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.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Computational study sheds doubt on latest theory of birds' mysterious magnetic compass

Date:  October 3, 2017
Source:  Cell Press

The European robin and other birds know where to migrate by sensing the direction of the Earth's magnetic field. Researchers have recently attributed this ability to a chemical reaction that takes place within the eye and whose success depends on the field direction. However, researchers now report that the current form of this 'radical-pair mechanism' is not sensitive enough to explain the disruption of the avian magnetic compass by certain radiofrequency magnetic fields.

Pheasant roadkill peaks in autumn and late winter

Date:  October 3, 2017
Source: University of Exeter

Chickens' motives for crossing the road are often questioned -- but pheasants should probably avoid it altogether, new research suggests. Researchers from the universities of Exeter and Cardiff compared roadkill figures from the 1960s and 2010s -- before and after the start of mass release programmes of pheasants for shooting -- and found pheasants remain disproportionately likely to be run over compared to other birds. "There may be a number of reasons why pheasants are so commonly killed on the roads, including their short flight distances and relatively small brains," said Dr Joah Madden, of the University of Exeter.

Albatross feces show diet of fishery discards

New, non-intrusive way to assess seabird diet could help improve fisheries management and monitor marine biodiversity

Date:  October 4, 2017
Source:  Frontiers

The first-ever analysis of fish DNA in albatross scat indicates a high level of interaction between seabirds and commercial fisheries. This non-invasive method could be used to assess whether fisheries are complying with discard policies. Extending the analysis to other marine predators could help monitor marine biodiversity and broader marine ecosystem changes.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Oldest known orange-bellied parrot makes welcome return to Tasmanian breeding ground

Updated Tue at 6:40am

Blue/black F, believed to be the oldest orange-bellied parrot in the wild, has defied the odds to make it back to Tasmania to breed.

The nine-year-old bird was hatched and raised in southern Tasmania, and has crossed Bass Strait about 20 times.

Each summer, the species migrates from the Victorian and South Australian coast to Melaleuca in south-west Tasmania to breed.

Last year's migration was the most dismal on record, with only 17 wild birds — 13 males and just four females — returning.

In some rare good news for the species, Blue/black F was recently spotted back at Melaleuca.

Consultant ornithologist Mark Holdsworth said he was surprised the bird had survived.

"He is in his 10th year, and that is getting right to the end of the oldest birds known to have lived in the wild," he said.

"It is really quite exciting that he has made it through for another year. Quite frankly, I was not expecting it."

Mr Holdsworth said the bird's average life expectancy was about three years.

Given the high casualty rate, researchers have taken to assigning birds non-affectionate names — such as Blue/black F — to avoid getting too attached.

Paris declares war on pigeons

October 3, 2017 | 3:25pm

French authorities are enlisting five birds of prey to scare off pesky pigeons in the City of Lights this weekend — a new scheme that’s ruffling the feathers of thousands of Parisians.

Rémi Féraud, mayor of the trendy 10th arrondissement, plans to bring in two hawks and three falcons for 10 days starting October 7 to scare the pests, according to The Local France.
“Paris pigeons are not used to birds of prey,” a spokesperson for the town hall said. “We tried traditional methods and now we are doing something more radical.”

The plan is for the birds of prey to fly over where pigeons gather around Rue du Buisson Saint-Louis and scare them into moving.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Songbird populations may indicate trouble in northwestern forests

Date:  September 27, 2017
Source:  American Ornithological Society Publications Office

Populations of many North American songbirds are declining, and in many cases we don't understand why. Conservation efforts need this information to be effective, and bird banding stations can help fill in the gaps, providing insights into how demographics vary across space and time. A new study presents ten years of data from banding stations across northern California and southern Oregon and offers new hints on what's driving changes in the region's songbird populations.

Geographic variation in Gentoo penguin calls

Date:  September 27, 2017
Source:  American Ornithological Society Publications Office

Vocal communication is central to the lives of many birds, which use sound to attract mates and defend territories. Penguins are no exception, but we know little about how or why penguin vocalizations vary between isolated populations. A new study takes a broad look at vocalizations across the range of Gentoo penguins and concludes that while their calls do vary from place to place, we still have lots to learn about the processes at work.

