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.

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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: Egyptian Vulture

Egyptian Vulture

Neophron percnopterus is an endangered species. Oman, where I saw this individual, seems to be the only place where the birds are not dropping in their numbers (yet).

The list of dangers is incredibly long and includes poisoning, antibiotics in lifestock, electrocution, collisions with wind turbines, reduced food availability and habitat loss.

For more info, head to http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22695180/0.

Dinosaur of the week: Wandering Albatross

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Diomedea exulans has one of the biggest wingspans of all flying birds, up to 3.5 meters. The Southern Royal Albatross can apparently be even larger. I saw this Wandering Albatross when crossing the Drake passage on my return from a trip to Antarctica.

All species of albatross are in danger, mostly because of fishing methods and plastic.

Here’s a recent account by Ben Lecomte who is swimming across the Pacific:

That was amazing to be in the water with four wild birds of that size just a few feet away from me. I got a fist-beck bump with two of them. Brian jumped in the water with a GoPro and started filming the when one of them went for a red piece of plastic and tried to eat it. Brian reached out and retrieved a small red plastic basket. A couple of minutes later I spotted two of them going after a white small plastic pouch. I quickly got to it, grabbed it and passed it on to Mark in the dinghy.

I can now better understand why so many albatrosses are found dead with their stomach full of plastic debris. A piece of plastic at the surface of the water stands out and easily get their attention. http://benlecomte.com/day-94-albatrosses-and-plastic/

Dinosaur of the week: Brown Skua

 

brown skua

Skua taxonomy is a wee bit confusing, but I think this is a Stercorarius antarcticus which I saw on King George Island on my trip to Antarctica a few years ago.

Skuas seem to have amazing cognitive abilities. Like crows and pigeons, they can recognize individual humans (doi: 10.1007/s10071-016-0970-9).

Dinosaur of the week: Common Ringed Plover

plover

Small birds and waders are tricky to catch, and small wading birds in full camouflage even more so. I almost overlooked this Charadrius hiaticula which I encountered around sunset some years ago on the west coast of Scotland.

Among other issues this migratory species is threatened by petroleum pollution and wetland drainage for irrigation. We really need to get on with the Half-Earth project and population control of Homo sapiens.