here-we-go-again…

Here we go again…

Here we go again…

Tuesday 7th December comments: Well here we go again. Just over ten days since we were battered by Storm Arwen, we go again as we welcome Storm Barra. After the severe storm which hit the previous Friday bringing destruction and devastation to so many, an Atlantic depression is racing in to smash us again.

Storm Arwen caused serious issues even for the Isle of May as the Grey Seal pupping season took a hit whilst the buildings of the island were damaged. We have just caught our breath from that storm when another is about to hit, but this time from a different direction. If there is any consolation (we’ll take anything at this moment) the storm won’t be as severe, but still pretty strong (the shipping forecast has it down as a severe gale) so its going to be another rough ride tonight.

We hope everyone stays safe, and hopefully like Arwen, will move through quickly and then can we have some calm please? Its been a rough two weeks but hopefully we can look forward and hope for a more settled period or is that just wishful thinking…

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assembly-plant

WHC presents 2021 Ibis Award to the Stellantis Windsor Assembly Plant

SILVER SPRING, MD, December 6, 2021 – Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) has announced the winner of the 2021 Ibis Award — the Stellantis Windsor (Ont.) Assembly Plant. The Ibis Award recognizes a WHC-Certified program that has demonstrated resilience of spirit and advancement of conservation despite lockdowns, quarantines and additional government-mandated regulations.  

Since 2009, the plant has hosted educational events, such as tree plantings, for Windsor residents. The work performed by community members at these events has been a critical part of the company’s efforts to address the lack of urban tree canopy in the Windsor area. Participants, most of whom have been students, have helped plant 1,500 trees across the property. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, local regulations prevented Windsor Assembly Plant employees from organizing large-scale community events. Despite these barriers, the team remained committed to providing high-quality environmental education experiences for colleagues and Windsor residents.  

“We are very proud and thankful to receive the Ibis award from the Wildlife Habitat Council in recognition of our efforts to help promote a positive and sustainable environmental footprint within Windsor and Essex County,” said Jon Desjardins, Windsor Assembly Plant Manager. “Faced with unprecedented challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic this past year, our employees and the Unifor Local 444 Joint Workplace Committee demonstrated commendable resiliency in overcoming those obstacles and carrying out the hallmark initiatives of the conservation program for our colleagues and local youth in the community. We are grateful for their efforts in making our world and our environment a better place.” 

The Windsor team opted to pivot from large-scale events to planning activities that participants of all ages could complete in an independent, socially distanced manner. The activities provided opportunities for creativity and outdoor exploration during a challenging time. Educational offerings included:  

  • Coping with Covid artwork: participants created and submitted environmentally themed art. 
  • Tree identification: participants explored the plant’s grounds and took note of various native tree species. 
  • Virtual geocaching: instead of finding a hidden box on-site, participants were provided with a link where they could upload pictures of themselves taking pro-environmental actions.  
  • Photography contest, Native or Invasive: participants photographed plants, birds, fish and animals, and determined if they were native to the Windsor area.  
  • Treasure hunt with a twist: using a map and written, pirate-themed clues, participants navigated to an on-site pollinator habitat and planted additional milkweed seeds. 

Participants would send proof of participation to the activity organizers, who received as many as 125 submissions per activity, a figure comparable to the 130-person turnout for the team’s pre-pandemic planting events. While the organizers received submissions from everyone from preschoolers to site employees, most of the participants were secondary school students. The teens could use the activities to fulfill community service hours required for graduation, during a time when pandemic-related closures made finding volunteer work difficult. Extra credit was given to students who participated in habitat enhancement work, such as planting native wildflowers or trees, and submitted proof to the organizers.  

Speaking to the Stellantis team’s resiliency, WHC President Margaret O’Gorman said, “By exercising flexibility and remaining sensitive to local needs, the Windsor team has not only been able to maintain their conservation program but has also grown its decades-long relationship with the greater Windsor community.”  

In addition to the Ibis Award, the team’s efforts have been commended by Stellantis’ corporate offices, the Windsor municipal government and a local museum. Given this praise, and the overwhelmingly positive comments from participants and their parents, the Windsor team intends to continue offering self-directed educational activities, even when organized events become possible again.  

About Wildlife Habitat Council

Wildlife Habitat Council partners with corporations, fellow conservation organizations, government agencies and community members to empower and recognize wildlife habitat and conservation education programs. Our members are environmental leaders at local, national and global levels, voluntarily managing their lands to support sustainable ecosystems and the communities that surround them. Since 1988, WHC has certified more than 1,000 habitat and education programs worldwide; WHC Conservation Certification programs can be found in 47 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, and 25 countries. To learn more, visit http://www.wildlifehc.org or follow @WildlifeHC on Twitter. 

