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.

Monday 29 October 2018

Giant predatory mice brought to a remote South Atlantic island by 19th century sailors are killing two million birds a year including a critically endangered breed of albatross

The predatory mice are 'two or three times larger' than an average house mouse  
They eat away at the flesh of chicks, causing them to suffer for days before dying
The RSPB and Tristan da Cunha government hope eradicate the mice in 2020
PUBLISHED: 20:43, 22 October 2018 | UPDATED: 20:46, 22 October 2018
Mice brought to a remote South Atlantic island by sailors in the 19th Century  which have evolved to two or three times the size of the average house mouse are killing up to £2million seabirds a year. 
The predatory mice attack in groups and eat away at the flesh of chicks - leaving them suffering for days before the open wounds lead to their deaths, the RSPB said  
The predatory mice attack in groups and eat away at the flesh of chicks - leaving them suffering for days before the open wounds lead to their deaths, the RSPB said 
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said the rodents have proliferated on uninhabited Gough Island, part of a British overseas territory, and are killing two million birds every year.
In order to protect the birds, the RSPB and Tristan da Cunha government are teaming up with international partners to eradicate mice from Gough Island in 2020, using two helicopters laden with poisonous pellets. 
Alex Bond, a researcher from the Natural History Museum in London, said in a statement released by the RSPB: 'We knew there were large numbers of chicks and eggs being beaten each year but the actual number being taken by the mice is just staggering,'.

Investigation launched after hen harrier disappears without trace from moorland

Published: 11:05 Thursday 18 October 2018
A rare hen harrier has mysteriously disappeared from moorland in Lancashire prompting a police and RSPB investigation. The bird, called Thor, was last monitored on October 3 at Goodber Common, near Salter in Lancashire. Read more: Poignant video of toddler just days before she died in 'cage' bed He was being monitored by RSPB officers using a lightweight satellite tag, which had tracked his movements since fledging.
But his tag suddenly stopped transmitting earlier this month in an area close to a managed driven grouse moor. The Every Mind Matters guide Get expert advice on how to look after your mental health with this free guide from the NHS. Promoted by Public Health England Earlier, conservation officers had monitored his movements, watching him stay close to the Forest of Bowland where he had hatched in the summer. James Bray, RSPB’s Bowland project officer, was involved in monitoring the nests in Bowland over the summer.
He said: “Whilst we know that hen harrier mortality rates are high for young birds, if Thor had died naturally we would expect to find either his body or his tag – or both. "His tag was functioning well before he disappeared, which sadly suggests there has been some kind of interference with it.”

Britain's most prolific bird egg thief single-handedly put the future of nightjars and turtle doves at risk, RSPB says after court case

12 OCTOBER 2018 • 3:07PM
Britain's most prolific bird egg thief single-handedly put the future of nightjars and turtle doves at risk, the RSPB has said.
Daniel Lingham, 65, is facing jail after illegally collecting more than 5,000 bird eggs, including a number of endangered species.
Lingham, who pleaded guilty to five offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, was caught after a member of the public told police she had seen a man “head-to-toe in camouflage gear" picking eggs up off the ground at Cawston Heath in Norfolk, the court heard on Friday.
Officers then searched his home address and found tubs containing eggs under his bed and in the kitchen and living room, with many of them handwritten on.
Colette Harpe, prosecuting, said officers found a total of 5,266 eggs of species including nightingales, nightjars, turtle doves, chiffchaffs, little-ringed plovers, woodlarks and kingfishers.
She said Lingham told the officers who arrested him: "I've been a silly man, haven't I?"
Speaking outside the court, RSPB senior investigator Mark Thomas Lingham’s crimes would have a “huge impact” on the local, regional and national populations of some of Britain’s “rarest and most threatened birds, including nightjar and turtle dove.
He said: "At a time when egg collecting is on the decline, Lingham is the most prolific egg collector in recent years.
"It's very rare that an egg collection of this magnitude comes to light these days.
"Lingham has taken significant numbers of eggs from some of our rarest and most threatened birds, including nightjar and turtle dove.

