Archive for the ‘Ornithological’ Category

Endangered White-rumped Vultures in Nepal

Monday, November 20th, 2017

The big moment: Nepal releases its first ever captive-reared vultures

Six captive-reared Critically Endangered White-rumped Vultures have ventured out into the wild. This comes at a time when the world is finally waking up to the plight of vultures.

A captive-reared White-rumped Vulture takes its first unrestricted flight © Jyotendra Thakuri
A captive-reared White-rumped Vulture takes
its first unrestricted flight © Jyotendra Thakuri

By Jessica Law

The moment has finally arrived. Bait is placed outside the entrance of the pre-release aviary, and the door is opened from a remote hide. As wild vultures descended to feed, five out of our six yellow-tagged protagonists are lured outside to join in in the scrum. Soon they are squabbling and interacting with them as if they’d always been part of the gang. And, in a way, they had – in the weeks before their release, they had been socialising with wild vultures through the wire while exercising their wings.

Satellite-tagged newcomers gorge on their first wild meal alongside wild vultures © Rajendra Guring

Satellite-tagged newcomers gorge on their first wild meal
alongside wild vultures © Rajendra Guring

It’s been a fantastic couple of months for vultures. In October 2017, the ambitious Multi-species Action Plan to save 15 vulture species over 128 countries was endorsed with enthusiasm at the Convention on Migratory Species Conference of Parties in Manila. At almost exactly the same time in India, the Madras high Court ruled to uphold the dosage restriction on vulture-killing drug diclofenac. And last week, in Nepal, six captive-reared White-rumped Vultures were finally released into a wild that, for the first time in decades, could be truly vulture-safe.

On the 9th of November, scientists and officials gathered to watch conservation history being made, with South Asia’s first ever release of captive-reared Critically Endangered birds. For years, Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN, BirdLife in Nepal) and RSPB (BirdLife in the UK), working as part of the SAVE (Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction) consortium, had been working tirelessly to rid the area of painkiller diclofenac. This drug, if used on livestock, is fatal to the vultures that clear up the carcasses. But now the area is finally deemed safe enough to release individuals reared in captivity, giving the Critically Endangered wild population a much-needed boost.

Vulture population declines in South Asia have slowed and possibly reversed

“Within the provisional Vulture Safe Zone, we conduct undercover surveys of pharmacies and have found no diclofenac in the last four years,” said Krishna Bhusal of BCN. “We also conduct surveys of vulture populations and have found that the population declines have slowed and possibly reversed.”

And so it seems the perfect time – and the release process went off without a hitch, with five out of the six youngsters emerging from their enclosure. Their first unrestricted flight was slightly more difficult – partly due to the novelty of the activity, and partly due to the enormous meal they’d just consumed – but all of them managed to find a suitable perch for the night. Only one cautious vulture remained inside the aviary – but by the morning, she, too, had plucked up the courage to venture out into the wild. (RSPB’s Alison Beresford gives a great first-hand account of the release day here.)

So what happens now? Well, each of the vultures has been fitted with a solar-powered satellite tag that will track their movements.

“It is time to assess whether the provisional Vulture Safe Zone has become a true Vulture Safe Zone, but only the vultures can show us that,” said Toby Galligan, Senior Conservation Scientist, RSPB (BirdLife in UK) Centre for Conservation Science. “So, we are using satellite telemetry to track wild White-rumped Vultures remotely and in the field. If any die we can recover them, examine them for cause of death and prevent other vultures dying from that cause.”

The tags will also be very useful in discovering whether the captive-reared birds behave normally in the wild. Since this is the first experiment of its kind, such findings will prove vital in future programs.

Vulutres cross the border to India to forage

In the months prior to the release, SAVE had also tagged and tracked several wild vultures. All of them currently remain alive and well, which bodes very well for our six captive-reared novices.

But vultures in this area have been known to cross the border to India to forage. The ability of vultures to transcend national boundaries is what makes global partnerships like SAVE and the Multi-species Action Plan so vital to ensure their safety in the coming years.


