Submitted by James on Tue, 2009-07-14 11:24.
European Nature | Everybody | UK EU:25
EUROPEAN REPORT SHOWS 91 PER CENT OF UK'S THREATENED HABITATS IN UNFAVOURABLE CONDITION
The first assessment of the state of more than 1,000 threatened species and hundreds of threatened habitats across 25 members of the European Union - published today by the European Commission - highlights much of the continent’s most important wildlife remains in a perilous state. Of particular concern is the state of wildlife in north-west Europe – known as the Atlantic biogeographical region - including the UK.
Submitted by James on Mon, 2009-07-13 11:28.
Conservation-Globalism | Lake Naivasha | White-throated Bee-eaters
Late April 2009
From a birding correspondent resident in Kenya:
"Regarding the Lake Naivasha White-throated Bee-eater population.
Birds are back, but in greatly reduced numbers.
Bees too are back but also in reduced numbers.
Difficult to say what are the causes of the decline, the
chemically-driven horticulture industry certainly is a possibility.
Yet over the past six months how the Nakuru populations are doing
I just don't know; but breeding sites around Naivasha are all silent
with no birds even prospecting. All in all a worrying situation, and
just one of the many concerns we have here at Naivasha.
The state of the lake is currently so critical that most of my time
just lately has been taken up trying to get as many people to wake up
and realise just what is going on. I have been in touch with Wetlands
International, who in turn have asked Birdlife International and
others for their comments, but to date all our concerns seem to fall
on deaf ears. The Government is clearly not interested, or just does
not want to listen, Kenya Wildlife Service are in total denial, yet daily the lake
deteriorates to a point of no return. The Riparian Association are
clearly saying that the lake is dying and is irreparably damaged with
no hope of recovery under current conditions. Sadly over the past
thirty years the entire lake's ecosystem has been subjected to
sustained abuse by uncontrolled and unplanned human activities. In
short the lake is dying due to human excesses and corporate greed,
coupled with a total lack of any law enforcement.
Several NGO's have tried to raise the alarm, but again everything has fallen on deaf ears.
The horticulture industry and the big multi-nationals are so powerful and
they wield so much clout at the highest levels of government.
Many people feel that the only way to get the word across is by a campaign
aimed at the consumer market in UK & Europe, after all it is the big
supermarket chains that take all of the Naivasha produce ( over a
million stems of cut flowers PER DAY and over 10 tons of pre-packed
vegetables & fruit PER DAY, 365 days a year). Alarm bells certainly
need ringing in North America, the UK & in Europe, but sadly it seems no one really wants
to rock the boat. Any help you can offer would be welcomed by us all.
Have a look at what one Canadian NGO had to say a year or so
ago, go to: www.foodandwaterwatch.org or www.canadians.org for
a very interesting document entitled " Lake Naivasha Withering Under
the Assault of International Flower Vendors" written by Maude
Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians.
PS: Another appalling statistic is that an estimated
8-10,00 head of cattle are currently eating their way through the
papyrus belt around the lake. Despite pleas and protestations to
the administration in Naivasha nothing is being done to get them out.
Sadly the entire papyrus belt is now stranded on dry land."
Submitted by James on Wed, 2009-04-01 07:05.
The following piece by Hans Peeters is from the yahoo group raptor-conservation via the Tanzaniabirdatlas webmaster Stein Nilsen
The Continued Poisoning of Raptors in Kenya (and Tanzania)
Submitted by James on Mon, 2009-03-30 09:44.
Arusha Birding | Barn Swallow | Biogeography | Climate | Expanding Eremic Zone | migration
Barn Swallow over water: by Martin GoodeyHere in west Arusha; at 3 degrees South - that's in Tanzania (or Tanganyika to some) - for more than three weeks little bands of shining satin Barn Swallows, seldom more than four-to-a-flock, have been dashing north into our persisting drought of death - an East African dust tunnel - visible on the climate maps.
They, together with nearly all the trans-Eremics (to die-hard 'boreocentrics' these are of course Palearctic migrant birds), will be very hard pushed indeed to maintain fat through this sector of their route. So I hope it's been raining, pouring in an unseasonal deluge, somewhere northwards - in the Horn, across Arabia, or beyond - in the Gulf, Iran and the 'farther Stans'!
Dawn March 30 again she promised some real rain, yet none came, and we saw only two Barn Swallows on the morning walk. However one was a fabulous male sporting the longest tail streamers that I have ever seen - in over fifty years of looking.
Submitted by James on Thu, 2009-03-12 13:29.
ITCZ | migration
Full Moon, 11 March 2009.
"If you go down to the woods today ... you're in for a Big Surprise,
for every Bear that ever was there ... today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic"
Rift Valley woodlandsIn Rift Valley woodlands a bald and bearded birdman paces between leafless acacia thorn and shrubs of wilting yellow commiphora, walking a desert path. At each step puffs of ochre dust escape on the dry easterly breeze. He's performing a birder's 'jongrom' (a Thai buddhist word, originally from Pali, which describes 'a measured path for walking meditation') and if you listen carefully you may hear a whispered mantra:
"Blessed be avian migrants meek, that they shall inherit this Earth"
A quarter century of globalisation of greed (or somewhat more, according to where you've been living) has ended, it's imploding and entering the void - just like that!
Submitted by James on Sat, 2009-01-31 13:36.
The poolJanuary 30, 2009
Although leaden thunder rolls around Mount Meru on the heat of every day such moisture as returns to Earth is miserly indeed. Fitting really, the wages of our time.