In a first, scientists spot what may be lungs in an ancient bird fossil

But some paleontologists aren’t convinced the preserved structures are respiratory organs
12:13PM, OCTOBER 19, 2018
ALBUQUERQUE — Fossilized lungs found preserved along with an ancient bird may breathe new life into studies of early avian respiration. If confirmed as lungs, the find marks the first time that researchers have spotted the respiratory organs in a bird fossil.
Scientists have previously described four fossils of Archaeorhynchus spathula, an early beaked and feathered bird that lived about 120 million years ago. But unlike those discoveries, a newly described fifth specimen contains significant traces of plumage, and, even more startling, the probable remnants of a pair of lungs, researchers say.
Vertebrate paleontologist Jingmai O’Connor and colleagues reported the findings October 18 at the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology’s annual meeting. The results were also published online October 18 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
About the size of a thrush, Archaeorhynchus was among the earliest ornithuromorphs, the lineage that led to modern birds. It was probably an herbivore, as all known fossils of the creature contain preserved gastroliths, or gizzard stones which some animals use to help grind food, in the belly. The new fossil was found in northeastern China and is part of the Jehol Biota. That wealth of well-preserved fossils dates to between 133 million and 120 million years ago and includes numerous feathered dinosaurs as well as birds.

Sunday 28 October 2018

Getting to the root of long-term tree swallow declines

Date:  October 17, 2018
Source:  American Ornithological Society Publications Office
Aerial insectivores -- birds that hunt for insect prey on the wing -- are declining across North America. Conserving vulnerable species such as these requires a good understanding of the factors impacting them at every stage of life. Juveniles and adults, for example, may face different threats and die at different rates. Two new studies from The Condor: Ornithological Applications take a deep dive into the demographic factors behind declining populations of Tree Swallows and show that although specifics may vary between locations, action is needed to address environmental changes affecting these birds across their geographic range.

Rare catbird from America has twitchers flocking to Treeve Moor near Land's End in Cornwall

Dumetella carolinensis -Brendan T. Byrne State Forest, New Jersey, USA-8.jpg
It is only the second time it has been seen here - the first sighting in Britain was in Anglesey in 2001, according to the British Birds Rarities Committee
John Bett
10:57, 18 OCT 2018
Hundreds of twitchers have flocked to Cornwall to catch a glimpse of a rare bird from America spotted in the UK.
A large crowd gathered to see the grey catbird after it was seen flitting in Treeve Moor near Land's End in Cornwall.
The bird, which is about 20cm (7.8in) long and grey in colour, is named because of its distinctive "meowing" sound.
It is only the second time it has been seen here - the first sighting in Britain was in Anglesey in 2001, according to the British Birds Rarities Committee.
Mark Grantham, chairman of the Cornwall Bird Watching and Preservation Society, said he thought the bird, which was first seen on Monday, had been brought across the Atlantic on low pressure systems following the recent US storms.
He said: "Birds heading south get carried out to sea on weather systems and then can follow the Gulf Stream before making landfall at the first opportunity."
News of the grey catbird spread on Twitter, and birdwatchers started arriving, with a local farmer opening a field for parking, taking charity donations in return.
Mr Grantham added: "Cornwall is used to seeing its fair share of rare birds, but American birds certainly provide extra excitement.
"To see [the grey catbird] flitting along a Cornish hedge is always going to be extra special."
The sightings have been greeted with some excitement.

Optical illusion can cut birdstrikes on airplanes

16 Oct 2018
French development based on avian perception can both save rare birds and minimize fatal accidents.
Researchers from the CNRS and Université de Rennes, all in France, in collaboration with Airbus, have designed a visual pattern that achieves long-term avoidance of high-risk areas by birds of prey (“raptors”) – such as at airports and around wind turbines.
The scientists’ work opens the way for further investigation into the visual cognition of such birds, and it has applications for conservation, because raptors are among the most common victims of collisions with airplanes and turbine blades. The work is published in PLOS ONE.
Despite their exceptional visual acuity, raptors do not perceive certain hazardous obstacles such as glazed surfaces, or they are too late in detecting some moving objects, like airplanes.
In France alone, over 800 collisions between birds and airplanes are reported each year, with 15% of these classified as serious incidents. As available deterrent systems are hardly effective with raptors (smart birds typically learn to ignore "predator dummies" in a matter of days), scientists from the Éthologie Animale et Humaine (Ethos) research laboratory decided to develop a new means of repelling these birds from specific areas.
But it is not just the birds that suffer from these collisions: as the PLOS ONE article reports, based on many long-term sets of accident data from across the world, bird collisions are also the cause of many airplane crashes and human fatalities:
Read on  

