Monday, 12 November 2018

Champions of the Flyway : Israel 2018 in Bangor this Week


This Wednesday local birder Marc Hughes will be giving us an update of how the Leica Red Kites got on in the Champions of the Flyway bird-race, raising funds and awareness for the plight of migrant birds across the Mediterranean and through the Middle East. It was the first time a Welsh team had entered this International Bird-race, so please come along to find out more about this good cause, how well they did and the fun they had in participating in this rather exciting 24 hour bird-race!

At Bangor Bird-group we meet on Wednesday nights in the University of Bangor Brambell Building, Deiniol road opposite Asda just down from the Train Station. Costs are £2 per meeting (non members), or even better join as a member. Membership costs are as follows- Waged = £15, £12 for concessions and free for Bangor University students. 
Not bad for 22 talks!
Doors open at 7 for a 7.30 pm start. Talks last for around 1 hour. All members of the public are welcome. 








Monday, 5 November 2018

I wish they all could be Californian............


Heermann's Gull

This Wednesday Dennis Atherton is coming over from Bolton to give us a talk about Californian Pelagics and Western Birding at Bangor Birdgroup.
 A rush flight to catch the last Pelagic of the season in the world famous North Pacific waters around Southern California,  after 26 hours with no sleep i then go on a bumpy boat to be stranded at sea for 12 hours looking for birds, And who said Birders are mad?  After checking out the sea birds I spend two weeks up and down the California coastline looking for all the speciality birding on offer, From the seas off San Diego to the Mountains of California and finally looking for the elusive California Condor in Santa Barbara, Condor Country.


Western Gull

Pink footed Shearwater

Steller's Jay

At Bangor Bird-group we meet on Wednesday nights in the University of Bangor Brambell Building, Deiniol road opposite Asda just down from the Train Station. Costs are £2 per meeting (non members), or even better join as a member. Membership costs are as follows- Waged = £15, £12 for concessions and free for Bangor University students. 
Not bad for 22 talks!
Doors open at 7 for a 7.30 pm start. Talks last for around 1 hour. All members of the public are welcome. 



Saturday, 3 November 2018

More on Licencing to kill Ravens in Wales


After reading RDS’s blog on NRW’s licencing to kill Ravens in Wales, see: https://www.rdsconservation.com/?p=630&fbclid=IwAR2Nmv3KuvK-0vAKox_Cky2QDiojXC-zdjbyvb9Dv12Lmq2AII8ZolvAg-Y

I had a few questions of my own so submitted an FOI to:


You can do the same too.

Here’s NRW’s statement on Licencing to kill Ravens:




Here’s what I asked:

Q1. Is it still 4 licences that have been granted in Wales and are the total number of birds declared as being killed still correct.

NRW: Yes a total of four licences have been approved for the shooting of ravens since January 2015 to the current date. Note that two of these were for the same site, which had problems with ravens in two different years.



Q2. (if possible) the general area where the licences have been granted and whether NRW have concerns with regards to proximity to sites where wildlife crime has been recorded.  Is this a consideration? Do you consult the RCU on proximity to the above sites where licences are granted?

NRW: 2 Denbighshire different years but same site, 1 Vale of Glamorgan and 1 Gwynedd.  NRW does not take into account proximity to wildlife crime sites and does not consult the RCU on such matters.



Q3: What non-lethal methods were used before the granting of licences.

NRW: Non-lethal methods have included:  Human presence, CD’s on poles and hung on trees lasers, Bags hung on trees, Radio noises, distraction feeding.



Q4: What non-lethal scaring methods were used at the time of killing?

NRW: The licence conditions specify the way ravens must be killed or how the eggs/nests should be destroyed. The licence only allows killing of ravens to be undertaken using the most humane methods possible. For instance, shooting must only take place when birds are close enough to ensure a clean kill.  The report form does not specify the scaring methods used at the time of the killing, however condition 21 does state that “ Co-ordinated scaring programme including non-lethal shooting to scare must be used in conjunction with the shooting.”


