A national survey to assess the population of one of the UK’s rarest birds, the chough, is being launched by conservationists.
The study aims to give a picture of how the birds are faring across the UK after years of decline. In Scotland, choughs are only found in a small area of the south-west, with 90% concentrated on Islay, where numbers have struggled.
A team of surveyors has now begun work to chart the fortunes of the “acrobatic” birds, known for their striking red bill and legs and flamboyant flying style.
Researchers are particularly concerned about the survival rates of young birds in their first year. It is thought that variations in weather and food abundance could be having an impact on the survival rates. Information gathered will help target conservation efforts for the recovery of the species in areas where it is in decline.
The survey is a joint initiative between RSPB, SNH and the Scottish Chough Study Group, which has been monitoring the birds on Islay since the early 1980s.
London Tree Week starts today and the main focus is the Rooting for Trees exhibition in City Hall’s cafe.
This exhibition highlights why trees matter to Londoners. Photographer Emma Phillips worked with The Tree Council to produce images of Tree Wardens at various locations where they feel most strongly connected with trees. Each portrait offers a story about the importance of one, or many, trees. It also explores what motivates different people to plant, care for and help with the conservation of trees in their neighbourhood.
There will also be a series of free guided tree walks and other nature trails in various parts of town. You can take a tree walk around Abney Park Cemetery on 25 May, Upminster (25 May), Hyde Park (26 May), Kensington Gardens (27 May), Imperial War Museum gardens (29 May), Sydenham Hill Wood (29 May), Bankside Urban Forest (30 May), Bloomsbury (31 May) and the National Gallery’s arboreal paintings.
The week is being organised as part of the Mayor’s RE:LEAF work to protect and increase the number of trees in London.
Posted in Birds, Green, Nature, Wildlife
Tagged Big Garden Birdwatch, birdwatching, blue tits, conservation, Dollis Brook, ducks, Finchley Park, great tits, gulls, Hampstead Heath, London, moorhens, robin, swans
Pic: Paul Hilton/Greenpeace
Japanese whaling in the Antarctic Ocean was ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice this afternoon. This is a landmark ruling which will stop hundreds of whales being killed each year in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica in the name of “research”.
Australia had asked the Court to stop Japan’s annual whaling hunting expedition, claiming their programme is not scientific but commercial, because of its large scale. Japan catches about 1,000 whales each year for what it calls scientific research.
In a statement, the court said: “The special permits granted by Japan for the killing, taking and treating of whales in connection with JARPA II are not ‘for purposes of scientific research’ pursuant to [the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling].”
The court’s decision is considered legally binding and Japan has said in the past that it would abide by the court’s ruling. But this isn’t the end of the story. While this may stop Japan’s whaling efforts in the Southern Ocean, campaigners fear that Japan could still try and find new excuses to continue this cull under another guise.
Greenpeace is urging governments to support a huge network of marine reserves that will act as sanctuaries for the diverse, beautiful, weird and wonderful species all over the world, including places like the Antarctic, which is under threat from commercial fishing and climate change.
They are calling on politicians to create a vast network of marine reserves to protect the Antarctic and species like emperor penguins, minke whales and colossal squid.
Posted in Nature, Whales, Wildlife
Tagged Antarctic, Antarctic Ocean, conservation, Environment, Greenpeace, International Court of Justice, Japan, Japanese whaling, minke whales, Southern Ocean
A petition has been launched to save Britain’s Barn Owls, which are dying off in their thousands. The changing climate and a loss in their natural habitat is part of the picture, but these iconic birds are also being killed by powerful rat poisons used on farms across the country.
In 2013 across Britain, the number of Barn Owl nests varied between 45 and 95% lower than normal. Changing climate and habitat loss is part of the picture but Barn Owls are also being killed by powerful rat poisons used on farms across the country. Indeed, the latest scientific research shows that 84% of Britain’s Barn Owls feed on poisoned prey. Some die as a direct result.
The Barn Owl Trust has launched a petition which calls on the Government Minister responsible for the review, Mike Penning, and the Health and Safety Executive to impose stricter controls on these powerful poisons, restricting where and how they are used and throwing a lifeline to our owls.
So please sign to stop the petition and help protect one of the best-loved symbols of Britain’s wildlife.
Pic: The Barn Owl Trust
Fox Glance by Samuel Morris
There’s still time to enter the British Wildlife Photography Awards 2014, which aim to raise awareness about British wildlife and celebrate our national heritage.
Winners and commended entrants will have their work showcased in a touring exhibition and stunning book. The awards will be presented by TV presenter Chris Packham, who said: “Anything that raises the public’s awareness of the importance to conserve and protect British wildlife is very close to my heart, and these awards afford a spectacular insight into the habitat and behaviour of our British wildlife.”
Entry is free for young people and the first prize is £5,000. The competition is open until midnight on Saturday, 3 May, and the winners will be announced in September.
Pic by George Karbus, last year’s overall winner.
Posted in Animal welfare, awards, Education, Environment, Green, Nature, Wildlife
Tagged birds, books, British Wildlife Photography Awards, Chris Packham, conservation, countryside, dolphins, foxes, photographs, photography