Specialist small-ship expedition cruise company Heritage Expeditions offers ‘Siberia’s Forgotten Coast’ tour which explores Kamchatka’s remote coastline and supports the critically endangered spoon-billed sandpiper. The company is delighted with the latest news that 22 healthy chicks have been released into the wild.
Heritage Expeditions Commercial Director & Expedition Leader Aaron Russ says, “Having supported conservation efforts for the spoon-billed sandpiper since 2011, we are thrilled to learn of this latest success, part of international efforts to help save this incredible wader from extinction.”
Of the 30 eggs collected from Arctic breeding grounds, 22 chicks were successfully reared in captivity before being released recently into their natural habitat of Meinypil'gyno, Russia.
The head of BirdsRussia, a Russian NGO committed to the Conservation and Study of Wild Birds, Dr Evgeny Syroechkovskiy, explains, “The birds are healthy. All 'wards' were provided with tags before release so they can be tracked along the migration routes, which began in early August. We followed them every day documenting who stayed, who has flown away and who is doing what. "
The international ‘head-starting’ project which aims to preserve and increase the bird population was launched nine years ago with the participation of the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust, British Royal Society for the Conservation of Birds and the International Spoon-Billed Sandpiper Task Force of the EAAFP and is supported by the Chukotka Government.
These iconic wading birds only breed in Chukotka and northern Kamchatka in the Far East of Russia, a remote, largely inaccessible region, making it difficult for researchers attempting to identify potential new breeding sites for the birds.
However Heritage Expeditions whose purpose-built expedition ships allow them to reach otherwise isolated and inaccessible locations, have been able to support SBS conservation efforts by providing transport for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force and BirdsRussia. This has enabled researchers to visit parts of the 4,500-kilometre coastline in search of breeding pairs and discover new breeding sites. The company has also delivered a new boat and quad bike to assist research and even transported spoon-billed sandpiper eggs and chicks bound for a conservation breeding facility.
Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force Coordinator Dr Christoph Zöckler describes the partnership with Heritage Expeditions as a ground breaking example for future cooperation in modern conservation. "Nature conservation urgently needs more collaboration with tourists to enhance their efforts to save the ailing biodiversity on this planet. Our relationship with Heritage Expeditions is a win-win situation for both and an outstanding example of an effective relationship between a conservation group and the business sector."
Passengers who join the 14-day Siberia’s Forgotten Coast expedition will not only be able to view spoon-billed sandpipers in Meinypil’gyno the main breeding area in Chukotka, they will also have the chance to play an active role in locating breeding areas in locations never before surveyed.
Every day of the expedition reveals the richness and diversity of wildlife species. Highlights include the Commander Islands where sea otters, a variety of whale species and a plethora of sea birds from red-face cormorants to whiskered auklets may be seen, as well as the Govena Peninsula and the largely unknown Chukotka Coast, both of which are home to brown bears.
Heritage Expeditions’ next Siberia’s Forgotten Coast voyage departs from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy on 22nd June 2021. Prices from US$7380 pp based on a triple share cabin and includes all meals during the voyage and expedition shore excursions.
Further information on spoon-billed sandpipers, visit: https://trips.heritage-expeditions.com/spoon-billed-sandpiper-conservation/
For further information on Siberia’s Forgotten Coast voyage see : https://www.heritage-expeditions.com/destinations/russian-far-east-travel/siberia-kamchatka-cruise/
images © ACharles, ETan, CCollins, GBreton
Flora, fauna and all kinds of wildlife are enjoying benefits of a huge decrease in global carbon emissions and footfall reduction in some of our treasured outdoor spaces. These include the Celtic Routes counties Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire in Wales and Wicklow, Waterford and Wexford in Ireland.
Dolphin Spotting off New Quay, Ceredigion
Cardigan Bay is famed for bottlenose dolphins and has a population of around 250 attracted by abundant feeding grounds, undisturbed habitat and clean waters. It’s possible to see dolphins year round, but prospects are best in summer when there’s plenty of mackerel in the sea. Improve the odds of seeing them and colonies of seabirds by taking a charter boat trip into Cardigan Bay. Bottlenose dolphins are highly intelligent and extremely sociable and often leap alongside boats riding the bow wave making them fun to observe up close.
