World Bird News for August 2011

The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | World Bird News | World Bird News 2011 |  World Bird News for August 2011

British birdwatchers rally to save their summer migrants

British birdwatchers rally to save their summer migrants

It’s one of nature’s greatest miracles: millions of birds leave Africa each spring and head north to nest in the UK and other parts of Europe, only to return to Africa each autumn. However this multi-million-winged migration is under threat.

In the UK, for example, according to the 2010 Breeding Bird Survey of the 10 UK birds which have declined the most since 1995, eight are summer migrants, including the Common Cuckoo, European Turtle-dove, Yellow Wagtail and Common Nightingale (above). Similar rates of loss have been noted across Europe.

The decline of these birds is so devastatingly fast that it’s rapidly being dubbed one of the greatest crises in modern conservation.

Between 1995 and 2010, according to the 2010 Breeding Bird Survey the UK has lost more than seven out of every ten turtle-doves (74%) and nearly half of its cuckoos (48%). Over the same period: nightingale and Wood Warbler numbers have more than halved (63% and 60%, respectively); Whinchat and Yellow Wagtail populations have tumbled by 55%; the Pied Flycatcher population has fallen by 51%; and Spotted Flycatcher has dropped by 47%. These losses are unsustainable and if left unchecked will put these species in danger of being wiped out across large parts of the UK. Many of these species, including the nightingale, cuckoo and turtle-dove, used to be familiar songbirds.

For some species the crisis appears to be deepening as nightingale and turtle-dove numbers slumped by 27%t and 21% respectively, between 2009 and 2010 across the UK. The urgency of this crisis has prompted British birdwatchers to raise funds to help support crucial conservation actions.

The organisers of this year’s British Birdwatching Fair, held at Rutland Water, hope to raise in excess of £250,000. Part of these funds will be used to raise awareness of the plight of these migrant birds and the need for action across the whole of their migration corridor from Europe through the Mediterranean and into Africa. Birdfair funding will also support highly targeted conservation actions on the ground in three West African countries, where these birds spend the winter.

Tracing the journeys of thousands of migratory birds which commute between Africa and Europe, visitors and representatives from Ghana will be amongst the guests at this year’s British Birdwatching Fair and the event will be opened by His Excellency Professor Kwaku Danso-Boafo, the Ghanaian High Commissioner in London.

Richard Grimmett, Director of Conservation at BirdLife International, said: “In some cases, it is necessary to gain a better understanding of what is driving these declines, but for others we already know enough to be able to target the principle causes. These birds urgently need our help.”

The RSPB’s Martin Davies, one of the co-founders of the Birdfair, said: “The cuckoo and the gentle purring of a turtle dove provide a comforting vocal backdrop to picnics and village cricket games. However, we are in danger of losing these sentinels of summer, as the birds’ populations have slumped since the mid 1990s.

“Birds do not recognise international boundaries and all the countries along their migration routes have a shared responsibility to look after these remarkable species. The world is changing rapidly and pressures such as habitat destruction, illegal hunting and climate change are believed to be having a major impact on populations of these birds, but it will be a race against time to tackle these declines. We hope Birdfair funds will make a significant contribution.”

The British Birdwatching Fair, which is being held at Rutland Water for its 23rd year, has a long history of funding global conservation projects. Since its launch in 1989, the fair has raised well over £2 million and has funded a range of projects from albatrosses in the southern Ocean to the rainforests of Ecuador and Indonesia. Last year’s focus was the threatened birds of Ethiopia. The event raised £242,000 for vital conservation work for those birds confined to the south of the country.

Tim Appleton of the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust is the fair’s co-founder and organiser. He said: “Reflecting the movement of birds around the world and the urgent need for conservation action in many countries, we’ve always felt it appropriate that the Birdfair has an international feel and focus. The same is true this year, but when we started the Birdfair we could scarcely have imagined that one day that international focus would be on rapidly declining species so close to home. It’s deeply troubling that birds that occur within a stone’s throw of the Birdfair, such as turtle doves, cuckoos and nightingales, are now in such desperate need of help. These are amazing birds worthy of every ounce of effort we can take to protect them: and we know that many visiting birdwatchers feel the same way.”

Funding from the British Birdwatching Fair will complement funding from the Dutch Postcode Lottery to develop highly-targeted conservation programmes through the BirdLife International Partners in several key West African countries, including Burkina Faso (Naturama, Fondation des Amis de la Nature), Nigeria (Nigerian Conservation Foundation) and Ghana (Ghana Wildlife Society). The RSPB (the UK Partner of BirdLife International), the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), and Vogelbescherming Nederland (the Dutch Partner of BirdLife International) are providing support to BirdLife International’s African Partnership Secretariat, which is managing and co-ordinating the overall project. The RSPB, the BTO and the BirdLife International Danish partner – Dansk Ornitologisk Forening – are also working on closely-related projects in West Africa investigating the causes of decline of migrant birds shared between the two continents.

