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Successful scheme provides 'life rafts' for rare Scottish bird (RSPB)

Black-throated diver nesting on artificial island
Black-throated Diver by Chris Gomersall
A pioneering project to recreate ideal breeding habitat for one of Scotland’s rarest birds on some Scottish lochs has met with remarkable success.
The black-throated diver, a species that only breeds in freshwater lochs in the north-west of the country, is benefitting from the scheme to create special floating rafts that provide the necessary conditions to breed and raise chicks.

Birds of prey let loose by vandals at World of Owls sanctuary (BBC)

File image of an owl: Around 20 birds including owls are missing after they were broken out of their cages
Eagle Owl (Belfast Telegraph - More info >>)

Vandals have damaged enclosures at an animal sanctuary in County Antrim, releasing birds of prey into the wild.
It happened at the World of Owls Centre in Randalstown Forest. It houses 55 birds, 12 of which are now missing.
There are fears the escaped birds could starve, as most of them have been raised in captivity and have never known life in the wild.
Efforts are being made to locate the 12 missing birds and police are appealing for information.
The netting on many of the enclosures has has been cut open and rolled back by vandals, allowing the birds to escape.
World of Owls sign
The sanctuary is located in
Randalstown Forest, County Antrim (BBC)
After staff at World of Owls appealed for help on Tuesday afternoon, volunteers began to arrive at the sanctuary to mend the enclosures.
However, sanctuary staff have warned the public that if they spot birds of prey in the area, no attempt should be made to capture them.
Instead, if anyone sees birds of prey "behaving unusually" in the nearby area, they are asked to contact World of Owls on 028 94472307, so the birds can be recovered properly and safely.

Winter Thrushes Survey Update (BTO)

Redwing by John Harding
Redwing (BTO)

Thanks to the efforts of over 1,600 volunteers, our Winter Thrushes Survey covered more than 3,000 different locations in the first year of fieldwork. Over 12,500 visits were made overall, with Sussex hitting the top of the county leader board for core site visits. Initital exploration of the data suggest that winter thrushes switch from feeding in trees to ground feeding as the autumn progresses and that this switch may occur at different times for the different species.

Cumbria gamekeeper pleads guilty to killing buzzards illegally (RSPB)

PC Helen Felton with two dead buzzards
PC Helen Felton and RSPB's Head of Investigations Bob Elliot with illegally killed buzzards (RSPB)

Colin Burne, of Winters Park, Penrith, has today pleaded guilty to the intentional killing of buzzards on land managed by a private shooting syndicate in Whinfell Forest, near Penrith, Cumbria.
The 64-year old gamekeeper attended Carlisle Magistrates Court today where he pleaded guilty to three charges. These related to the killing of two buzzards on the 11 February 2013, killing five buzzards prior to this date and possession of a wooden stick as an item capable of being used to kill the birds.
He received a 70-day jail sentence, concurrent on each charge, suspended for 12 months.  In sentencing, the Judge stated that had it not been for his ill health he would have considered jailing him.
On Monday 11 February, this year, a cage trap containing live buzzards was found by members of the public on land managed by the shoot. Cage traps can lawfully be used to control certain crows species, but any non-target species which become accidentally caught, such as buzzards and other birds of prey, must be released unharmed. The next day RSPB Investigations Officers set up a covert camera near the trap site. When the footage was retrieved it showed Colin Burne entering the trap and intentionally killing two buzzards by beating them to death with a wooden stick.

Bugless Britain Leaving UK Birds Hungry This Summer (Earthweek)

A second consecutive wet, cool and unsettled summer across Britain has wiped out large populations of bees, moths and butterflies, according to a new National Trust report.

Satellite Image
Common Blue Butterflies (Earthweek) - Butterflies have been very scarce
across the United Kingdom this year, according to a National Trust report.

It warns that the drop in the number of winged insects could cause birds and bats go to hungry for the remainder of this year.“Insect populations have been really very low. Then when they have got going, they’ve been hit by a spell of cool, windy weather... so our environment is just not bouncing with butterflies or anything else,”said Matthew Oates, a National Trust naturalist who worked on the report.It says that the dearth of airborne insects could cause martins, swifts, swallows and warblers to struggle to survive in the coming months.A delayed spring that started with the coldest March in 50 years across the U.K. caused frogs and toads to struggle to breed in water that was still frozen in many rural locations.

Two thirds of tagged Cuckoos have left the UK (BTO)

Tor, one of the Cuckoos tagged in Devon, is in France
Cuckoo (BTO)

Of the 18 Cuckoos we are tracking with satellite tags this year, 12 have already left the UK. Of the remaining six, three were tagged in Scotland and three in Norfolk. Those tagged in Devon, Sussex and Wales have already set off on migration. We currently have Cuckoos in France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Corsica. Take a look at the latest positions and blogs here.

Guillemot eggs are self-cleaning (BBC)

By Victoria Gill
Guillemot eggs have special structures on their shells that make them self-cleaning, according to new research.
A guillemot sitting on its egg
Guillemot (BBC)
The study began after scientists noticed the liquid-repelling properties of a batch of eggs that had water spilled onto them.
Further analysis revealed tiny cone-shaped structures on the eggs' shells were responsible for this property.
The findings were presented at the Society for Experimental Biology conference in Valencia, Spain.
Dr Steven Portugal from the Royal Veterinary College in London who conducted the research told BBC Nature that the project started with a "minor spillage" in the lab.
"I accidentally spilled distilled water over a batch of eggs," Dr Portugal recalled.
"And I noticed that the eggs from the guillemots stood out in terms of how the water droplets reacted on the surface.
"They formed little droplets - they didn't run down the egg."
The formation of water drops into perfect spheres is typical of hydrophobic or water-hating surfaces.
The best-known example of this in nature is a lotus leaf.
"It's been copied in engineering, because it's self-cleaning" said Dr Portugal.

The BTO at 80 (BTO)

A huge amount has happened in the eighty-year lifetime of the BTO. Whilst the life expectancy of a man has increased from 53 to 78 and that for a woman from 60 to 81, much of our bird life has fared rather less well.

In five pages we focus on the range of the BTO’s achievements over eight decades – from its role in the discovery of DDT’s impact on raptor populations, via the reactions to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and on to more recent concerns about farmland, woodland and migrant birds.
Throughout this period our members, whether amateurs or professionals, have helped to shed light on the issues facing Britain’s birds and the habitats we share with them.

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