The seven islands, Caldey, Grassholm, Middleholm, Ramsey, Skokholm, Skomer and St Margaret’s are uninhabited now except Caldey, although many are nature reserves with wardens. Skomer, Ramsey and Caldey are the most accessible with daily boat trips from the mainland between Easter and October while the others can be seen up close from a boat. Skomer, Skokholm and Grassholm are grouped together as a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of their puffins, Manx shearwaters, and gannets. Day visits are not currently permitted, but boat trips touring around the islands are operational.
Kidwelly Quay and The Wetlands in Bynea, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire
Carmarthenshire's south coast is a haven for migratory birds and sites of scientific interest include Kidwelly Quay and The Wetland in Bynea. Sandy muddy banks attract birds including waders and wildfowl. The 450-acre Llanelli Wetland Centre is Wales only Wildfowl and Wetland Trust centre. Visitors may see wetland and wildfowl birds including black-tailed godwit, migrant geese, warblers, lapwings, sandpipers and if you’re lucky, peregrine falcons and hen harriers.
Seal Spotting at Cemaes Head, Pembrokeshire
Autumn is the best time to spot one of Pembrokeshire’s best-loved mammals, the Atlantic grey seal. Not only is this when the females come ashore to give birth, but there’s a good chance you’ll get to see their adorable white pups too. Pups generally arrive between late August and November, starting life with silky-soft white fur. When this is replaced with a thicker, darker, waterproof adult coat the pup is ready to learn to catch fish for itself. Cemaes Head, North Pembrokeshire, is Wales highest sea-cliff and an important breeding site where many pups are born. The inaccessible pebbly beach below is the spot for the largest Atlantic grey ‘haul-out’ in Pembrokeshire, when up to 200 seals and pups can be ashore at any one time.
Persecuted to near extinction in the UK, the Red Kite could at one time only be found in Central Wales. Now there have been Red Kite reintroduction programmes across the UK with one recent sites being in Carmarthenshire. Narrow valleys and high mountains mean the Ystradffin area is one of the best habitats for this magnificent bird of prey.
Cors Caron, Ceredigion
This 2,000-acre National Nature Reserve is a 2,000-acre area which includes three raised bogs, areas of deep peat that have built up over 12,000 years. Untamed reed-beds, wet grasslands, woodland, rivers, streams and ponds sustain a variety of wildlife.
Wexford Wildfowl Reserve, Wexford
Wexford Wildfowl Reserve was originally founded as a winter sanctuary for Greenland white-fronted geese. Located on flat farmland reclaimed from the sea in the 1840s, 40% of the world’s population of Greenland white-fronted geese find food and shelter here along with thousands of wildfowl, waders and other birds. Over 250 species of birds have been recorded.
*The reserve is not currently open, but check here for updates and information on opening.
Whales Breaching at Hook Head, Wexford
November marks the beginning of whale watching season off the Hook Peninsula. In 2010 there were reports of Fin whales and a Humpback spotted off the coast at Hook Head and they have made a welcome return every year since. The red balcony at the top of Hook Lighthouse makes an ideal viewing point with binoculars or whale watching boat trips are available.
Humpback whales are amongst the largest animals on earth, growing up to 16 metres in length and weighing up to 40 tons. Experts have located a breeding ground for the ‘Irish’ Humpback whales in the Cape Verde islands meaning they travel nearly 5,000km every year through some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes to get to Wexford's rich feeding grounds. Hook Head is also a Special Protected Area for birds with an abundance of geodiversity, vegetated sea cliffs and fossils.
Ardmore is great for bird watchers who may spot nesting fulmars and kittiwakes at Ram Head; divers and waders, whimbrel, cliff-nesting house martins; migrant warblers and goldcrests. Rarer species include black-throated diver, eider, red-necked phalarope, black redstart, firecrest and crossbill.
