are well on track to become a true conservation success story for the UK," said Rebecca Lee, principal conservation breeding officer at the WWT.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-11-fake-crane-birds-britain.html#jCp

Fake crane project brings birds back to Britain
November 8, 2016

The Great Crane Project is a partnership between the RSPB, the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust

Conservationists dressed in crane costumes have helped bring the graceful grey birds back to Britain's wetlands after they were hunted to near extinction as a delicacy in the Middle Ages.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said the hand-rearing of 93 cranes in Somerset, southwest England, had been "instrumental" in bringing the total number of cranes in Britain to 160.

"It's an incredibly useful technique. It allows you to act as a surrogate parent," Damon Bridge, one of the conservationists who reared chicks from eggs as part of the "Great Crane Project", told AFP.

Wearing grey body suits, Bridge and other bird enthusiasts socialised with and fed the chicks with devices shaped like a crane's head and painted with a bird's face in a programme that ended in 2014.

Bridge said the aim was to prevent chicks from "imprinting" on humans before being released into the wild so they don't rely on people to feed them.

The chicks that were reared in this way have survived in the wild and have now themselves begun breeding.

"The population has probably grown to a size where it has reached a critical mass," said Bridge.

The Great Crane Project is a partnership between the RSPB, the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust.

"It's a dream come true... Cranes are well on track to become a true conservation success story for the UK," said Rebecca Lee, principal conservation breeding officer at the WWT.

Read more at: 

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Eyebrowed thrush - rare sighting sparks twitcher stampede to Northumberland

Student Ross Moore spotted it first and when he posted pictures of it online birdwatchers flocked to the region

Student Ross Moore took a walk around a Northumberland beauty spot – and sparked a birding stampede.

Ross, who has just taken up wildlife photography, was walking around Bolam Lake Country Park on Friday afternoon with his parents when he photographed a bird perched in a nearby hawthorn tree.

His father Andrew trained his binoculars on the tree and concluded that it was a bird he had never seen before.

When they returned to the family home in Prudhoe, they identified it as an eyebrowed thrush, which breeds in Siberia and migrates for the winter to south East Asia.

Once Ross posted his pictures online, it sparked an internet surge from birders across the country.

“Everything went into meltdown, and it started to sink in about what I had stumbled across,,” said Ross.

It turned out to be the first eyebrowed thrush to be seen in Northumberland and only the 24th to be recorded in the UK, with the last bird accessible to spotters being back in 1995.



Read on

Decreasing woodland bird population needs closer monitoring, says Island Nature Trust

'If we're not out there on the ground, these things catch up to us'

By Sara Fraser, CBC News Posted: Nov 08, 2016 6:00 AM AT Last Updated: Nov 08, 2016 6:00 AM AT


There's been a big drop in the number of woodland birds on P.E.I. according to recent surveys, says the Island Nature Trust. 
 
The surveys aren't part of a structured monitoring program, but the group said it's seeing a general trend towards fewer forest birds across the Island.

"If we're not out there on the ground, these things catch up to us," said Megan Harris, the executive director of the trust.

"And before we realize what's going on, we're trying to scramble to fix something that we don't fully understand."



continued


Monday, 5 December 2016

Some of Ireland's favourite birds are on brink of extinction - report


Large parts of Ireland's environment is in a worse state today than 20 years ago, a major report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says. 
 
Bird species, including the corncrake and the curlew, are almost extinct. There has been a "dramatic reduction" in the number of pristine rivers with high water quality, and traffic is causing serious air pollution.

The 'Ireland's Environment: An Assessment 2016' report also shows the average household now produces 20pc more waste than two decades ago, and says there is a need for "decisive leadership". While the overall state of the environment is "good", there are "serious underlying signals of concern".

Report co-editor Dr Jonathan Dernham said there was a need for integrated policies to protect the environment.


"We have not done well on nature protection, and we have lost some of our highest quality waters while at the same time reducing the number of seriously polluted waters," he said.

"If it was a school report card, it would be 'could do better'. We're winning and losing at the same time. The real challenge for the State is we're seeing that improvement is inconsistent and sporadic, as the joined-up policies are not there."



Continued

Training fishermen to prevent seabird deaths in Namibia

Fishing vessels now have to use ‘seabird safe’ measures such as bird scaring lines, night setting and line weighting. These measures have been proven to massively reduce seabird mortality in fisheries around the world. In South Africa use of these methods has successfully reduced albatross deaths by 99%, which is what we want to see happen in Namibia.

As with any regulation, it is only effective if the law is enforced, in this case with a fine of up to NAD 500,000 (£29,300), and up to 10 years imprisonment. There is a need to increase awareness of and education about seabird bycatch issues, mitigation requirements and options available to crews aboard fishing vessels.  

