August, 2013

Our work

Our work
You might be surprised to read that our work is far broader than nature reserves and Big Garden Birdwatch. Read more about what else we do.

Saving Species

The need for species conservation has never been greater. Despite notable successes in improving the fortunes of a number of bird species, more are being forced onto the list of those that need attention, both globally and in the UK. If we want to have a
  • Egyptian vulture - updates from the Neophron LIFE+ project

    The exciting Egyptian vulture Neophron LIFE+ project run by our BirdLife Partner the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) is approaching the conservation of these amazing birds from a wide variety of angles, from art  to science.  The Project Manager Stoyan Nikolov has sent links to interesting updates...


    Egyptian vulture graffiti art was created on a wall of Bulgarian school - click here.

    Egyptian vulture chicks were tagged in FYRO Macedonia and Albania - click here.

    Thanks to the Sudanese Wildlife Society, the Sudanese government starts to insulate the EV killer powerline in Port Sudan - click here.

    An International Egyptian vulture training seminar was held in Bulgaria - click here.

  • Scopoli's shearwater - at least 30 years old!

    [Dora Querido brings us news of an interesting find in Malta]

    What are we talking about? A Scopoli’s shearwater (Calonectris diomedea) - the Mediterranean Cory’s shearwater that was recognized as a different species in November last year.

    Where? In the southern cliffs of Malta, Hal-Far area.

    Scopoli's shearwater (Ben Metzger)

    When? Last week, 7 of August 2013.

    How was it found out? The LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project, lead by BirdLife Malta, is retrieving geolocators from Scopoli’s shearwater and found this female ringed 28 year ago!

    Fieldworker with shearwater (Ben Metzger)

    Why 30 years at least? Because back in 1985 this bird was already ringed as a breeding adult and the ecology of the species tell us that female Cory’s shearwaters take 5 to 6 years to reach maturity. Most likely this bird is at least 33/34 years old. However, if in areas of persecution, birds can breed earlier as there will be more nest space available, the earliest scenario being two summer after hatching.

    Is it a record? For Malta, yes. The previous oldest records known were 22, 21 and 20 years after been ringed.

    What is the oldest bird of similar species? A 50 year-old Manx shearwater recorded in Lleyn peninsula, north Wales in 2002. Or a 53 years-old royal albatross in New Zealand.

    What is the project trying to achieve? It aims to identify important feeding areas for seabirds in Malta so they can be protected under the designation of marine Special Protection Areas (SPAs).  

    How is the project going? Extremely well!

    How so? Last year was the first field season and it was a success - we had more then 200 contact points from 23 storm petrels tagged using radio tracking technology (see more here). We deployed a total of 57 GPS data loggers on Yelkuan and Scopoli’s shearwaters. We also deployed 9 geolocators last year on Scopoli’s shearwaters and we have already retrieved all of them - it’s truly remarkable!

    Wow, that's lucky! Yes and no. We do have a tireless fieldwork team doing an outstanding job. Actually, they could use some help.

    What do you mean? We have a call for volunteers: 14 days on a yacht doing bird and cetacean observations until October. Interested? (find out more here) ... and don’t forget, you can follow the project on Facebook).

  • Fundraising for wildlife: Three cheers for Kathryn!

    Guest blog by Kathryn Speak, Graphic Designer & Illustrator, and self-confessed nature nut!

    My name is Kathryn, and I’m a graphic designer and illustrator based in Chorley, Lancashire.  I am lucky enough to have been brought up surrounded by some of the most beautiful countryside the UK has to offer. From local walks around the Ribble Valley to weekends and holidays in the Lake District, as a creative person I’m continuously inspired by nature. I’m also extremely lucky to have a job which allows me to be as creative as I want. So last year I thought, why don’t I combine the two. I decided to start sketching up some of the birds I’d been photographing throughout the year.  I realised that there is so much more detail in our little feathered friends than what you see at first glance. There are so many bright and vivid colours on show! Even the tiny little wren, he’s just covered in the most beautiful plumage. People just don’t seem to appreciate the many different markings and beauty in some of our more common birds.

    So I thought it would be great to show off these colours in a slightly abstract style. At the time I was just working on the sketches as an illustrated project piece to go into my portfolio, but after showing the final versions to friends and family, they all asked if they could buy one (or two!). So I thought it would be a good excuse to have them all printed up so that I could sign and number each one, and hopefully more people would be interested, and with some of the money raised going back into the looking after our feathered friends then it would be a worthwhile project.

    British Feathers – Series One is the first set of birds that I have worked up and finalised. The sketches are first created by hand. After this process, once I am happy with the feathers, I create each individual feather digitally. Then the fun part of the process is choosing the colours. Going off the various images I have, I pick a colour to best represent the birds feathers. These are always a lot brighter. For example the magpies which I created, I used a vivid colour pallet of  greens, turquoises and rich blues to bring his feathers out. The idea is that the colours are exaggerated and highlighted. Although to be fair, there isn’t much exaggeration needed, some of them have the brightest coloured feathers, it’s actually more difficult making sure it’s as vibrant as it possibly can be. Finally they are reproduced to scale as giclée prints on thick 300gsm paper, numbered and then signed.

    I am already preparing my next series, but it is proving difficult to decide which birds to illustrate! Hopefully this project will give something back to the work that the RSPB does, because their help means I can continue drawing our spectacular British birds.

    Kathryn is generously donating 10% of profits to the RSPB from the sale of her wonderful pictures, such as the glorious kingfisher below.  To see the full range - and the chance to own one of these limited edition masterpieces, click here.  We thank her for her support.