Q5: Why is there such a high maximum number given per licence to lethal methods?  I have been an ornithologist for 30 years and have only seen 75 birds or more at a roost site.  Why grant one site that limit? They cannot know that have a problem with 75 birds as they wouldn’t be on site at one time, unless it was a roost site.

NRW: This figure is unique for each licence. This depends on the nature of the problem and how many ravens are causing the problem in question.   A licence application form includes a legal declaration. The applicant is required to sign the form to confirm that the information provided is correct to the best of their knowledge and belief. Any false information provided within the application form would constitute as an offence. 



Q6: How NRW controls the method and limit on the killing.  It looks like one site has had a licence to kill 50 then 25 birds to protect livestock then pheasants.  This rings alarm bells for the reasoning and justification especially if it is close to a hot spot of wildlife crime. 

NRW: NRW controls the method of killing via the conditions on the licence.  Condition 6 states that “Birds must only be shot in range to ensure a clean kill”.  Condition 7 states that “Wounded birds must be pursued and humanely dispatched”. 

The number of birds to be killed under a licence is decided on a case by case basis, taking into account the nature of the problem, the amount of birds causing a problem, and whether alternative scaring techniques have been deployed.  



Q7: How does each site actively self-police only to shoot to protect livestock under attack?  Are areas baited or decoyed and is this policed?  I work closely with a few farmers and they tell me carrion crows are far more damaging to lambs than ravens are.

NRW: The licence is a legal document and is granted under section 16(1)(k) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) specifically for the purpose of preventing serious damage to livestock.  As such, birds must only be shot for this purpose, and any deviation from this would constitute as an offence.  It is the licence holder’s legal responsibility to ensure that shooting is only undertaken for this purpose.   NRW does not police the licence activities.

Q8: Is there a buffer zone between sites granted licences

NRW: There has not been a need to consider buffer zones as NRW has only granted 4 licences since its formation in 2013.  The total of applications received is low.


Q9: Does the recent AM/NRW decision to ban shooting and rearing of pheasants on NRW land have a bearing on proximity of licences to kill ravens in future.  Should ravens on NRW land be killed on neighbouring land should that rearing or shooting move to neighbouring land.

NRW:  NRW will assess each application on its own merits and this would have no bearing on our decision making process.



Q10: Does NRW request proof that eggs were destroyed and not chicks?

NRW: NRW has issued 1 licence for the removal of 1 raven nest to preserve public health and public safety.  NRW requests proof in the report form, where the licensee must declare how many nests and or eggs were removed under the licence.  Condition 81 stated that “no birds shall be killed under this licence”.



Q11: Who are the ornithologist you use for advice on this matter?

NRW: NRW employed Ornithologist 


Q12: How sure is NRW that declared totals of birds killed are honest. 

NRW: The licence is a legal document, and any false declarations would constitute as an offence.  



Well, I don’t know about you but for me this raises more questions and doubt over the control, self-policing, adherence to conditions and I intend on asking more until this stops or until I’m satisfied there is greater control and policing.  What a ridiculous state we are in.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Cornell-The American dream on Halloween at Bangor Birdgroup





Elliot Monteith is a young Birder from the Wirral. He will be coming over to give us a talk on the Cornell laboratory of Ornithology this Wednesday (Halloween). It provides the highest grade of ornithological research in the world and is a leader in the drive to engage, educate and inspire the future generation of ornithologists. Elliot was one of the three young British Birders that won a Scholarship to the labs young birder camp courtesy of their partnership with the Cameron Bespolka trust about how the lab is changing the face of conservation across North America and the World, along with how the lab is helping the next generation in methods that are just making their way across the pond.
So avoid the Trick-or-treat-ers and come over to Bangor this Wednesday.

At Bangor Bird-group we meet on Wednesday nights in the University of Bangor Brambell Building, Deiniol road opposite Asda just down from the Train Station. Costs are £2 per meeting (non members), or even better join as a member. Membership costs are as follows- Waged = £15, £12 for concessions and free for Bangor University students. 
Not bad for 22 talks!
Doors open at 7 for a 7.30 pm start. Talks last for around 1 hour. All members of the public are welcome. 




Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Waderquest in Bangor




This Wednesday Rick and Ellis Simpson from Wader Quest are coming to town. Wader Quest are a charity that was set up to raise funds for Shorebird projects and to raise awareness about the problems they are facing around the world regarding diminishing populations and threats to the world Shorebird fly-ways. Come along it should be a really interesting talk.

At Bangor Bird-group we meet on Wednesday nights in the University of Bangor Brambell Building, Deiniol road opposite Asda just down from the Train Station. Costs are £2 per meeting (non members), or even better join as a member. Membership costs are as follows- Waged = £15, £12 for concessions and free for Bangor University students. 
Not bad for 22 talks!
Doors open at 7 for a 7.30 pm start. Talks last for around 1 hour. All members of the public are welcome. 


Tuesday, 9 October 2018

How the Vulture lost it's head and other Wildlife tales from Zululand




This week at Bangor Birdgroup Tarik Bodasing will be talking about "How the Vulture lost it's head and other Wildlife tales from Zululand".
Tarik recently moved to the UK from South Africa after marrying a Welsh Girl. He was eased gently into to his first British Summertime with a two month heatwave, which was quite handy as he was working as one of the Cemlyn Tern wardens who normally have to withstand the wind and rain of a typical Welsh Summer, whilst standing on the shingle ridge.
Prior to moving to the UK he worked as a South African Wildlife Ecologist in Zululand, and this Wednesday he will be telling us some of his Wildlife tales. One not to miss!

At Bangor Bird-group we meet on Wednesday nights in the University of Bangor Brambell Building, Deiniol road opposite Asda just down from the Train Station. Costs are £2 per meeting (non members), or even better join as a member. Membership costs are as follows- Waged = £15, £12 for concessions and free for Bangor University students. 
Not bad for 22 talks!
Doors open at 7 for a 7.30 pm start. Talks last for around 1 hour. All members of the public are welcome. 

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Bangor Bird Group is back!








