[va-richmond-general] Various bird-related things...

  • From: "IE Ries" <featherchaser@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "RAS" <va-richmond-general@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 8 Aug 2005 10:46:51 -0400

  "Houston, we have hatchlings!"

  The baby wrens hatched sometime over the weekend, and now seen both parents 
are active and visible around the nest vicinity, busily foraging and feeding 
and trilling.  Very happy to have the new little family members here :)

  Interesting articles:


  Bird-Filled Emirates Wetlands Diminishing 
  By JIM KRANE, Associated Press Writer Sat Aug 6, 1:01 PM ET 

  UMM AL-QUWAIN, United Arab Emirates - The Khor al-Beidah lagoon is a pristine 
tidal flat teeming with wildlife, including endangered birds, sea turtles and 
manatee-like dugong that swim among its tangles of mangroves. 

  But a bevy of dredges and construction gangs are about to begin transforming 
a 1,500-acre parcel into a $3.3 billion luxury conglomeration of homes, shops, 
marinas and beach resorts aimed at foreign buyers and tourists.

  The crown jewels of the development are private villas to be built on 
artificial islands with gated access - and views over one of the few remaining 
mangrove archipelago left in the Persian Gulf.

  Developers say the waterfront complex, called Umm Al-Quwain Marina, will 
skirt the mangroves and leave most of the 20 square miles of wetland untouched.

  "Our aim is to create a community of special neighborhoods bordering an open 
stretch of water with views of the marina against a backdrop of the gulf," says 
Mohammed Ali Alabbar, chairman of Emaar, the Middle East's largest developer.

  Environmentalists are aghast. They fear construction and people, cars and 
boats will drive off Khor al-Beidah's internationally famous wildlife, 
including birds that migrate from Siberia to Africa and the rare socotra 
cormorant that nests almost exclusively on the Arabian Peninsula.

  "We've seen it happen everywhere else. When you start to dredge and build 
marinas, that's the end of it," says Colin Richardson, a 30-year resident of 
Dubai and author of the periodic Emirates Bird Report and a guidebook to local 

  The leaders of Umm Al-Quwain, however, are eager to bring big projects to 
their emirate, which is the least-developed of the seven states in the United 
Arab Emirates. It has little of the energy wealth of Abu Dhabi, the largest of 
the emirates, and few of the tourists of Dubai, one of the world's 
fastest-growing cities and tourist destinations.

  The 35,000 people of Umm Al-Quwain, most of whom live in the small coastal 
city of the same name, make their livings from fishing, growing dates, building 
traditional sailing dhows and, lately, working at a container port.

  Development is coming fast, though.

  The deal for the lagoon complex was signed July 23, and a few days later 
developers announced Umm Al-Quwain's desert interior would be the site for a 
new city that could eventually house as many as 500,000 people. The initial 
phase was valued at 8.2 billion dirham ($3.3 billion).

  The once empty Emirates coast is awash in construction that has buried coral 
reefs, mangrove swamps and other wildlife zones. The tidal lagoon here is one 
of the last such areas in the country, especially since the partial bulldozing 
of a mangrove swamp on the east coast.

  Richardson says a half-million birds stop at the Khor al-Beidah every year.

  "The birds don't have very much left," he says. "It's a very important site. 
It has the highest density of winter migrants anywhere in eastern Arabia."

  The lagoon is a shallow tidal flat where turquoise sea and orange sand form 
swirling arabesques, bordered by grassy desert dunes. The protected waters are 
laden with small fish and crabs that lure the birds that nest in adjacent 
mangroves and on a sandy barrier island.

  Bird enthusiasts are running out of sites in the Emirates.

  Richardson says hundreds of people visit Khor al-Beidah every year for the 
wildlife. He and other activists long urged the government to protect the 
lagoon, arguing it is more valuable as an ecotourism destination than as home 
to another luxury housing complex.

  BirdLife International, an advocacy group, has designated Khor al-Beidah an 
"important bird area" for hosting of 85 species, including the country's 
largest wintering flock of crab plovers, one of the world's rarest shorebirds. 

  The wetlands also are stopping place for the Emirates' only flock of Great 
Knots, birds that migrate from nesting grounds on the Siberian tundra. 

  Developing the lagoon also could threaten endangered sea turtles and dugongs, 
a manatee-like sea mammal, Richardson says. 

  The marina project is meant to resemble canal-side neighborhoods of Fort 
Lauderdale, Fla., with residents able to walk to their boats and quickly cruise 
to open sea, says Mark Amirault, Emaar's senior director of development. 

  As is common at similar luxury developments in Dubai, the homes will be 
targeted for sale to buyers from all over the world, especially Britain and 
elsewhere in Europe, as well as India, Pakistan and Arab countries. 