More than 150 birdwatchers flock to Norwich man’s living room

PUBLISHED: 13:02 20 October 2018 | UPDATED: 13:19 20 October 2018
A man’s living room has become a birdwatcher’s paradise after a rare starling decided to nest in his garden.
Stephen Leake, from New Costessey, has been letting bird lovers enter his home to get a look at a Rose-Coloured Starling, a bird that is rarely spotted in England.
The teacher first spotted the bird in his garden on October 7. He reported it to the RSPB and gave his postcode. Within a day he noticed groups of people outside his house trying to get a glimpse of the bird.
Since then Mr Leake has had more than 150 birdwatchers come in his home.
The Rose-Coloured Starling normally breeds in eastern Europe and Asia such as Kazakhstan and Russia.

Friday 26 October 2018

Rare bird found in Toowoomba after 20 years

Black-breasted Button-quail male inskip.JPG
10th Oct 2018 1:30 PM
GATTON ornithologist Patrick Webster's work has put the spotlight on one of the region's rarest birds, the black-breasted button-quail.
Mr Webster has travelled throughout Queensland researching the endangered bird.
The black-breasted button-quail was recently spotted at Redwood Park, Toowoomba.
The bird is listed as a vulnerable species in Queensland and hadn't been seen in Toowoomba for 20 years prior to this year's spotting.
Mr Webster said habitat destruction was the leading cause that impacted on bird numbers.
"It is a extremely fussy bird when it comes to their habitat. They only live in dry rainforest or littoral scrub-land," Mr Webster said.
"The majority of the habitat has been destroyed for development or by introduced weeds such as cats claw creeper.
"Research found that 90 per cent of the birds' habitat was destroyed in the 90s.
"The best thing someone can do to help the species is to report any sightings so we know where the bird is," Mr Webster.
"The bird needs to be recognised. Very few people know of them and you can't protect what you don't know."

Rare Birds Spotted In San Diego

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A errant flock of Pinyon Jays has been spotted in San Diego's Laguna Mountains and local birders grabbed their binoculars to catch a glimpse.
According to the San Diego County Bird Atlas by Philip Unitt, Pinyon Jays are normally found farther north in the San Jacinto mountains and they are rarely seen in San Diego.
Birders posting on Cornell Lab of Ornithology's eBird report seeing a sizable flock of up to 250 Jays off Sunrise Highway. Sightings of the birds were first reported in the area on October 3.

Aviaries Assembled: Homes for world's rarest duck ready ahead of release

In no mean feat, our conservation team have managed to erect floating aviaries on the remote Lake Sofia. They will serve as the near-extinct bird’s temporary aquatic home.
The giant, circular aviaries – made out of Scottish salmon farming cage parts – were shipped to Madagascar last year and arrived at their destination this spring.
Peter Cranswick, Head of Planning and Advisory at WWT, said:
“We can barely believe it ourselves but there are now two floating aviaries on Lake Sofia. This is the last major task before we get the ducks involved.
“There was a lot of level two type fun – fun only in retrospect. It was challenging physically and mentally and completed with just an hour to spare before we had to depart.
“Now we’re all set for the main release in October. In the meantime, we have created a water-based funfair for the Marotolana locals.”

Recording lures endangered bird to Wisconsin woods

By Kaley Fech | October 10, 2018

By Kaley Fech
Every day the love song of a Kirtland’s warbler calls throughout the Bayfield County Forest in northwestern Wisconsin.
But it isn’t coming from a bird.
It’s a recording created to lure the endangered species to the forest.
“We had a handful of birds on the landscape, but none of them were finding each other,” said Nick Anich a conservation biologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “We thought this technique would be a good way to get all the birds to focus in basically on the same spot.”
He got the idea from Michael Ward, an avian ecologist for the Illinois Natural History Survey at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Ward has done a number of projects using audio playback to lure species from one area to another.
The technique is referred to as conspecific attraction, meaning it is used to lure the same species to a new location using cues relevant to that species.
Anich took the idea a step further. He lures Kirtland’s warblers hundreds of miles away from their main population centers.
Wisconsin’s biggest population of Kirtland’s warblers is in Adams County in the lower center of the state.
The recording has been successful in drawing birds from there to other parts of the state, Anich said.

