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.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Night herons breed in Britain for the first time

News has just been released by the Wildlife Trusts today that a pair of Black-crowned Night Herons has successfully bred in Britain for the first time ever on one of its reserves.  

Two adults and two recently fledged juveniles are now roosting at Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Westhay Moor NNR on the Somerset Levels, having either bred there or nearby on the Avalon Marshes site. The birds were captured on camera and made their debut on Flickr.

Black-crowned Night Heron is a scarce visitor to Britain, with around 10 or so records each year on average (accounting for occasional fluctuations); only a dozen or so have been reported in Somerset since 1800. With Somerset's recent history of breeding Cattle and Great Egrets and Little Bitterns, this is perhaps a long-overdue event and reaffirms the Avalon Marshes and Somerset Levels' significance as one of the country's most important breeding areas for the heron family and other larger marshland birds.

Britain’s seabird colonies face catastrophe as warming waters disrupt their food supply

Populations of gannets, puffins and other marine birds are in freefall, but a crucial scientific study to pinpoint the causes is being blocked, say experts

Robin McKieScience editor

Sunday 20 August 2017 00.04 BSTLast modified on Sunday 20 August 2017 09.20 BST

Bempton Cliffs bird reserve was in fine fettle last week. The last of its population of puffins had departed for the winter a few weeks earlier, while its thousands of young gannets were still being cared for by their parents on the chalk cliffs of the East Yorkshire nature site. For good measure, kittiwakes, cormorants and fulmars were also bathing in the sunshine.

It was a comforting sight for any birdwatcher but this benign picture was in stark contrast to many other bird reserves in Britain. Our populations of seabirds – arctic skuas, arctic terns and kittiwakes – are in freefall. And, in some cases, the numbers are dire.

“For reasons that are not entirely clear – though they are almost certainly concerned with climate change – Bempton Cliffs has not suffered from the precipitous declines in seabird numbers that we see elsewhere,” said Euan Dunn, a principal policy officer for the RSPB.

Wing shape helps swifts glide through storms

August 23, 2017

They are among nature's best fliers, spending most of their time in flight … now scientists have shed new light on how swifts can glide with ease, whatever the weather. A new study suggests that the aerodynamics of swifts' wings enable them to adapt effortlessly to sudden changes in wind speed and direction.

The wings' crescent shape lessens the effects of blustery conditions, helping to stabilise them as they glide during turbulent weather, researchers say. This means swifts – which eat, mate and even sleep on the wing – are not forced to use up vital energy to stay on course.

Model wing
Scientists at Edinburgh constructed a triangular model wing with the characteristic trailing edge shape of swifts' wings. They studied its aerodynamic properties by fitting it into a water flume that simulated airflow during flight. Using a laser sheet and a digital camera, researchers tracked the movement of tiny glass balls in the water, to reveal how air flows over the wing.

Results showed for the first time that as air passes over the wing, it can form into two or three circulating regions of airflow – known as leading-edge vortices, or LEVs. In aircraft with triangle-shaped wings – including Concorde – LEVs can generate extra lift, researchers say.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Jackdaws flap their wings to save energy

Date: August 11, 2017
Source: Lund University

For the first time, researchers have observed that birds that fly actively and flap their wings save energy. Biologists have now shown that jackdaws minimize their energy consumption when they lift off and fly, because the feathers on their wing tips create several small vortices instead of a single large one. The discovery could potentially be applied within the aeronautical industry.

In search of Edwards' pheasant: Almost extinct?

Genuinely extinct or just not worth looking for? Scientists set out to discover just how endangered certain species are

Date: August 17, 2017
Source: Newcastle University

Summary: Scientists say we need to improve our information about little-known species to reduce the risk of one going extinct just because no-one is interested in looking for it.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Stress in the nest can have lifelong effect

Date: August 16, 2017
Source: The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Why do some sparrows hatch six chicks while others don’t hatch any? How does upbringing affect the remainder of their lives? Physiological stress in the nest can actually affect birds’ DNA and possibly their lifespan.

4,200 yo bird found 'perfectly preserved' in ice (PHOTO)

Published time: 5 Aug, 2017 22:56Edited time: 6 Aug, 2017 16:12

A frozen 4,200-year-old redwing thrush has been found perfectly preserved in Norway. The bird, whose age was determined through carbon tests, was dissected to determine if the bird’s organs have also survived the test of time.

The thrush was discovered by a warden with the Norwegian Nature Supervisor Agency on the edge of a snow bank in the Oppdal mountains, according to Jorgen Rosvold, a researcher with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, who spoke to NRK.

“That it is 4,000 years old is absolutely fantastic,” said Rosvold. “We have never opened and seen how a 4,000 year-old bird looks inside,” he added.

Researchers initially believed the bird to be no more than a few hundred years old, and now believe it flew over Norway’s skies thousands of years ago. It’s also thought the bird was caught and killed by a wolverine or fox.

“It was probably caught by a wolverine or a fox. We know that wolverines use ice to store food during the summer. So this thrush may have been put in the ice by a wolverine and has only been found again now,” Rosvold said.#