Wednesday, 26 June 2013

White-throated Needletail

There will be much more written and by the looks of this some great pictures on the White-throated Needletail but first image from the back of the camera from our news manager Josh Jones this morning.


Late Afternoon Update
And off the camera into the Birdguides Iris Galleries...
White-throated Needletail (© Josh Jones)

Evening Update
Sadly after providing a memorable day for the birders that made it to Harris, news filtered out early evening that the White-throated Needletail had collided with a small community wind-turbine on South Harris and died. An incredibly sad end for what was, for some at least, one of, if not the most, enigmatic species that has graced the British Isles in modern times.

 White-throated Needletail photographed post-collision and
© David Campbell
 
Postscript
BirdGuides Webzine subscribers can now read a full account of the day in a webzine article here.  If you want to subscribe to the BirdGuides Webzine or any of our other news services you can do so here.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

A Little Good News

Following on from the devastating news from the Little Tern colony at Crimdon, Co Durham earlier in the week it was great to see some positive news coming from the Little Tern colony at Kilcoole, Co Wicklow in Ireland today.

In what is expected to be a busy week for the wardens. the first chick hatched with a second in the same nest appearing not too far behind. It's sad to think that at least 50 of these would have been appearing around this time at Crimdon.

Little Tern chick and nest (© Niall Keogh)

You can keep up to date with further developments at this closely monitored site on the Kilcoole Little Tern Conservation Blog.

Friday, 21 June 2013

A Rare First

The BirdGuides news team are used to information being reported from a variety of sources using all sorts of methods (email, text, phone, Twitter and so on) but yesterday provided an opportunity to obtain bird news from a rather more unusual source.

The WWT have a variety of webcams running on a live-feed from their website covering, among other things, Barn Owls at Caerlaverock, Beavers at Martin Mere and breeding Avocets at Slimbridge. When we discovered that the Avocet webcam was also picking up the occasional sighting of a female Red-necked Phalarope that was first found early yesterday morning, we found ourselves glued to the screen!

Sure enough, every now and then, the phalarope would walk across the screen though during the day there were long periods where it wasn't on show. Yesterday evening, as the Avocets moved away, the phalarope gradually came closer to the scrape and was visible more frequently up until around 21:30.

 Red-necked Phalarope at Slimbridge WWT, 20th June 2013 (© James Lees/WWT)

Even when the phalarope wasn't around, there was plenty of action to witness with Avocets seemingly chasing off everything that moved - it was particularly amusing to watch one of them take on a party of seven Greylags at one point! Occasionally, other waders appeared such as an early-returning Green Sandpiper that dropped in once or twice.

Though we haven't seen the phalarope yet this morning, it's well worth logging on and giving it a bit of time yourself - you can view the WWT webcam by clicking here.

Thanks to James Lees for allowing us of his phalarope image.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Egg theft leaves Durham Little Tern colony facing extinction

Frankly, it was gut-wrenching to hear that the colony of Little Terns on Crimdon beach, County Durham had been subject to a massive egg theft. Durham Heritage Coast wardens estimated that around fifty eggs were taken from sixty-five nesting pairs overnight on Wednesday. It must have been a grim realisation for them to arrive early yesterday and find the colony stripped - hours of hard conservation work gone to waste in a matter of minutes thanks to one appalling act of selfishness and greed.

Little Terns from the Iris galleries (© Steve Seal)

In 2012, 110 pairs of Little Terns at Crimdon failed to raise a single chick due to natural predation, and 2013 has seen far fewer pairs nesting there. This is an absolutely massive set-back for the future of the colony and extinction seems a genuine possibility. Niall Benson, Durham Heritage Coast officer explained that “There’s only one set of large footprints, so it is a man and likely to be a single person.”

One set of footprints! It's incredible just how destructive humans can be in such a short space of time. The sad reality, though, is the eggs are highly unlikely to be solely for a personal collection and will no doubt be sold for hefty sums to like-minded collectors.

Inspector Dave Coxon, of Durham Police, said: "We are currently working with members of our Coastwatch scheme to identify any suspicious behaviour and, as with any report of theft, we will investigate it thoroughly and aim to bring the perpetrators to justice."

Anyone who might have any information at all should contact Durham Police.

Read more on the BBC website or Journal Live.