Thursday 25 October 2018

5 ways Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas have changed conservation

24 Oct 2018

40 years ago, we set out to identify the most important sites for birds in Europe. This idea has since spread across the world, informing conservation decisions and setting the model for wider initiatives to follow suit. We recount our top successes in that time.
Way back in 1979, when people had only just stopped wearing flared trousers and BirdLife was still called the ICBP (The International Council for Bird Preservation), we launched a bold new idea – one whose influence has gone far further than we could ever have hoped.
Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas had their origins in the European Union – which at the time was still the European Economic Community (EEC). In 1979, the EEC adopted the Birds Directive, which requires all member states to identify and protect areas that are important habitats for birds. However, it soon became clear that few understood where the most important sites for birds were. It was time for BirdLife to take the helm. So we came up with the criteria to identify these sites – and started to put them into action.
By 1994, IBAs had started expanding across the world. There are now over 13,000 IBAs, which cover 6.7% of the earth’s land surface and 4.2% of the oceans.
But what makes IBAs unique? Firstly, they are identified using the same set of criteria across the whole world, in all countries and in all ecosystems. And unlike landscape-scale approaches such as Biodiversity Hotspots, they pinpoint single sites that can be protected by conservation action to safeguard crucial habitats for one or more bird species. They also tend to be important for wider biodiversity, protecting a diverse range of plants and animals.
Here’s how IBAs have helped to conserve the environment over the past 40 years.

Visitors flock to East Yorkshire lake to see rare bird

15 October 2018
Hundreds of birdwatchers have arrived on the East Yorkshire coast in the hope of catching a glimpse of an extremely rare bird.
The white-rumped swift was spotted on Sunday evening at Hornsea Mere.
Native to Africa, it is the first ever recorded sighting of the bird in the UK, according to the Rare Bird Alert website.
Enthusiasts arriving in the resort have been left disappointed as the bird has not been seen since Sunday.
The woman who first saw the bird said it was a "really exciting" discovery.
Lesley Ball spotted the swift from her home overlooking the lake.
"I contacted my birdwatching colleagues," she said.
"They came and confirmed that it was a pacific swift at first, for a few minutes, then it was confirmed as a white-rumped swift and that was a first for Britain."

Clues to how birds began to fly

Date:  October 19, 2018
Source:  Lund University
For the first time, researchers have measured what is known as the ground effect of flying animals -- and it turns out that they save a lot more energy by flying close to the ground than previously believed. The study from Lund University in Sweden supports one of the theories on how birds began to fly.
"Our measurements show that the ground effect saves animals twice as much energy as models have suggested.," says Christoffer Johansson, biologist at Lund University.
For the first time, Christoffer Johansson, together with colleagues Anders Hedenström at Lund University and Lasse Jakobsen at the University of Southern Denmark, have successfully managed to measure the ground effect when Daubenton's bats fly in a wind tunnel.
In short, the ground effect means that a surface, ground or water, acts as an aerodynamic mirror that increases the air pressure under the wings -- it costs less to generate lift. The ground effect is achieved within one wingspan of the surface, and the effect decreases exponentially with distance to the surface. An even surface, e.g. a calm lake where bats and birds catch insects or drink while they fly, provides optimal conditions. The new study also shows that animals use even less energy if they flap their wings rather than gliding near the ground.

Invasive forage grass leads to grassland bird decline

Date:  October 19, 2018
Source:  University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
The prairies of North America once covered vast stretches of land, with towering grasses creating ideal nesting and forage habitat for grassland birds. But the deep, rich soil and treeless expanse also represented the ideal conditions for farming -- both row crops and cattle grazing -- in the eyes of settlers. Today, largely thanks to agricultural conversion, a mere 1 percent of tallgrass prairie remains. And what's left is now being threatened by invasive species and forest encroachment.
"With grasslands in steep decline, the birds that depend on them are also disappearing. Therefore, it is urgent that we understand how these more recent changes -- invasive species and landscape shifts -- influence grassland bird reproduction," says Scott Maresh Nelson, a doctoral student advised by Professor Jim Miller in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES) at the University of Illinois.
In a recent study published in Landscape Ecology, Maresh Nelson and his colleagues found that a common cattle forage grass, tall fescue, is associated with nest failure in dickcissels, small grassland birds similar to sparrows.