House sparrow decline linked to air pollution and poor diet

October 3, 2017

Despite being well-adapted to urban life, house sparrow numbers are falling. A study in open-access journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution finds that compared to sparrows living in the country, urban-dwelling birds show clear signs of stress linked to the toxic effects of air pollution and an unhealthy diet. This could have health implications for people living in cities.

"We find that house sparrows living in the city are suffering from more stress than those living in the countryside, and we link this to differences in air quality and diet," says Amparo Herrera-Dueñas, who completed this work in collaboration with the Department of Zoology and Physical Anthropology at the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain.

"It is particularly bad for urban birds during the breeding season when they are torn between allocating resources towards fighting the toxic effects of pollution or towards laying healthy eggs, both of which aren't helped by their poor diet."

She adds, "If our cities are unhealthy for birds, which is what our study is suggesting, then as their neighbors we should be concerned because we are exposed to the same environmental stressors as house sparrows."

Stress measured in urban, suburban and rural sparrows
Herrera-Dueñas and her colleagues used a non-invasive method to sample the blood of hundreds of sparrows from rural, suburban and urban areas around the Iberian Peninsula in Spain.

"We took a small blood sample from each bird, according to its weight and physical condition, and released them unharmed," she explains. The samples were analyzed for signs of oxidative stress, which can be used to measure how much an environmental stressor, such as pollution, is weakening the bird's natural defenses.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Samoa's national bird under threat

6:01 am on 2 October 2017 

Samoa's National Conservation Society is pinning hits hopes on an international awareness campaign to save, the manumea, Samoa's rare and elusive national bird.

The Society has teamed up with Auckland Zoo and Samoa's Ministry of Natural Resources, and a UK team to save the manumea.

Endemic to Samoa, the manumea is a unique tooth-billed pigeon and faces threat of extinction due to deforestation, the arrival of rats and cats and other human development on its island home.  

The President of the Samoa Conservation Society, James Atherton, told Moera Tuilaepa-Taylor, how rare the manumea is.

Alala released into Hawaii Island native forest

Published September 27, 2017 - 10:58am

HILO — Six young Alala — critically endangered Hawaiian crows — were released Wednesday into Puu Makaala Natural Area Reserve on the Big Island.

The first group of birds: two females and four males took some time to emerge from the aviary where they had been temporarily housed and they appeared to show a natural curiosity for their surroundings. Plans are to release a second group of five birds: two females and three males in mid-October from the same release aviary.

Previously, in December, a reintroduction attempt was halted after challenges posed by winter storms and predation on Alala by Io, (Hawaiian hawk). The concerted reintroduction efforts, funded by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, San Diego Zoo Global, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have addressed those challenges by changing the timing of release to avoid winter storms, changing the release site location, releasing a social group of both males and females, and enhancing the “antipredator training program” to teach the released birds how to better respond to predators like Io.

A high mortality rate is associated with releasing species into the wild. This is especially true for species like Alala that have been in captivity for longer periods of time. A successful conservation breeding program gives managers the flexibility to adapt their management techniques to improve successful transition to the wild. Conservation breeding programs are key tools for recovering threatened and endangered species.

Legal restrictions imposed on Perthshire shooting estate

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has released details of two restrictions imposed on the use of General Licenses on a 'sporting' estate in Perthshire and on an un-named individual. These follow previous similar restrictions imposed on grouse moors in Stirlingshire and the Scottish Borders.

RSPB Scotland has welcomed the announcement as a video supporting the legal restrictions was released, but no prosecutions have yet resulted from the evidence.

Video evidence presented by SNH to procure the legal restrictions on the estates concerned. Video: RSPB.

Duncan Orr-Ewing, Head of Species and Land Management for RSPB Scotland said: “We are pleased to read the SNH announcement restricting the use of the General Licence in these cases. In May 2017, the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment announced a package of new measures designed to protect birds of prey, including the consideration of all legal measures that could be used to target geographical areas of concern, and this is part of that approach.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

More than a 38 percent of the Neotropical parrot population in the American continent is threatened by human activity

September 27, 2017

More than 38 percent of the neotropical parrot population of the American continent is endangered due the impact of human activity, according to a scientific study published in the journal Biological Conservation.

Hunting for local and international trade and the loss of natural habitat are the main threats for these tropical birds, according to the article led by the experts Igor Berkunsky (National University of Central Buenos Aires) and Juan Masello (Justus Liebig University, Germany). The study involved the collaboration of 101 experts from 76 institutions and non-governmental organizations to determine the main threats affecting 192 populations of 96 neotropical parrots in 21 countries.