Avoca Valley, Wicklow
An area associated with the copper mining industry, the valley was immortalised by Thomas Moore in the song ‘The Meeting of the Waters’. Renowned for its hand-weaving, Avoca was fictional village ‘Ballykissangel’ in the BBC series of the same name. The Red Kite walk winds through dense woodland and you can view the village from the forest walk following the red way marking signs. The Golden Eagle Trust re-introduced a set of red kite birds into Kilmagig Forest and now breeding pairs have made this their habitat.
The Celtic Routes are comprised of 78 visitor experiences across the six counties, giving tourists the opportunity to explore these beautiful and spiritual parts of west Wales and eastern Ireland characterised by unspoilt beaches, rolling countryside and dramatic mountain ranges.
Images thanks to © Daisy Gilardini Wildlife & Andrew-Halsall, Boomer Jerritt
After a rollercoaster few months keeping paws crossed, top doggy festival Dogstival sponsored by Purely Pets, is preparing to go ahead on 5 and 6 September. This promises to be the ultimate treat for all Very Important Pets, who have been working hard to provide companionship and exercise for their humans during these unprecedented times. Following the easing of Covid-19 guidelines, this two-day extravaganza of four-legged fun will again take place in the heart of doggy paradise, the New Forest, in Burley Park.
For everyone’s safety and reassurance, Dogstival’s organisers are working with New Forest District Council and Hampshire Police on plans, risk assessments and guidelines. Burley Park itself offer acres of space to explore, allowing easy social distancing and there will be plenty of extra hygiene measures in place including multiple hand sanitiser stations throughout and on-site cleaning teams across both days. Additionally, tickets are only being sold in-advance to comply with ‘track and trace’ and help manage capacity to ensure social distancing guidelines are met.
Dogstival will once again host the canine activities, shows and demonstrations that made their inaugural event such a hit with thousands of dogs and their owners last year. Dogstival will give pets a much-deserved ‘play-rise’ over one pawsome weekend with features including:
Richard Nowell from Lighthouse Marketing, organisers of Dogstival says: “We are delighted to start planning for Dogstival in September to ensure a much-deserved day out for our beloved pets and their humans. Being outdoors with acres of space to socially distance, we are confident in the level of public safety and we will be investing in a range of hygiene measures to protect our guests.”
Ross Hallifax, Director at Purely Pets, Dogstival’s headline sponsor adds: “Over the last few months, the positives to dog ownership have been highlighted more than ever. Our four-legged friends have provided support and comfort for many owners and have probably never been walked more in their life! That’s why it’s fantastic news that Dogstival can go ahead, in a controlled environment and we can continue to celebrate our canine friends. The show is not only a ‘paw-fect’ day out, but a great opportunity to find out more about our dogs and how to keep them happy and healthy. Whether a loyal companion or the centre of a family, we understand the important role they play in people’s lives and as specialists, our dedicated team can be trusted to offer the right insurance for owners and their pets alike.”
Boutique Shopping offers around 150 quality stalls selling everything a dog could wish for, as well as Artisan Food & Drink from Hampshire and New Forest producers.
Live Music and a Vintage Fairground complete the entertainment.
Tickets are advance purchase only. They are £13.90 for adults & £8 children aged 6-16yrs. Free for under 6 year olds. Concessions available. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit Dogstival.co.uk. Also keep up with the latest announcements @dogstival on social media. Click here for more ideas of things to do, places to stay and general information on the New Forest area.
Home Farm Glamping have announced a new partnership with Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, the leading voice for wildlife conservation in Hertfordshire and neighbouring areas. £3 of every booking made (including all existing 2020 bookings) will be donated to Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. The partnership will help fund the work that the Trust do to care for wildlife, whilst helping guests experience local wildlife and enjoy the surrounding area during their stay.
Located on part of the green belt where Greater London meets Hertfordshire, Home Farm Glamping is situated north of London, between Elstree and the medieval village of Aldenham. Its aim is to celebrate the best that both town and country has to offer, being only 15 miles from Central London, the site is the first stop for many looking to recharge their batteries.
Jess Allen-Back, owner of Home Farm Glamping said, “We’re delighted that the staycation boom has enabled us to give back to those working so hard to protect wildlife and help people connect with nature. Like us, Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust believe that wildlife should be able to thrive alongside our everyday lives. We believe our partnership will create a joint effort to protect the precious land our family have lived on for over 400 years and encourage our guests to get the best from their stay.”
