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.

Wednesday 30 September 2015

Cambridge rowing race under fire over plans to kill unhatched swans

Proposals to pour paraffin on the swans' eggs are one option that would allow an annual rowing race to continue

By Agency

6:13PM BST 29 Sep 2015

The famed Cambridge rowing races have caused outrage as plans to kill unhatched swans ahead of the event are under consideration.

The university's famous May Bumps rowing competition often coincides with the hatching of new baby swans on the river and competitors struggle to avoid them.

Proposals to pour paraffin on the swans' eggs are one option that would allow an annual rowing race to continue.

There have been several clashes between rowers and tourists on punts and swans on the River Cam in Cambridge in recent years.

The Cam Conservators, who manage the river, moved swans' nests to other locations this summer, but Natural England (NE) say this has "significant welfare implications".

Now NE has advised 'egg oiling' or 'pricking' to kill off the swan embryos and cut numbers at busy times such as the annual Bumps races on the river.

NE experts say eggs may be coated with liquid paraffin, which is harmless to full-grown swans.

California sage-grouse remain genetically diverse, for now

Date: September 16, 2015

Source: Central Ornithology Publication Office

Genetic diversity is essential for a species to be able to adapt to environmental change, and when habitat loss divides a population into small, isolated fragments, that can spell trouble. Northeastern California is at the far western end of the range of Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), and the fringe population there is declining due to the ongoing invasion of their sagebrush habitat by cheatgrass and juniper. To determine whether the genetic diversity of birds in the region is suffering as a result, Dawn Davis of the University of Idaho and her colleagues spent three years collecting blood samples from California sage-grouse on their breeding grounds for a new study forthcoming in The Condor: Ornithological Applications. While they found no evidence that individual leks, or breeding sites, in California are genetically isolated from each other, and the overall genetic diversity of the California population was just as high as that in the core of the species' range. However, this doesn't mean that the future of these vulnerable birds is secure.

Every spring, sage-grouse gather at breeding sites called leks, where males put on elaborate displays to attract females. Davis and her colleagues collected blood from 167 grouse at 13 lek sites between 2007 and 2009.Their results suggest that there is a continuing exchange of genes between California leks, and possibly even with the adjacent Nevada population. "Sage-grouse occupy the western edge of their distribution in northeastern California and our study area was dominated by invasive annual grasses and encroaching conifer which has led to declines in sage-grouse populations," explains Davis. "Our study found that despite population declines and habitat loss, leks were not genetically differentiated, which was unexpected."

Offshore wind farms could be more risky for gannets than previously thought, study shows

Date:September 28, 2015

Source:University of Leeds

Offshore wind farms which are to be built in waters around the UK could pose a greater threat to protected populations of gannets than previously thought, according to a new study by researchers at the universities of Leeds, Exeter and Glasgow.

It was previously thought that gannets, which breed in the UK between April and September each year, generally flew well below the minimum height of 22 metres above sea level swept by the blades of offshore wind turbines.

However, while this is the case when the birds are simply commuting between their nest sites and distant feeding grounds, this new study shows that they fly at an average height of 27 metres above sea level when actively searching and diving for prey.

Crucially, the study also shows that the birds' feeding grounds overlap extensively with planned wind farm sites in the Firth of Forth, heightening their risk of colliding with turbine blades.

The researchers estimate that up to 12 times more gannets could be killed by turbines than current figures suggest, although they stress that the figure is based on calculations using current typical turbine sizes, which could be different to those actually installed, and that there is great uncertainty over actual turbine avoidance rates.

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Ghost' kingfisher rediscovered on south-west Pacific island

Posted on: 28 Sep 2015

A male Guadalcanal Moustached Kingfisher has been photographed for the first-time ever on the Solomon Islands – the species had not seen since the 1950s.

Scientists in the remote highlands of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, have been on the island surveying the endemic biodiversity and working with local partners to create a protected area.

