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Latest Sightings.

Blackcap - Swindon - Paul Castle 17 COMMON CROSSBILL, 50 Siskin, 2 Kingfisher, 4 Tufted Duck - Shea...
5 Little Egret, Snipe, 10 Teal, Pochard - Langford Lakes - John Osborne 50 Redwing - Corsham - Alan...
2 Blackcap - Saisbury - Stephen Hackett 4 HAWFINCH - Corsham Court - Tim Salkeld HAWFINCH - Yatesb...
3 Tree Sparrow - Monkton Deverill - Alison Rymell 2 Brambling, 60 Tree Sparrow, 40 Skylark - Windmi...
HEN HARRIER (ringtail) - Westbury - Mike Smith Chiffchaff, Stonechat - Blakehill - Robin Griffiths ...
6 Little Egret, 56 Tufted Duck - Fonthill Lake - Mike & Angela Trew 9 Chiffchaff, Grey Wagtail,...

High Conservation Concern for 27% of our birds

Birds of Conservation Concern 4, compiled by a coalition of conservation and monitoring organisations, has just been published. Species which occur regularly in the UK are assessed for inclusion on one of three lists, Red, Amber, Green with birds on the Red List being of highest conservation concern. 

There are now 67 species on the Red List, 96 on the Amber List and 81 on the Green List.

Wintering Smew are responding well to EU Special Protection Areas

A rare and spectacular winter visitor to Wiltshire, Smew is a duck whose habitat is changing because of global warming and it is doing twice as well in conservation areas protected by the EU, research has shown.

Scientific studies have shown that the occurence of wintering Smew have been spreading northwards across Europe as temperatures rise. A study of wetland data shows that nearly a third of the birds now spend winter in north-east Europe, compared with just 6% two decades ago.

In that region, Smew populations have grown twice as fast within Special Protection Areas established under the EU Birds Directive.

For more details follow the link:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/26/rare-european-duck-protected-areas-smew-drakes

BBC Radio 'docu-drama' tells the story of how the bird observations of WW2 POW's led to publication as scientific papers

'Through The Wire' tells the story of the British POWs who survived incarceration in German camps in World War Two by studying the birds that flew freely all around them. 

While some of their fellow prisoners plotted escape and dug tunnels, men like John Buxton, Peter Conder and George Waterston looked hard at the birds that flew overhead on migration and also at those that chose to fly through the camp wire, like redstarts and goldfinches, and breed amongst the prisoners and their guards. With days, even years, to spare but without any binoculars or other equipment, the birdmen turned watching into their way of getting through the war. 
Follow this link to BBC iPlayer http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01gvlfm

 

Amazing animation brings to life the migration of Honey Buzzards to and from Holland

 

Based on real data (latitude, longitude and height) from the University of Amsterdam the animation initially shows the tracks of 12 birds, but then concentrates on a pair - male and female, as they migrate south in Autumn 2010 from the Veluwe forest in the Netherlands to warmer weather on the African coast (Liberia, Ghana and Cameroon). After wintering in Africa, in Spring 2011 the birds fly back. But en route we see the female lose her way - possibly due to unfavourable winds. After a long journey the male arrives back in the Veluwe forest and waits for her.

Follow this link to watch the animation:

http://vimeopro.com/south422/animal-gps-track-animation/video/85808414

 

 

Unusual orange-headed birds reported in Ireland.......

 

Over the past few weeks BirdWatch Ireland HQ has been receiving lots of phone calls and emails about strange birds with bright orange heads that have been visiting gardens around Ireland.  They tend to flock with Starlings and House Sparrows and can be quite numerous in some areas, though they can’t be found in any field guides.  This is something that BirdWatch Ireland have become used to at this time of year, but for some reason this summer the number of reports has been absolutely unprecedented.

Rather than being some exotic new visitor, these in fact ARE Starlings and House Sparrows that have been feeding on a plant called New Zealand Flax (Phormium tenax).  Though native to New Zealand, where it is often known by its Maori name of Harakeke, this species has been planted commonly in gardens around the country and has even become naturalised in the wild in many areas.  We are used to plants being pollinated by insects and even by the wind, but New Zealand Flax uses another method: it is pollinated by birds. 

For more information, follow this link: 

BirdwatchIreland

Starling BrFi03 stained by New Zealand Flax Brendan Fitzpatrick WEB

 

Four-winged dinosaur found in China is the largest discovered to date.

 

A new four-winged dinosaur has been discovered, with exceptionally long feathers on its tail and "hindwings".

Changyuraptor yangi was a gliding predator which lived in the Cretaceous period in what is now Liaoning, China.

Its remarkable tail feathers - measuring up to 30cm - are the longest in any non-avian dinosaur.

 

For more information, click on the following link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-28295571

If you see any 'smart' behaviour from Rooks, please share your observations in a new BTO study.

Rooks have been observed acting as 'tool-makers' and cooperatively between individual birds. The BTO is intererested in receiving any observations of any such behaviour.

More details can be found here:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-28105964BBC Rooks

Crane chicks born at Slimbridge are the first recorded for 400 years

Crane web

 

A recently-hatched crane chick has given conservationists fresh hope about seeing a new generation of wild cranes in the west of Britain.

The crane chick was spotted on Sunday at WWT Slimbridge in Gloucestershire, where its parents were hand-reared.

Conservationist Nigel Jarrett said it was "incredibly exciting", especially after the same breeding pair lost a chick last year due to the weather.

For more info, please follow this link http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-27466509

 

Tree Sparrow conservation on Marlborough Downs goes from strength to strength

 

Matt Prior, WOS Conservation Officer is a driving force behind a flagship campaign run by the farmers of the Marlborough Downs Nature Improvement Area (MDNIA) which is having a positive impact on endangered Tree Sparrows.  

The MDNIA was set up by a group of local farmers who in 2012 won funding under the government’s three year pilot scheme to encourage bio-diversity and wildlife-friendly farming methods – and get more people into the countryside.

It covers just over 25,000 acres south of Swindon down towards Marlborough on one side and Avebury on the other.

Their Tree Sparrow campaign involves planting suitable trees, providing nest boxes and food. Marlborough News Online has been seeing how two generations of young people have been helping the tree sparrows.

Recent event involving students from Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester and Swindon schoolchildren involved Matt Prior coordinating tree-planting, demonstrating bird-feeders and assembling nest-boxes.

 

With thanks on behalf of everyone at WOS to Matt Prior, more information can be found at Marlborough News Online via this link:

http://www.marlboroughnewsonline.co.uk/features/general/2809-marlborough-downs-farmers-are-bringing-tree-sparrows-back-from-catastrophic-decline-with-some-enthusiastic-helpers

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