Thought for the Day

"I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we only will tune in."
- George Washington Carver

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Saturday, 6 March 2010

10th Anniversary: The Battle for Laguna San Ignacio

In 1994, a group of environmentalists took on the might of the Mitsubishi Corporation in a bid to prevent them from destroying a a World Heritage Site, a biosphere reserve, a whale sanctuary, a migratory bird sanctuary, and the last place on Earth where Grey Whales breed and calve undisturbed by human intrusion.........6 years later, they won that battle.

Stop Poisoning Eagles In Ireland

In 2009, 1 Golden Eagle, 1 White-tailed Eagle and 1 Red Kite were found poisoned, with three different toxins in 3 separate provinces during the springtime. There was widespread public dismay and national, and some international, media concern regarding these incidents. The Scottish Authorities called for a detailed review of the Golden Eagle donor stock licence for the Donegal project as a direct result of the confirmed poisoning near Glenveagh National Park. The Irish Government repeatedly promised at the time, that a legislative change would be introduced all but banning the use of poisoned meat baits, outside exceptional licensed exemptions. This small legislative compromise, still allowing for the use of non-meat baits according to the existing poisoning regulations, has still not been introduced.

Now almost twelve months later and nothing has changed since last year. The White-tailed Eagle Steering Group in Kerry has produced a leaflet, with the support of the Irish Farmers Association, Teagasc, the Department of Agriculture and local Gun Clubs asking people to improve aspects of livestock and game protection, to avoid the use of poison meat baits, and only use alternative poison baits or control methods as a last resort.

Please sign the petition at:

Friday, 5 March 2010

Cheeky Herring Gull

First we have a visiting Ring-billed Gull preferring polystyrene blocks to my offerings of bread and crisps. Now we have Scottish Herring Gulls doing their own shopping....or should that be shop-lifting.

Trapping in Cyprus

BirdLife CyprusCyprus has a mountain to climb if it is to reverse disturbing recent trends in illegal bird trapping.   Autumn 2009 was a disastrous season for bird trapping and more specifically for mist netting. A 35% increase in mist net use showed that Cyprus is rapidly loosing all that it has gained in the battle against bird trapping over the past 10 years. 
Bird trapping is an illegal and indiscriminate practice that threatens many bird species of conservation concern and especially migrants. With the well-documented combined effects of Climate Change, habitat loss and habitat degradation already hitting migrant birds hard, this is an added pressure this vital portion of biodiversity cannot afford. BirdLife Cyprus’s monitoring of autumn bird trapping continued for the 8th year in a row with data gathered systematically in the field by a trained team of surveyors and all evidence of trapping relayed to the relevant enforcement authorities.
The field evidence points clearly to a rise in trapping activity last autumn – an alarming one in the case of mist netting. A total of just over 3 km of active net rides were located by the survey team – a 35% increase on the autumn of 2008.  Netting levels were particularly high in the British Sovereign Base Areas (SBAs), notably on the Pyla Range. A British-army backed sweep operation in this area in early October was a welcome first step in tackling ‘industrial’ trapping on the Range.  Lime stick use also increased in autumn 2009, and was largely the preserve of the Republic areas.
In keeping with the pattern of recent years, there was widespread evidence of many restaurants in the Republic serving illegal bird delicacies (ampelopoulia), and no reports of effective enforcement action against these. Hundreds of thousands of birds can be estimated to have fallen prey to trappers in autumn 2009 – an unacceptable toll. Adding insult to injury, a group of members of the Parliament from the trapping ‘heartland’ of Famagusta made a repeat attempt to push thorough the parliament a bill slashing penalties for trapping.
The UK House of Parliament passed a resolution pressuring the Cyprus Government to adopt harder actions against this illegal practice.
Repeats of the October 2nd large-scale sweep operation of the Cape Pyla trapping ‘black spot’ must become the norm, BirdLife Cyprus insists. Crucially, Nicosia must at long last decisively tackle the restaurants fueling trapping by serving ambelopoulia.

For more information please contact Martin Hellicar, Campaigns Manager at BirdLife Cyprus at 

Source - Birdlife International

No change there then?

