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 on: March 08, 2013, 06:02:40 am 
Started by indunil - Last post by FrozenIceBoy
Really amazing. This information is help full too thanks.

 on: March 06, 2013, 01:32:39 pm 
Started by indunil - Last post by indunil

New Zealand Storm-petrel, thought extinct for 200 years, found breeding just 50 km from Auckland City
February 2013. Researchers are elated to find the sparrow-sized New Zealand Storm-petrel, thought extinct until 2003, is breeding on Little Barrier Island Hauturu in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park near Auckland. The team of researchers is led by Chris Gaskin - Important Bird Area Programme Manager for Forest & Bird (BirdLife in New Zealand) - and Dr Matt Rayner from the University of Auckland.

Not seen for 200 years
The seabird is listed as Critically Endangered by BirdLife on behalf of the IUCN Red List and finding the breeding site is vital for their conservation. Three specimens of the diminutive 35g seabirds were collected off New Zealand in the 1800s and are held by museums overseas. Since its rediscovery, there has been speculation as to where this seabird breeds.

The team camped on the Poor Knights Islands, Mokohinau Islands and Little Barrier Island using radio receivers to zero in on the breeding site.

Needle in the haystack
"It's like looking for a needle in the haystack," said Chris Gaskin. A critical breakthrough came last year when the project team found brood (incubation) patches on birds caught at sea. This determined the timing of incubation in New Zealand Storm-petrel, the best time to find breeding birds on land.

Tiny transmitters
This year, 24 birds were caught at sea using specially designed net guns and small 1g radio transmitters were fitted to each bird. Automated receivers narrowed down the search. Team members, based at a remote camp on the north coast of the Little Barrier Island, using handheld receivers and spotlights, confirmed that birds were coming ashore under the cover of darkness and moving inland. This prompted moving the search area. Then, when a signal was picked up of a bird stationary in forest at night, team members were able to get a clear fix on where that site was.

Dr Rayner says: "The site being monitored is very fragile and with birds at a delicate stage in their breeding cycle. We are using automated equipment for the most part and maintaining a hands-off approach, although team members visiting the vicinity have also been keeping watch."

"On Friday morning a bird was discovered on the ground, possibly having just left its burrow. At the same time team members detected another bird, this one most probably on a nest," said Chris Gaskin. "It's an amazing result for our enthusiastic and dedicated team."

Members of the research team will remain on the island over the coming weeks. Aerial surveys are also being used to try and establish the distribution and size of the population. The Hauraki Gulf Forum is about to publish a Hauraki Gulf seabird management strategy and research plan drawing on the work of Chris Gaskin and Dr Rayner and New Zealand and international collaborators.

Chair of the Hauraki Gulf Forum, John Tregidga, said locating the breeding ground was internationally significant and further highlighted the importance of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park as a globally significant biodiversity hotspot. Dr Rayner, a Little Barrier Island trustee, said the discovery reiterated the importance of careful management of conservation jewels, such as Little Barrier Island and surrounding marine environments.

The project has been funded this year by grants from Mohammed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, BirdLife International Community Conservation Fund, The Little Barrier Island Hauturu Supporters Trust and ASB Trust, Auckland Council, Forest & Bird Central Auckland Branch and Peter Harrison/Zegrahm Expeditions, with further support from the Department of Conservation, Hauraki Gulf Forum and Landcare Research.

 on: March 06, 2013, 01:25:22 pm 
Started by indunil - Last post by indunil

A male fairy-wren's low pitch song indicates body size, a new international study has shown. The study led by University of Melbourne researcher Dr Michelle Hall, is the first to show that the larger the male fairy wren, the lower the pitch of his song.

"This is the first time we have been able to show that song pitch indicates body size in song birds," said Dr Hall from the University's Department of Zoology.

The study, which began when Dr Hall was at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany, has been published February 20 in the journal PLOS ONE.

Reliable communication about body size between animals is particularly important when communicating with mates or rivals. For example the bigger the rival is, the more likely it is to win in a fight so a song pitch indicating a large size may deter rivals.

"Surprisingly, there is very little evidence that the pitch of calls indicates body size differences within species, except in frogs," she said.

