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Bird slaughter in the Near East - documentation of poaching in the Lebanon (CABS)

Trophy exhibition on Facebook
This Lebanese poacher proudly displays a shot White Stork
This Lebanese poacher proudly
displays a shot White Stork
A freshly-shot, still living Short-toed Eagle is proudly presented as a trophy. Armed men pose with freshly killed cranes and pelicans. Another hunter holding a dead Lesser Spotted Eagle grins into the camera lens. His hunting companion has neatly draped his bag for the day - hundreds of shot song birds - on a bedsheet. Two children, hardly eight years of age - inspect wide-eyed two dead Honey Buzzards that their father has brought back today from the hunt. Another still life shows nine freshly shot White Storks in the foreground with behind them the hunter, completely relaxed with a cigarette in one hand and the beak of one of the storks in the other. Such photos give an idea of the incredible damage that Lebanese poachers inflict on the European bird populations. There are several hundreds, perhaps thousands of such trophy pictures. Most are taken by the poachers themselves to show off to other hunters. Some of the photos are even posted on the Internet for friends and acquaintances to see. They prove in great detail that species gravely endangered in Europe are being killed on a massive scale in the Lebanon. And they are especially authentic because they are taken by the hunters themselves. Scientists and conservationists in Europe are now alarmed about the scale of the killing because the Lebanon straddles one of the most important routes for European migrant bird species, the Eastern Flyway. This route is used every spring and autumn by millions of song birds, as well as hundreds of thousands of storks, eagles and other birds of prey.

More than 140 species are affected by poaching
A child with a shot Cuckoo
A child with a shot Cuckoo

The Lebanese Environmental Movement (LEM), with support from CABS; has monitored the hunters’ Facebook pages for months and meticulously collated more than 700 photographs as proof of the poaching of European migrant birds. The result is a comprehensive photographic documentation that has rendered bird and wildlife conservationists speechless. CABS experts need a full two months to analyse the photographs and count and identify the birds. A total of 13,100 birds are shown on the photos, of which 11,213 can be identified at species level. The spectrum includes song birds such as the Ortolan Bunting, Golden Oriole and Common Redstart, as well as numerous water birds and birds of prey as for instance Lesser Spotted Eagle, Red-footed Falcon and Egyptian Vulture.

Birdwatchers see rare White-throated Needletail fly into turbine on Harris (BBC)

The White-throated Needletail on the Isle of Harris, by David Campbell

An enthusiast who travelled to the Western Isles to view a rare bird has told of his "dismay" after watching it fly into a wind turbine and die.
The white-throated needletail, which breeds in Asia and winters in Australasia, was spotted on Harris.
About 30 birdwatchers travelled to the island to see the unusual visitor, which has only been recorded five times in the UK since 1950.
However, they then saw it die after colliding with the wind turbine.
Birdwatcher David Campbell, from Surrey, told the BBC Scotland news website that the incident took place late on Wednesday afternoon.
Mr Campbell, who is now making his way home to south east England, said: "We just watched the whole thing with dismay."
He added that on a previous bird watching trip he had seen a migratory wryneck hit by a train.
A relative of the common swift, the white-throated needletail is said to be the fastest bird in level flight.
It is reported to reach a top speed of 105mph.
'Very rare'

Environment cuts prompt call for new deal on nature (RSPB)

Skylark at the grassy edge of a small field
Skylark by Andy Hay

Cuts to the environment budget announced today prove the need for a radical rethink on how we protect our threatened wildlife.

That's the message from the RSPB following today's announcement that Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), alongside several other Government departments, is set to be hit with a 10 per cent cut. 

Added to the cuts that have already been announced, this leaves Defra's budget at almost half where it was in 2010 in real terms. Today's cut is likely to fall disproportionately on conservation as spending on flooding issues and the badger cull is likely to be protected.
The news comes a month after the groundbreaking State of Nature report was launched by Sir David Attenborough and 25 leading conservation organisations which revealed that our wildlife is in serious trouble with 60 per cent of UK species in decline.
'We need a radical rethink of how we can protect our plants, animals, rivers, seas and landscapes'
Martin Harper, RSPB conservation director, said: 'These latest cuts signal the urgent need for a sea change in the way we protect our wildlife. 
'Clearly Defra is not alone in suffering cuts on this scale and with the economy in the shape it's in it we would be foolish not to expect the coat to get cut to fit the cloth.
'However the State of Nature report published in May laid the facts bare about the worrying declines in our native species. Without investment in the future of our natural environment the situation will only get worse.

Crow, Rook or Raven? (BTO)

Carrion Crow. Photograph by Jill Pakenham
Carrion Crow (BTO)

A black crow flies over - but is it a Crow, a Rook or even a Raven? Our latest bird ID video attempts to help you to separate these confusing species, along with their smaller cousins: Jackdaw and Chough. Watch the Corvids bird ID video now. If you enjoy our Youtube channel, subscribe for free to receive updates when new videos are posted.

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Jonathan Franzen and Emptying The Skies (CABS)

World premiere of the film about CABS in England

Bonn/Sheffield. The activist operations by the Committee Against Bird Slaughter for better protection of migrant birds are the theme of a new documentary film that has its world premiere at the Sheffield Docs Film Festival this weekend. Under the title Emptying The Skies the New York bestselling author Jonathan Franzen and director Roger Kass expose how millions of European songbirds land in the cooking pot every year, under the pretext of retaining ‘old traditions’ and ‘sustainable use’.
Bestseller author and bird lover Jonathan FranzenBestselling author and bird lover Jonathan Franzen (CABS)The screenplay is written around a group of international activists from the Committee Against Bird Slaughter, who travel every year in spring and autumn to the poaching hotspots - mainly in Southern Europe - to combat illegal bird hunting and trapping. Jonathan Franzen and the film crew shadowed the operations - now well known internationally as CABS bird protection camps - for more than two years before the results were ready for the silver screen. The film locations were in Cyprus, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
In addition to impressive scenes, which vividly present the viewer the scale and destructive power of bird killing, the film shows how British, German and Italian CABS members risk life and limb to prevent rare bird species ending on the tables of poachers or gourmets. On Cyprus, where the film team and the conservationists discover huge trapping sites with mist nets and limesticks, Jonathan himself only escaped an attack by irate poachers by the skin of his teeth. Other members of the team were not so lucky and two Italian conservationists required hospital treatment after being beaten. “I hadn’t thought I would end up in a war zone” remarked Franzen..
Jonathan Franzen, who achieved worldwide fame with his novels Freedom and The Corrections has for years been an enthusiastic bird watcher and conservationist. The film Emptying The Skies is the adaptation of a more than 20 page article on hunting of migrant birds in Europe that he wrote for the New Yorker magazine, and which was published earlier this year in his collection of essays Farther Away(Fourth Estate, London)
Contact for further information: Committee Against Bird Slaughter, David Conlin (international affairs), An der Ziegelei 7, D-53127 Bonn, Tel.: +49 172 3946671, mail:, web:
Link to official Facebook page of Emptying the skies:

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