World Bird News January 2015

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Growing network is helping Montenegrin migrants

By Shaun Hurrell, Tue, 27/01/2015 - 15:22

The BirdLife Partnership is building a growing network of people and organisations who are working together to look after migrant birds in the Mediterranean.

Each country in the Mediterranean faces very specific cultural, social and political challenges as part of their mission to protect migratory birds.

However, the true strength of this international project is the formation of a Mediterranean network, where expertise and experience can be shared between NGOs. The creation of this NGO network and the national level conservation action implemented in eight countries is already generating many wins for migratory birds in a number of countries across the Mediterranean region.

Here is an update from Montenegro.

Montenegro, in the Balkans, is a small country visited by millions of birds. It holds major wetland sites that are crucial places for birds to stop and refuel at during their migration. However birds stopping here are under a massive hunting pressure, with lack of law enforcement blurring the line between legality and illegality.

There are also more problematic visitors to the Balkans - hunting tourists. The organisation of this lucrative and unsustainable business is not yet fully understood, but we do know many Italian hunters exacerbate the problem with a big injection of money.

With many hunters also comes much disturbance, which the birds suffer from immensely in Montenegro. Even legal hunters coming to shoot a particular duck species do not realise they are scaring other species away from important feeding grounds and impacting the rest of their migration.

After many years of effort, CZIP (Centre for the Protection of Birds; BirdLife in Montenegro) has for the first time secured a hunting ban at one of its major wetland stop-overs, Lake Sasko. CZIP has been working with a local hunting organisation and it is actually them that have proclaimed the two-year hunting ban at the lake.

This is an excellent result for CZIP who are now monitoring the birds’ reaction to the ban. Like in the calm after a storm, birds will be able to return to the lake without hindrance and early next year, in the waterfowl census, CZIP will be able to work out the total natural capacity of the lake.

Colliding with wind turbines

With the low morning sun warming tired wing muscles, and oblivious to the luck of their survival, some birds take-off to continue along their migratory route from Balkan wetlands. They are safely fed, rested and watered beyond the gunfire, but these birds still face unknown challenges ahead.

BirdLife Partners are finding dead migratory birds beneath wind farms and powerlines, so sensibly locating energy infrastructure in the Mediterranean is becoming increasingly important.

In Montenegro there is a great opportunity: there are currently no wind farms in the country, so surely developers have a chance to prove their responsibility? With development proposals coming in, it is only thanks to CZIP and their collaborators as part of the Capacity Development for Flyway Conservation initiative that the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) of prospective wind farms are starting to be taken seriously in the country.

Wind farms in the Balkans: CZIP and Macedonian Ecological Society are making sure renewable energy companies are completing rigorous EIAs - Photo: Sergey DerelievWind farms in the Balkans: CZIP and Macedonian Ecological Society are making sure renewable energy companies are completing rigorous EIAs
Photo: Sergey Dereliev

“We have seen some ‘dirty’ Environmental Impact Assessments”,

said Darko Saveljic, Ornithologist at CZIP. “One was based on research from less than one day in the field for a whole year.”

After almost a year of difficult negotiations, CZIP have established a new standard for wind farm EIAs that, rather than complementing the investor’s needs, gives appropriate consideration to birds and wildlife. Now developers must go into the field for a certain number of days’ research and involve many ornithologists in order for their EIA to be verified.

“What is most important is that this has been achieved in consensus with all relevant organisations, institutions and all the ornithologists in the country”, said Darko.

“So, with continued monitoring of the process, Montenegrin bird fauna should be adequately protected from wind farms in the future.”

More information on the region-wide project.

Generously funded by the MAVA Foundation, the project, 'Capacity Development for Flyway Conservation in the Mediterranean', aims to establish and strengthen a dynamic network of conservation NGOs working effectively with local people, national governments, and the international community to protect key migratory species, sites and habitats in the Mediterranean region.

A Call to Verse

By Martin Fowlie, Fri, 23/01/2015 - 15:00

Calling all BirdLife poets! There is still time to enter 2014’s RSPB/Rialto Nature Poetry Competition. The deadline is GMT midnight on March 1: so you have six weeks to polish draft poems or versify anew.

Last year’s winner, Colin Hughes, drew his inspiration from watching Black Kites circling New Delhi, India: familiar sights across so many major cities in Asia and Africa.

Colin said that he stood at a window, ”watching several hundred of the city's huge population of pariah kites gathering at sundown”, reflecting that it was a day in which ”the papers had reported that more than half the world's population now lives in cities”. After Tokyo, with its staggering 38 million people, Delhi is the world’s second most densely populated metropolis and, with a forecast that 2050 will see two thirds of us living in cities, it seems highly likely that encounters with nature, the fuel of so much poetry, will be increasingly urban. Colin’s winning poem is reproduced in full below.

In 2013, locations and species that inspired poets to enter the competition ranged widely: from China to New Zealand, from Ireland to Peru; and from cats and rats to condors and eels, iguanas and juniper trees. All were grist to the mill of people’s verse, with many poets, as competition judge, Ruth Padel, reported, creating lines that were “breathtaking and beautiful but also painful because so many poems, underlined, rightly, what a precarious state nature is in”.

This year’s judge is the celebrated British poet, broadcaster and writer, Simon Armitage, author of more than twenty collections and co-editor, with Tim Dee, of the anthology, The Poetry of Birds. Simon’s own work draws deeply on nature and landscape; he has recently walked the Cornish coast, a follow up to his “troubadour trek” along the UK’s Pennine Way, paying his way by giving poetry readings en route. This journey was celebrated in his book, Walking Home.

Like Ruth (and 2012’s judge, Andrew Motion), Simon will, no doubt, have a great swathe of entries to consider this year, so please do join the fray! You might find your words being celebrated round the world, just like Colin’s poem.


Seems all the city’s sly guys pitched up at the park.

A couple of hundred pariahs, idly climbing spirals

Of dense dusk air, twisting their two-finger tails:

A devil crowd, loafing on thermals, presaging dark.

This is no free-flowing flock, no liquid shoal that wheels

As one in-unison wave: these are scavenger anti-souls

Forming vortices of slo-mo dervishes,

Each spiky silhouette in separate gyration.

Hell-born hoodlums, who thrive on all that perishes.

Some pack out the lifeless branches of a leafless grove:

They lift lapels to check the contents of their pockets,

Correcting brown-coat buttons with a flick of their beak-knives,

Or brush the Delhi dust from their death-black jackets;

Then one by one flap up to join the anarchist claque

That cracks the abnegate sky - that lumbering bomber stack

Of cut-outs, off on a night-raid, stark-hard flags unfurled.

They soar and scorn the din, pharp-parping to damnation,

The busy-ness below, the choke-locked inner ring,

The humans who learned today they’re more than half urban.

No: this couldn’t-care-less congregation would not lift a wing

If you told them tomorrow is doomsday, and they the last left alive.

Forewarned, they’d still flop off to run their lazy rackets,

Go poke through piles of plastic trash in derelict dives,

Then gather to shrug disdain at the end of the day, or world.

By Colin Hughes, 1st Prize winner, 2013

The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | World Bird News | World Bird News 2015 |  World Bird News January 2015

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