"In birds in particular, there has been no evidence that the pitch of songs indicated the size of the singer until now."

The study involved measuring the leg length (a good indicator of overall body size) of 45 adult male purple-crowned fairy-wrens. It found there was a correlation between the lowest song pitches and male size.

"We found the bigger males sang certain song types at a lower pitch than smaller males," she said.

Purple-crowned fairy-wrens are creek-dwelling birds from northern Australia and, like their close relatives the blue wrens, males sing trill songs after the calls of certain predators, a context that seems to attract the attention of females.

Males have a repertoire of trill song variants, and it is the low-pitched variants that indicate the size of the singer.

Dr Hall showed that it may be the complexity of birdsong that has obscured the relationship between body size and song frequency in the past.

"Birds can have large repertoires of song types spanning a wide frequency range, and some birds even shift the pitch of their songs down in aggressive contexts," she said.

"Focusing on the lowest pitches that males were able to sing was the key to finding the correlation with body size."

 on: March 05, 2013, 09:01:55 am 
Started by indunil - Last post by indunil

The thud of a bird hitting a window is something many Canadian home owners experience. Up until now, little research has been done to document the significant these collisions for Canada's bird populations. A University of Alberta biology class project supervised by researcher Erin Bayne suggests that many birds meet their end in run-ins with Canadian homes.

The U of A students estimate a staggering 22 million birds a year die from colliding with windows of homes across the country.

The research was done in Edmonton and surrounding area using evidence gathered from more than 1,700 homeowners. Homeowners were recruited to become citizen scientists for the study. The citizen scientists were required to complete an online survey where they were asked to recall fatal bird hits over the previous year.

Bayne and his team processed the Edmonton data and concluded that with approximately 300,000 homes in the study area the death toll for birds from window strikes might reach 180,000 per year.

The researchers applied that figure to national housing statistics and arrived at the 22 million figure for bird vs. window fatalities. Bayne says that many people recalled bird strikes at their homes, but there was little awareness that residential window deaths might affect bird populations.

The main factors influencing the frequency of bird -- window collisions were the age of the trees in the yard and whether or not people fed birds.

"In many cases people who go out of their way to help birds by putting up feeders and bird friendly plants are unwittingly contributing to the problem," said Bayne.

One tip the researchers have for the safer placement of a bird feeder concerns its distance from the house. Bayne says the safety factor has to do with a bird's flying speed. As with car crashes; speed kills.

"A feeder three to four metres from a window is bad because the bird has space to pickup lots of speed as it leaves the feeder," said Bayne.

Fast-flying birds like sparrows and chickadees and aggressive birds like robins are apt to collide with windows placed too close to free food.

Placing the feeder either closer or much further are options.

Researchers believe many window collisions are caused by in-flight mistakes. "It's called a panic flight; a bird startled by a cat or competing with other birds at the feeder may suddenly take flight and doesn't recognize the window as a hazard" said Bayne.

ScienceDay News

 on: March 03, 2013, 10:48:19 am 
Started by indunil - Last post by indunil

Reptile specialists from the Alexander Koenig Museum in Bonn, together with colleagues from the Lomonosov Moscow State University discovered a magnificent new lizard in the south of Vietnam which has been named Calotes bachae.

Like all males of the family Agamidae, these lizards like to impress the ladies with their brilliant colours. During courtship the heads of lizards become a startling azure colour.

Unusually, like a Chameleon, they can also change their colours. For example, at night they are rather dark and brownish, almost inconspicuous. When courting they are bright blue, but after a turf war inferior males lose their colours, paling in just a few minutes.

The animals have been known to the Vietnamese and to scientists for a long time. However, they assumed that this lizard was the same species of blue lizard known from Myanmar and Thailand. However, the German-Russian research team determined, by using a genetic, test that this lizard belongs to a different species.

It is relatively easy to spot the new species as it seems quite happy to live in urban areas, and even in a metropolis like Ho Chi Minh City, where you can find the beautiful animals in parks and flower beds.

 on: March 03, 2013, 07:30:10 am 
Started by indunil - Last post by indunil
The IS 70 R offers a great mix of style, performance and adaptability and is an ideal choice for people wanting a high-spec. entry level spottingscope for target shooting, birdwatching or plane spotting that delivers higher light transmission and greater top end magnification compared to smaller 50/60mm ‘scopes.