Migratory birds elsewhere around the world are also in trouble, and the Birdfair has agreed to fund conservation projects focusing on migratory species for the next three years. The Birdfair will become the first global sponsor of BirdLife International’s Flyways Programme. In 2012, the Birdfair will fund conservation work along the Eastern Asian flyway and in 2013 the focus will shift to the Americas.

Tim Appleton added: “Birdfair has grown enormously over its 23-year history, but it still manages to capture a great atmosphere of friendliness and relaxed enjoyment. In fact, it is a great day out for anyone interested in the countryside. For many exhibitors and visitors alike, it is firmly established as the international wildlife event of the year.”

Farmland birds in Europe fall to lowest levels

Farmland birds in Europe fall to lowest levels

The Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme has compiled population figures for 145 common and widespread bird species in 25 European countries between 1980 and 2009. Amongst those species covered, farmland birds are the most threatened group, with 20 out of 36 species in decline, and overall numbers at an all-time low, down by 48% since 1980.

Some of the species that have declined the most over the last three decades include familiar farmland birds like Grey Partridge Perdix perdix (–82%), Skylark Alauda arvensis (–46%), Linnet Carduelis cannabina (–62%) and Corn Bunting (above) Miliaria calandra (–66%).

Conservationists say the results prove the need for urgent reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) so that it rewards and encourages farmers who put conservation measures in place on their land. Proposals for the upcoming reform of the CAP are set to be published in October, but BirdLife Europe is concerned that they do not go far enough. It fears that the proposal does not contain enough support for agri-environment schemes which fund wildlife-friendly farming measures.

Ian Burfield, European Science and Data Manager, said: “These shocking new figures confirm that farmland birds have halved in number across Europe since 1980. While the rate of decline may have slowed in recent years, it’s clear that attempts to halt the loss have been insufficient, and that massive efforts are needed to reverse the trend.”

Trees Robijns, EU Agriculture and Bioenergy Policy Officer, added: “The CAP is an EU-wide policy tool that has visible effects on the landscape. Until recently however, this policy has helped farmers to produce more food, but the environment and biodiversity have suffered as a result.

“Therefore we need to reorient the policy towards delivering public goods for public money. We need proper targeted funding for wildlife-friendly farming and effective and efficient schemes in place that can reverse these declines and make our countryside richer and healthier for birds, plants, insects and people – as well as producing food, feed, fuel and fibre.

“We know what the problem is and we have identified a lot of the solutions already. Now we need the decision makers to take up their responsibility and deliver a real green reform. This reform is often dubbed a ‘green reform’ so we should ensure it delivers for the environment. Otherwise, this bad news cycle will continue and this policy will come even more under attack.”

Recent EU Budget announcements have made it clear that decision makers plan to allocate less money to Pillar 2 which contains very valuable environmental payments. A recent leaked CAP document has also revealed that they plan to allow Member States to move money away from agrienvironment schemes and into other areas.

The results of the European bird population survey suggest that after missing its 2010 biodiversity conservation target, the EU will go on to miss the 2020 biodiversity conservation target unless decisive and urgent action is taken.

Trees Robijns adds: “The integration of the biodiversity target into other areas like agriculture, where the threats are so evident, is a real must. If we fail to provide the adequate tools to tackle the roots of this problem, we are in fact undermining any possibility of achieving the biodiversity targets.”

The new EU Biodiversity Strategy commits the EU to “halt the deterioration in the status of all species and habitats covered by EU nature legislation”. Although Member States endorsed the new strategy in June this year, they have yet to agree on commitments to deliver the actions needed to achieve its aims.

Sound Recording of Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra



Recorded by Mike Fielding at Bempton Cliffs RSPB reserve Yorkshire.Copyright Birdersmarket.com. You are welcome to download this file for personal use only.For commercial use, please use the 'contact us' link at the top of this page.

Sony announce HD & 3D Digital Recording Binoculars

Sony announce HD & 3D Digital Recording Binoculars

25th August 2011
Subject of many a recent 'Tweet' - Birders will soon be able to record their bird sightings direct from their binoculars. Sony have announced what is bound to lead to a revolution in birding gear (and the way in which bird records are presented) with the DEV-3 and DEV-5 products. What’s better than a pair of HD binoculars? Give up? A pair of binoculars that record HD video and 3D. The DEV-3 and DEV-5 Digital Recording Binoculars from Sony record video and in stereo sound with 10X zoom in standard 2D and 5.4X for 3D.

Coated with non slip material and easily accessible buttons on top, these binoculars are easily to operate and with internal GPS and geolocation tags. The DEV-3 and DEV-5 will available in November of this year in the U.S.

Ghosts of Gone Birds London haunt announced

Ghosts of Gone Birds London haunt announced

Following the launch of an extraordinary new multi-media art exhibition - Ghosts of Gone Birds – at the Liverpool School of Art & Design earlier this year, the show has grown and evolved during the summer and will now ‘manifest’ in London’s East End this November.