From hunting pets to extinction
Capture for the pet trade is one of the main threats to the preservation of wild parrots. From 1980 to 1990, millions of individuals were captured in the neotropic and taken to the United States and Asia. This huge removal of parrots could be the cause of the decline and local extinction of many species, such as the Spix's macaw. In the African continent, the trade of the grey parrot played a main role in its removal in Ghana and other areas of Africa. Currently, some of the most threatened species in Brazil are the Spix's macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii) and the red-tailed amazon (Amazona brasiliensis). Species such as the sun parakeet (Aratinga solstitialis) and brown-backed parrotlet (Touit melanonotus) are quite vulnerable due the small size of their populations.

Rarity finders: Eurasian Scops Owl in Co Durham


With good numbers of Yellow-browed Warblers around locally, I was optimistic for my morning’s trip around my local patch at Ryhope Village Dene, Co Durham, on 27 September.
Arriving just before sunrise, I headed down through the tunnel to the beginning of the Dene. With only 40 minutes spare before I had to head to work, I began to search the two larger canopies in the trees at the edge of the tunnel. With just the odd Blackbird noted, I headed up the bank to the right to search from the top of the valley. Checking the now famous Elder bush, there was only a Robin skulking among its branches.

I decided to head down the dene, checking each bush for any sign of movement. As usual, there were good numbers of Goldfinches flying overhead, together with a couple of Lesser Redpolls. A movement in the lower part of a hawthorn bush caught my attention, and after spending 10 minutes waiting to get a decent view, this turned out to be a Lesser Whitethroat. 

Time was running out. I had to head to the classroom to prepare for my day’s teaching and decided to head back up towards the tunnel in the hope of hearing a calling Yellow-browed Warbler. As I almost reached the top, I spotted a warbler on the other side of the Elder bush and I quickly walked up the bank to gain a better view. As I lifted my bins, I instantly uttered some colourful words - a very small owl had turned its head and looked at me.

Camera trap records nearly extinct cuckoo bird in Sumatra

by Basten Gokkon on 27 September 2017

A camera trap captured the Sumatran ground cuckoo in a national park.

The discovery of the avian species indicated that the park might be one of its last refuges.

The park agency said it would investigate the finding to make a conservation strategy for the cuckoo.

Park rangers in Indonesia said this week that they had photographed the nearly extinct Sumatran ground cuckoo (Carpococcyx viridis) for the first time in a protected area in North Sumatra, the first time in 10 years that anyone has caught a glimpse of it.

A camera trap in Batang Gadis National Park first captured the cuckoo last November at roughly 8.30 a.m., followed by another picture of the bird snapped about an hour later.

Based on the recorded images, park officials and experts from Conservation International (CI), an NGO, identified the sighted bird as the Sumatran ground cuckoo, which is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN.

Friday, 6 October 2017

A win-win for spotted owls and forest management

October 4, 2017

Remote sensing technology has detected what could be a win for both spotted owls and forestry management, according to a study led by the University of California, Davis, the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station and the University of Washington.

For 25 years, many forests in the western United States have been managed to protect habitat for endangered and threatened spotted owls. A central tenet of that management has been to promote and retain more than 70 percent of the forest canopy cover. However, dense levels of canopy cover leave forests prone to wildfires and can lead to large tree mortality during droughts.

In the study, published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management, scientists found that cover in tall trees is the key habitat requirement for spotted owl—not total canopy cover. It indicated that spotted owls largely avoid cover created by stands of shorter trees.

"This could fundamentally resolve the management problem because it would allow for reducing small tree density, through fire and thinning," said lead author Malcolm North, a research forest ecologist with UC Davis' John Muir Institute of the Environment and the USDA Pacific Southwest Research Station. "We've been losing the large trees, particularly in these extreme wildfire and high drought-mortality events. This is a way to protect more large tree habitat, which is what the owls want, in a way that makes the forest more resilient to these increasing stressors that are becoming more intense with climate change."

Animals that play with objects learn how to use them as tools

Date:  October 2, 2017
Source:  University of York

Researchers have discovered that New Caledonian crows and kea parrots can learn about the usefulness of objects by playing with them -- similar to human baby behaviour.

The study, led by researchers at the Universities of York and St Andrews, demonstrated that two types of bird were able to solve tasks more successfully if they had explored the object involved in the task beforehand.