Featuring a 400mm, 4-element objective lens with a surface area 35% greater than the IS 60 WP, both straight-through and 45° angled models benefit from a re-engineered optical system to improve light transmission and resolution, delivering bright, crisp images with good colour contrast.

In line with our commitment to offer the best choice of eyepieces to suit your budget and application, the IS 70R is fully compatible with IS, HR2, HDF and SDL eyepieces. For general use we recommend the 40933S HR2 18-54x

The lightweight ABS polycarbonate body is 100% nitrogen waterproof and clothed in protective rubber armour that gives a reassuring feeling of quality to the touch as well as giving greater protection against and knocks and bumps.

Both models feature a +/- 90 rotating tripod sleeve for maximum positional flexibility when attached to a tripod or bipod, retractable sunshade to reduce glare and are supplied with a comprehensive 10 year guarantee.

A wide range of eyepieces are available for use with IS 70 R fieldscopes and choosing the best eyepiece will depend on price and application. The eyepiece is an integral component in the system and a higher quality eyepiece will deliver a superior viewing experience.


IS Eyepieces
Dedicated long eyerelief eyepieces and best overall choice as a first eyepiece. 40918S IS Zoom features a twist-type retractable eyeyecup. Both eyepieces screw directly onto telescope bodies. 5 year guarantee.

HR Eyepieces
Long eyerelief eyepieces delivering full field of view with spectacles. 40933 HR2 zoom delivers superior clarity and color contrast and is fitted with a twist-type retractable eyecup. 5 year guarantee.

Note. Eyepiece adapters are required to fit HR eyepiece to IS 70 R bodies. These are supplied 'free of charge' if purchased with a new scope body or priced at £9.00 inc. VAT if purchased separately. Use 40925S adapter to fit 40930S and 40931S HR internal screw thread eyepieces. Use 40928S adapter to fit 40933S HR zoom collar thread eyepiece.

HDF Eyepieces
The preferred choice for quality and viewing comfort, HDF T eyepieces have large dia. eyelenses that provide 'walk-in' field of vision. All HDF eyepieces offer full field of view with or without glasses and are designated wide-angle. Models marked (*) feature a twist-type retractable eyecup. 10 year guarantee.

Note. Eyepiece adapters are required to fit HDF eyepiece to IS 70 R bodies. These are supplied 'free of charge' if purchased with a new scope body or priced at £9.00 inc. VAT if purchased separately. Use 40927S adapter to fit 40862S HDF collar thread eyepiece. Use 40925S adapter to fit 40810S, 40809S, 40858S, 40860S and 40861S HDF internal screw thread eyepieces.

SDL v2 Eyepiece
5-group 8-element ‘super’ zoom, the SDLv2 eyepiece maximises the performance gains inherent in Opticron ED objective lens fieldscopes at higher powers while maintaining superior cross-field definition coupled with exceptional viewing comfort. Model features twist-type retractable eyecup. Supplied in soft case. 10 year guarantee.

Stay-on-the-scope Waterproof Cases
Water resistant multi-layer padded cases individually designed to fit each model. Protects instrument while fitted to a tripod and in use. Includes removable end caps and adjustable carry strap.

Read More

 on: March 03, 2013, 05:52:47 am 
Started by indunil - Last post by indunil

A new owl is the first endemic bird species discovered on the island of Lombok, Indonesia, according to research published February 13 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by an international team headed by George Sangster of the Swedish Museum of Natural History and colleagues from other institutions.

The new species has long been confused with a more widespread Indonesian owl species because of its similar plumage. However, in September 2003, two members of the team independently discovered that the vocalizations of the owls on Lombok were unique and different from all other Indonesian owls.

George Sangster comments, "It was quite a coincidence that two of us identified this new bird species on different parts of the same island, within a few days of being on the island. That is quite a coincidence, especially considering that no-one had noticed anything special about these owls in the previous 100 years."