About Stellantis

Stellantis (NYSE: STLA) is one of the world’s leading automakers and a mobility provider, guided by a clear vision to offer freedom of movement with distinctive, affordable and reliable mobility solutions. In addition to the Group’s rich heritage and broad geographic presence, its greatest strengths lie in its sustainable performance, depth of experience and the wide-ranging talents of employees working around the globe. Stellantis will leverage its broad and iconic brand portfolio, which was founded by visionaries who infused the brands with passion and a competitive spirit that speaks to employees and customers alike. Stellantis aspires to become the greatest, not the biggest, while creating added value for all stakeholders, as well as the communities in which it operates. 

Follow company news and video on:

Company blog: http://blog.stellantisnorthamerica.com

Media website: http://media.stellantisnorthamerica.com

Company website: www.stellantis.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/Stellantis

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/stellantisna 

Twitter: @StellantisNA 

YouTube: http://youtube.com/StellantisNA


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campaigners-fear

Defra may approve ‘devastating’ bee-killing pesticide, campaigners fear

The UK government may be about to approve the use of a controversial bee-killing pesticide, wildlife groups fear.

Sources inside the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) say that, after pressure from the sugar beet industry, an emergency authorisation of the neonicotinoid Cruiser SB is likely to be announced in the coming weeks.

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The pesticide, which is lethal to bees and other insects, is prohibited under European Union law except in extreme circumstances. The insecticides act by binding strongly to receptors in the central nervous system of insects, causing overstimulation of their nerve cells, paralysis and death.

The sugar beet industry says it needs the pesticide to protect seeds from a disease called virus yellows, which reduces yield and sugar content. In 2017, Michael Gove, the then environment secretary, welcomed the EU ban, and promised that “unless the scientific evidence changes, the government will maintain these increased restrictions post-Brexit”.

Campaigners claim that if the authorisation does go ahead, it could be in breach of the recently passed Environment Act.

Joan Edwards, the director of policy and public affairs at the Wildlife Trusts, said: “Less than a month after the government passed its flagship Environment Act, legally committing to halt the decline of species, it would be unthinkable that they are even considering betraying that promise by authorising the use of an environmentally devastating chemical against the advice of the government’s Health and Safety Executive and the Expert Committee on Pesticides.”

The pesticide in question, otherwise known as thiamethoxam, is considered especially dangerous to wildlife as it leaches into the soil, where it stays for long periods of time and can be absorbed by other plants, some of which are important to pollinators. These plants can then kill the insects that feed on them.

Edwards said: “The Wildlife Trusts oppose the authorisation of thiamethoxam because it has a devastating effect on wildlife. When a seed dressing of the neonicotinoid pesticide is applied to sugar beet crop only 5% of the pesticide goes where it is targeted, in the crop. The rest ends up accumulating in the soil, from where it can be absorbed by the roots of wildflowers and hedgerow plants, or can leach into rivers and streams where it could harm over 3,800 invertebrate species, which spend at least part of their life cycle in freshwater.”

The RSPB senior policy officer Stephanie Morren said: “Bees are one of our best-loved group of insects. Without them our farming system would collapse.

“We are in a nature and climate emergency, and with farming accounting for 75% of the land in England we cannot reverse nature’s decline without the support of our farmers. But highly toxic pesticides like neonicotinoids have no place in a sustainable farming system.

“Questions must be raised about how approving even temporary use of these chemicals and endangering our declining bee populations is in any way consistent with halting wildlife decline. Instead, farmers must be supported to reduce our reliance on these harmful chemicals.”

A Defra spokesperson confirmed the department had received an application for the emergency authorisation of Cruiser SB, containing thiamethoxam, which was being assessed.

Earlier this year, the government was forced into a U-turn over plans to approve the use of the pesticide after outcry from environmental groups.


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Seasonal Volunteers at CBMWC

The Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (CBMWC) is looking for dedicated and enthusiastic individuals to join our Living Seas Volunteer Team for the 2022 field season!

Volunteering for WTSWW at CBMWC is a fantastic opportunity for you to make a positive contribution to marine conservation, meet new people who share your interests and experience Wales’ amazing marine life. You will learn about the species and habitats in Cardigan Bay, gain vital experience in field work, research methods, community engagement and much more.

Past volunteers have gone on to further their academic careers, work as Marine Mammal Observers or to work for conservation or governmental organisations.