For more on the African-Eurasian Vulture Crisis, see www.birdlife.org/savevultures

BirdLife Shop Donate Who we are What we do Where we work Support us Data Zone Like most websites we use cookies. If you’re happy with that, just carry on as normal (close this bar) – otherwise click here to find out more. 20 Nov 2017 The big moment: Nepal releases its first ever captive-reared vultures Watch as conservation history is made: six captive-reared Critically Endangered White-rumped Vultures venture out into the wild. This comes at a time when the world is finally waking up to the plight of vultures. A captive-reared White-rumped Vulture takes its first unrestricted flight © Jyotendra Thakuri A captive-reared White-rumped Vulture takes its first unrestricted flight © Jyotendra Thakuri By Jessica Law The moment has finally arrived. Bait is placed outside the entrance of the pre-release aviary, and the door is opened from a remote hide. As wild vultures descended to feed, five out of our six yellow-tagged protagonists are lured outside to join in in the scrum. Soon they are squabbling and interacting with them as if they’d always been part of the gang. And, in a way, they had – in the weeks before their release, they had been socialising with wild vultures through the wire while exercising their wings. Satellite-tagged newcomers gorge on their first wild meal alongside wild vultures © Rajendra Guring Satellite-tagged newcomers gorge on their first wild meal alongside wild vultures © Rajendra Guring It’s been a fantastic couple of months for vultures. In October, the ambitious Multi-species Action Plan to save 15 vulture species over 128 countries was endorsed with enthusiasm at the Convention on Migratory Species Conference of Parties in Manila. At almost exactly the same time in India, the Madras high Court ruled to uphold the dosage restriction on vulture-killing drug diclofenac. And last week, in Nepal, six captive-reared White-rumped Vultures were finally released into a wild that, for the first time in decades, could be truly vulture-safe. On the 9th of November, scientists and officials gathered to watch conservation history being made, with South Asia’s first ever release of captive-reared Critically Endangered birds. For years, Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN, BirdLife in Nepal) and RSPB (BirdLife in the UK), working as part of the SAVE (Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction) consortium, had been working tirelessly to rid the area of painkiller diclofenac. This drug, if used on livestock, is fatal to the vultures that clear up the carcasses. But now the area is finally deemed safe enough to release individuals reared in captivity, giving the Critically Endangered wild population a much-needed boost. Subscribe to Our Newsletter! Vulture population declines in South Asia have slowed and possibly reversed “Within the provisional Vulture Safe Zone, we conduct undercover surveys of pharmacies and have found no diclofenac in the last four years,” said Krishna Bhusal of BCN. “We also conduct surveys of vulture populations and have found that the population declines have slowed and possibly reversed.” And so it seems the perfect time – and the release process went off without a hitch, with five out of the six youngsters emerging from their enclosure. Their first unrestricted flight was slightly more difficult – partly due to the novelty of the activity, and partly due to the enormous meal they’d just consumed – but all of them managed to find a suitable perch for the night. Only one cautious vulture remained inside the aviary – but by the morning, she, too, had plucked up the courage to venture out into the wild. (RSPB’s Alison Beresford gives a great first-hand account of the release day here.) So what happens now? Well, each of the vultures has been fitted with a solar-powered satellite tag that will track their movements. “It is time to assess whether the provisional Vulture Safe Zone has become a true Vulture Safe Zone, but only the vultures can show us that,” said Toby Galligan, Senior Conservation Scientist, RSPB (BirdLife in UK) Centre for Conservation Science. “So, we are using satellite telemetry to track wild White-rumped Vultures remotely and in the field. If any die we can recover them, examine them for cause of death and prevent other vultures dying from that cause.” The tags will also be very useful in discovering whether the captive-reared birds behave normally in the wild. Since this is the first experiment of its kind, such findings will prove vital in future programs. Vulutres cross the border to India to forage In the months prior to the release, SAVE had also tagged and tracked several wild vultures. All of them currently remain alive and well, which bodes very well for our six captive-reared novices. But vultures in this area have been known to cross the border to India to forage. The ability of vultures to transcend national boundaries is what makes global partnerships like SAVE and the Multi-species Action Plan so vital to ensure their safety in the coming years. Read SAVE’s full press release here. For more on the African-Eurasian Vulture Crisis, see www.birdlife.org/savevultures Worldwide Nepal Migratory Birds and Flyways – Asia Love Vultures#lovevulturesreleasenepalcaptive-breeding Top Stories The big moment: Nepal releases its first ever captive-reared vultures Guyra Paraguay celebrates 20 years of science and conservation The Bird Bulletin: Europe & Central Asia Did Sierra Leone mudslide uncover a forgotten conservation promise? 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Strathrory Burn – 12 September 2015

Monday, September 14th, 2015


The Tain & District Field Club enjoyed the prospect of beating the forecast rain while searching for wolf spiders along the sandy / gravelly banks of this burn. The forecast proved about right so it was wet weather gear all-round, but the specific target species Arctosa cinerea did not appear. Of course, lack of evidence does not provide evidence of non-existence, so future searches may be worthwhile.

TDFC members, as ever, observed and recorded many species which will add to the known assemblage in our area.

