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.

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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!

Dinosaur of the week: European Bee-eater

european bee-eater

In late August and in September we had plenty of Merops apiaster in the forest close to our house and also birds flying directly over our roof. The birds’ diet consists largely, but not exclusively, of bees. With the decline in bees and insects in general, well, you can imagine the consequences.

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: Little Owl

owl

I’ve rarely spotted any wild owls throughout the years, and although Athene noctua has been quite audible since we came to Algeria we only saw them first late this summer.

http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22689328/0 lists the major threats to the species:

  • habitat changes, including the loss of suitable nest-sites
  • the use of pesticides
  • a reduction of prey items such as voles and earthworms through industrialised farming practices
  • agricultural intensification
  • ground clearance
  • excessive use of toxic chemicals
  • road traffic deaths
  • loss of nest holes from the felling of old hollow trees and the restoration of old buildings
  • severe winters