Josh Kubale, Communications Manager at Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust said, “We are really pleased that Home Farm Glamping have chosen to support the Trust and are looking forward to some great wildlife events on site in the future. Guests will be able to explore the wonderful wildlife all around them and will also be helping the Trust care for wildlife and wild places throughout Hertfordshire and Middlesex.”
From 1st August 2020, those staying at Home Farm will be able to take advantage of the following activities provided by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust:
More on the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust here.
images: Barn Owl © Russell Savory Peacock butterfly & Juvenile grasshopper (c) Josh Kubale
Event name: Hounds in your Home
Time: 2pm – 3.30pm
Date: Sunday 23 August
Cost: Free to watch, £3 to enter
Event : Join very special guest host Sue Perkins, celebrity judges and talented hounds at this fun day in for the whole family - four-legged or otherwise. Register to enter your pup in one of six categories and join live on Sunday 23 August via Mayhew’s Facebook page where celebrity judges will pick the winners from each category. You will have the chance to vote for Best In Show too!
How to enter: Record a short video, no longer than 60 seconds, and enter one of six categories via the Mayhew website
Garden birds benefit most from extra food during winter, but will visit garden feeders year round once they know they’re there. Feeders can be made from materials you probably have at home already - simply hang them up in a tree, from a post, bracket or even a washing line. The ideal spot is somewhere that doesn’t get disturbed too much, is sheltered and offers plenty of visibility so birds can see any danger coming (like neighbourhood cats). Put small amounts of food out at first, so you don’t get waste that might attract unwanted visitors.
Some birds, including robins, prefer feeding from a flat surface, so you could put out a tray, table or dish of seeds to suit them.
What you will need
See the National Trust website for lots more ideas and inspiration
all images copyright National Trust
Making a pine cone feeder. Click on images to enlarge.
YouTube Videos on how to make easy feeders from a mug and a toilet roll holder HERE
Dogs Trust asks the nation: is now really the right time for you to get a dog?
Charity concerned about impending puppy crisis as online searches to ‘get a puppy’ rise by 120%
DogsTrust is asking the public to weigh up if they are actually ready for the realities of dog ownership before taking the leap, as searches to get a dog have shot up in the past month while the country is on lockdown.
The charity is concerned there may be a spike in people giving up their dog when normality resumes and reality sinks in. This is the sad state of affairs that often follows Christmas when people also get dogs on a whim.
Dog ownership can be rewarding, but caring for a dog when you are at home 24/7 is not the norm, so the charity is temporarily tweaking its famous slogan to ‘A Dog Is For Life, Not Just For Lockdown’ to get everyone to think twice before going ahead with a puppy purchase.
In the long-term, are you ready…
Dogs Trust’s Chief Executive, Owen Sharp, said:
“Dog ownership can be so rewarding, but it’s also a huge responsibility which is why we are reminding people today that ‘A Dog Is For Life, Not Just For Lockdown’.
Like Christmas, when people are at home more, they might think now is the perfect time to get a dog. For some people this will be the case, but we’re asking people to consider when the lockdown lifts how your life will need to change to accommodate your four-legged friend.
We’re encouraging potential dog owners to carry out our test (see below) to find out if you’re Dog Ready. Are you ready to be chief pooper scooper? Are you ready to forego a lie in ever again? As well as more serious questions around vet treatment and preparing for emergencies. If there is still a dog- shaped space in your life, then it may be the right time for you.”
Graham Norton, owner of Labradoodle Bailey, TV presenter and Dogs Trust supporter said:
“As a dog owner myself, I know how much joy four-legged friends bring to our lives. I’ve certainly found that my gorgeous dog, Bailey, has taken the boredom out of lockdown for me, and I’ve really enjoyed spending even more time with him than usual. However, whilst the thought of introducing a cute, fluffy pooch to your family right now might be appealing, I fully support Dogs Trust’s important message, ‘A Dog Is For Life, Not Just For Lockdown’. Don’t forget that you still have to walk a dog on a rainy evening and pick up their poo in the dark!
