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May 31, 2017

Young tern chick is hungry...

Photo: Krzysztof  Rabiej / Solent News
A Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) chick races towards its mother to get a fish before its sibling, protesting in the background, who was left with nothing on this occasion at Nickerson Beach, Long Island, New York, US.
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May 30, 2017

Wildlife Conservation Society 2016 favourite pictures

Photo: Rob Wallace/WCS
Amazonian Royal Flycatcher
(Onychorhynchus coronatus coronatus)
The Amazonian Royal Flycatcher is one of more than 1,000 bird species registered to date in Madidi National Park in Bolivia.   The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is leading a multi-institutional program called Identidad Madidi to describe still-unknown species and to show the wonders of Bolivia's amazing natural heritage at home and to the world. The WCS operates five wildlife parks in New York City and works to save wildlife and wild places in nearly 60 countries and all the world's oceans.
Below are three photos from the WCS's Bronx Zoo.   In the top a photo, a Silvery-cheeked Hornbill retrieves a grape in mid-air.   The second photo shows a Little Blue Penguin that was hatched and reared for the first time in the Bronx Zoo's 120-year history.   The bottom photo shows a Green-winged Macaw preparing a landing at the zoo.   All three photos were taken by Julie Larson Maher of the WCS.   

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May 29, 2017

Global Big Day Bird Watch 2017

Photo:Joaquin Sarmiento / AFP / Getty Images
Columbia records 1,486 species in one day!
Columbia has been announced as the champion of the the 2017 Global Big Day bird watch, with 1,486 species of birds spotted.   In this annual event, teams of birders from 150 countries around the world, record their sightings.   18% (1,903 species) of the world's 10,500 birds are to be found in Columbia.   This year 20,000 birders worldwide recorded 6,564 species in total; more than 60% of the world's birds.   Pictured above is one of the Colombian birds spotted: an Andean Motmot.

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May 28, 2017

Great-crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)

Photo: Victoria Jones P/A
Blackwell basin ~ London, England
A Great-crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) nurses two of its young on its back in Blackwell Basin, near Canary Wharf, River Thames, London.   The young, as seen above, are distinctive because of their striped, black and white heads - markings which they lose when they mature.
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May 27, 2017

Saskatchewan launches bird atlas

Sharp-tailed Grouse photo: USTWS Mountain-Prairie/Creative Commons Website

BIRDWATCH Canada Special Report
on Saskatchchewan Breeding Bird Atlas
I have just received by mail, my Spring 2017 copy of BIRDWATCH Canada magazine and the lead story is a special report on the launching of the first-ever Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas.   Volunteers will be collecting observations in 6,900 10x10 km. squares in the province, creating a snapshot of bird distribution and relative abundance.   The initial effort will take five years to complete and will be repeated every 20 years.   Further information can be obtained at
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May 26, 2017

David and Goliath

Photo: Steve Shin/Rex/Shutterstock
A Bullock's Oriole swoops at a young Bald Eagle in the San Gabriel Mountains, just north of Los Angeles on southern California, U.S.A.
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May 25, 2017

Whitney Awards for Nature Conservation 2017

All Photos by Pete Oxford / Minden Pictures / Alamy

One of the finalists in the 2017 Whitley Awards for Nature Conservation is scientist and vet Alexander Blanco.   He is seen here preparing to to trap a recently fledged, seven-month-old wild Harpy Eagle.   He has worked with Harpy Eagles since 1996, in Venezuela, Brazil and Ecuador.   Blanco is the president of the Esfera Foundation in his native Venezuela and heads a program to protect the Harpy species.

Harpy Eagles are now rare in many parts of their historic range, notably because of massive deforestation.   The seven-month-old fledgling in these pictures has been fitted with a GPS in Ecuador.   With the Whitley award, Blanco hopes to protect a greater number of Harpy nest sites with citizens guardians, plus limiting deforestation through support of shade-grown coffee livelihoods and through forest reforestation.
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Gannets and plastic waste...

Photo by Kajsa Sjolander
90% of seabirds have ingested plastic
Plastic waste and gannets are pictured above at Bass Rock in Scotland.   A Greenpeace research expedition has found high levels of plastic pollution on Rock Island in the Firth of Forth, home to the world's largest colony of Northern Gannets.   Studies have shown that 90% of seabirds have ingested plastic.   Some have been entrapped by plastic fish lines or netting (see photo below), which often ends in their deaths.   The plastic problem is a worldwide travesty of ocean husbandry.   One patch of floating plastic garbage found in the Pacific Ocean is estimated to be twice the size of Texas!   

Photo: Sam Hobson
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May 24, 2017

A hot day...

                                                                                                             Photo: Chandy Rani
Oxpecker and Wild Boar
Sympathetic or indifferent accommodation? 
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May 23, 2017

Incredible plan to save New Zealand birds...