It has long been thought that playful exploration allows animals to gather information about their physical world, in much the same way that human infants learn about their world through play.

In one of the first direct tests of this hypothesis, scientists studied two bird species, the New Caledonian crow and the kea parrot, to understand how they interact with objects before, during and after a task involving that object.

Dr Katie Slocombe, from the University of York's Department of Psychology, said: "Both species of bird are known for exploring objects in different ways. The New Caledonian crow use objects in the wild and the kea parrot is known for often being destructive in its play back in its native New Zealand.

Suggestion earthbound kiwi should make way for 'more elegant' shearwater pecked to pieces

10 Sep, 2017 5:32pm
By: Andrea Jutson
Kiwi may be earthbound, small and funny-looking, but recent arguments that they should move over on their pedestal for New Zealand's "more elegant" seabirds have been pecked to pieces.
Northern New Zealand Seabird Trust co-founder Chris Gaskin raised eyebrows by suggesting seabirds such as the Buller's shearwater (rako) were a better fit as a national symbol.
In front of an audience of seabird enthusiasts in Wellington yesterday, he argued that as great travellers, Kiwis - the people - were better represented by a long-distance flier like the shearwater or black petrel than a stubby-winged bird.
"These birds travel huge distances," Gaskin said.
"But seabirds have gone under the radar, and that's a real concern for us."
While he said his suggestion to that a shearwater or petrel should replace the kiwi was light-hearted, he really liked the New Zealand Navy's idea.
"Our Orions that go on fishing and search and rescue patrols actually have two symbols - the kiwi, and on the tail of the plane, a seabird that looks like a petrel."

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Toddler injured in 'unusual' magpie attack

Alexandra Ristway, Seven News, PerthNow
September 19, 2017 11:31am
A TWO-year-old girl is Perth’s latest magpie attack victim, but experts say the offending bird is exhibiting “really unusual behaviour”.
Little Asha O’Leary was at the Jackadder Lake in Woodlands when the magpie attacked her – flying at her from the ground.
“I can’t work it out,” Asha’s mum Helen said.
“She was just on her scooter and it was coming up from the ground.”
The Innaloo mother took a video of her daughter’s injuries to show as a warning to other parents.
“My biggest fear is that (the magpie) might attack more kids,” she said.
“I know of about four other attacks through Facebook, within only two days by the same bird.”
Ms O’Leary said the offending bird was easily identifiable because it was missing part of its beak.
“Usually when a magpie’s being aggressive, it’s a swooping behaviour,” UWA ecologist Dr Amanda Ridley said.
“Jumping up from the ground is a really unusual behaviour.”

The world's saddest penguin: Heartbroken bird slumps with despair after cardboard cutout of a cartoon character it had fallen in love with is put away for safekeeping at Japanese zoo

Grape-kun was pictured slumped in despair after zookeepers removed cutout
Staff are worried a typhoon at Tobu Zoo in Miyashiro, Japan could blow it away
The 20-year-old penguin began unlikely romance with the cardboard character
It comes after he was 'dumped' by a female with whom he was with for ten years
PUBLISHED: 13:09, 19 September 2017 | UPDATED: 19:41, 19 September 2017
An elderly penguin has been left heartbroken after a cardboard cutout of a cartoon character it had fallen in love with was taken away to safeguard it from a typhoon.
Grape-kun was pictured slumped in despair after keepers removed the cutout from his enclosure at Tobu Zoo, in Miyashiro, Japan amid fears it could be blown away.
The 20-year-old penguin began an unlikely romance with the cardboard character after being 'dumped' by a female with whom he was coupled with for ten years.
Grape-kun was pictured slumped in despair after zookeepers removed the cutout at Tobu Zoo, in Miyashiro, Japan amid fears it could be blown away
The 20-year-old penguin (shown) began an unlikely romance with the cardboard character after being 'dumped' by a female with whom he was coupled with for ten years
'Hululu has to evacuate because of the typhoon,' tweeted the Tobu Zoo Twitter account. 'Sorry, Grape-kun.'
Zoo staff was concerned for Grape-kun after the end of his relationship with Midori, who left him for a younger penguin.

