It’s a global campaign and it’s dedicated to raising awareness of migratory birds and the need for countries around the world to co-operate in their efforts to save them.
This year, the theme is “Birds Connect Our World”.
It was picked to highlight how important it is to conserve and restore the ecological connectivity and integrity of ecosystems which support the natural cycles that are essential for migratory birds to survive and thrive.
The day gives us all an opportunity to discover more about migratory birds and be in awe at their amazing feats.
Migratory birds need networks with stops
Migratory birds travel far. They need to be able to stop to rest and feed and breed. If you like, you could liken it as a journey along a motorway system and every so often, they need to stop for a break to fill their tummies and have a break.
Birds need networks of sites
They need a network of sites along these routes to breed, to feed, to rest and spend the winter. They need different sites and habitats, irrelevant of which country they are in. They can cross incredible distances and over impossible terrains such as deserts and open seas. They cross national borders and soar above any national agenda. What they do need is for countries to co-operate to ensure their routes are kept open and safe for them.
Examples of migratory birds’ routes
The East Asian – Australasian Flyway goes from the Russian Far East and Alaska through East Asia and South-East Asia, down to Australia and New Zealand – 22 countries in all. The Flyway is home to over 50 million migratory waterbirds from over 250 different populations. They need a system of wetlands to rest, feed and build up the energy they need for the next part of their journey.
RSPB has information about the Arctic tern who travels a rather amazing 22,000 miles a year – the longest migration of all – as they move continually between the Arctic summer and the Antarctic summer.
So you can see how important it is that countries work together to give these birds the flight paths they need, with all the facilities along the way.
What can be done at a national/international level:
Increase action globally via environment treaties such as the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Africa-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA). These are vital to protect migratory birds on their international flight paths.
Creating habitat corridors which are protected and which go across boundaries would really help animals who migrate and fly over national boundaries.
Networks of crucial sites which are imperative to migration needs must be safeguarded and managed properly. Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas as described by BirdLife International give migratory birds all they need during their long flights - necessary feeding, breeding, nesting and sheltering grounds.
What individuals like you & me can do:
Have a bird-friendly garden with safe shelters and a bird bath. Give them bird food. Put feeders out of reach of cats.
Spread the word about how important it is to protect migratory birds.
Download and use birding apps – it’s a great way to connect to like-minded bird lovers.
Sometimes you see something on the internet or on television that really hits you hard and makes a point extremely well.
I saw this video, this afternoon, and I wanted to share it with you. Please share it with everyone you can.
The ultimate message is that we SHARE this planet. It demonstrates how dominant the human race has become - and how selfish. I am not going to tell you anymore about it - please just watch it for yourself. Here it is:
Back in 1971 on 2 February, the Convention on Wetlands was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar which sits on the shores of the Caspian Sea
Today, the 2nd February is a really important day for people and wildlife, because it’s a chance to highlight how important wetlands are to us all. They are where land meets sea. The 2nd February is World Wetlands Day.
This year, the theme is “Wetlands and Biodiversity”, is an opportunity to highlight the importance of wetland biodiversity conservation.
Where are wetlands?
Wetlands cover areas such as shores, estuaries, mudflats, floodplains, coastal marshes, local ponds, the bog and pond in your garden, mangrove swamps, seagrass beds, and rivers. They cover a very small of the earth’s surface – and yet they are one of the most important habitats on our planet.
"If rainforests are the lungs of the planet, then wetlands are the lifeblood. As much as we need air to breathe, we need water to live. The conservation of our wetlands is essential to all life on earth.” WWT
Why wetlands matter to people:
They provide us with drinking water
They store a third of the world’s carbon emissions
They buffer us from floods and droughts
They are important for our health and wellbeing
Why do wetlands matter to wildlife?
40% of all plant and animal species live or breed here.
Sundarbans National Park (India) is formed of tidal rivers, creeks and canals and supports species such as the single largest population of tiger, and aquatic mammals such as the Irrawaddy and Ganges River dolphins, all under threat.
So what’s happening to wetlands in our changing world?
A recent global IPBES assessment identified wetlands as the most threatened ecosystem. This impacts 40% of the world’s plant and animal species that live or breed in wetlands.