"The new power organisations are destroying the forests of the world at headlong speed, ploughing great grazing areas into deserts, exhausting mineral resources, killing off whales, seals and a multitude of rare and beautiful species, destroying the morale of every social type and devastating the planet. The institutions of the private appropriation of land and natural resources generally, and of private enterprise for profit, which did produce a fairly tolerable, stable and "civilised" social life for all but the most impoverished, in Europe, America and East, for some centuries, have been expanded to a monstrous destructiveness by the new opportunities. The patient, nibbling, enterprising profit-seeker of the past, magnified and equipped now with the huge claws and teeth the change of scale has provided for him, has torn the old economic order to rags. Quite apart from war, our planet is being wasted and disorganised. Yet the process goes on, without any general control, more monstrously destructive even than the continually enhanced terrors of modern warfare."
H.G. Wells: The New World Order, January 1940

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

How To Report The News

Okay, it's not about natural history, nor about conservation, but I thought you might like a little light relief from the more serious stuff. Enjoy this clip whilst it's still available on-line.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Italy - Protest campaign against the new proposed hunting law

Following the e-mail protest campaign against proposed changes in Italian hunting legislation, the following post-script appeared on the CABS website.......


Postscript 8 February 2010: Italy‘s Vice-President Letta reacts to the protest campaign

Gianni Letta, the Italian Deputy PM and one of the addressees of our protest campaign, has reacted with a curious mail to CABS. On 4 February, only one day after the start of the campaign, we received a short and somewhat less than diplomatic email from Berlusconi’s deputy. The short electronic communication from the Roman government palace reads:

"BASTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!! Basta, con queste innumerevoli mail!" - translation: "STOPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!! Put a stop to this mail flood!"

It appears as though someone in Rom is losing his cool - and that the campaign is having the desired effect! Up until midday on 8 February more than 3,000 mails had been sent to the Italian government via the CABS website …

Finch Numbers Increase in Malta Since Ban On Trapping

“The increases in the number of finches seen last year and the confirmed breeding of two species of finch show that given the chance, these birds could also breed in the Maltese islands. Finches are common breeders in Europe and they also breed on other small central Mediterranean islands.” 
Geoffrey Saliba, BirdLife Malta Campaigns Coordinator

Follow the link below for the full story.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Not all Maltese Shoot to Kill

This superb shot of a Mediterranean Gull appeared in the Times of Malta and was taken by 15 year old Nicholas Galea.
In time, most shooting on Malta will be done this way.
Follow the link to read the complete article, read the comments, and post your own responses. Then book a holiday in Malta, pack your binoculars, telescopes and cameras, and go birding there.

Say "No!" to commercial whaling

Quoting Greenpeace press release.....

"In an altogether baffling move, a small working group of the International Whaling Commission has proposed the reinstatement of commercial whaling in order to save the whales.

This proposal is not about saving whales, however, as much as it's about saving the whaling industry. It would allow whaling to take place in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary, not only letting the slaughter of whales there to continue but legitimizing it as well. And by legitimizing all whaling, the proposal would secure the future of whaling instead of seeking to phase it out. With a single stroke, this proposal would reverse nearly three decades of progress in protecting endangered whale species............"

Follow the link above for further information and to SIGN THE PETITION! Sorry for shouting but it's important to take decisive action on these matters, and act swiftly. Thanks.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Ring Billed Gull

Mirfield is just over the border in Kirklees, and whilst I tend not to twitch much these days, an American gull just a few miles away was worth a visit. The weather conditions were not ideal, dull, overcast and occasional light rain.
The few birders that were there, when I arrived were all viewing the bird, at some distance, through their 'scopes............. Why?........ It's a gull....................Chuck it some food and it will merrily come and perch on your head if you'll let it.
Well, as it happens, every other gull in the area came to check out my offerings of bread and crisps, but the Ring-bill was far too busy investigating a piece of floating polystyrene. Perhaps this has something to do with the plastic food that American companies get so fat on or, perhaps this gull associates polystyrene packaging with food...Hmmm.
Ring-billed Gulls are similar to our Common Gulls but are bigger, heavier billed, and seem to be more assertive in a mixed flock. Notice how this guy interacts with the other gulls.