Monk parakeets invade Mexico

Date: September 19, 2017
Source: Santa Fe Institute
Thanks to the international pet trade, populations of exotic animals are popping up in unexpected places worldwide. One of these successful invaders is the monk parakeet: a small, green parrot native to South America that now flies free in cities across North America, Europe, and elsewhere around the world.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Fly away home? Ice age may have clipped bird migration

A study led by Nebraska's Robert Zink proposes that many bird species, such as the Canada warbler, may have completely stopped migrating during the last ice age.
The onset of the last ice age may have forced some bird species to abandon their northerly migrations for thousands of years, says new research led by a University of Nebraska-Lincoln ornithologist.
Published Sept. 20 in the journal Science Advances, the study challenges a long-held presumption that birds merely shortened their migratory flights when glaciers advanced south to cover much of North America and northern Europe about 21,000 years ago.
The study concluded that the emergence of glaciers in those regions instead acted as an “adaptive switch” that turned off migratory behavior, transforming the tropics from a cold-weather resort into a long-term residence for certain bird species.
Of the 29 long-distance migrant species examined in the study, 20 likely saw their northern breeding grounds become uninhabitable, according to models developed by the researchers. When the climate again warmed and glaciers retreated back to the Arctic, those species presumably resumed their seasonal migrations.
Lead author Robert Zink said the conclusions could alter how scientists reconstruct the history of bird migration.
“It fundamentally changes the way we study the evolution of migration and think about the migratory behavior of birds,” said Zink, professor of natural resources and biological sciences at Nebraska.

A 50-year effort to raise endangered whooping cranes comes to an end

By Karin Brulliard September 18 
Each spring for 12 years, Paula Wang began a temporary position at a government lab in a suburb north of Washington. She was required to remain silent while working and to wear a white suit and hood. The mission was not top-secret, but Wang felt it was urgent all the same; she had to save an endangered species.
Wang was a volunteer in the job, which involved using puppets to feed newborn whooping cranes, one of North America's largest and rarest birds. As the chicks grew closer to their eventual five-foot height, she would escort them on walks and swims. The goal was to make the birds strong but not used to humans; to make them able to survive in the wild, even if they did not come from it.
This effort took place at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md., which for 51 years has been the epicenter of a slow-going effort to rescue the snow-hued cranes from the precipice of extinction by breeding and training birds for release. It's viewed as a model of wildlife conservation, as well as of the sometimes odd approaches such a mission can take.

Chattenden 'nightingale-threat' plan for 5,000 homes pulled

6 September 2017
Plans to build more than 5,000 homes on a site that is home to the rare nightingale have been withdrawn.
Proposals for the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) at Lodge Hill, Chattenden, included housing, schools, a healthcare centre and shops.
The scheme on the former Ministry of Defence (MOD) site was opposed by many residents, Natural England, the RSPB and the Wildlife Trust.
The leader of Medway Council said he was "appalled" by the decision.
The RSPB said the site was "the most important site in the country for nightingales" and development would threaten dozens of pairs of nightingales which nest on the land.
The Defence Infrastructure Organisation and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) have withdrawn their planning application and intend to submit revised proposals for the site.
The HCA said it was committed to going ahead with a development at Lodge Hill with a new planning application expected to be submitted in 2018.

Read more 

Monday, 2 October 2017

Breckland roost at Cavenham Heath is a rare chance to see the secretive stone-curlew with RSPB and Natural England

PUBLISHED: 09:09 08 September 2017 | UPDATED: 14:14 08 September 2017
They’re usually elusive, shy and unsociable – but a Breckland heath has offered a glimpse of a “secret gathering” of stone-curlews as they prepare for their annual migration.
Cavenham Heath, near Mildenhall, has become a departure lounge for these rarely-seen travellers, as they congregate to roost and feed before flying more than 1,000 miles in search of some winter warmth in northern Africa and southern Spain.
The stone-curlew is one of the UK’s rarest breeding birds. They are notoriously secretive in the breeding season and, as many nest on private or inaccessible land, there are few public places for people to go and see these unusual birds without the risk of disturbing them.

Seabirds ingesting plastic pollution warn scientists

20 September 2017

Most of the seabirds examined for a study of the effects of marine plastic pollution had swallowed plastic.
Researchers, including scientists from North Highland College UHI's Environmental Research Institute in Thurso, investigated 34 species.
They found 74% of them had ingested plastic.
The research involved seabird colonies in northern Europe, Russia, Scandinavia, Greenland, Svalbard, the Faroes and Iceland.
Species with the highest levels of plastic ingestion included northern fulmar, Manx shearwater and herring gull.