Wednesday 24 October 2018

Hampshire Mediterranean Gulls experience population boom

Mediterranean Gull is experiencing a remarkably rapid population increase in Britain, with a record 1,736 pairs nesting at Langstone Harbour this year. The Hampshire reserve has enjoyed an incredible 108 per cent increase on last year's breeding population, and a truly eye-catching rise in numbers since the first pair bred on the reserve just 20 years ago.
The species first attempted to nest in Britain only 50 years ago, in 1968, when a pair raised two young on an island off Needs Ore Point, Hampshire, also in The Solent. Indeed, until 1962 Mediterranean Gull was still a British Birdsdescription species, but numbers gradually increased – solidly rather than spectacularly – until the turn of the millennium. In 2000, the year of the last breeding seabird census in Britain, the number of pairs was found to be 108, but by 2010 this had increased to over 600-700 nesting pairs nationwide, mostly on the south and south-east coasts of England.
However, during the past seven years, a phenomenal increase has taken place at Langstone Harbour, as the number of occupied nests shot up from 498 in 2012 to 1,736 in 2018. Other exceptional counts have been recorded away from breeding colonies during the past few months, with 1,374 individuals past Hemsby, Norfolk, on 15 August, 1,230 (including 420 juveniles) at Ferrybridge, Dorset, on 31 July and over 1,000 at nearby Chesil Cove, Dorset, on 28 July.
At Langstone Harbour, Mediterranraean Gulls nest among Black-headed Gull colonies, forming denser sub-colonies within them at regular points, with Sandwich Tern sub-colonies often adjacent to them. Over the past two breeding seasons, approximately 200 young have been fitted with yellow colour rings in an attempt to better understand this rapid expansion in numbers. The success of Mediterranean Gull is a dramatic one – around 60 years ago, a westward expansion began in Hungary (where it was breeding regularly by 1953), then into Germany and Belgium during the 1960s, and The Netherlands by 1970. The first recorded breeding attempt in Northern Ireland was in Antrim in 1995, and non-breeding Mediterranean Gulls are becoming increasingly frequent in the far north of Britain. 

Genomic analysis helps in discovery of unusual new bird species from Indonesia

Date:  October 23, 2018
Source:  National University of Singapore
A joint research team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Indonesian Institute of Science has described an unusual new songbird species. The bird was named the Rote Leaf-Warbler Phylloscopus rotiensis after the island of Rote where it is found. The discovery was published in the journal Scientific Reports on 23 October 2018.
Rote Island is a dry monsoon island with an area of 1,200 square kilometres in eastern Indonesia. It is around 12 kilometres off the coast of Timor, and about 500 kilometres northwest of Australia. The island is also the site where a bird species new to science, the Rote Myzomela Myzomela irianawidodoae, was recently discovered, and the findings were published in the journal Treubiaon 31 December 2017.

Birds startled by moving sticks

October 23, 2018, University of Exeter
Do animals—like humans—divide the world into things that move and things that don't? Are they surprised if an apparently inanimate object jumps to life?
Yes—according to scientists at the universities of Exeter and Cambridge.
The researchers tested how jackdaws responded to moving birds, moving snakes and moving sticks—and found they were most cautious of the moving sticks.
The study, using remote-controlled objects placed in jackdaws' nests, will help scientists understand how birds perceive potential threats.
"Although as humans we see the divide between animate an inanimate objects as an intuitive one, we've had very little evidence that wild animals also see the world this way," said lead author Dr. Alison Greggor, formerly of the University of Cambridge and now at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.
"Laboratory studies have shown that human infants and a few other species discriminate between animate and inanimate objects.
"This ability is assumed to have evolved to support social interactions, but its role for wild animals has never been examined.
"Our work extends the potential function of this ability beyond the social realm. It might therefore be a more common ability than previously thought."