Because owls are mostly nocturnal, they use songs to communicate and recognize their own species. Thus, when owls have consistently different vocalizations this is generally taken to mean that they are different species. The new owl's song is a whistled note completely unlike that of other owls. Locals on the island recognize the bird and refer to it as "burung pok," an onomatopoeic name reflecting the song note of the bird, which sounds like "pok" or "poook," say the authors.

Based on their field work, comparisons to museum specimens and previous studies, the researchers suggest that the new owl species is unique to this one island. When surveyed, locals on the neighboring island of Sumbawa were unfamiliar with the bird. The researchers say, "With one exception, none of the locals recognized the songs from playback of recordings made on Lombok except for one man, but he was an immigrant from Lombok who knew the song only from Lombok and had never heard it on Sumbawa."

The new species of owl is named Otus jolandae, after the wife of one of the researchers who co-discovered the species in 2003. The authors suggest using the common name Rinjani Scops Owl, after Gunung Rinjani, a volcano on Lombok that is the second highest volcano in Indonesia.
Scienceday News

 on: March 03, 2013, 02:41:39 am 
Started by indunil - Last post by indunil
In its role as the Regional Implementation Team (RIT) for the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) in the Mediterranean Basin Biodiversity Hotspot, BirdLife International invites Letters of Inquiry from NGOs, community groups, private enterprises, universities and other civil society organisations for large grants to conserve biodiversity in Algeria and Libya.

This is a special call for large grants (between US $20,000 and US $150,000) that will be awarded by CEPF for biodiversity conservation projects in Algeria and Libya only, with a focus on those that help build the capacity of conservation NGOs in these countries.

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is a global programme designed to safeguard the Earth’s biologically richest and most threatened regions known as biodiversity hotspots. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation. There are 35 CEPF recognised hotspots worldwide so far, the second largest being the Mediterranean Basin. Together BirdLife International, including its Middle East division and BirdLife Partners DOPPS (BirdLife in Slovenia) and LPO (BirdLife in France), serve as the RIT for the CEPF Mediterranean Basin Biodiversity Hotspot.

Focus on capacity building in Algeria and Libya
CEPF funds focus on sustainability and creating new partnerships across borders. So by helping NGOs apply for funding and build relationships with other organisations, conservation work implemented during a project is more likely to continue on its own accord following CEPF funding. This is particularly important in countries where capacity for conservation is low. Projects that help build capacity for conservation in Algeria and Libya, for example by providing training for local civil society organisations and by raising public awareness of conservation issues there, will be well supported.

 on: February 28, 2013, 04:34:58 am 
Started by indunil - Last post by indunil
Encompassing one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the Island, residing adjacent to the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary at the foot of the Sri Pada massif, the Gilimale Nature Reserve is located in the Ratnapura district of the Sabaragamuwa Province. The amazing wildlife diversity in such a small area makes a simple hide for a wide array of creatures that crawl, fly, creep, climb, and swing through the jungle. This is a perfect place not far from the main city, just a three to four hours drive to catch the sheer pleasure of catching the wildlife in action.

Many centuries back, Gilimale was 
a village in the trail that led to the 
Sri Pada Peak. The first historical mention about “Gilimale” dates back to the reign of King Sri Sanghabodhi Vijayabahu (1065-1119 AD), who had dedicated this village to thousands of pilgrims – who came to worship the sacred footprint of Lord Buddha on the Sri Pada peak – 
as a resting place before the difficult journey uphill. Stone inscriptions found from Gilimale and Ambagamuwa confirms this chronicle. Buddhist pilgrims who climb Sri Pada Peak, for thousands of years have considered “God Sumana Saman” as the protector of the “Sri Pada adaviya” or the area of the Sacred Foot Print. One of the oldest statues of the God and the stone inscriptions can still be found in the Rankoth Rajamaha Viharaya of Gilimale.

sun’s rays seep its way through the canopy to the forest floor, your ears are filled with the loud melodious tunes of birds... one cannot resist to stare in amazement at what’s in store in this jungle