Photo: Mark Baker/AP
Eliminate predators to save unusual birds
New Zealanders across their home country are embracing an environmental goal so ambitious, it's been compared to putting a man on the moon!   It intends to rid the nation of every last stoat, possum and rat, thereby giving a second chance to the unusual birds that ruled this South Pacific nation before humans arrived 800 years ago.   One such unusual bird is the Tui, or Parson Bird (pictured above), seen perching on a tree trunk at the Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary in Wellington, North Island, New Zealand.   I wonder what birdbrain came up with this idea?
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May 22, 2017

Squabble in Wales

Photo: Philip Jones / Alamy
A male Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) left, challenges a male Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) right, at a garden pool in mid-Wales.   Both birds are singularly distinguishable in appearance and yet are often mistaken for each other when described by certain observers.
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May 21, 2017

Ever heard of an Indian Greater Coucal? No?

    Photo above: STR/AFP/Getty Images - Photo below: Shantanu Kavaskar
How about a
Crow Pheasant?
The Indian Greater Coucal, or Crow Pheasant (Centropus sinensis) seen above with a lizard in its mouth was photographed in Mandore, Jodhpur, north-west India.   It is the size of an ordinary Crow and is a member of the Cuckoo order of birds.   It has a long tail and coppery brown wings.   They are poor flyers and often clamber about in vegetation or or walk on the ground foraging for insects, eggs and nestlings of other birds.
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May 20, 2017

Eudocimus ruber

Photo:Ricardo Moraes / Reuters
Scarlet Ibis
Scarlet Ibisis fly near the banks of a mangrove swamp at the mouth of the Colcoene River, in Amapa State, northern Brazil.   Scarlet Ibisis are found generally in South America, although they have reached as far north as south Florida.   Red Ibisis will hybridize with White Ibisis, and the result is pink and splotched birds.
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May 19, 2017

Dodo's relative found in Australia

                                                                             Photo - (Creative Commons: Tomfriedel)
Nicobar Pigeon found for first time
on Australian mainland
A rainbow-coloured pigeon native to islands of the Indian and Pacific oceans has been discovered for the first time in Australian.   The Nicobar Pigeon (Caloenas nicobarica) is the closest living relative to the extinct Dodo, and is named for the Nicobar Islands of India, 4,000km north of the Australian coast.   The unexpected visitor (apparently one of two) was found by indigenous Bardi Jawa rangers near Broome, on the coast of northwest Australia.   The Nicobar Pigeon is classified as 'Near Threatened' on the IUCN red list.   Rain-forest clearing of the pigeon's native southeast Asian islands has prompted population decline, but there is no accurate estimate of the wild population because its range is so vast.
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May 18, 2017

The national bird of Israel...

Photo:China Stringer Network / EPA
A hovering Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops) is seen above feeding its chick in a park in Beijing, China.   The Hoopoe is widespread in Europe, Asia, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.   It was chosen as the national bird of Israel in 2008 in conjunction with the country's 60th anniversary.
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May 17, 2017

Spring shortage of worms in Norfolk

The English spring has been droughty and wormless in Norfolk, so some blackbirds have switched to snatching newts, notably Smooth Newts, from shallow pond water to feed their youngsters.   In the photo at top above, by Neil Bowman, a female blackbird is seen holding a Smooth Newt in her bill.   The lower photo, by Blickwinkel, shows a swimming Smooth Newt up close.
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May 16, 2017

Counting large birds on remote islands from space...

Photo: Reuters 
Albatross census from space
Marina Koren, writing in The Atlantic, has described how the British Antarctic Survey and the Canterbury Museum in New Zealand are scouring the landscape of distant islands from the comfort of office desks and count albatross populations, one-by-one, to create a census from space.   Pictures taken by a high-resolution camera on a satellite orbiting Earth produce hundreds of tiny pixelated white dots against a dark background on a computer.   The survey is the first time that satellites have been used to count individual birds from space.   So far, two targeted threatened species have been observed: the Wandering Albatross and the Northern Royal Albatross on the Chatham Islands, to the east of New Zealand.   Instead of long-term, expensive travel in labour-intensive, sometimes hazardous conditions, the space census requires much less effort and doesn't risk disturbing the birds.   Observers compared their counts from space to available ground tallies and found similar numbers.   Much more information can be had in Marina Koren's report in the May 11th edition of The Atlantic. 

Photo: J.J. Harrison
Wandering Albatross 

Photo: Mark Fraser
Northern Royal Albatross
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May 15, 2017

First Baltimore Oriole arrives May 10

 Photos by Barry Wallace
Female oriole tries out new feeder
The first Baltimore Oriole arrived in our backyard on May 10. It was a male and was followed the next day by a female.   In the pictures here, the female is trying out a brand new nectar feeder that not only has ports for nectar but also has a spot for an orange half.   She got the hang of things pretty quickly and has made numerous visits for nectar every day.   Now, if they just nest nearby...