Please remember that life will go back to ‘normal’ at some point with people returning to work and school, and when this happens you need to think about whether you can still fit a dog into your life. Taking a look at Dogs Trust’s ‘are you dog ready’ test is a great place to start if you’re thinking seriously about getting a dog.”
Dogs Trust are asking people to take the test and see how ‘dog-ready’ they actually are. If you think you are ready for a dog, although centres are closed to the public, rehoming is happening on a limited basis. Please see website for details. Take the fun test here.
Known as 'Lucy’s Law' and named after Lucy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who died in 2016 after being subjected to appalling conditions on a Welsh puppy farm, the legislation will mean that anyone looking to buy or adopt a puppy or kitten must now either deal directly with a breeder or visit an animal rehoming centre or shelter.
Lucy’s Law means that puppies and kittens can no longer be sold by or through a third party; for example a commercial pet shop. Only breeders who have bred the animal themselves will be legally allowed to sell puppies and kittens to prospective pet owners, from the animal’s place of birth.
This means that anyone looking to buy or adopt a puppy or kitten under six months old must either deal directly with a breeder, or an animal rehoming centre. Puppy sales will only legally be completed after they are eight weeks old from the home or environment in which they were born and within the presence of the breeder and the mother.
The ban will put an end to the early separation of puppies and kittens from their mothers, as well as the terrible conditions in which some animals are bred. Such practices can cause lifelong socialisation issues for the animals, as well as increasing the likelihood of them developing preventable diseases. Besides protecting and improving animals lives, the ban will also protect the public from being tricked by unscrupulous sellers and deter puppy smugglers who abuse the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) by bringing underage puppies into the UK, which are then sold on for financial gain.
Mayhew’s support for Lucy’s Law
The decision to ban third party sales follows years of high profile campaigning by animal welfare charities including Mayhew and was taken following a public consultation in 2018 that revealed a 95% support for the ban.
The RSPB has collected top ten signs of spring that you may see from your garden:
3 Migrants returning – spring sees the return of migrant birds to the UK. In your garden you may be able to admire swooping swifts, marvel at sand martins balancing on telephone wires or hear the nightingales chirping call.
4 Bats waking up – you may start to see bats coming out to feast on insects in your garden – a single pipistrelle bat can eat 3,000 gnats in one night!
5 Bluebells – if you have any bluebells, now is the best time of year to see them burst into bloom, transforming the ground into a sea of blue.
6 Dragonflies return - the common darter dragonfly will start to come out. These regular visitors to gardens perch on vegetation, walls, fences, garden canes and washing lines as they wait to catch their prey, which, for a common darter dragonfly, is pretty much anything they can catch.
7 Frogspawn in ponds/toadlets emerging - If you have a pond in your garden, you may start to see tiny toadlets emerging. They love juicy insect larvae, spiders, slugs and worms, so you can create a toad haven by making your garden as insect-friendly as possible. Leave your leaves to dissolve in the ground rather than raking them up, planting wildflowers, or building a bug hotel!
8 Blossoms – if you’ve got crab apple or cherry trees in your garden they’ll be starting to burst into bloom. Bees love crab apple’s pink blossoms, while the cherry tree blossom holds both the male and reproductive parts in the same flower.
9 Grass snakes waking up - Grass snakes start to wake up from hibernation around now to look for a mate, so you might see one in your garden or park. The females lay eggs in places such as compost heaps where the rotting vegetation can keep the eggs nice and warm, so be sure to check any piles in your garden before moving them.
10 Dawn chorus for early risers on light mornings – from around March to July birds are looking to defend their territories and attract a mate, which means an early start! The first birds start singing about an hour before sunrise, with skylarks, song thrushes, robins and blackbirds starting off the choir. The early part of the day is perfect for birds, dark enough that predators can’t see them and the still air can carry song about 20 times as far. There’s always the RSPB bird radio if you can’t get enough and want to listen to birdsong throughout the day.
I'm Gilly, award winning journalist, travel writer and 12 x author. I'm published in national and regional papers / magazines.