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.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

DOMINICA – Rare seabird found in Dominica

Added by Barbados Today on July 29, 2015.

ROSEAU –– A team of scientists from EPIC and Dominica’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries have recorded –– for the first time –– 968 of the diablotin, also known as the black-capped Petrel, over the mountains of Dominica, for which the last confirmed date of nesting of that species is 1862.

This rare seabird was once abundant on Dominica, but thought to be extirpated in the late 1800s due to overhunting and the introduction of mammalian species. Observations made with radar and supplemented by detection of vocalizations showed large numbers of petrels flying between the sea and potential nest areas in the island’s highest peaks. Details of the expedition are being released at the 20th International Meeting Of Birds Caribbean, taking place now in Kingston, Jamaica.

Adam Brown, co-founder and lead scientist at EPIC states: “Finding this colony of petrels on Dominica is a real game-changer for black-capped petrel conservation. For years we thought the only remaining colonies of petrels were on Hispaniola, where nesting habitat is diminishing at an alarming rate and pressures of human activity are significant.

“Dominica is an island-nation where nature conservation is a high priority and forests needed by petrels are well protected; so we now have a huge new opportunity to undertake conservation efforts to preserve this imperiled species.”

Biologists from EPIC and the Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division of Dominica’s Ministry of the Environment teamed up in January to do a systematic survey of the entire island of Dominica to locate the diablotin and determine its status. The diablotin is a very difficult bird to study, as it is a seabird that comes to shore only for a few months of the year to breed, flying into forested mountains at night to underground burrows. A portable marine radar array and night vision scopes allowed biologists to locate, identify and count flying petrels in in the dark.

Grim kiwi winter continues

By Peter de Graaf
9:30 AM Thursday Jul 30, 2015

Another kiwi has been killed by a dog as the national bird's grim winter in the Bay of Islands continues, with at least 12 victims of canines in the last month alone.

The latest death, of an adult male, occurred at Oromahoe, off State Highway 10 south of Kerikeri. The dog's owner was reluctant to hand the dead bird to the Department of Conservation (DoC) so delivered it to conservation group Bay Bush Action instead.

The Bay of Islands is a stronghold for kiwi but many have been killed by dogs this month. Seven mauled kiwi have been found in the Wharau Rd area, near Kerikeri - the total number killed is thought to be at least 10 - and at least five more in places such as Te Puna Inlet, Okaihau and Puketi Forest. One was killed on Golf View Rd in urban Kerikeri and one in Russell cemetery.The kiwi had been stripped of feathers and it had bite wounds to its head and neck.

Bay Bush Action trustee Brad Windust said the dog's owner handed over the kiwi killed at Oromahoe last week.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Prediction model created to protect piping plovers

July 28, 2015
Virginia Tech
A model to help land managers protect the threatened piping plover, a tiny shorebird, against habitat damage and predation has been created by a scientist. The bird's neighborhood preference has resulted in this once common shorebird being on the federal threatened species list since 1986.
Continued ...

Study of birds' sense of smell reveals important clues for behavior, adaptation

July 29, 2015
Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press)
From slight sparrows to preening peacocks to soaring falcons, birds have long been known to possess distinct abilities in their sense of smell, but little has been known about the evolution of olfaction. A large comparative genomic study of the olfactory genes tied to a bird's sense of smell has revealed important differences that correlate with their ecological niches and specific behaviors.
Continued ...

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

East Anglia's rarest raptors fitted with satellite tags

28 July 2015 at 12:10pm

Three of the UK's rarest birds of prey - which nest in East Anglia - have been fitted with satellite tracking devices.

The RSPB said three Montagu's harriers had been fitted with the trackers this month, in an effort to learn more about them.

A close-up of Rowan, a Montagu's harrier.
Photo: RSPB
So far this year there have only been seven recorded nesting attempts of Montagu's harriers - and three of them were in East Anglia.

Researchers from the Dutch “Montagu’s Harrier Foundation”, together with conservationists from the RSPB, fitted one male and two female Montagu’s harriers with the lightweight tracking devices, which will last for the lifetime of the birds and relay real time location data back to the team.

Mark Thomas, who leads on Montagu’s harrier conservation work for the RSPB, said: “This is an exciting and important application of satellite tracking technology that will help us to monitor their movements and locate their feeding areas to understand more about these harriers’ not just here in the UK, but in their wintering grounds in Africa and on their migratory journey in between.”

EU bird protection laws pegged as effective, better than others

— 28 JUL, 2015

A new joint research by RSPB, BirdLife International and Durham University has found that the European Union’s Birds Directive is one of world’s most effective at providing protection to threatened and that it is better than similar directives from other nations.

The research, which is being published on Tuesday 28 July 2015 in the journal Conservation Letters, reveals that the most consistent single determinant of a species’ fate is whether it is afforded the highest level of protection under the Birds Directive or not. In the language of The Birds Directive this means whether a species is listed under Annex 1 or not.

Researchers found that species listed in Annex 1 (highest level of protection under the Birds Directive) such as Dalmatian pelican, spoonbill, griffon vulture and greater flamingo fare far better in those countries which have been EU members for longer.

In the UK, a number of Annex 1 species are faring better in comparison to species which don’t enjoy the same level of protection. Researchers found that over a 25-year period, the following UK nesting species, listed under Annex 1, increased by the following percentages:

Monday, 27 July 2015

Nature laws let down overseas wildlife

Birdwatch news team
Posted on: 27 Jul 2015

The European Union’s Birds and Habitats Directives are some of the strongest wildlife protection laws in the world – which is why it’s so important to keep them in place – but they don’t apply to overseas territories or départements, according to BirdLife International.

These territories are often teeming with biodiversity, such as the penguins, albatrosses and endemic landbirds found on the Falkland Islands; in fact, the RSPB found an amazing 1,547 species unique to the islands of the UK’s Overseas Territories. However, such species, as well as habitats and the surrounding seas, are being let down by a lack of legislation. As a result, they are plagued by problems of invasive alien species, loss of habitat and extinction.

Réunion Island, Martinique and French Guiana (all French overseas départements) are pertinent examples, said BirdLife. Réunion Cuckooshrike has been listed as Critically Endangered since 2008, with just 27 pairs recorded 2010. The species’ numbers dropped drastically due to predation by Black Rats, an invasive species that thrives on picnic remains. A rat eradication programme organised by The Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO), BirdLife’s Partner in France, increased this number to 40 pairs in 2015. However, the extinction rate of bird species in Réunion remains at more than 50 per cent.