Chris Filardi, director of the project, wrote on his blog: "After several days of work, it is clear we are on the shores of an island in the sky. Species we encounter here are of two worlds – one that descends to the humid, coastal plain and another that rises into the cool, cloud-raked mountains of Tetena-Haiaja. Just as the white sands of an island beach divide land and sea, the ascending Chupukama ridge marks the transition from a world of known lowland organisms to a sky island filled with scientific mystery.

"In the western Pacific, first among these 'ghost species' is Moustached Kingfisher, a bird I have sought for nearly 20 years. Described by a single female specimen in the 1920s, two more females brought to collectors by local hunters in the early 1950s, and only glimpsed in the wild once. Scientists have never observed a male. Its voice and habits are poorly known. Given its history of eluding detection, realistic hopes of finding the bird were slim."


Crow in East Vancouver attack no ordinary bird, cyclist discovers

Crow was raised by humans and is a common fixture around the neighbourhood

CBC News Posted: Sep 28, 2015 7:29 PM PT Last Updated: Sep 28, 2015 7:29 PM PT

Steven Huynh was reunited with a curious crow after he thought it had attacked him on Friday. (CBC)

A cyclist who was attacked by a crow in East Vancouver has since been reunited with the bird, only to discover it's no common Corvidae. 

Steven Huynh's first encounter with the crow didn't go well — he was on his way to work when it flew towards him and pecked at his hand and climbed onto his back.

Huynh had stopped to look at the crow before it attacked him, because he had noticed a man petting it on the sidewalk. After reviewing the comments on his Facebook and YouTube posts of the attack, Huynh decided to return to the site of the encounter.

It was then that he found out the crow has a name: Canuck.

The bird hangs around Cassiar and Hastings streets near the home of Shawn Bergman, who said his landlord's son helped rehabilitate the bird when it fell from its nest, and it's hung around ever since.

"He does just approach people," said Bergman. "He's just really more curious than anything." 

Bergman thinks Canuck may have been attracted to the reflective strip on Huynh's backpack when he cycled by. 

As for Huynh, no hard feelings.

"After re-looking at it now, it's just like a friendly encounter. It's not an attack at all," said Huynh

Monday 28 September 2015

Park employees spot yellow-throated warbler in Alaska

Posted: Saturday, September 26, 2015 1:39 pm

Associated Press

JUNEAU, Alaska - When two National Park Service interpreters stopped to watch a bird outside their offices in Glacier Bay, they didn't realize it was the first time the species had been spotted in Alaska.

Interpreters Steve Schaller and Emma Johnson were looking at a yellow-throated warbler, reported The Juneau Empire (

"When we first spotted it, it sort of looked like a yellow-rumped warbler, but then we started to notice its behavior was different, and it had a longer beak," Schaller said. "We started realizing that this was something new."

It's surprising to hear about the species in Alaska: The yellow-throated warbler usually spends summers in the Midwest and winters as far south as Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

Father, son use net to capture exotic bird in New Hampshire

By The Associated Press
Posted Sep. 21, 2015 at 5:11 PM 

BOW — An emu that had been loose and wandering around New Hampshire for more than a week has been caught.

Maria Colby, a bird specialist who operates Wings of the Dawn Wildlife Sanctuary in Henniker,  says a father and son captured the large, flightless bird in Bow Sunday afternoon.
The Concord Monitor reports Colby searched for the bird throughout the week with police and neighbors.

The father and son used Colby's handheld net to capture the bird. Several people helped pick it up and carry it to Colby's car.

Sunday 27 September 2015

Ultra rare North American bird makes spectacular arrival in Britain

THE birdwatching world has gone into a frenzy thanks an ultra rare bird's arrival on Britain's shores.

Acadian Flycatcher.jpg
PUBLISHED: 19:36, Tue, Sep 22, 2015 | UPDATED: 19:59, Tue, Sep 22, 2015

Suspected to be an Acadian flycatcher from North America, the historic landing on the beach at Dungeness in Kent is about to spark the biggest mass gathering of twitchers in years.