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May 14, 2017

Nearly400 birds die hitting skyscraper in storm

Nearly 400 migratory birds were killed in a single night after flying into a skyscraper in Galveston, Texas, during a storm on Friday, May 5th, according to officials.   The American National Building (see photo below) is the tallest building in Galveston.   More than 20 species were among the 395 bird that were killed, including 90 Nashville Warblers, 60 Blackburnian
Warblers, 42 Chestnut-sided Warblers and 41 Ovenbirds.   Other species included 29 Yellow Warblers, 26 Black and-white Warblers, 24 Magnolia Warblers, 21 American Redstarts,15 Indigo Buntings, 8 Black-throated Green Warblers, 5 Kentucky Warblers, 4 Eastern Wood Peewees, 3 Golden-winged Warblers, 2 Painted Buntings, 2 Orchard Orioles, plus a Hooded Warbler, Gray Catbird, Blue Grosbeak, Orange-crowned Warbler, Summer Tanager, Worm-eating Warbler,
Red-eyed Vireo and Cerulean Warbler.   Three surviving birds were taken to a wildlife centre.
The birds

were coming from Central and South America, over the Gulf Mexico, before arriving fatigued in the coastal City of Galveston.   A storm was battering the city, which probably made the birds fly low, where they became disoriented by lighting and crashed into the 25-storey-high building.   The Audubon Society says when birds encounter glass, they see the image it reflects, rather than a hard surface, so when a building's lights are left on at night, birds might think of it as someplace dry to rest, especially if they spy office plants inside.   That can cause them to crash into windows - often to a fatal end.   Several Audubon groups have convinced local governments to encourage building owners and managers to turn off overnight fixtures during spring and fall migrations.
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May 13, 2017

Native of southern New Zealand...

Photo: Hannah Peters / Getty Images
Seen above is a rare Little Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx owenii), one of 20 released to augment populations at the Shakespear Open Sanctuary in Aukland, New Zealand.   Prior to 2008, this bird was identified by the IUCN Red List as 'Vulnerable', but now has been rated as 'Near Threatened', owing to the success of intensive conservation intervention which established populations in which numbers continue to increase or are stable.
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May 12, 2017

Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus)

Photo : Ronald Wittek / EPA
It would seem to be impossible to take a bad photo of a displaying male Indian Peafowl, known as a peacock.   Females are known as peahens, while small immatures are called peachicks.   The peacock above was photographed at Heidelberg Zoo in Germany.   They are native to south Asia, but have been introduced and are both wild and domesticated in many other parts of the world.   
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May 11, 2017

Crow-sized woodpecker...

Photo: Eric Wengert / Alamy
The Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) is native to North America and is a birdwatcher's favourite because of its spectacular black colouring and red crest, as well as its large size (16 to 20" in length).   It is also immediately recognized by is urgent, loud call and its sweeping wing-beats.
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May 10, 2017

Dramatic mid-air confrontation over Oxford...

                                                                          Photo by Simon Tassel / Barcroft Images

Red Kites (Milvus milvus) battle each other for food, in the skies over Watlington Hill in Oxfordshire, in south-central England.   Red Kites were once exterminated in Britain in the 1700s.
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May 9, 2017

New Royal Mail songbird stamps

Britain's Royal Mail songbird
stamps were a new release of 10 stamps to mark International Chorus Day on May 7th, 2017.

Photos: Royal Mail / Epa

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if you wish.


May 8, 2017

Wildlife photo award winner...

Photo: Myer Bornstein
Starlings were definitely a contributing factor to this picture, entitled 'Wildlife', which won a 2nd place prize in the wildlife category of the recent Defenders of the Wildlife 2017 photo contest.   The bison and starling photo was called 'Resting'.
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May 7, 2017

First ever Red-wing Blackbird seen in England

                                                                                                       Photo by BarrytheBirder
Female Red-winged Blackbird crosses the Atlantic
A single female Red-winged Blackbird is causing a sensation among birdwatchers in Britain and in Europe.   It has appeared on a remote island in the Orkney Islands.   Experts think the vagrant blackbird may have hitchhiked from its normal habitat in North America aboard a transatlantic boat and was first seen one week ago by Simon Davies, principal assistant warden of the Ronaldsay Bird Reserve.   Several hundreds of birders have already seen the bird and added it to their life-lists.   The Red-winged Blackbird follows shortly after a Hermit Thrush sighting in Shetland.   It is also possible that both birds were caught in a storm, hit the jet stream and bailed out at the European coast.
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May 6, 2017

Also at the Richmond Hill Mill Pond...

 Photos by BarrytheBirder
The same day I saw cormorants on the Richmond Hill Mill Pond (see previous blog), I also took some photos of the resident pair of Mute Swans, which had spent the winter in a warm and protected pond-side shelter.   They spent a great amount of time foraging along the edges of the pond, which was greatly appreciated by human onlookers.  


if you wish.