Living Seas Volunteers will conduct land and boat based marine mammal surveys, enter data, help to run our visitor centre, assist with community engagement events and much more!

The volunteer dates for 2022 are –

  • Block 1 – 28th March – 25th April (4 weeks)
  • Block 2 – 25th April – 20th June (8 weeks)
  • Block 3  20th June – 5th September (11 weeks)
  • Block 4 – 5th September – 7th November (9 weeks)

Interested? Visit the volunteering homepage here for more information on the role and details on how to apply.

Deadline Sunday 16th January 2022 at 23:59pm.


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Nature Blog Diary (from 6th December 2021)

CHECK BELOW THIS BLOG FOR THE FULL NATURE BLOG INDEX (SCROLL TO BOTTOM OF PAGE…)

NATURE DIARY

Monday 6th December 2021

Today I returned to Dalton Crags to search out the Blue Roundhead (Stropharia caerulea) which for some unknown reason I forgot to write down the GPS yesterday (very unusual), but until I actually posted the photos I had not realised just how popular the post had proved to be and the massive interest the roundheads had been. I was being asked by friends of where were they and I struggled to tell them.

But today whilst on my return there was bad news! after I had paced the area for almost one hour in search of this elusive fungi which was here yesterday, or so I thought. I just could not find them for love nor money!  But there is good news! I continued to look but widened my field and after another five minutes found a new population, which could never have been that far away from yesterdays.

This time sure enough I did write the gps down even in the pouring rain and as soon as I got home made out a short sketch showing were these little gems resided.

There seemed to be lots of fungi around but the rain was taking its toll so I decided maybe another days beauties, I did manage to check out some Common Puffballs which were well gone over and had already puffed out their insides.

(above) Is this shade of blue the same blue as the Roundheads fungi?

He puffed and puffed til nothing left whilst his sides collapsed just deflated I presume

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where-were-all-the-teal?

Where were All The Teal?

On Sunday morning I visited the feeding station to top the feeders up. Unfortunately, it was too breezy for a ringing session, so that will have to wait for another weekend. The feeders were duly topped up, and Robert and I stood and watched for a while to see what was coming in. The usual suspects were there, such as Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Coal Tit etc., but it was pleasing to note that at least 15 Tree Sparrows were visiting the feeder closest to the hedge. Tree Sparrows nest at the farm, and we ring the pulli from the boxes, so when we eventually have another ringing session, it will be interesting to see if we recapture any birds from the boxes. There was also four Moorhens hoovering up any spilt seed from below the feeders!

Tree Sparrow

 

Afterwards, we had a look on the wetland, and it was noticeable that there weren’t many Teal, only four in fact. There were at least thirteen Shovelers and 78 Wigeon, so it seems unlikely that something had flushed the Teal. I then realised that it was probably the weather affecting the distribution of the Teal on site. The wetland has a fairly large open area of shallow water and grazed pasture along the northern edge of it, with rushes and a further open area of water within the rushes towards the back. The wind was cold, and from the north, and I suspect that the Teal were probably within the rushes, rather than feeding along the exposed northerly edge of the wetland. 

Teal

 

Also, just six days previous to this the wetland was frozen, and there didn’t seem to be any wildfowl on it, or very few at best, and it might be that the numbers of Teal have been reduced because of this. I suspect that when I go again in a few days’ time, there will probably be a few more. I hope so! 


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Little St Peters

Sampietrini are the tiny cobbles used in historic areas of Rome. They’re particularly common in my favourite area, Trastevere. They’re great because they allow rain to run off and disappear easily, they’re incredibly hard wearing and they adapt to uneven ground easily. Sampietrini means little St Peters, named after the people who maintain St Peter’s.

They have also been the Roman rioter’s weapon of choice. Who would leave a large store of half-brick equivalents easily available when there’s civil disturbance possible?

I’m exploring this morning with only a small film camera, an Olympus Trip 35, and yes, before you ask, that’s the one advertised by David Bailey. I have an experimental film, a Revolog Kolor, which is already pre-exposed with rainbow colours. That seems to be quite a good choice given the monochrome morning after heavy rain.

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Markham Wildlife Control: Squirrels Have A Great Sense Of Smell

Squirrel Removal Markham

by

Squirrels are athletic animals that can leap over five feet from the ground and navigate around power lines, trees and the roofs of buildings. Their physical prowess is well documented, but scientists are only beginning to understand the role that their sense of smell plays in their lives. The creature’s strong sense of smell is highly-advanced, but they also have keen hearing, exceptional eyesight and a spatial memory more developed than previously thought. Before contacting wildlife control in Markham, you can learn more about the squirrels’ sense of smell in these passages.