Thousands of twitchers are expected to descend on the south easterly tip of the country overnight to catch a sight of the small robin-sized bird that should, by rights, be basking in the tropical forests of Panama or Colombia.

Somehow it has been caught up in a fast-moving Atlantic weather system that has taken it from its nesting grounds in eastern USA to the famous gravel headland overlooking the English Channel.

Dungeness is renowned for its huge nuclear plant as well as being the backdrop of music videos and atmospheric crime dramas.

Continued ...

Geolocators used to link breeding and wintering populations of Prothonotary Warblers

September 22, 2015

Prothonotary Warblers are stunningly beautiful and highly migratory birds closely tied to their preferred breeding habitat: swamps and other forested wetlands in the eastern United States. Scientists have noted that Prothonotary Warbler populations have experienced precipitous declines in recent years, prompting new research investigating the little known migratory behavior of this remarkable bird. As part of this effort, researchers from the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station, Klamath Bird Observatory, Louisiana Bird Observatory, and Audubon Louisiana attached several geolocators—ultra-lightweight devices that record the time of sunrise and sunset each day—using a back-pack harness on several Prothonotary Warblers to identify their migratory routes and core wintering areas. The information collected by each geolocator was used to estimate the daily longitude and latitude of the bird.

Malta referred to EU court over spring bird hunt

Critics say island custom of hunting birds migrating across Mediterranean is cruel because they are killed before they can breed

Agence France-Presse

Thursday 24 September 2015 17.05 BSTLast modified on Friday 25 September 201500.01 BST

The European commission has referred Malta to the EU’s top court over the controversial tradition of hunting birds migrating across the Mediterranean every spring, officials have said.

Malta has been at odds with Brussels for years over the issue. Critics of the practice say it is cruel as birds are killed before they can breed, but supporters defend it as a longstanding custom.

“The European commission is referring Malta to the court of justice of theEuropean Union over its decision to allow finch trapping on its territory as of 2014,” the commission, the executive body of the 28-member EU, said.

The European court of justice found Malta guilty in 2009 of permitting the hunting of birds during their return from Africa to breeding grounds in Europe, before they had a chance to reproduce.

But while spring hunting is outlawed by the EU birds directive, Malta applies yearly for a short period of exemption. Maltese voters also narrowly approved the continuation of the hunts in a referendum in April.

The European commission said the yearly exemptions should be used “judiciously, with small numbers and strict supervision” but added that “these conditions have not been met in this case”.

Friday 25 September 2015

Rare spoonbill wader bird spotted at Devon estuary

By WMNJBayley | Posted: September 25, 2015

The spoonbill species is of European conservation concern and a very rare breeding bird in the UK

The single bird is an easy spot being pure white and mixing with Canada Geese and Black Tailed Godwits as well as any number of assorted duck species. The Spoonbill is one of those birds who's name is descriptive of the birds features, its bill is shaped like a spoon which it uses with elegant sideward sweeps of their bill catching all sorts of small mud dwelling creatures.

RSPB experts say in the breeding season adults show some yellow on their breast and bill tip.

New bird species observed

A new bird species - the red-flanked bluetail (Tarsiger cyanurus) - has been observed in Latvia, ornithologists told LSM's Latvian news website on Friday.

The portal announced that on September 25 Dmitrijs Boiko, an ornithologist at the Latvian Natural History Museum, has caught a member of the new species in a net with the intention to ring it.

This find marks the 362nd bird species that has been found to be in Latvia, according to Kārlis Millers of the Latvian Bird Fund.
According to Wikipedia, the red-flanked bluetail is a species that breeds in mixed coniferous forest with undergrowth in northern Asia and northeastern Europe, from east Finland across Siberia to Kamchatka and south to Japan. It winters mainly in southeastern Asia.