It is a low-land tropical rain forest surrounded by hills and valleys, 
lush vegetation, and also accommodates one of the main rivers – the Kalu river. The forest is the main catchment area to the Induru river, one of the main branches of the Kalu river. The pristine waters comes all the way from the springs of the Sri Pada massif, and if you are a waterfall lover this is the ideal place to watch, or just take a dip in the cold waters that gush their way past the jungle and cascades into several locations. The famous “Mapalana Falls”, the fourth highest in the Island reaching 141 metres high and the “Dumpus Falls”, are undoubtedly the most mesmerising and lively waterfalls that are found at Gilimale. The trails are harsh and wind through the wilderness, and upon seeing these waterfalls you’re finally rewarded with simple ecstasy. For a photographer, the panoramic views seen from here are simply breathtaking.

Walking through the path inside the forest and opening your eyes to a misty morning, where the sun’s rays seep its way through the canopy to the forest floor, your ears are filled with loud melodious tunes of birds that fly in flocks just above you, and the endless hoots and chatters one cannot resist to stare in amazement at what’s in store in this jungle. For bird enthusiasts, Gilimale is an ideal location to see most of the endemics found in the tropical forests in Sri Lanka such as the Ceylon Blue Magpie, Crested Drongo, Rufus Babbler, Jungle Fowl, and the Spur Owl without much hassle. It’s true that every part of a tree, even a fallen leaf on the moist ground, provides a place for millions of creatures. From leaf insects perfectly camouflaged to look like a dry leaf, to owls like the Frogmouth and the amazing mechanisms of poisonous creatures – scorpions to snakes – each one of them goes through a struggle to survive a never ending battle in the jungle.

The beauty, majesty and the timelessness of the Gilimale rainforest 
is indescribable. Giant trees with sprawling roots soaring to the canopy, their branches draped with orchids such as the endemic “Wesak orchid”, and blooms of the rare “Binara”, lilac petals with bright yellow centres are a common sight if one visits in the correct season. The jungle springs out with life with the roars of the Purple faced leaf monkeys chasing each other, swinging from one branch to another, and the squeals of the giant squirrels. But Gilimale is home to a special kind, a species endemic and very rare scientifically called Aneuretus simoni (Sri Lankan relic ant).

At night it’s a different world in there. Learning the secrets of the nights in the jungle is an art that has to be mastered. The flashes of light reflects the stares of tree climbing primates like the Red Slender Loris or of a Golden Palm Civer with its glowing red and golden eyes; both animals are endemic to the island. Just after rains at night the forests will be filled with the endless chirping of the crickets, croaks of the amphibians, and the high pitched vocalisations of owls. One would be fascinated by the unusual similarity of a high pitched vocalisation of a rather opposing duo; one an owl and the other a frog both having similar sounds, they are the Serendib Scops Owls , and the Ramanella’s Nagao. 
It was in the rainy season, one night some years back when we first encountered the Ranwella’s horned 
tree frog from its unusual croaks. 
Later described, the species has never been sighted anywhere else in the Island. Mere chance and luck on another occasion, on a moonless night, and we witnessed a very rare event of a duo embraced in love, sighted for the first and the only time.

The locals of Gilimale lead a simple life. Although there simple homes have now become modernised with time, most houses have crops that are commercially viable or forest garden products like banana, pepper, malabar tamarind or goraka in Sinhala, coffee, wild nut megs, and fishtail palms sustain their livelihood. The hospitality of the villagers and the quiet surroundings all blend so well with the wilderness that one would feel there is no place so close to paradise than Gilimale!

Serendib Article,

 on: February 28, 2013, 04:25:00 am 
Started by indunil - Last post by indunil
While Bundala National Park is the renowned wintering grounds in the deep south, we were eager to discover the unknown. Beyond Tangalle town, in the Hambantota District lies Kalametiya. Our journey led us down an alternate route instead of the designated turn off to Kalametiya from the main road. This gravel road fell across open landscapes and we soon found ourselves traversing the peripheries of the Kalametiya reserve.

A Bee-eater poised on a fragile branch and a Pond Heron in the grassy wetland came within our sights. The road fell by a lagoon waterway visible through the thickly bordering mangrove roots and we caught sight of a Whistling Duck nestled on the banks. It was an inkling of what was to come on our journey ahead.

