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Monday, 14 July 2014

GREAT KNOT


Peter Allard discovered this summer-plumaged GREAT KNOT at Breydon Water (Norfolk) late on Sunday evening whilst carrying out his regular wader counts but not really believing himself, reluctantly put the news out just before midnight. A small gathering of birders arrived at 0500 hours this morning and relocated the bird in the same area, about a mile downstream of Burgh Castle. As the tide encroached, the bird, along with the other waders on the estuary, were eventually forced down to the east end, with it roosting on the marsh in front of the hide from around 0950 hours.

It reappeared on the mud at 1420, initially feeding on the north side of the Bure before relocating to the south side about half an hour later. It then showed distantly until late evening, delighting at least 400 successful twitchers. It represents only the fourth record for Britain.

Influx of SCARCE TORTOISESHELLS - UK next

SCARCE TORTOISESHELLS in The Netherlands today -

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Not Guilty – Bovine TB Epidemic Caused by Cattle, Not Badgers

Not Guilty – Bovine TB Epidemic Caused by Cattle, Not Badgers
Groundbreaking new research shows how infected cattle missed by testing are key spreaders of the disease

New ground-breaking research by the University of Warwick into the spread of bovine TB (bTB) has confirmed claims by wildlife organisations like the Badger Trust and Care for the Wild that the disease is being spread by infected cattle – not badgers.

The paper, “A dynamic model of bovine tuberculosis spread and control in Great Britain”, demonstrated that the majority of herd outbreaks are caused by multiple transmission routes - including failed cattle infection tests, cattle movement and reinfection from environmental reservoirs. But the model proposes that ‘whilst badgers form part of the environmental reservoir they only play a relatively minor role in the transmission of infection’.

Dominic Dyer, of the Badger Trust and Care for the Wild, said:  "The research backs up what we have been saying all along and should be the final nail in the coffin of the disastrous badger cull policy.

“The government and the farming industry have focussed far too much on badgers and nowhere near enough on the gaping holes in cattle management policy, which have been letting this disease through. The best scientific evidence suggests that badgers are responsible for no more than six percent of new TB outbreaks, if that. This research confirms that the vast majority of new bTB outbreaks are due to poor TB testing, biosecurity and cattle control movements, so maybe farmers will now be convinced to give badgers a break and start focussing on methods that will actually work.

“We’re already seeing good results in places where improved and more frequent testing, combined with movement controls and better ‘biosecurity’ on farms, have been used – Northern Ireland, Wales, and even England in the last year have seen substantial reductions in the number of cattle slaughtered due to bTB, without any culling of badgers. The road forward is clearly being signposted by these figures – so we need the government to stop reversing up the cul de sac of badger culling and actually deal with the disease in an effective manner.”

Badger Trust and Care for the Wild acknowledge that bTB is having a terrible effect on farmers and their cattle, and that tough action is required to really beat the disease.

“One fact that simply isn’t being faced up to is that the skin test to identify cows infected with TB is not fit for purpose. It misses around one in five infected cows each time – which means that many TB infected cows remain in the herds, spreading the disease, or are transported to other farms or slaughterhouses without anyone knowing that they are infected.

“This new research understands that, which is why we must consider a policy of slaughtering whole herds if there is any trace of bTB within them. This method seems extreme but it could be the only way we can be sure infected cattle aren’t slipping through. And in the long-term, it could see the end of the disease. The method has been used successfully in several European countries, and in the UK between 1935 and 1960, and must be considered again, rather than focussing ineffectually on badgers.”

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Another tragic loss - STEPHEN LAMBERT

It is with much regret to announce yet another tragic loss to birding today - that of STEPHEN LAMBERT, who died peacefully on Wednesday morning at Bristol Royal Hospital. Stephen had been battling the impacts of a severe stroke suffered two years ago but had sadly given up after being diagnosed with neck lymphona more recently. He died with a BBA British List of 449.
 
Stephen was father to Robert Lambert, a keen birder himself and a lecturer at Nottingham University. I had known the pair, and of course Rob's mother Joan, for a very long time and had shared many wonderful moments with the family on the Isles of Scilly in October. Stephen had always been highly supportive of me and had always given me great encouragement, even when I was at my lowest and being attacked from all sides. It was one of the great father and son birding relationships, equal to that of Ron and Simon King, Peter and Jacob Everitt, Geoff and Alan Clewes, Jeff and Chris Hazell, Bob and Alan Henry, Bill and Antony Brydges and other memorable birding family pairings, and he will be sorely missed.
 
