Spring Arriving Too Early?

30 09 2010

Magnolia Warbler - Luke Tiller

A bit of fun last night, but this report from the BBC makes for some depressing news regarding long distance migratory bitrds. This year people were noticing how early spring seemed to have sprung here in Connecticut. I guess it seems to be a part of a worrying global trend according to this article on the BBC website (more here).

Radar to protect birds from Wind Farms?

6 05 2009

One of conservationists biggest objections to wind farms is the possible damage that they might inflict upon migrating birds, bats etc in the form of ‘tower strikes’. To me personally it has always been a case of weighing up the greater good; with a few dead birds unfortunately probably outweighed by the benefits that renewable energy brings. Lets face it if the planet temperatures do rise significantly then the damage to bird populations is going to be much more stark than the relatively small numbers of birds that end up hitting these wind turbines. However it seems that a Spanish power company in Texas is at least making some inroads into managing the problem by using radar technology to predict when birds will most be in danger of striking turbines (during inclement weather) and using this radar to predict when to shut turbines down to minimise bird strikes. More about the isues and possible solutions in this article here.

Good news for the Kakapo

20 03 2009

After the mainly bad news in the state of the bird report post and the Spoonbill Sandpiper report yesterday here’s a slightly cheerier note on the flightless Kakapo from New Zealand (story here). On the same note there is an interesting series in the making where Stephen Fry, who is the ex-comedy partner of Hugh Laurie (House), follows in the footsteps of Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) to see some of the most endangered creatures on the planet. The above clip is from the series and there is a great accompanying website to the series (here). At the moment the video elements seem to be down – I hope it’s not blocked here in the US as some BBC content ca be>


Bird Reports – Local, National and International

19 03 2009

The Audubon Connecticut IBA site has the Conservation Plan for Lighthouse Point Park online. At last weeks NHBC meeting Chris Field talked a little about the plan and some of the decision making that is still to be made. To see the plan online and to answer the feedback form at the bottom of the document, check out the PDF version here.

The Feds have released their 2009 State of the Birds report (here). To me these kind of things always make for some depressing reading, however the positive notes on Bald Eagles, Peregrines and waterfowl does highlight that where there is the will we can make an impact in turning these declines around. A really nice video, with some beautiful footage, accompanies the report as well so check it out.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper report 2009. Things are looking pretty grim for one of the globes most distinctive sandpipers. The latest report shows some pretty diminished numbers from some of the regular wintering grounds of one of the globes rarest shorebirds (more here). A real shame as this is just a stunning bird that captured my attention even as a child flicking through my field guides.

Save The Albatross – good news coming?

22 02 2009
Black-browed Albatross

Black-browed Albatross

I note that the Independent Newspaper in the UK is saying that the Birdlife International Albatross Task Force seems to have had some considerable success with the methods that they have been piloting in the southern hemisphere to prevent albatross ‘bycatch’ during longline fishing. It seems like full findings will be presented at an event this evening. For details of the story visit the newspaper (here) or check the Save the Albatross Campaign website (here).

Warmer winters = more birds

22 02 2009

National Audubon has released a report saying that almost 60% of 305 species that overwinter in North America have shown a significant shift northwards in their use of wintering sites.  This seems to show a fairly direct correlation to long-term winter temperature increases. Have a look at the report (here) Must say that I wish this winter could have been a little warmer!!!!

Shade Grown Coffee – it’s for the birds

15 01 2009

ABA - Shade Grown Coffee

ABA - Shade Grown Coffee

If you are, like me, someone who needs a couple of cups of joe before you set off for some dawn birding then perhaps it’s time to think where your coffee comes from.  There was a great article in Birdwatchers Digest this month by Ken Kaufman about the impact the type of coffee we purchase has on birds and specifically the benefit to birds of supporting shade grown coffee growers.

Shade grown coffee is better for wildlife as the plantations are much less disruptive to the native flora and fauna (growing as it does in the understory of a forest, whereas sun coffee requires complete deforestation) and it is also less likely to be as intensively farmed (with pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers etc etc that sun grown coffee  requires to be viable). Other benefits are that purchasing shade-grown coffee tends to support smaller coffee growers and be much better tasting as the beans grow slower, which apparently enhances their taste. You can buy shade grown coffee from the ABA here and there is more information from the Smithsonian here.

Perhaps we need to encourage the Dunkin Donuts at Frash Pond to start carrying a more bird friendly blend, I swear birders make up half of their winter clientele.

Save the Albatross

19 12 2008
Waved Albatross - Luke Tiller

Waved Albatross - Luke Tiller

This June I was lucky enough to have traveled to the Galapagos as a leader with Sunrise Birding, whilst there we got to have the most amazing audience with Waved Albatrosses. I remember vividly the absolute awe and excitement they engendered as they greeted us off of Espanola Island (trip report). Participants on this years Sunrise Birding trip to Alaska were lucky enough to encounter 3 different species of these magnificent birds on the trip including the Short-tailed Albatross (picture here) one of the most threatened birds on the planet, which are currently at about 300 breeding pairs (an actual improvement from a point where it was literally on the brink of extinction).

The sad thing is that this wonderful family of birds are amongst the most threatened on the planet. These long lived birds face a number of threats to their continued survival. The main threats have been the introduction, both deliberately in the case of the Galapagos and accidentally in the case of Gough Island amongst others (see recent story on Tristan Albatross here), of non-native mammals that destroy nests and chicks. Habitat destruction is also a common issue but by far the most important current threat to these birds is the terrible losses caused by long-line fishing.

It is estimated that 100,000 Albatrosses are killed each year by long-line fisheries, amongst huge numbers of other seabirds. There is a solution however, and Birdlife International are working with their global partners to get their recommendations followed up on.  The  ‘Save the Albatross’ site has loads of great information on the various species as well as interesting facts and ways to get involved in the campaign. It’s important to make other birders aware of this sad situation and do what you can to make sure that these birds are there to be enjoyed by coming generations (warning, some of the pictures on the site are a little distressing). Perhaps we need an albatross free tuna campaign?