48-Million-Year-Old Fossil Owl Is Almost Perfectly Preserved

By Laura Geggel, Senior Writer | October 23, 2018 08:19am ET
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — About 48 million years ago, an owl swooped down to catch its prey, not by the light of the moon but in broad daylight.
How do paleontologists know this fowl wasn't a night owl? They found the exquisitely preserved remains of an owl, and its skull shares a telltale characteristic with modern-day hawks, which also hunt by day, the researchers said.
The finding is extraordinary, largely because it's rare to find fossilized owls, especially one that has so many preserved bones, said project co-researcher Elizabeth Freedman Fowler, an assistant professor at Dickinson State University in North Dakota, who dubbed the specimen "the finest fossil owl." [Whooo Knew? 10 Superb Facts About Owls]
"There is no fossil owl with a skull like this," Freedman Fowler told Live Science. "Bird skulls are incredibly thin and fragile, so to have one preserved still in three dimensions, even if slightly crushed, it's amazing. It even has the hyoids at the bottom, the bones that attach to the tongue muscles."
The skull is in such good shape that the researchers noticed that the supraorbital processes (the regions above the eye sockets) have a bony overhang, making it look as if the owl had a mini baseball cap on top of each eye, according to the research, which was presented here at the 78th annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology on Oct. 19. The study has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.
This overhang "gives you shade so you don't get dazzled [by the sun]," said project lead research Denver Fowler, a curator of paleontology at the Badlands Dinosaur Museum in North Dakota. This feature is weak or absent in nocturnal owls, but it's common in modern hawks and daytime owls, he noted.

Monday 22 October 2018

How the house sparrows came to be

House Sparrows are closely associated with humans and are found in most parts of the world. By investigating the DNA of several species of sparrows, researchers have shown that the House Sparrow diverged from a sparrow in the Middle East – and started to digest starch-rich foods – when humans developed agriculture some 11,000 years ago.
The house sparrow (Passer domesticus), is a very familiar bird species. If you walk down the street of any major European town or city, you will see them hopping back and forth, picking up scraps of food and nesting in nearby buildings. They are also a common sight on farms and in the countryside. Our connection with sparrows goes further – they are mentioned in the Bible, in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales and Shakespeare's Hamlet.
How is it that this small, charismatic bird has become so closely associated with us?
Researchers at the Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES) at the University of Oslo (UiO) have been trying to answer this question by investigating the DNA of populations of House Sparrows from across Europe and the Middle East. Teaming up with colleagues from Iran and Kazakhstan, they also investigated the Bactrianus sparrow, a subspecies found only in these regions.
The Bactrianus sparrow looks like a House Sparrow, but is wild, avoids human contact and feeds on a very different diet. By comparing the DNA of the two sparrows, the team hoped to gain some insight into why one evolved to be closely associated with people while the other did not.

Nighthawks' migration route tracked in search of clues to species' steep decline

In a quest to develop conservation strategies to protect a threatened species whose population has declined 80 per cent in the last 50 years, scientists at the University of Alberta have discovered the enigmatic nighthawk travels 20,000 kilometres each year in its annual migration from north of Fort McMurray to the Amazon rainforest in Brazil.
"Until now, we've understood very little about migration routes and wintering grounds of the nighthawk," explained Elly Knight, a Ph.D. candidate who worked on the research project with her colleague Janet Ng, U of A conservation biologist Erin Bayne and researchers from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center in Washington, D.C.
The research team needed to track the nighthawk to understand what risks it might encounter during the eight months it spends outside of Canada each year.
"We were surprised to find that they spent their winter in Brazil because most observations of them are from further south, in Argentina. We also learned that nighthawks return to almost exactly where they summered in the past year," said Knight.

Argentinian marshland at risk

Valenzuela Marsh, an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA), is under threat from dredging and forest clearance. The marsh is home to a number of internationally threatened species, but the recent commencement of dredging the Riachuelo river and the clearance of riverside forests poses a significant hazard to the wildlife of the area.
The reason given for dredging is to prevent flooding following heavy rains in the region last year which caused a significant rise in water levels. Valenzuela Marsh spreads out at the mouth of the Riachuelo river, in Corrientes Province just south of the Paraguayan border, and many people live along its banks. However, scientists have warned that any dredging would only be a short-term solution, lowering the water levels temporarily, and the removal of mangrove forests could in fact increase flooding in future years.
This would mean dredging would need to take place frequently in future years (possibly annually), costing more and damaging the environment further. Not only is the practice ineffective, but the destruction of the riverside forests will remove the natural regulation of water levels and purity in this section of the Riacheulo, while simultaneously lowering the water quality, and the fish and crustacean populations that live there.