Our wetlands are threatened by:
Beavering away to address these problems are organisations such as the World Heritage Centre. An example of its work is the Okavango Delta which has incredible biodiversity but is threatened thanks to development pressure. It’s home to indigenous peoples and wildlife such as the cheetah, white rhinos, black rhinos, lion and the African wild dog. In 2019, the State Parties of Namibia, Botswana and Angola agreed a roadmap to explore the boundary extension of the World Heritage Site here to protect the river basin and the unique wetland system.
In the UK, there’s the WWT –Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust but of course its work extends well beyond the UK.
WWT say that:
Between 1970 and 2014, populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptile species declined by a dreadful 60%
In the last 400 years, England has lost 90% of her wetlands
30% of known fish species, many at risk amphibians and reptiles, migratory and resident water birds,, and thousands of plant species life here.
However, the WWT is working hard to create, protect and restore – it believes we can reverse the decline and bring wetlands back to life. Its conservation projects strengthen the link between wetlands, wildlife and people, both in the UK and further afield. Find out more about their plans for 2020
So what can we all do to help wetland conservation?
WWT can create new wetlands in a few months and years – so your support can really make a difference quickly. But there’s something we can all do to help and you’ll find more links and further resources further down.
Create a pond in your garden, local area or school
Visit a wetland close to you and spend time there. Use your senses while you visit. Listen to the sounds you can hear; look at the sights, smell the scents.
Support the conservation work of your local wetlands charity
Volunteer for local wetland charities
Donate to wetland charities – look out for their appeals
World Wetland Network – a collection of NGOs and Civil Society Groups all working for wetland conservation
Wetland Link International – a support network for wetland education centres which deliver engagement activities on site. The WWT in the UK lead it; it has 350 members over 6 continents!
RAMSAR – The Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
World Wetlands Day – held every year on 2 February to raise awareness of the importance of wetlands and how we can all help
Here we go again. More trophy hunters after the thrill of the kill.
This time, it’s gorgeous, adorable puffins.
Companies in Iceland (the country, not the supermarket) are offering guided puffin hunts. A hunter can pay $3,650 each for a chance to bag up to 100 puffins at a time. How on earth can you want to do that?
The IUCN’s Red List lists puffins as “vulnerable”. And that means that if things don’t change for the better, they could go extinct.
Over the last 10 years, Iceland’s Atlantic puffin population has fallen by 1.5 million. And Iceland allows hunters to kill thousands of puffins every year. Many end up on plates in local restaurants, served to curious tourists.
And by the way, companies in Iceland also give people the chance to hunt reindeer, goose, and Ptarmigan.
Millions of people want to get a closer look at puffins every year, from the island of Alderney to Norway, the Faroe Islands, the USA and Canada. Many of these places have puffin viewing tours, which give people the chance to see puffins alive and close up.
So why can’t Iceland stop the hunt to kill puffin tours and put more emphasis on having hunt to see, enjoy and love tours instead?
Tell Iceland's president Jóhannesson to protect their puffins, not kill them.
And by the way, Theresa Villiers, Britain’s new environment secretary, is being urged to ban puffins which have been killed in trophy hunts. And also to push CITES to list seabirds for global protection.
There’s good news in Northumberland, thanks to nature lovers.
Nature lovers there have got together to help buy and protect a tract of land there. It’s a 600 acre site called Benshaw Moor in Redesdale, with heather habitat, peatland and limestone waterfall and springs.
Birdlife at Benshaw include curlew, snipe, skylark, meadow pipit and short-eared owls.
It’s now Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s 63rd nature reserve.
Thanks to a united effort, 600 acres at Benshaw Moor in Northumberland is safe.
The Trust was concerned that the land be used for business such as a commercial conifer forestry, or windfarm. Shooting will not be allowed there any longer.
£570,000 was raised from charitable trusts, businesses and a significant bequest. The public donated £75,000. The bequest came from the late George Swan, who wrote the Flora of Northumberland which was a record of the county’s plant species. Mr Swan specified that the bequest be used to buy a site of botanical importance.
Nature lovers will still be involved: the wildlife charity’s team and volunteers will do surveys to better understand the site to help guide its future management. Possible options include areas of native woodland, and conservation grazing, with Exmoor ponies or cattle.
It just shows what can happen if we all get involved and unite for wildlife.
Find out how you can get involved in and help the Northumberland Wildlife Trust – even if you don’t live in this beautiful area!
Get involved - volunteer, visit nature reserves, go to events etc