Satellite tagged Egyptian Vulture named ‘Tobia’ visits Malta – Guarded by BLM & Police – Update KSU


Update from KSU below – A rare Egyptian Vulture (Avultun Abjad), nick-named Tobia, from a conservation reintroduction programme in Italy, spent last night on Malta being guarded by BirdLife Malta and the Police.

Tobia was born on 17the of June this year in captivity, before being released into the wild in Calabria, Italy, earlier this month. He is satellite tagged, meaning that the programme can track his every move. He left Calabria on 18th of September, and arrived on Malta yesterday afternoon.

BirdLife Malta birdwatchers spotted the bird yesterday afternoon and spent all night guarding it alongside the police.

Nicholas Barbara, BirdLife Malta Conservation Manager, said, “Egyptian Vultures are incredible birds, and very rare visitors to Malta. It is fantastic to see them here; however it is a sad reflection of the situation on our islands that when birds like this arrive they have to be guarded by the police. Rare birds are prized by some hunters, Tobia managed to leave safely but just a few days ago 2 spoonbills were not so lucky.”

Thursday 24 September 2015

Starved, beached seabirds flood Northern California rescue centers

Bay City News Service
POSTED: 09/23/2015 11:46:09 AM 

Hundreds of hungry and exhausted seabirds are continuing to flood a Fairfield bird rescue center because of rising sea temperatures, leaving the center strapped for resources and volunteers.

Over the last few weeks, more than 250 mostly young, starving common murre chicks have arrived at the International Bird Rescue's San Francisco Bay Center, according to the nonprofit's spokesman Russ Curtis.

"Most of them are starving," Curtis said. "Their weight is way down, their body temperatures are low, and they're mostly feather and bone, which is not good for a young bird that needs lots of calories."

About 10 to 12 common murres on average are being delivered daily to the center from all over Northern California, but predominantly from the Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Mateo, and Marin areas. The number of birds being delivered to the rescue center daily is the number that usually comes over the entirety of a month, center officials said.

RSPB Scotland welcomes rejection of Spango wind farm plans

Published by surfbirds on September 24, 2015 courtesy of RSPB, surfbirds archive

RSPB Scotland has today welcomed the decision by the planning committee of Dumfries and Galloway Council to reject proposals for the Spango wind farm.

The plans by Community Windpower Ltd for a wind farm 4km north of Sanquhar, threatened to damage an internationally important wildlife site. The proposed 14 turbines would have been located on part of the Muirkirk and North Lowther Uplands Special Protection Area (SPA), which is designated for its importance for species such as hen harrier, peregrine, merlin, short-eared owl and golden plover.

Planners at Dumfries and Galloway Council had recommended refusal for the proposal following a number of outstanding objections, including objections from RSPB Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

Wednesday 23 September 2015

After 60 million years of extreme living, seabirds are crashing

A new study finds that the world’s seabird populations have plummeted by almost 70% in just 60 years. 

Tuesday 22 September 2015 08.56 BSTLast modified on Tuesday 22 September 201517.50 BST

Every day for sixty million years, seabirds have performed mind-boggling acts of derring-do: circumnavigating the globe without rest, diving more than 200 meters in treacherous seas for a bite of lunch, braving the most unpredictable weather on the planet as if it were just another Tuesday and finding their way home in waters with few, if any, landmarks. 

But now seabirds, like so many other species, may have met their match.

Conservationists have long known that many seabird populations are in decline, but a recent paper in PLOS ONE finds the situation worse than anticipated. According to the researchers, seabird abundance has dropped 69.7% in just 60 years – representing the deaths of some 230 million animals.

“I was very surprised with the result, it was considerably greater than I’d expected,” said Edd Hammill, co-author of the paper, with Utah State University. “What we should take away from this is that something is serious amiss in the oceans.”

Ben Lascelles, a Senior Marine Officer with Birdlife International, who was not involved in the study, said he found the research alarming because the decline appeared practically indiscriminate, hitting a “large number of species across a number of families.”

