Saturday, February 19, 2011

...a single bee at 50km!!

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has heard that technology designed to track storms could soon be used to track birds, bees, bats and other flying objects - as technology and resolution improves. Previously these 'flying-objects' frustrated meterologists as they tracked and monitored storms. Now, the same technology has given rise to the field of aeroecology.

Meterologists are able to measure something called QPE - the quantitative precipitation estimator or, in simple terms, the number of raindrops in clouds. The same QPE software could also, quiet easily, estimate the number of birds in a flock, their height and direction and additionally the approximate size of the bird.

Just think what this could do for migration studies.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The average birder.

An interesting article at: free and online.
The researchers study birdwatchers as citizen scientist both sides of the Atlantic. They found that the competitive elements of birdwatching i.e. twitching (and extensive fieldwork), to be more male dominated, while Garden BirdWatch(ing) has a female bias.
It is suggested that females might be more appreciation-motivated, driven by a wish to help birds, reduce stress and assist scientific research, while men appear to be more achievement orientated and competitive driven. As they say in exams - discuss.
Image taken from:

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

WSD - World Sparrow Day

There are at least 24 different species of sparrow through-out the world and, although many are under pressure, World Sparrow Day (WSD) focuses particularly on the decline, both in number and range, of the common House Sparrow (Passer domesticus). Once common across the world this species is declining everywhere with, worryingly, no apparent specific reason as to why.
WSD is a day whereby the message is simply to bring the sparrow into the focus of everyone in order to raise awareness of its plight and to focus on issues giving rise to its decline.
For those interested The Independent newspaper is still offering a financial reward to anyone who can solve the mystery of the decline.


ReTurn(ing) stone

The wonders of modern science. A Turnstone ringed with a small, less than one gram, geolocator has been captured in successive years at its wintering grounds in Australia. Downloading the data from the locator each time means that researchers have been able to plot the migration route taken by the bird in following years.
The data shows that the birds initially fly 7,600 miles non-stop in about 6 days to Taiwan where they rest and feed up, before taking on the second non-stop stage of 5,000km to their breeding grounds in Siberia. Interesting among the routes taken is that there is variation between years.
Given that Turnstone can live for up to 20years there is scope to collect yet more data as they, the birds, undertake their average 500,000 total miles flight in a lifetime.