I am particularly heartened and touched by the fact that over the last three weeks of his life in hospital, Stephen had clutched his paper copy of his UK400 Club Life List and had taken great relief and excitement in reliving many of the great birds he had been lucky enough to see, especially some of those special birds on Scilly, such as the Short-toed Snake Eagle, White's Thrush and Blue Rock Thrush. Even as recent as 2011, he had added Scarlet Tanager and Northern Waterthrush from that archipelago. His last new bird had been the Western Sandpiper at Cley, just two weeks before the stroke, while the male Desert Wheatear at Severn Beach last November was one of his final outings in the field.
 
Stephen revelled in the comradery and fellowship that survived and prospered on Scilly throughout the 90's and thoroughly enjoyed life to the full with his family prior to when he became immobilised. I will miss you
 

Lee G R Evans

Thursday, 24 April 2014

A response from the GREEN PARTY re the Maltese slaughter

Keith Maskell recently replied to his constituents........

''Keith would like to thank you for your email on the killing of migrating birds in Malta, which he has asked me to respond to on his behalf

Keith and a number of other MEPs have just sent a letter of concern to the European Commission demanding urgent action be taken to stop the spring hunting season which sees the death of thousands of migrating birds every year. Keith is among those calling on the Commission to take legal action against Malta for their failure to protect the wild birds passing through the country. Keith has said,

"The time for talking is now over. With thousands of migratory birds being shot out of the sky, and Maltese officials clearly failing to take the EU seriously, it's time for the Commission to step in and stop this dreadful cruelty."


Keith has received many emails from constituents who are concerned about this issue. He has been working to address these concerns with the bird conservation organisation, Birdlife Malta. Birdlife Malta organised a meeting on 3rd April with Commissioner Poto─Źnik, the European Commissioner for the Environment, to discuss the issue. Unfortunately, although Keith had intended to attend the meeting, he was unable to make it on the day due to potential clashes with voting in plenary. He has however been liaising with Steve Micklewright, the Executive Director of Birdlife Malta, about an update on the outcome of the meeting and is offering his support in any other actions that could help to stop the bird massacre.

Keith is increasingly worried by the hunting and killing of wild birds across Europe. This is particularly prevalent in Malta but also happens in other Mediterranean countries like Italy, France and Cyprus. He agrees that non-compliance with the EU Birds Directive is unacceptable and has continually called on the European Commission to enforce the Birds Directive wherever there is evidence that it is being breached.

Keith has previously highlighted the killing of wild birds directly to the Commission, with regards to the hunting of the Italian sparrow, the Eurasian tree sparrow, the great cormorant, the chaffinch, the brambling, the common starling and the Eurasian collared dove. Keith has urged the Commission to hold Italy to account for its breach of the EU Birds Directive. Keith's predecessor, Caroline Lucas, called on them to hold Malta to account for the same practice. Keith also wrote to Commissioner Poto─Źnik calling for swift action to put an end to the killing of migrating birds in Cyprus and ensure that the provisions of the EU Birds Directive are effectively implemented.

As you can see, this issue is a pan-European problem which Keith and the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament have been working hard to address.

Keith is extremely concerned about animal welfare issues and wildlife conservation, and is committed to doing what he can at EU level to protect birds.  He is a member of the European Parliament Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals. He also produces a newsletter called Making Tracks, which outlines the work that he and his colleague Jean Lambert MEP have been doing on animal protection issues. Please see here for the latest edition:  http://www.keithtaylormep.org.uk/2013/09/25/making-tracks-autumn-2013/ If you would be interested in receiving bi-annual copies of this publication either by post or e-mail, please let me know. 

You can find out more about Keith’s work as an MEP on his website at: http://www.keithtaylormep.org.uk

Thank you very much for bringing this issue to our attention and please do not hesitate to get back in touch if you have any further questions or comments. 

Kind regards,

Katy Cadwallader

Constituency Caseworker
Office of Keith Taylor MEP
Green Party MEP for South East England
The European Parliament
Rue Wiertz

1047 Brussels, Belgium

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Still places available on forthcoming tours

I still have one place available on my SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS & ISLANDS tour of 2-7 May 2014 and 5 places on my ROUND BRITAIN TOUR of 17-26 May 2014 - please contact me, either on 07881 906629 or LGREUK400@aol.com if you are interested.

Likewise, some space available on tours to Spain, Morocco, Turkey, Scandinavia, Egypt, Madeira, Israel, Thailand, The Gambia, Goa and Shetland between May and December

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

RED-NECKED GREBES in breeding plumage are just such stunning birds......

For several days now, this breeding-plumaged RED-NECKED GREBE has graced FARMOOR RESERVOIR, just to the west of Oxford. It is catching lots of small fish and often takes time out from diving to feast on the abundance of insects at the water's surface. Enjoy.....












































Compare the above with this recent bird at Pitsford Reservoir in Northamptonshire










and this Red-necked Grebe at Farmoor last November (same bird?)