Brazil adopts new zero extinction policy

Brazil has established itself as a world leader in biodiversity protection, becoming the first nation in the world to adopt the global Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) framework to identify and map sites holding the last known populations of highly threatened species.
The Ministry of Environment of Brazil published an ordinance in July 2018 recognising AZE sites as an official tool to implement national policies for protection of the country's threatened species.
Brazil is home to almost 150 critical sites that are together the last frontiers for more than 200 endangered species. "The main goal is to put a spotlight on the last refuges of the most threatened species in Brazil," explained Ugo Eichler Vercillo, Director of Species Conservation and Management for the Ministry of the Environment of Brazil. "It will help to promote the integration of public policies and private actions at these sites."
Named the Brazilian Alliance for Zero Extinction (BAZE), the initiative was inspired by the global AZE, which comprises more than 90 non-governmental biodiversity conservation organisations and engages with governments, multilateral institutions, the private sector and others to identify and effectively conserve the most important sites in the world for preventing imminent species extinctions.

Sunday 21 October 2018

Dalmatian Pelican added to BOU's British list

The British Ornithologists' Union Records Committee (BOURC) has added Dalmatian Pelican to Category A of its British list. Following the Eastern Orphean Warbler announcement, this becomes the second accession to the national list within the space of a week.
The decision is based on the well watched and long-staying bird seen in Cornwall and Devon from 7 May-20 November 2016. Initially seen largely in flight in the Land's End area, the bird eventually settled down at Drift Reservoir from mid-May, lingering there until mid-June. It then spent much of the rest of its extended stay at Restronguet Creek, near Feock, although occasionally would wander further, on one occasion travelling as far east as Plymouth, Devon, in July.
The appearance of this individual, which was considered to be in its third-calendar-year or older, and its long stay in south-west England resulted in much debate about its origin. From plumage details it was realised that the same bird had passed through Poland, Germany and France, before arriving in England. The record has been accepted to Category A of the Polish and French national lists, although in Germany it has been placed in Category D.


Better news about Islands’ bird life

Published: 14:06 Monday 08 October 2018
For the first time in three years, corncrake numbers in the Outer Hebrides have shown an increase.
RSPB staff, who survey for corncrakes between midnight and 3am every suitable night through the summer, believe that corncrakes had a very successful season, with 34 more male corncrakes calling on the Outer Hebrides this year compared to last. Corncrakes have suffered massive declines throughout the UK in the past fifty years, with the range contracting severely and the Hebridean islands are one of the last strongholds of this fascinating species. The low impact crofting that is the general rule on these islands, enables the species to keep breeding well into August, with chicks being seen this year mid-way through September.
While this is unusual, it highlights the fact that a long breeding season is essential for the survival of the species: late hay cutting dates, encouraged by Agri-environmental schemes, have given this small bird a fighting chance for the future. In other parts of the UK two or three cuts of silage crops are the norm, corncrakes cannot survive within systems like these, so have been pushed to the very edge of their range.

Read more at: 

Another Poor Breeding Season for Tristan Albatross on Gough Island

Island Conservation partners, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), recently completed an annual census of native Tristan Albatross on Gough Island and the results are grim.
The life of an albatross chick between the time when it hatches from the egg until it can eventually fly away isn’t particularly glorious. Hunkered down between wet grass on windswept islands in the southern oceans these chicks have to wait for their feathers to grow. They have to endure gale-force winds and driving rain, hail, and snow, and wait… not for a few days or weeks, but roughly for 8-9 months.
Sadly, many chicks do not survive that long.
The inclement weather, however, isn’t the main culprit for dying Tristan albatross chicks on Gough Island in the South Atlantic. Invasive mice that were introduced by sailors have gradually learned to eat albatross chicks that are too young to to fly or run away. Every year, hundreds of albatross chicks are killed and eaten by mice.