Seabirds, which include any bird that depends largely on the marine environment, comprise nearly 350 species worldwide – an astonishing variety of extreme-loving birds. For example, the indefatigable wandering albatross, which sports the largest wingspan on the planet; the child-sized Emperor penguin, the only bird that breeds during the Antarctic winter; and the tiny storm petrel that practically capers on the water as it feeds – they are named for St. Peter after all.

Fearless fowl grow and lay better

Animal populations that humans selected to domesticate grew increasingly tame

Date:September 16, 2015

Source:Linköping University

Summary:A reduced fear of humans can be the driving force behind the characteristics that have developed since wild animals became domesticated, according to research by ethologists at Linköping University (LiU).

About 8,000 years ago we began to domesticate animals -- a process that fundamentally changed the way animals and people live. Domesticated animals of today have characteristics that distinguish them from their wild ancestors, including size, colour, reproduction and behaviour.

In a fresh study the LiU researchers show that many of these changes can have been driven by a simple fact: the animal populations that humans selected to domesticate grew increasingly tame. The study is now published in Biology Letters.

The researchers used a population of red junglefowl (Gallus gallus), the wild ancestor of all domesticated fowl. For five generations they selected animals with a congenital reduced fear of humans, and bred their offspring. For comparison, they also bred a separate line from the fowl that were most fearful of humans.

Tuesday 22 September 2015

Invasive brood parasites a threat to native bird species

Date: September 16, 2015

Source: University of Tennessee at Knoxville

Summary: North Americans might be seeing new species of birds in certain areas of the continent in the near future. According to research, Eurasian birds are beginning to develop a presence on our continent, which could end up having a negative effect on native species.

Vladimir Dinets, research assistant professor of psychology, recently published a paper in the Journal of Field Ornithologyexamining the threats of global warming and its effects on wild animals. The warming climate is allowing various species in North America and Eurasia to get closer to, and even cross, the Bering Strait, a natural barrier only 50 miles wide. Birds from Eurasia, in particular, are crossing into North America.

Dinets, who has traveled extensively on both sides of the Bering Strait, notes that in the past 20 years, the vegetation of the region has changed dramatically. What used to be hundreds of miles of open tundra is now dense shrubland. And more southern bird species use this change to colonize new areas. For example, the savanna sparrow has recently begun breeding in Siberia, while the great spotted woodpecker has made it to Alaska for the first time.

California sage-grouse remain genetically diverse, for now

Date:September 16, 2015

Source:Central Ornithology Publication Office

Summary:Genetic diversity is essential for a species to be able to adapt to environmental change, and when a population is divided into small, isolated fragments, that can spell trouble. To determine whether the genetic diversity of Northern California's fringe population of sage-grouse is suffering as a result of habitat loss, researchers spent three years collecting blood samples from birds on their breeding grounds.

Monday 21 September 2015

Willow tit under threat as Government make it easier for developers to build on disused mines

Conservationists fear that moves to build thousands of new homes could sound the final death knell for the tough little northern bird

Sunday 20 September 2015
There were few winners from the death of coal mining in northern England in the 1980s, which saw thousands of jobs lost and disused collieries and factories allowed to turn into wasteland.

One winner, however, was the willow tit, a tough little northern bird just about managing to survive its own battle against extinction by making the region’s post-industrial landscapes its home.

The willow tit, with its puffed-out grey chest and sooty-black cap, has seen its population decline by more than 80 per cent over the past 50 years and around 3,500 pairs are now all that remain in Britain.

They live almost exclusively in the marshy scrubland that has taken over the old mining and manufacturing sites in Lancashire, South Yorkshire and the Midlands that closed during the Thatcher years.

But now the feisty birds – a “red listed” species because they are so at risk – are under threat again as part of plans by the Government to make it easier for developers to build on disused industrial sites.

Conservationists fear that moves to build thousands of new homes could sound the final death knell for the willow tit. They say the birds’ plight needs to be considered carefully before the bulldozers start to roll.