The ground-breaking exhibition, which highlights the growing extinction crisis and promotes The BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme, will be held in Shoreditch, at the Rochelle School, London E2. Doors open to the public on November 2nd and the event will run until November 23rd.

More than eighty leading artists, sculptors, musicians, writers and poets are contributing. Each artist has chosen a different extinct species and is producing a new piece of art that has been inspired by the bird and which celebrates its former life on earth. Original art featured in the show (as well as many limited editions) will be for sale, with a contribution from each transaction made to BirdLife. Individual artworks range in price from £200 to around £50,000.

Award-winning sculptor Harriet Mead’s stunning recreation of the extinct King Island Emu above, which she crafted from recycled agricultural implements, is just one great example of the two hundred or so fabulous artworks that will be on display in London.
Many of the contributing artists are still producing their pieces but among other selections already made are Jamie Hewlett – Hawaiian Crow; Rob Ryan – Stephen’s Island Wren; Ralph Steadman – Pallas’s Cormorant, Dodo (above) and Liverpool Pigeon; and Greg Poole – Jamaican Red Macaw.

The natural rate of bird extinction is just one bird each century but in the last thirty years alone, 21 species have disappeared. At present, 189 are classified Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List and, without immediate action, many of these will not be here in ten years’ time. One clear example is the albatross family, which is fast becoming the most threatened family of birds in the world. Dying at a rate of around one every five minutes albatrosses are disappearing faster than they can actually breed – so 18 out of the 22 species of albatross are now facing global extinction.


Contributing artists

Contributing artists

Many of the contributing artists are still producing their pieces but among other selections already made are Jamie Hewlett – Hawaiian Crow; Rob Ryan – Stephen’s Island Wren; Ralph Steadman – Pallas’s Cormorant, Dodo and Liverpool Pigeon; and Greg Poole – Jamaican Red Macaw.

The natural rate of bird extinction is just one bird each century but in the last thirty years alone, 21 species have disappeared. At present, 189 are classified Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List and, without immediate action, many of these will not be here in ten years’ time. One clear example is the albatross family, which is fast becoming the most threatened family of birds in the world. Dying at a rate of around one every five minutes albatrosses are disappearing faster than they can actually breed – so 18 out of the 22 species of albatross are now facing global extinction.

Ghosts of Gone Birds has been created by filmmaker Ceri Levy, best known for his documentary film Bananaz about the rock band Gorillaz and Chris Aldhous, award-winning director of London creative consultancy GOODPILOT. “We’re aiming to raise a creative army for conservation and it’s fair to say that we have been floored by the response of the artists we’ve asked to create new work for us.” said Ceri Levy. ” To have the likes of Sir Peter Blake, Ralph Steadman, and Margaret Atwood producing new work for the exhibition is a clear illustration of the enthusiasm and support that exists for the cause. The project is reaching out to involve new audiences in conversations about conservation through their collective interest in contemporary art, music and poetry. We want to get people thinking about the diverse range of birds that have already been lost to extinction and introduce them to the work of BirdLife International.”
“To find so many creative people engaged with the subject of birds and the threat of extinction that faces so many of them today, is truly inspiring.” said honoured author Margaret Atwood, who is also contributing to the exhibition by knitting a Great Auk. ” This magnificent show will reconnect us to the natural world, teach us about our past, and fuel our interest in saving what we are losing daily. See the show, love the show, add to the show, and learn how to help.”

Dr. Marco Lambertini, Chief Executive of BirdLife International, said, “In modern times, species are going extinct at least a thousand times the natural background rate. Many more are so threatened that they are on the verge of disappearing and urgent action is needed. Ghosts of Gone Birds is a provocative new way to reach out and inspire a wide audience about today’s extinction crisis and mobilise action to rescue the species at risk today. There is still hope and the BirdLife Partnership has shown that, with the right resources and targeted action, species can be saved. Please join BirdLife and help us in the fight to stop any of the magnificent species threatened today from joining the Ghosts of Gone Birds.”

“As well as being a great way to raise awareness, Ghosts of Gone Birds is also helping us find new Species Champions to fund the vital conservation action that can help us prevent extinctions today.” said Jim Lawrence – BirdLife’s Preventing Extinctions Programme Manager. “The London show provides a fantastic opportunity to sponsors who wish to get involved as well. We will be working closely there with RSPB, our UK Partner, to highlight the globally threatened species they are acting for. Publicity is starting to build and has already attracted the attention of a number of individuals and companies who have been inspired by this incredible new collection of art. More than 250,000 people are following us on twitter already. Currently we are very excited about putting on a great show in London but in future years we hope to build on this momentum and take Ghosts to other major cities where we can further support the BirdLife International Partnership’s extraordinary work preventing extinctions.”


The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | World Bird News | World Bird News 2011 |  World Bird News for August 2011

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