In the near cool of morning the old blue Land Rover rattles and splutters across the desert plain. Dismas drives and he drops Pi and I first; the springer spaniel and the not so sprightly ornithologist. Hardly together we trot across the arid steppe toward the lonesome pool, now parched and full of bovid bones. All around it's dry and hellish overgrazed. Old safari guides on the Arusha circuit refuse to recognise the changes. They're locked onto routes around 'protected areas'; inside green exclusion zones; so they do not smell the desert wind. By contrast with every pace today I can place my feet in a fine ochre powder which fills the troughs between the waves of hard-nibbled tussock grass. Shaven grasses these; even yesterday's tiny verdant shoots, ungrazed for the moment, are already drooping. Life wilts in the glare of an uncompromising equatorial sun.
Beesleys LarkBeesleys Lark 2: photo Martin GoodeyIt's fair to say the 'short rains' failed and with them so did Beesley's. The Beesley's or Maasai Lark is an elfin, spike-heeled passerine. Inconspicuous, it's just a 'little brown job' - Chersomanes beesleyi. Yet somehow it is as endearing as it's emblematic, it's Critically Endangered. An endemic vertebrate who has lived here, and probably only here, for a milllion years and more. It could have been a 'conservation icon' then, for this tattered shrinking shawl of yellow-brown semi-desert steppe. A unique little area in the shadow of both Meru mountain and the mighty Kilimanjaro. But now Lark Plains has been totally surrounded by skinny 'stake-holders'. Poor pastoralists tempted here by the deep bore-holes drilled very recently by 'the Lord's do-gooders'. Consequently flock numbers have gone through the roof; after only two years everyone is desperate for grass. Marketing Maasai misfortune has made this little pygmy the rarest land bird in all of the Afrotropics.
Checking over my shoulder I see Dismas turn and stop the car. He is dropping Martin a kilometre distant on the south side of the dust-filled track that bisects the plain. Together they will pan and scan for a glimpse of the littlest lark. Perhaps they'll strike lucky where last we saw four birds, just one week ago.
I'm 500 metres further out now, heading for two very isolated acacias who are hunched beside 'the pool'. Suddenly Pi stops, and points, and I make out the tiny tell tale apricot blob of a Beesley's front-on, up a-top a tuft of withered sedge. Good, there are two adults birds here; but alas no young. The same story as last week; when we found and filmed two pairs, both bereft of young, over there where Martin is now, on the south side of the track.
I call Martin on the radio that is clipped to my waist belt. In time he comes over and takes up a sniper's position. However all attempts by James and Pi to very gently move the little birds closer to the seated photographer are fruitless. So eventually we leave Martin to secure what images he can alone. Sure enough after an hour or so of patient waiting some definitive shots are "in the can." From these photographs we can see clearly that these two birds are indeed different individuals from those four he captured digitally last week.
Montagus HarrierPi: photo Martin GoodeyPi and I have walked to the two acacias to gain some necessary shade, since by ten o'clock the heat is fierce indeed. As we near the thorn trees an indescribably beautiful male Montagu's Harrier, in perfect plumage, drifts silently overhead. He's the only harrier that we see this day.
Submitted by James on Thu, 2008-09-11 19:20.
Arusha | Arusha National Park | Tours
So where did we go birding in the first week-end of September 2008?
Burchells Zebra: photo Anabel Harries
Well, we went to our local park - Arusha National Park where, on average, we go twice a month.
It costs $80 (US) in TANAPA entrance fees for two adult 'foreigners', in a local car with a local driver, for a day visit; that's for twelve hours 0700 to 1900. Every visit is well worth the money; being completely different from the visit before. Every visit yields fabulous surprises. Each visit becomes a safari in itself. Sunday September 7, 2008 was no exception; even though it was my fortieth trip to Arusha National Park.
Submitted by James on Tue, 2008-08-19 08:04.
Birding | Tanzania
Why do I go birding?
Because most days it feels like a wonderful gift; for nigh on fifty years thus far - a fulfilling life experience.
Should we care about the label?
It matters not whether we are considered bird-watchers or birders, ornithologists or bird-lovers, bird-spotters or rarity hunters, tickers, twitchers or listers.
Are there 'philosophical implications'?
The gift of 'birding' has encouraged me to focus daily upon dynamic meditation; the interplay of the human mind and nature. Specifically to concentrate upon the way this interplay should enhance our life, both as humbled individuals and in the greatest groups.
Submitted by James on Mon, 2008-03-17 22:11.
Lesser Kestrel | migration
Lesser Kestrel: Photo Jormo Tenovuo, www.jtenovuo.com
Before humanity's insatiable needs lay waste the farthest corners of our world a few more will be born who'll follow 'the way of birds'. And although they have only ever been a tiny percentage in any one human generation these birders, or ornithologists, will have helped document man's deepest disaster. Planetary degradation. Even though today's birders, like people everywhere, must register unwelcome change from a standpoint, or benchmark, made in the halcyon days when they themselves are young.
Out of all the great bird orders of our world one - the falconiformes or raptors - has probably suffered most from mankind's ecological ambivalence. As hunters of flesh raptors are seen as competitors for 'our' resources; simultaneously admired or hated right down the ages. However out of all the raptors, one species the Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni
Submitted by James on Sun, 2008-03-02 12:50.
Little Greenbul (Andropadus virens): Udzungwa, 1880m. Photo © 2007 Louis A. HansenPerhaps the noisiest, definitely the most secretive, avian denizens of the Minziro forest pools are the several pairs of brilliant White-spotted Flufftails (Sarothrura pulchra