Here is a species list :

Strathrory spider hunt 12 September 2015
Place Grid Ref Species Name Habitat
Mammals
Strathrory forestry track NH 6708 7746 Meles meles Badger Scat on road edge.  Not in pit.
Birds
Strathrory Bridge NH 660 776 Hirundo rustica Swallow
Strathrory Bridge NH 660 776 Troglodytes troglodytes Wren
Strathrory NH 67 77 Anthus pratensis Meadow Pipit
Amphibians
Strathrory forestry track NH 4523 5802 Bufo bufo Common Toad Crossing road
Strathrory forestry track NH 452 580 Rana temporaria Common Frog
Insects
Strathrory Bridge NH 660 776 Forficula auricularia Common Earwig
Strathrory NH 67 77 Bombus jonellus Heath Bumblebee
Strathrory forestry track NH 6707 7745 Sawfly leaf-miner Aspen leaves burrows & leaves stuck together
Arachnids
Strathrory Bridge NH 660 776 Crab spider Swept from veg by river
Strathrory River ford NH 674 774 small Wolf Spider River gravels obeside ford.
Plants
Strathrory forestry track NH 659 776 (Equisetum plastre) Marsh Horsetail
Strathrory forestry track NH 6707 7745 Populus tremula Aspen Leaf miner & rust fungus
River above Strathrory Bridge NH 659 776 Ranunculus repens Creeping Buttercup River bank
River above Strathrory Bridge NH 659 776 Succisa pratensis Devil’s-bit Scabious
Strathrory River ford NH 67 77 Succisa pratensis Devil’s-bit Scabious
Fungi
Strathrory forestry track NH 6707 7745 Melampsora larici-tremulae? Aspen rust fungus ? Aspen leaves

..

Some photos from the day:

P1010120_E_palustre_PAT
P1010105_red_blob_PAT
P1010106_red_blob_PAT
P1010105_red_blob_PAT
P1010108_yellow_blob_PAT
unknownSpider-DSC09150-2_PFO
unknownSpiderWeb-DSC09141_PFO
IMG_9395_2_Rivergravelspidersearch
Wet weather spider search
Aspen Leaf-Miner Damage
Badger poo on the track
Toad going nowhere on the track

Whooper Swans near Fearn Aerodrome

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

A huge build up of Whooper Swans (Cygnus cygnus) at the moment in the Loch Eye area. 2726 counted today. Around 2400 are on the Clay of Allan, along with a Black Swan and lots of geese. Another 130 down towards Kildary and 190 near Portmahomack. Thanks to Bob for the info.

Whooper Swans near Nigg, Nov 2014Click image to view

2014-Nov-WhooperSwansPano-22014-Nov-WhooperSwans-32014-Nov-WhooperSwansPano-42014-Nov-WhooperSwans-5

Leucistic Siskin

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Seen on several days by Russell, at Cartomi, Edderton; a Leucistic Siskin. Continue reading “Leucistic Siskin” »

2014 Aspen Catkins

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

It is not since 2010 that breeding Aspen has been seen locally – SEE HERE.  On April 14, 2014 a single Aspen was seen near Ardgay with a good display of male catkins.

2014 Aspen Male Flowers, ArdgayClick image to view

There are many Aspen stems in the area but none other than this one show any sign of catkin flowers.  It may be time to start noting whether any other Aspen will flower this year.

April 19; about 200m away from the Aspen stem above another showed signs of catkins (photo below).  These are female flowers and are so far restricted to only a few upper branches.

19 April 2014, Aspen with female catkinsClick image to view

19 April 2014, Aspen with female catkins19 April 2014, Aspen with female catkins, Ardgay

Russell has seen female Aspen flowers in Edderton, see below:

2014 Female Aspen Flowers at Edderton DSCF0095cClick image to view

2014 Female Aspen Flowers at Edderton, by Russell

Contact us if you see any flowering Aspen; take photos and note the date and location/grid reference.

Colour-ringed Shags – Lecture

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

We had an extremely interesting and informative talk by Jane Reid on Tuesday, 14 January, 2014.

Jane asked that members look out for colour ringed shags and record colour and letters from rings if possible. The rings can be read with a telescope. Details in the attached photo.

Shag_ringsClick image to view


Ledmore & Migdale Wood – Rare White Thrush

Friday, May 10th, 2013

A White’s thrush which breeds mainly in Siberia and Asia was photographed by a camera trap set up near Bonar Bridge. Continue reading “Ledmore & Migdale Wood — Rare White Thrush” »

Garrick Wood, Early Morning Birdsong

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Early on Sunday morning, 28th April, Tain & District Field Club members ventured round Ballinger’s pond by the Garrick corner.

Ten members of the club set out at 6:30AM on a rather cold and damp morning to listen for spring birdsong in the Garrick wood.

We first visited the moth trap which Brian had set the evening before but in these conditions had only one moth, a Common Quaker.