To ensure that this happens our Albatross Task Force (ATF) team in Namibia (part of the Namibian Nature Foundation) partnered up with the ATF team from BirdLife South Africa and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to deliver a two day training workshop to fishing industry stakeholders and to fisheries observers who will be on the front line ensuring compliance and preventing seabird deaths.  

After the Pink-headed Duck and the King Vulture, the magnifient White-bellied Heron (WBH) in Assam is all set to go the Dodo way. The absence or disappearance of the White bellied Heron is a matter of grave concern for conservationists. The bird is on the edge of extinction or may have gone extinct in Assam since sighting of the bird becomes very rare. Ornithologists say, there may be a few White bellied herons left in Manas National Park along the Bhutan border, but not sure whether they are resident or flew in from the Bhutan side. A few years back, photograph of this rare bird with a noose around its neck in a village in lower Assam sent shock waves among bird lovers of the state. There was also a news of a rare heron pair seen hanging from electric lines in the Bhutan side a couple of years back.

Once a resident and also a locally migratory species in Assam, shrinking of habitat brought the bird to the edge. These birds are often seen along the banks of Punatshangchu basin in central Bhutan and there are occasional sightings in the Assam-Bhutan border areas and in the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border areas. There has been no report of nesting of this recluse bird in the Assam side for the last ten years.

The survival of the White-bellied heron (Ardea Insignis), one of the 50 rarest birds in the world that has an estimated global population of less than 250, greatly depends on the existence of their wetland habitat.
- See more at: http://www.assamtimes.org/node/17920#sthash.V0s4dA6e.dpuf
After the Pink-headed Duck and the King Vulture, the magnifient White-bellied Heron (WBH) in Assam is all set to go the Dodo way. The absence or disappearance of the White bellied Heron is a matter of grave concern for conservationists. The bird is on the edge of extinction or may have gone extinct in Assam since sighting of the bird becomes very rare. Ornithologists say, there may be a few White bellied herons left in Manas National Park along the Bhutan border, but not sure whether they are resident or flew in from the Bhutan side. A few years back, photograph of this rare bird with a noose around its neck in a village in lower Assam sent shock waves among bird lovers of the state. There was also a news of a rare heron pair seen hanging from electric lines in the Bhutan side a couple of years back.

Once a resident and also a locally migratory species in Assam, shrinking of habitat brought the bird to the edge. These birds are often seen along the banks of Punatshangchu basin in central Bhutan and there are occasional sightings in the Assam-Bhutan border areas and in the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border areas. There has been no report of nesting of this recluse bird in the Assam side for the last ten years.

The survival of the White-bellied heron (Ardea Insignis), one of the 50 rarest birds in the world that has an estimated global population of less than 250, greatly depends on the existence of their wetland habitat.
- See more at: http://www.assamtimes.org/node/17920#sthash.V0s4dA6e.dpuf

Shrinking habitat push magnificient bird to the edge

After the Pink-headed Duck and the King Vulture, the magnifient White-bellied Heron (WBH) in Assam is all set to go the Dodo way. The absence or disappearance of the White bellied Heron is a matter of grave concern for conservationists. The bird is on the edge of extinction or may have gone extinct in Assam since sighting of the bird becomes very rare. Ornithologists say, there may be a few White bellied herons left in Manas National Park along the Bhutan border, but not sure whether they are resident or flew in from the Bhutan side. A few years back, photograph of this rare bird with a noose around its neck in a village in lower Assam sent shock waves among bird lovers of the state. There was also a news of a rare heron pair seen hanging from electric lines in the Bhutan side a couple of years back.

Once a resident and also a locally migratory species in Assam, shrinking of habitat brought the bird to the edge. These birds are often seen along the banks of Punatshangchu basin in central Bhutan and there are occasional sightings in the Assam-Bhutan border areas and in the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border areas. There has been no report of nesting of this recluse bird in the Assam side for the last ten years.

The survival of the White-bellied heron (Ardea Insignis), one of the 50 rarest birds in the world that has an estimated global population of less than 250, greatly depends on the existence of their wetland habitat.