Birds that eat at feeders are more likely to get sick, spread disease

Date: September 16, 2015

Source: Virginia Tech

Summary: The authors monitored the social and foraging behaviors of wild flocks of house finches, a common backyard songbird, and the spread of a naturally-occurring bird disease called Mycoplasmal conjunctivitis, which is similar to "pink eye" in humans but cannot be contracted by humans.

Sunday 20 September 2015

Honey Buzzards shot as hunters warn against abuse

BirdLife Malta ‘confirms’ shot protected birds during the first two weeks of autumn hunting
15 September 2015, 9:45am

At least three Honey Buzzards were shot leaving one injured and two dead, during the first two weeks of the autumn hunting season, BirdLife Malta said.

Injured Honey Buzzard (Photo: BirdLife Malta)
The news comes as Kaccaturi San Ubertu issued a statement reminding hunters of the 7pm hunting curfew as from today until 7 October. It also warned that it will not tolerate any abuse.

“BirdLife Malta has confirmed that it has received its first shot protected bird for this year’s autumn hunting season. [Yesterday] afternoon BirdLife Malta’s staff recovered an injured Honey Buzzard from a field in Siggiewi after it was alerted by a member of public,” BirdLife said.

An X-ray image revealed nine pellets in the bird’s body and a fracture to its left wing. The bird has been passed over to the ALE for rehabilitation.

Cock-a-doodle-don’t! Neighbours get the bird over dawn chorus

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Feathers have been ruffled by a noisy cockerel in an East Riding town - leading to demands for a ban on the birds in built-up areas.

More than 20 residents have in Brough signed a petition over the cockerel at a house on Wold View and its “annoying” screeches.

Although already subject to a ‘bird ASBO’ - it only supposed to be allowed out at 9am weekdays and 10am at the weekend - neighbour Martin Credland told East Riding councillors that as he was leaving home this morning “it was giving ten bells.”

East Riding Council launched an investigation after Mr Credland complained six months ago.

Sound equipment was installed in his house and an officer visited several times to take noise readings - but they concluded a wood pigeon they had picked up on the recording was even noisier.

But Mr Credland insisted today wood pigeons were the “norm” and cockerels were “not native and not acceptable in the neighbourhood.”

Mr Credland, who is also chairman of Elloughton cum Brough town council, said: “When we bought the house 18 years ago the wood pigeons were part of it. The cockerel has a different noise and tone, it’s more annoying.

“The council came to an agreement with them which they don’t 100 per cent adhere to, it has been breached many times.

Friday 18 September 2015

Telangana Bans Display of State Bird Palapitta during Dasara

By Express News Service

Published: 17th September 2015 04:21 AM

Last Updated: 17th September 2015 04:31 AM

HYDERABAD: The Telangana government has banned the display of the State bird, Palapitta at temples during Dasara festival. In a recent notice issued to all temples across the state, the Endowment Commissioner warned of strict action against defaulters.

In Telangana, Palapittas are believed to bring luck when seen on the eve of Dasara festival. Every year, innumerous birds would be captured by poachers and displayed at temples. Often, the birds would be treated inhumanly in this process.

In a press release, the Humane Society of India, an organisation that works for protection of animals, stated that poachers typically capture the birds a month before the festival. They tie the legs of birds with a thread, trim their wings and stick them with glue to prevent them from flying. The birds are usually starved till the day of Dasara and kept in small cages for public viewing. Most of these birds die in captivity or immediately after being released.

Scientists hope bird migration maps will help protect threatened species

by Sanden Totten September 17, 02:22 AM

A recent study found that half of California's bird species are threatened by climate change, and many populations are already in decline.

Scientists are looking for ways to help protect these animals, but that can be hard since many birds spend half the year traveling.

"We can't even begin to understand how the various factors come into play to cause the declines we are seeing," said Kristen Ruegg, a research biologist with UCLA. 