The Benefits of a Squirrel’s Sense of Smell

Unlike many of their relatives, squirrels are diurnal creatures that forage for food during the daylight hours. Before the temperature drops in late fall, squirrels frantically gather and hide food to prepare for winter. Their sense of smell plays a significant role in their hoarding activities.

Detecting Food

If you have fruit trees or trees producing nuts, your yard is undoubtedly a popular destination for squirrels. Squirrels can smell the fallen treats when they’re inspecting a yard for food, and they’ll gather as much as they can before moving to another property. Although they can consume practically anything, they’re picky about their nuts. Squirrels smell their food to check for signs of rotting, and they also twirl the nut around in their hands to ensure an insect did not hollow it out. After they’ve inspected their loot, they hide their collection in a hole in the ground, or hollowed-out portion of a tree.

Locating Stashes

Since food is limited during the winter for squirrels, the creatures rely on their hidden stashes to feed them throughout the season. In the past, researchers believed that squirrels buried their food at random and used their powerful sense of smell to locate the stashes. However, new research has shown that theory to be partially true. They can smell nuts buried under dirt and snow, but it’s their memory that helps them locate their multiple hiding places. Scientists believe that they use landmarks like trees and buildings to remember where they hide nuts. When they return to an area they recognize, they inspect it with their noses to pinpoint the stash location.

Recognizing Family

Squirrel dens are typically made of members of the same family, but how do squirrels recognize their relatives? Both male and female squirrels have scent glands they use to mark their territory, and each squirrel can detect their kin from the unique scent. This benefits the breeding process and prevents the squirrels from mating with family members.

When Squirrels Invade Your Property

Squirrels are entertaining to watch when you’re relaxing at home, but you may not be so fond of them if they attempt to use your house as a habitat. Squirrels are attracted to food odours, and they’ll target your home if it offers plenty of sustenance. The animals have sharp, powerful teeth that can gnaw through wood and plastic to gain access to your attic to build a den. Keeping your yard clean and free of fallen nuts and fruit can make your property less appealing to squirrels. Keep your yard free of food waste, and use sturdy trash cans with lockable handles to reduce food odours.

Squirrels can leap from tree branches to your roof, but you can trim back the limbs near your house to make the jump more challenging. If you have a plastic or wood attic vent, you can attach steel mesh over the vent to block access to the attic. When you spot a nest in your home, you can count on Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control for safe and effective squirrel removal. Contact us today for a squirrel-free home.


ten-days-later.

Ten Days Later.

Where to go on Thursday….I juggled with one or two of my favourite birding sites, in the end the estuary magnet got a hold and off I went to Conder Green.

On Conder Pool, a Kingfisher was the star attraction, it landed briefly on the outflow where I’d wager it does a few times on a daily basis. I counted 68 Wigeon, 4 Goosander, and 2 Little Grebe, another was in the creeks. Three drake Goldeneye were my first of the winter on the canal basin at Glasson Dock.

Ten days after my visit to Cockersand 22 November, c.180 Whooper Swan have relocated to other fields, including up to 120 west of Gardner’s Farm. On a wander, 12 Greenfinch, 8 Blackbird, a Song Thrush, at least 300 Golden Plover south of the abbey, and probably as many as 20 Skylark hidden in stubble off Slack Lane. 

The Grand Finale.

There was another grand finale for me again at Cockersand, though this time I left too early for the sunset.

View Full Screen

The Barn Owl performed impeccably for several minutes as it hunted over the fields north of the caravan park.

Stonechat Cockersand. Pete Woodruff.

The pair of Stonechat also put on a show for me again in the long grasses. But today, a bonus awaited me as I drove towards the gate to Abbey Farm.

Short-eared Owl Brian Rafferty

To make the grand finale complete, a Short-eared Owl was in front of me within 50 metres initially, but soon worked away from me as it hunted the inland fields and eventually disappeared east from view. 

Thanks to Brian Rafferty for the excellent image of the stunning Short-eared Owl. It perfectly mirrored what I saw through the windscreen at close range on Thursday afternoon. Putting this image up represents a huge thank you for the kind of photography he allowed me to use on B2B for many years. I sincerely hope he can resume some normality in 2022, and I can then continue to use his work again….I wish you all the best on your road to recovery Brian.

And Finally.

A second helping of the stunning sunset at Cockersand on Monday 22 November. Set to music, not necessarily the best choice, but as an experiment it’s at least OK until I find something more appropriate.