  Emaar, established in 1997, is responsible for many of the projects that have 
turned Dubai into the Middle East's growth hub, including Burj Dubai, planned 
to be the world's tallest building when it opens in 2008. 

  "What you're seeing in this region is on par with development in North 
America 100 years ago," says Robert Booth, Emaar's executive director.



   Birds, plants thrive on UK organic farms -study 

  Wed Aug 3, 9:46 AM ET 

  LONDON (Reuters) - Birds and bats and wild plants are thriving on Britain's 
organic farms, a study by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) said on 

  On organic farms, there are 109 percent more wild plants and 85 percent more 
plant species than on non-organic farms.
  Organic farms support 32 percent more birds and 35 percent more bats than 
non-organic farms, the BTO, a charity carrying out independent research on 
birds, said.

  There are also 5 percent more bird species on organic farms, according to the 
study which was funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural 

  Smaller fields and thicker hedges on organic farms and the fact that these 
farms don't use agrochemicals are all contributory factors, the study found. 
"Organic farms clearly have positive biodiversity effects for wild flowers. 
However if they are to provide benefits on the same scale for species that need 
more space, like birds, we either need the farms to be larger or for 
neighboring farms to be organic too," Dr Rob Fuller, director of Habitat 
Research for the BTO said.

  Just three percent of English farmland is organic, he added.

  The Soil Association, which promotes organic farming, also welcomed the study.

  "A greater area of organically-managed land in the UK would help restore the 
farmland wildlife that has been lost from our countryside in recent decades 
with intensive farming," Soil Association policy manager Gundula Azeez said.

  The data was collected from 160 farms. 



  Ivory Bill's Doubters Convinced by Tapes 

  By KELLY P. KISSEL, Associated Press Writer Tue Aug 2,11:58 AM ET 

  LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Recordings of the ivory-billed woodpecker's distinctive 
double-rap sounds have convinced doubting researchers that the large bird once 
thought extinct is still living in an east Arkansas swamp. 

  Last month, a group of ornithologists had questioned the announcement made in 
April of the rediscovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker, last sighted in 1944. 
They said blurry videotape of a bird in flight wasn't enough evidence. So a 
Cornell University researcher who was part of the team that announced the 
bird's rediscovery last spring says his group sent the doubters more evidence.

  "We sent them some sounds this summer from the Arkansas woods," said John W. 
Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell ornithology lab. "We appreciate their 
ability to say they are now believers."

  The doubters had prepared an article for a scientific journal questioning 
whether the bird had really been found. They now plan to withdraw the article, 
according to ornithologist Richard Prum of Yale University, one of the doubters.

  Prum said Tuesday he was particularly convinced by the Cornell researchers' 
two recordings of a series of nasally sounds that the ivory bills make and an 
exchange of double-rap sounds between two birds. He said the sounds matched 
recordings made in the 1930s in Louisiana.

  "It's really on the basis of the new evidence that we've become convinced 
that the ivory-billed woodpecker exists," Prum said in a telephone interview.

  The recordings seem to indicate that there is more than one ivory-billed 
woodpecker in the area.

  "The bird that we saw had to have a mommy and a daddy," said Scott Simon, 
director of the Nature Conservancy in Arkansas. "We have solid evidence for 
one. We believe there are more."

  Ornithologists announced in late April that an ivory-billed woodpecker was 
living in a swamp in the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge in eastern 
Arkansas. A Hot Springs kayaker had seen the bird a year earlier.

  But Prum and fellow bird experts at Kansas and Florida Gulf Coast 
universities last month questioned the evidence, saying it was only strong 
enough only to suggest the possibility that the bird was present, not proof.

  Another of those experts on Tuesday agreed with Prum.

  "We were astounded. Yes, I totally believe, thank goodness, there are ivory 
bills," Mark Robbins of the University of Kansas said in a telephone interview. 
"We are ecstatic. Once everybody hears these vocalizations, you can't help but 
be convinced."

  The Cornell ornithologists made 17,000 hours of recordings, using equipment 
set out in various places near the Cache and White rivers in Arkansas last 

  One portion of the tapes has a distant double-rap, followed closely by a 
double-rap that is very close.

  "It's communication typical of the ivory-billed. It's one of the more 
exciting cuts from the tape," Fitzpatrick said.

  He said the audio had only recently been discovered on the tapes, which are 
being analyzed with computer assistance.

  When the ornithologists announced in April that the bird had been found, the 
audio had not been reviewed closely enough, Fitzpatrick said. "We thought it 
was premature in April to publish the analyses."

  The Cornell researchers plan to release the audio publicly at the American 
Ornithologists' Union in Santa Barbara, Calif., Aug. 23-27. 


  Happy Birding, all.

  Irene in Southside


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