The bird list was rather shorter than hoped for, but for most of the group the many willow warblers were the first we had heard this year.

Here are lists of some sightings:

Invertebrates
Oniscus asellus Common Shiny Woodlouse
Orthosia stabilis Common Quaker moth trap

Birds
Anser anser Greylag Goose
Phasianus colchicus Pheasant
Numenius arquata Curlew
Larus argentatus Herring Gull
Columba palumbus Woodpigeon
Corvus frugilegus Rook
Corvus corone corone Carrion Crow
Parus caeruleus Blue Tit
Parus ater Coal Tit
Parus major Great Tit
Phylloscopus trochilus Willow Warbler
Troglodytes troglodytes Wren
Turdus philomelos Song Thrush
Erithacus rubecula Robin
Fringilla coelebs Chaffinch

Mammals
Vulpes vulpes Fox droppings
Capreolus capreolus Roe Deer
droppings

Some pictures of the morning out.

2013-04_GarrickWood-01Click image to view

2013-04_GarrickWood-02
2013-04_GarrickWood-03

Waxwings in Tain, March 2013

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Sylvia Park managed to take photos of Waxwings in March.

Waxwings in treeClick image to view

Waxwings
Waxwings
Waxwings
Waxwings
Waxwings

What is this bird, please?

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

This bird has been hanging around my garden for months any idea what it is ????.

Graham William Mackenzie

File0350_SFWClick image to view

Unknown bird
Unknown bird

2012 TDFC Weekend Excursion – Caithness

Monday, May 28th, 2012
The drifts of delicate spring squill on Dunnet Head were a highlight of our walk. Continue reading “2012 TDFC Weekend Excursion — Caithness” »

Oiled Seabirds on Western Isles

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

The problem of oil slicks affecting seabirds off the Western Isles has occurred again recently.  Live and dead oiled birds have washed ashore.  (links 1; 2; 3 )

There have been numerous occurrences in the past.  Despite government attempts at identification rarely has a source for oils been found.

The first birds this time were found on Benbecula on New Years day 2012.

Greater Yellowleg seen and filmed

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

A close relative of the Greenshank, but actually a North American shore bird, the Greater Yellowleg, Tringa melanoleuca, was recently seen in our area.

View a short video of the Greater Yellowleg digiscoped by Russell

Greater YellowlegClick image to view

Greater Yellowleg

Greater Sandplover, Dornoch beach

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Russell has taken very good pictures of a Greater sandplover at Dornoch beach on 16th June 2011.

Continue reading “Greater Sandplover, Dornoch beach” »

Storm hits wild birds

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Wild bird breeding hit by Scotland’s storm

Slavonian grebe. Image: RSPB
Click image to view
Slavonian grebe nests made in sedge beds have been washed away.

Recent stormy weather could have impacted the breeding success of some wild birds, experts have warned.

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Scotland staff have been surveying damage caused by gale force winds that hit the country on Monday.

According to the charity, initial reports suggest some ground-nesting birds and those who nest on or near water may be among the worst affected.

Bird of prey nests are also feared to have fallen victim to the conditions.

Heavy rain and winds left more than 1,000 nests on the Insh Marshes nature reserve in the Highlands submerged underwater, including those of wading species such as lapwing, snipe, redshank and curlew

Karen Sutcliffe, RSPB Scotland site manager at Insh Marshes, said: “Waders were already struggling in Strathspey so this is a disappointing blow to the local population.

“A flood mid-April washed away many early nesting attempts.

“Around two-thirds of the birds tried again and, before this bout of bad weather, we had been expecting chicks to be hatching in next few days.

“The water levels are receding now but with the breeding season so far advanced it looks unlikely that many birds will make a third attempt.”

Nests washed away

Experts working on monitoring projects have recorded problems with rarer species too.

Staff studying the Slavonian grebe, a bird whose UK population is restricted to northern Scotland, found evidence that nests made in sedge beds have been washed away.

Meanwhile, a research programme radio-tagging 16 ring ouzel chicks lost almost half of its subjects due to bad weather.

RSPB reports also paint a concerning picture for some birds of prey, with nests and eggs of red kites, ospreys and eagles damaged or blown from trees.

In one case near Callander in the Trossachs, a red kite nest had been blown about 200ft (60m) out of a wood on to farmland and a dead chick was found on the ground.

Keith Morton, RSPB Scotland’s species policy officer, added: “For birds that are already under pressure because of chronic threats to their habitats, or because they are just numerically very scarce, this sort of event is more worrying.”

Many surviving chicks and fledglings, including birds of prey, found by members of the public after being blown from their nests during the storm were taken to the Scottish SPCA’s Wildlife Rescue Centre in Fife for care.

Related story.