As part of a new research effort called the UCLA Bird Genoscape Project, announced Wednesday, Ruegg and a team of researchers will create maps showing where specific sub-populations of birds go as they migrate.

They started with the Wilson's Warbler, a song bird found in various parts of North America.

They used a new method of genome analysis to identify signature traits of various sub-groups of Wilson's warblers.

They then took DNA samples of various warblers across North America and used that to trace each bird back to its home population.

Turtle doves are in decline but now an MEP could help save them

By Cambridge News | Posted: September 16, 2015

The RSPB's Rupert Masefield tells how there's a new advocate working to help an endangered bird clinging on here.

When I'm not at work, I like to spend as much of my free time as possible exploring the countryside around East Anglia and I feel privileged to have had some pretty special (in my view) wildlife experiences: seeing and listening to singing skylarks soaring above farmland, and watching reed warblers flitting back and forth from their nest deep in the reeds while I paddled past in my canoe this summer.

But my forays into the countryside in search of nature this summer have also brought disappointment. This year, I haven't seen or heard a single solitary turtle dove, let alone two of them. And this is a bird that used to fill the countryside with its colourful appearance and soothing call.

Admittedly, I haven't made a special trip to one of the few remaining sites where there are known to be turtle doves breeding, but isn't it worrying that I should have to make such an effort to see a bird that 50 years ago bred here in its hundreds of thousands?

Thursday 17 September 2015

Ministers 'have broken promise' not to frack 66 key wildlife sites in West

By TristanCork | Posted: September 16, 2015

The Government were accused of a U-turn after ministers promised there would be no 'fracking' on sensitive environmental sites, but then offered as many as 60 key wildlife sites across the West to gas companies to look for shale gas.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds launched a fierce attack on Conservative environment secretary Amber Rudd yesterday, accusing her of backtracking on a promise, after they looked carefully at the possible exploration licences put up for grabs around the West.

The RSPB said it has identified more than 60 of the region's important wildlife sites that it said are at risk from fracking, mainly in Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset.

The Society said at least 66 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in the South West have been included in the 159 oil and gas licences that the Government have offered to energy companies to date.

Rare birds cause a flutter

10:22Thursday 17 September 2015

Red-footed Falcon.jpg
red-footed falcon
Bad weather last week might have kept boats and two-legged visitors away from the Isle of May but the nature reserve staff have been welcoming some rare feathered travellers.

As well as some common migrant birds, the arrival of a juvenile Honey Buzzard was the first to cause a flutter of excitement. Only the seventh to be recorded on the island, it did not stay long and soon headed for the Lothian coastline.

However, on Monday the eagle-eyed staff spotted a Red-footed Falcon, the first to be seen since 1973 and only the third recorded on the May.

Rare Seabird Makes Comeback In West Country

3:16pm 16th September 2015

A rare seabird makes a comeback in West Country.

Thanks to two seabird conservation projects, the rare storm petrel has this year made a comeback in the West Country, breeding at new locations on the Isles of Scilly and for a second year on Lundy.

Storm petrels are tiny seabirds, about the size of a sparrow, that spend most of their lives at sea.

They nest in burrows and are extremely rare breeding birds in England - confined entirely to the West Country.

Up until last year the only place they nested was on a few outer rocks and islands in the Isles of Scilly.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Red kites in Surrey: Where YOU have seen the threatened bird

11:37, 16 SEPTEMBER 2015

The bird of prey which was almost wiped out in the UK is now nesting in the county

Your sightings of the once almost-extinct bird stretch from Leatherhead to Farnham, raising hope for its future.

The animals are distinctive because of their forked tail and striking chestnut colour. With a 2m-long wingspan, they are incredibly agile and can soar aloft for hours at a time.

Kites were saved after a conservation project in the Chilterns during the 1990s, when 60 breeding pairs were introduced in and around Oxford and numbers swelled as they established themselves.