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2021

Marvelling at Rémuzat Griffon Vultures / November 2021

I meet Gillian, Nino and Luis in the middle of the morning at our splendid bed and breakfast to drop off our things. After getting to know each other over a little coffee offered by our very welcoming hosts, we set off towards the Rocher du Caire. It is cool and humid this morning, but that does not prevent some vultures from already flying in the Saint-May gorges, above the road. We quickly reach the parking lot and set off for a short walk towards the cliffs.

The sky is cloudy, the air has not yet warmed enough, and few vultures attempt to take off. I decide to guide the group a little further down, where I know we could have a view of the vultures perched on the cliffs. Quickly we spot a few individuals and start photographing them.

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But the weather changes quickly and a little before noon the clouds start to disperse to let in the rays of the sun. Very quickly, many Griffon Vultures take flight to invade the sky, offering us a formidable spectacle! The light and colors of autumn make the landscapes sumptuous. We take the opportunity to make different images by trying to compose with a colored background or foreground.

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rémuzat-griffon-vulture

Griffon Vultures stay in flight in front of us for a long time as thermals are weak. The lack of wind makes their ascent into the sky all the more complicated. Some of them fly just a few meters over our heads.

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Then comes the perfect time to take the picnic out of the bag! We have a great time before the show starts again. The cloudy afternoon promises us stronger thermals and even more activity!

Even before the end of the meal, vultures are back! And they are everywhere! Above us, at our height, below, and even behind! Everything is possible and we take the opportunity to disperse a bit and let everyone fully immerse themselves in this beautiful moment.

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After long minutes of wonder and hundreds of photos, I spot a posed Griffon Vulture that seems quite close to a few observers. I call everyone and we decide to put our things away and get closer. After ten good minutes of walking, we reach the place. The Griffon Vulture is here, only fifteen meters away! We do not believe our eyes and do not miss a beat of this fabulous meeting. A rare moment, we are very lucky to observe such a wild bird from so close, for so long, and without disturbing! The light is ideal, the sun slightly hidden by clouds, and the vegetation in the foreground allows us to make images of incredible softness…

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rémuzat-griffon-vulture

After more than fifteen unforgettable minutes, it finally flies away and we slowly come to our senses. We enjoy another good hour with many vultures around us before the end of day. A memorable day!

drome

We return to the bed and breakfast for a short break and a little debrief of the photos of the day, before leaving for Villeperdrix for dinner in a typical restaurant offering only fresh and local products. Delicious!

After a calm and comfortable night, we get up early to enjoy the sunrise. We reach the Rocher du Caire and observe our first vultures in the distance. The wind is blowing a little more this morning but the sky is rather clear. A little bit of mist at the bottom of the valley cling to the trees, but the wind quickly blows it away. Light is splendid. Large Common Ravens play in the wind and croak while performing acrobatics!

Vulture activity does not start until very late. At least two hours after our arrival, the first individuals fly away. Today they are much faster than the day before, and do not hesitate to dive sometimes, taking advantage of the mistral which carries them without problem. Their passages over our heads are accompanied by the sound of the air in their feathers.

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Autumn is already well advanced and the parades are starting. Many couples form and we regularly see majestic tandem flights. Sometimes they fly only inches apart with a precision that defies the best airplane pilots.

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Suddenly, a fairly small and extremely fast bird dives from the sky towards the valley. A Peregrine Falcon! After his stealthy passage, he will come and rise in the air with the vultures in front of us, allowing us to photograph him.

The sun is now high in the sky. The bottom of the valley, still in the shade, is the perfect background for trying out chiaroscuro. We take advantage of very close passages to make some portraits of Griffon Vultures in flight and play with the light to capture the silhouette of their immense outstretched wings.

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After many pictures we decide to eat. In the middle of the meal, a glance at the sky reveals the silhouette of the Cinereous Vulture! Two individuals are flying side by side quite high in the sky. We will have the chance to see them fly by twice.

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rémuzat

A little later, it’s the Golden Eagle’s turn to make an appearance! High in the sky too, it will leave us little time to photograph its characteristic silhouette.

We will end the day in the middle of the afternoon, after having tried a few more artistic photos. Rémuzat is a perfect place to test new shooting techniques!

We return to the bnb to get our things and end this wildlife tour with a last little coffee. A fantastic tour, once again! We have new dates planned for this “Marvelling at Rémuzat Griffon Vultures” stay, don’t hesitate to join us!

Arnaud

Guide Salva Fauna


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