Distribution and habitat:

The White-bellied Heron is Critically Endangered in the IUCN list, with a population as low as 50–249 individuals. These birds exist in very low numbers over a large area comprising Bhutan, Yunan in China, northern Myanmar and northeast India. The species is found in the wetlands of tropical and subtropical forests in the foothills of the eastern Himalayas -- in India and Myanmar. It is spotted in Bhutan's sub-tropical areas and was also once found in Nepal. Traces of heron chicks were sighted in Zhemgang in Central Bhutan also. Herons mostly dwell in Southeast Asian countries and Bhutan shelters a little over 30 herons in the Himalayan region. Once eight nesting sites were identified amongst lofty flowing waters with pebbly substrates and Chir pine forests in Bhutan. A nesting site of this extremely rare White bellied Heron was also discovered in the Namdapha Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh. This is the first known nesting site of the WBH in India. Nest of the bird was found about 18 metres above ground on an East Indian almond (Terminalia myriocarpa) tree. In 2015, ornithologists observed the courtship of a pair of white-bellied heron.The courtship begins in the winter from January to February as the river water recedes. The birds chase after each other playfully with sticks and calling out to partners. The pair went on to build a nest at the site. This is the first nesting site of the bird to be scientificly identified in Namdapha, Arunachal Pradesh, India. Before the discovery of this site, Bhutan was (thought to be) the only country in the world to have a breeding population of the White-bellied Heron. Bhutan is home to about 10 per cent of the world’s total population of these birds.
- See more at: http://www.assamtimes.org/node/17920#sthash.V0s4dA6e.dpuf

Shrinking habitat push magnificient bird to the edge

After the Pink-headed Duck and the King Vulture, the magnifient White-bellied Heron (WBH) in Assam is all set to go the Dodo way. The absence or disappearance of the White bellied Heron is a matter of grave concern for conservationists. The bird is on the edge of extinction or may have gone extinct in Assam since sighting of the bird becomes very rare. Ornithologists say, there may be a few White bellied herons left in Manas National Park along the Bhutan border, but not sure whether they are resident or flew in from the Bhutan side. A few years back, photograph of this rare bird with a noose around its neck in a village in lower Assam sent shock waves among bird lovers of the state. There was also a news of a rare heron pair seen hanging from electric lines in the Bhutan side a couple of years back.

Once a resident and also a locally migratory species in Assam, shrinking of habitat brought the bird to the edge. These birds are often seen along the banks of Punatshangchu basin in central Bhutan and there are occasional sightings in the Assam-Bhutan border areas and in the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border areas. There has been no report of nesting of this recluse bird in the Assam side for the last ten years.

The survival of the White-bellied heron (Ardea Insignis), one of the 50 rarest birds in the world that has an estimated global population of less than 250, greatly depends on the existence of their wetland habitat.

Distribution and habitat:

The White-bellied Heron is Critically Endangered in the IUCN list, with a population as low as 50–249 individuals. These birds exist in very low numbers over a large area comprising Bhutan, Yunan in China, northern Myanmar and northeast India. The species is found in the wetlands of tropical and subtropical forests in the foothills of the eastern Himalayas -- in India and Myanmar. It is spotted in Bhutan's sub-tropical areas and was also once found in Nepal. Traces of heron chicks were sighted in Zhemgang in Central Bhutan also. Herons mostly dwell in Southeast Asian countries and Bhutan shelters a little over 30 herons in the Himalayan region. Once eight nesting sites were identified amongst lofty flowing waters with pebbly substrates and Chir pine forests in Bhutan. A nesting site of this extremely rare White bellied Heron was also discovered in the Namdapha Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh. This is the first known nesting site of the WBH in India. Nest of the bird was found about 18 metres above ground on an East Indian almond (Terminalia myriocarpa) tree. In 2015, ornithologists observed the courtship of a pair of white-bellied heron.The courtship begins in the winter from January to February as the river water recedes. The birds chase after each other playfully with sticks and calling out to partners. The pair went on to build a nest at the site. This is the first nesting site of the bird to be scientificly identified in Namdapha, Arunachal Pradesh, India. Before the discovery of this site, Bhutan was (thought to be) the only country in the world to have a breeding population of the White-bellied Heron. Bhutan is home to about 10 per cent of the world’s total population of these birds.
- See more at: http://www.assamtimes.org/node/17920#sthash.V0s4dA6e.dpuf

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Grey-headed swamphen spotted in Bermuda

A grey-headed swamphen has been recorded in Bermuda for the first time, according to the Audubon Society.

The bird was spotted at Somerset Long Bay last week by Audubon member Tim White and several local residents.

“The bird has been confirmed as the first grey-headed swamphen to be recorded in Bermuda,” Audubon president Andrew Dobson said.

“This purple coloured chicken-sized bird has huge red feet to enable it to negotiate reed beds.

“It is highly likely that this bird has come from the population of grey-headed swamphens in Florida which became established there in the late 1990s.

“It may well have arrived as a result of Hurricane Matthew. The bird appears perfectly healthy and feeding well, oblivious to kite surfers, dog walkers and the local paparazzi.”

The species is native to the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent to southern China and northern Thailand.

Its sighting in Bermuda comes seven years after an African swamphen was seen in Bermuda to the astonishment of the ornithological world.

The bird — the first of its kind to be recorded on this side of the Atlantic — remained in the Pembroke Marsh area for two weeks.



Source