Get Surrey reader Debra Izatt said on Facebook: "I've seen two over the last month in Compton, soaring over the fields at Loseley.

Unusual bird lands in north Norfolk garden

07:30 16 September 2015

An unusual wryneck bird has been spotted on a garden lawn in Cromer.

David and Joan Hyam, of Suffield Park, said the bird visited at lunchtime and stayed for about an hour foraging for his own food.

Picture by David Hyam. 
Mr Hyam said only one person he showed the picture to recognised the species.

Birdwatcher Richard Porter said every autumn around 10 to 20 wrynecks were spotted, with three or four sightings already reported this year.

He said the birds migrated to the south and during periods of easterly winds they could be blown across to Britain where they stay to feed before resuming their journey southwards.

Mr Porter, from Cley, said the species were mostly seen on the east coast of Britain and were known as scarce migrants but not rare ones.

Zoo expert to travel to save rare species

20:00Tuesday 15 September 2015

A bird expert at Blackpool Zoo is about to embark on an international expedition to help protect one of the world’s rarest birds.

Zoo keeper Johnpaul Houston will be joining scientists from all over the world on the trip which aims to protect they rare scaly-sided merganser.

The expedition is the start of a 10-year project, which aims to create an International Single Species Action Plan – a joined up approach to protecting migratory species, which span many countries and cultures.

Johnpaul will travel to eastern Russia and the Lazovsky State Nature Reserve, which is also one of the last strongholds of the Amur tiger and the Amur leopard, as part of the project to protect the rarebirds breeding sites and wintering location.

He said: “I feel incredibly honoured to have been invited to take part in this expedition.

“As part of my work on this project Blackpool Zoo will be named on the project for the next 10 years, an involvement in which is exceptionally rare.”

Hundreds of songbirds once trapped in ancient Peruvian tar pits

SEPTEMBER 14, 2015

by Shayne Jacopian

Analyzing fossils of birds found in the Talara tar seeps of northwestern Peru, researchers have found that the desert region most likely was once a grassy landscape bustling with life.

The bird fossils, dating back to the late Pleistocene epoch of around 15,000 years ago, were recovered from tar seeps—places in the land where natural tar bubbles up from beneath the Earth’s surface—in the Talara desert. The birds would have mistakenly landed on the inky ooze, which was camouflaged by water or dust, and sunk to their death.

The researchers recovered 625 bird fossils from 21 different species, a few of which are now extinct.

“It suggests that not all that long ago, the neotropics [the tropical zone of the Americas and temperate zone of South America] had more songbird species than even today," study author Jessica Oswald, a postdoctoral researcher at Louisiana State University, told Live Science, adding that that’s pretty impressive, given that the neotropics have more songbird species than anywhere else even today.

These findings point to a landscape far different than today’s.

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Birds reveal the evolutionary importance of love

Date: September 14, 2015

Source: PLOS

Summary: Humans are extremely choosy when it comes to mating, only settling down after a long screening process involving nervous flirtations, awkward dates, humiliating rejections and the occasional lucky strike. But evolution is an unforgiving force -- isn't this choosiness rather a costly waste of time and energy when we should just be 'going forth and multiplying?' What, if anything, is the evolutionary point of it all? A new study may have the answer.

As demand for African timber soars, birds pay the ultimate price

Date: September 8, 2015

Source: Drexel University

Summary: The devastating impact has been revealed of illegal logging on bird communities in the understory layer of Ghana's Upper Guinea rain forests, one of the world's 25 "biodiversity hotspots" where the most biologically rich ecosystems are most threatened.

How do migrating birds avoid predators while fueling up?

Date: September 9, 2015

Source: Central Ornithology Publication Office

Summary: Birds stopping for a break during their grueling migratory flights face a difficult tradeoff: They need to fuel up with food as efficiently as possible, but they need to avoid predators while they do it. To learn more about how they make choices about food availability and predator risk, researchers spent two years capturing birds during fall migration along the coast of Maine.