Dinosaur of the week: Common Moorhen

common moorhen

This Gallinula chloropus was taking a bath in the London WWT centre, which is definitely worth a visit. Although regionally extinct in Equatorial Guinea, the species is not under major threats in other areas. I’d love to write such words more often!

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Dinosaur of the week: Common Blackbird

blackbird

I think Turdus merula is quite often under-appreciated. They sing so marvellously it’s just always a joy and I’m happy that we’ve got a resident pair around. Overall, the species is doing fine apart from Britain, where agricultural intensification is playing a part in its decline.

Dinosaur of the week: Long-tailed Tit

long-tailed tit

Aegithalos caudatus is one of my favourite species. They’re quite social birds and also, as you can see in this photo which I took in Slovakia, pretty acrobatic.

The species is not threatened at the moment. Having said that, habitat fragmentation and replacing old forests with monocultures have a negative impact (https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/103871923/874710819).

Dinosaur of the week: Cory’s Shearwater

corys shearwater

These Calonectris borealis were sailing alongside the freighter I was travelling on, somewhere off the Canary Islands. Threats to the species are mammals which have been introduced to their breeding islands, artificial lights which cause fledglings to steer off course and fishing because the birds end up as bycatch on long-lines.

Thank you to the people on birdforum.net who helped with the ID.

Algeria – Forest of Madagh

The Forest of Madagh is roughly an hour’s drive west of Oran. It’s an area close to the coast on top of a cliff. In some places, the steep drops are a bit gentler and the forest and scrublands reach down to the sea. In the distance, one can see the Habibas Islands. Madagh itself is a tiny settlement and has problems with illegal landgrabbing as well as a non-functioning sewer system.

However, once we had left the fences and plastic rubbish behind, the forest was lovely. We greatly enjoyed being out and about. There was a decidedly autumnal feel and smell in the air. The plant life looked a bit different, but was definitely full of seasonal fruit and colours.

We went on this hike with a former student and a friend of hers. Algerians go hiking according to the principle of safety in numbers. I’m not a big fan of hiking in groups, but the four of us together worked out well. I’ve also only ever felt unsafe here when in a car (diabolic driving styles), but the locals know the situation better than I do so who am I to argue?

While many people go to the forest because of the views of the Med, I got excited about the wildlife. I saw my ever first wild chameleon! We also came across a baby tortoise (http://chinese-poems.com/blog/?p=1787), several kestrels, a Bonelli’s eagle and what might have been a False smooth snake. If your herpetology is up to scratch, please leave a comment. Thank you, Ichrak and Hossein!