Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lancs & North Merseyside local Atlas

Large dots indicate tetrads that have been covered (including a handful where there have been no TTVs but fully comprehensive RRs have been received, e.g. Moor Piece, Marton Mere, Knowsley Safari Park). Small dots indicate tetrads that have been allocated but not yet surveyed. White dots indicate no coverage at all.
Help as always gratefully received, plus as many RR observations that you can submit the better - especially with the highest breeding code possible.
We hope to have the next newsletter available towards the end of October so any contributions please...

Why so clever ?

Much has appeared recently in the press, on the radio and in scientific reviews regarding the problem solving ability of corvids. See: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8181233.stm
Reported in Current Biology is the case of rooks being able to gain initally inaccessible floating food by dropping stones into a vessel in order to raise the water level so as to reach the food. In another study at Oxford University crows were able to use a small hook to gain a medium hook to gain a large hook in order to get at food. Amazingly some of the tested birds were able to solve the problem at their first attempt.
The question here for me though is: why do corvids manifest this ability to utilise tools under laboratory conditions when they are not widely reported to use the same ability in the wild? It's a bit like a human being able to read, speak and write a foreign language but only doing so as a party piece once a year. Why do these birds have this ability but then not use it more commonly?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Raptor persecution

I offer this with no comment whatsoever. I bring it to your attention simply because it names the Forest of Bowland and thought you may /might be interested.

It is lifted in totality from a posting to Surfbirds.

See http://raptorpolitics.org.uk/

Once again, Forest of Bowland Hen Harriers have been mercifulessly destroyed by gamekeepers this summer, one of the last remaining strongholds of the species in Britain. Round-the-clock wardening had been ongoing on this pair but as soon as it was lifted after the young had fledged the nest, the entire family was destroyed. A similar fate beheld breeding European Eagle Owls - Cumbria and Lancashire being the stronghold of this recently colonising species. Five Northern Goshawk nests have also been targetted this summer - the nests being destroyed and the contents removed.

This compares in stark contrast to the continuing success of breeding Montagu's Harriers in Southern England, where a minimum 59 young have fledged this summer. Caring farmers have gone to great lengths when harvesting the cornfields and have given the harrier nests a wide berth, leaving the marked areas not harvested. Some individual nests have successfully fledged five juveniles.