Poaching pushes waterfowl species to brink of extinction

Wed, Sep 13 2017 12:16:24 PM
By Vishal Gulati

New Delhi, Sep 13 (IANS): Crossing national and international boundaries, millions of migratory birds descend on India to avoid the extreme winter chill in their native habitats. Many of them never return to their breeding grounds, say ornithologists.
The reason: They are exposed, largely in non-protected wetlands, to illegal killing and trade.
Scientists, mainly from Mysuru's Nature Conservation Foundation, during their fieldwork in 27 wetlands in Tamil Nadu's Kanchipuram district, estimate that at least 1,700 waterbirds, mainly large- and medium-sized, are hunted every year in each wetland. They say hunting is widespread from December to April, the peak season of winter migrants.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

This 'fire bird' is back in N.J. for the first time in almost 30 years; here's how it happened

Updated on September 16, 2017 at 9:16 AMPosted on September 16, 2017 at 9:15 AM
NJ Advance Media for
CHATSWORTH -- Before June 6, 2015, bobwhite quail nests had not been spotted in New Jersey since the 1980s. The birds had essentially disappeared from the Pine Barrens, for reasons generally unknown. All signs, however, point to habitat loss.
New Jersey Audubon has been reintroducing bobwhite quail on Bill Haines' Pine Island cranberry farm in Chatsworth since April 2015. Just months after the first release of birds, originally trapped in Georgia, the nests were found.
Bobwhite quail are nicknamed "fire birds" - hence the name of the award Haines received - because they're known to thrive in forests that burn on a regular basis. Forest habitats go through various stages through time, changing as trees mature. Bobwhite quail live in "early successional" forests, which is made up of habitats like grasslands, old fields and young forests. This habitat requires disturbance, often in the form of fire, to keep from changing into more mature forest. For decades, a lack of fire in the Pine Barrens has meant that these early successional have disappeared, according to forester Bob Williams.

Once-Plentiful Hawaii Bird Now Protected By Endangered Species Act

By Nathan Eagle    / September 19, 2017
Facing extinction due in large part to the effects of climate change, the ‘i’iwi — a scarlet honeycreeper only found in Hawaii — will receive federal protection as a threatened species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday.
Once common from mauka to makai throughout the islands, the small red bird is now found almost exclusively in high-elevation forests on Maui and the Big Island. The population on Kauai has plummeted 92 percent over the past 25 years and the bird is almost completely gone from Lanai, Oahu and Molokai.
Lost habitat and mosquitoes carrying avian diseases and malaria are to blame. The ‘i’iwi are no longer in places that mosquitoes thrive, which is why they have found refuge in koa and ohia forests above 3,600 feet.
But as the planet warms, the mosquitoes’ range increases, further constricting the space available for the ‘i’iwi.

Why Birds Sing, Royal Festival Hall, London, review: birdsong-inspired compositions meet recordings of the real thing

Works by Messiaen, Brett Dean and Beethoven share the bill with exotic birdsong from America, Hawaii and Thailand
On paper, the Aurora Orchestra's birdsong extravaganza sounded painfully contrived: birdsong-inspired works by Messiaen and Brett Dean, interspersed with recordings of the real thing plus written commentaries, all rounded off by Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, and with Ligeti's Poème Symphonique (for a hundred metronomes) thrown in as a bonus.

In the event, the Ligeti was a cock-up, but everything else went swimmingly, from the recorded call of the Northern Cardinal at the outset, to the flute and clarinet bird-calls in the Beethoven.

Friday, 29 September 2017

These astounding puffin pictures are telling scientists something very important about the effect of climate change

22 September 2017

A puffin photograph is great addition to any wildlife photographer’s portfolio.

The temperature of the sea is rising and the sand eels that the puffins feed on don’t like the warmer sea temperatures. The puffins are finding it harder and harder to find them.

But the right shot also has a scientific value.

Throughout the summer of 2017, members of the public have been sending the RSPB thousands of photographs of puffins feeding in locations from as far south as the Channel Islands to Unst in the north of the Shetland Isles.

They show that diets vary significantly across the UK.

A lack of food means that puffin numbers have dropped to around 50-60% of what they were 25 years ago.

Richard Humpage of the RSPB told 
Landward that this was due to climate change.