Monday, October 31, 2011

windfarms

Interesting article on wind warms from the US. http://focusingonwildlife.com/massive-bird-kill-at-west-virginia-wind-farm.html The deaths caused in this case were probably avoidable if lights had been turned off, but it wont help the wind-farm industry in they don't adhere to simple measures of mitigation.
The combination of events in this article - time of migration, poor visibility, and lights left on - pose some interesting questions for the UK (given that we are no where near as vast in wilderness as the US). Are these sorts of factors likely to be more or less of a problem at UK wind farms?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's all about woodpeckers at the moment.

We might have all seen the article on the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15458633) about a report published on-line at the Public Library of Science (PLoS) detailing how woodpeckers are prevented from injuring their brains during pecking. The authors say that unequal upper and lower beak lengths, a spongy, plate-like bone structure, and the fact that the bird slightly turns its head on pecking all serve to influence how the forces of impact are distributed. They also state it is likely to be a combination of all of these three features rather than just one acting alone that prevents injury. It is anticipated that this knowledge could be developed to improve our own head protection devices.

Secondly, a statement from Bird Studies Canada detailing a report that appeared in The Auk (the scientific journal of the American Ornithologists' Union) in October. The report details how a biologist from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology had succeded in tracking down video footage of the world's largest, now extinct, woodpecker - the Imperial Woodpecker (two-foot tall and crested). William L Rhein, a dentist and amateur ornithologist, managed to film the bird in 1956 in the Seirra Madre Occidental mountain region in Mexico. No other footage is know to exist and no sound recordings were ever made.
See: http://www.birdlife.org/community/2011/10/imperial-woodpecker-1956-film/