  The 2018-19 Bangor bird-group season starts again on the 3rd October. Ian Hawkins, RSPB site manager for Cors Ddryga will be talking about his trip to New Zealand. He was in search of the birds and wildlife in this country rich in endemics and famous for its seabird spectacles and amazing scenery who's landscape was carved out by fire and ice. Then we will be having a talk from Tarik Bodasing. Tarik was as one of the Cemlyn wardens this summer. He was originally from near Durban in South Africa until relatively recently when, he met a Welsh girl whom he married and is now living with, and their young child down in Mid Wales. He will be telling us how the Vulture Lost it's head and other Wildlife tales from Zululand. Then Wader Quest are coming to town. Wader Quest are a charity that was set up to raise funds for Shorebird projects and to raise awareness about the problems they are facing around the world regarding diminishing populations and threats to the world Shorebird fly-ways.
Elliot Monteith is a young Birder from the Wirral. He will be coming over to give us a talk on the Cornell laboratory of Ornithology. It provides the highest grade of ornithological research in the world and is a leader in the drive to engage, educate and inspire the future generation of ornithologists. Elliot was one of the three young British Birders that won a Scholarship to the labs young birder camp courtesy of their partnership with the Cameron Bespolka trust about how the lab is changing the face of conservation across North America and the World, along with how the lab is helping the next generation in methods that are just making their way across the pond.
Keeping on the North America theme Dennis Atherton is coming over from Bolton to talk about the Western USA and Pelagic birding. It was a rush flight that Dennis took to catch the last Pelagic of the season in the World Famous North Pacific Waters around Southern California. After 26 hours with no sleep and only aeroplane food he then went on a bumpy boat for 12 hour to see an amazing Seabird spectacle. Following that he spent 2 weeks going up and down the California Coastline looking for all the local special birds. From the Seas around San Diego to the to the Mountains of California, Dennis was searching for all the local specialities and was trying to see all the Californian named birds.
Then Marc Hughes will be giving us an update of how the Leica Red Kites got on in the Champions of the Flyway birdrace, raising funds and awareness for the plight of migrant birds across the Mediterranean and through the Middle East.
Fellow Leica Red Kite Robin Sandham will then be talking about Rare birds in North Wales. There's nobody better to talk on this subject as at the end of the day, he wrote the book. I'm sure he will have a few books at the talk available for people to buy, and its a must read for anyone interested in the birds of North Wales or rare birds in general.
Then we have Ben. After he finished University in Cornwall we've finally managed to tie down Bardsey's Ben Porter for a talk about a Message from the Arctic. Ben will be talking about his findings from Sail against plastic. A student led research expedition to the icy archipelago of Svalbard during June in the Summer of 2018. Then we finish the year with the Christmas Party with a buffet and Steve's Quiz, with assorted prizes and the chance to be the winner of the Birdbrain of Bangor Bird-group Shield!
In January Chris Jones is talking about Birding in Wellies: an Autumn week on Shetland, Chris, Robin, Henry Cook and myself experienced Shetland proper for the first time in October 2017 and Chris will be talking about what happened when Four North Wales Birders went to Shetland in the wind and the rain.
Then Henry Cook will be talking about Birding North Peru : A travelogue from an independent trip around the little known and mega-diverse area of North Peru, featuring Spatulate-tails, Cresent-chests and Inca-finches.
Then Kelvin Jones from the BTO will then be giving his new talk on Hawfinches in Wales before Mark James Pearson arrives to give his talk on Filey Internation. Mark is well travelled and well known on the UK circuit. He will be talking about the seasonal migration around Filey Brigg on the Yorkshire coast. He will be talking about hammering his patch constantly for five years showing us what common migrants and rarities have moved through the area over this time.
Then Ben Stammers from the wildlife trust will be talking about the wonderful life of our local Swifts before Julian Hughes from the RSPB talks about the breeding birds of Cyprus and migration of birds through this region.
Then we go back to the USA, where local birder Alex Jones will be talking about the Eastern United States this time. Summarizing his trips to New York, Michigan and Florida.
As we go into the home run in March, former Bangor Student Mathew Bruce will be talking about his work on Wildlife Crime at the Lodge for the RSPB investigations department.
Following this local Naturalist Richard Birch will be showing us the Second instalment of his film on Chile, after he returned to the country again to witness more of its amazing scenery and wildlife.
Finally I will be bringing the season to a close at the AGM with my talk on Himalayan Gold. In the Spring of 2018 I went with two other North Wales Birders, Rhion and Gareth to the North East Indian regions of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Its an interesting area bordered by Bhutan, China and Myanmar. We has a vast assortment of fantastic birds from Bengal Florican, Fire tailed Myzornis, Himalayan monal and Beautiful Nuthatch to the critically endangered and range restricted Bugun Leochicla, just to name a few. It was a really special trip!
As well as these talks, Birdgroup members can also see the North Wales Wildlife trust talks. This season they include Living Landscapes in action. Jonny Hulson (NWWT Project Officer) talks about the amazing diversity of wildlife found on Wrexham Industrial Estate, home to 300 businesses. Roy Tapping has been involved with our North Wales Local Records Centre since its start-up. He will be talking about it, in his talk Cofnod - making wildlife data count. Then Chris Baker, the NWWT People & Wildlife Manager talks about Our Wild Coast, on how young people are getting stuck in on the North Wales coast. Then the Wildlife Trusts final talk is by our very own Spiderman. Richard Gallon from Cofnod is the most enthusiastic spider man you will ever meet and he will be talking about Spiders on Welsh mountains and bogs!
So hopefully we will see you this season in the Brambell Building, Deiniol Road, just down from the station. Wednesday nights, doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm kick off.
Non members £2 per meeting. Annual Subscription £15, Concessions £12, Students (free)