The road however ended and we found our way to the regular route to Kalametiya farther up from the main road. It was down the winded routes that we happened upon a lake by the road. At the bank across the waters an invasion of what appeared to be brown clusters drew our attention. It was a large host of Whistling Ducks busily going about their daily ablutions. We watched these flocks who had come in search of breeding and feeding grounds that the mangroves and the waterlogged marshes provided. The flock seemed all too settled to move away from their favoured spot and we hadn’t yet reached our destination. We wondered where an entrance to the reserve would finally appear. However this was not to be. At another dead end that only allowed us a view of the grounds with no access way, we began to wonder if Kalametiya was simply unexplored terrain. Luck came our way however in the form of a cyclist who promptly revealed that the only mode of traversing Kalametiya sanctuary was across the waterways by raft! A few quick calls to arrange for the boatman and we were soon on our way to the banks of Kalametiya lagoon.

Painted a vivid sky blue, the rafts were parked on the banks of the lagoon. Judging by its spacious seating, the humble raft could easily accommodate up to six people while two rowers sit in the parallel catamaran hulls and navigate the waters. Our resourceful boatman, Gayan, provided bird watching gear that included a guide book, binoculars and bottles of water on a detachable round table at the rafts centre. Before us stretched the vast body of the lagoon, its placid surface interrupted here and there with clusters of mangrove islands. We set off without much effort perched comfortably upon the raft ‘benches’ with unimpeded views of our surroundings.

An elegant Grey Heron in the refuge of a tree, a Brahminy Kite surveying the waters from the skies above, the comical Purple Swamphens rising out of the greenery in ungainly flight and a Jacana striding across the marshlands were among many notable sightings that the lagoon environs yielded. Traversing the waters proved a hefty task to the rowers as the muddy sand bed rose up in the shallow waters from time to time. About a kilometre stretch into the lagoon we soon spotted the winter migrants in large flocks. Their great numbers meant that even from a distance away we could hear them before we could see them. The incessant squawking and quacking punctured the air while we, the silent onlookers, sailed past the feathery commotion. There appeared to be mixed flocks and first within our sights came Terns of various types – a cloudy layer of white and grey. Farther along was a mixed flock of Godwits and Black Winged Stilts masking the lagoon waters with a patchwork of hues. These winter migrants had arrived in large numbers seeking wintering grounds in the warmer climes. The season for these visitors lasts only through December and January and we felt fortunate to have made a timely visit. We watched for many minutes enthralled by the great numbers of migrants, however our boatmen urged us on as the more populated sightings promised to appear ahead.

The incessant squawking and quacking punctured the air while we, the silent onlookers, sailed past the feathery commotion

Although careening across the lagoon on a manpowered raft was a slow business, it was without a doubt ideal to get lost in the balmy atmosphere and soak up the lagoon’s enchantment. The lagoon itself was an unfathomable expanse of 650ha. The mangroves primarily consist of Kirala, a mangrove plant known for its fruit from which locales obtain a delicious and healthful drink.

Every which way there were in abundance, the mangrove forests and their distinctive roots emerged upright from the water’s surface. It painted a pretty picture of little fenced-in islands scattered across the glassy surface.

We had coursed the waterway for a good two hours and had ventured nearly 2.5 km when we came to our next point of interest. While more winter migrants flocked a ‘hot spot’ at the water’s edge of an ‘island’, the high branches of nearby mangrove trees were home to much larger feathered members. We watched transfixed as the branches heaved with a congregation of Asian Openbill and their nests. The larger adults stood sentinel, while parents fed their young and together they made quite a ruckus, partly we guessed in their anxiety to ward off crows hovering nearby.

The raft floated aimlessly while we drank in our surroundings, we had not been offered an opportunity such as this to observe flocks in such numbers elsewhere. We were the only human trespassers here and the isolation was part of the charm it held. While our tireless boatsmen finally rested their oars, we were more than happy to linger along the lagoon waters – a single bright blue raft cast amidst the lush mangroves, serene waters, and endless hours of bird watching while the sun began to descend into the horizon.

Explore Lanka Article,

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