Scottish Short-eared Owl makes it to Morocco

Scottish owl

The bird, fitted with a satellite tag while breeding in Scotland, made the extraordinary journey late this autumn.

A Scottish Short-eared Owl has made it to North Africa, according to British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) researchers.

The breeding female, satellite tagged at her nest site on Arran on 11 June this year, is currently wintering near Oualidia in Morocco. The bird left Arran to visit Bute and Kintyre from 15 to 17 July, returning to Arran for 10 days and then moving to mainland Ayrshire on 27 July. She remained here (near Dalmellington) until the end of October.

She then moved to Devon, where she was present on 8 November, leaving the following evening to head south. With the help of a strong tailwind, she travelled some 495 km into France in just six hours – an average of 82.5 km/h. Continue reading

Birdwatching for peace of mind and better health


(CNN) — Spring is almost here when millions of birds will begin to pass through our cities and towns on their trek back north – known as Spring migration. For me, the excitement about birds is year-round. Few things pull me out of a funk like the sudden appearance of a bluebird in my backyard, the vivid blue against a green magnolia tree like an exclamation point.

I scramble for binoculars to get a closer look, and as I turn the focus wheel, my cloudy, scattered mind refocuses, too. The tiny indigo beauty rewards me with a chest puff, a rust-colored breast popping against the brilliant blue.

The sound of bird song and rustling leaves lead me to take a deep sip of fresh air, and the tightness in my chest disappears. My spirits, low since my mother’s death, lift for now. I look skyward for the next flutter.

Birding to calm the mind

When you’re birding, “you’re almost in a different world,” said Heather Wolf, a bird guide for NYC Audubon in New York.

It’s a skill of fine-tuned observation, which rewards the birder with a new perspective.

“All of the things that might be weighing you down in your daily life, it’s an escape. You forget about them when you’re birding,” Wolf said.

Wolf leads a group through Brooklyn Bridge Park, a mini birding oasis, complete with a stunning backdrop.

She takes the binocular-wearing birders through a paved path surrounded by foliage. You can hear the tweeting as birds dash between bushes or hop up tree trunks.

Wolf excitedly points out species along the walk: “A phoebe just landed.” “Oh wow!! that’s a woodpecker. It’s a downy woodpecker. Everyone see that?”

Her excitement is infectious. There are more than 900 species of birds in the U.S. and Canada. Many of the birders on this walk are in their 30s, as birding increasingly draws a younger crowd [ . . . ]

Continue at CNN: Birdwatching for peace of mind and better health

The World Outdoors: Boost your Vitamin N intake with nature activites

I was reading recently about research done at the University of Exeter in England on the links between people’s health and bird watching in the natural world.Dr. Daniel Cox concluded that “experiences of nature provide many mental-health benefits, particularly for people living in urban areas.” Abundance of birds was one of the important characteristics that was controlled for.

Naturalists in the state of Victoria in Australia recognized this years ago and the concept gained traction quickly in the spring of 2010 at a “Healthy Parks Healthy People” congress. Their movement is now worldwide.

From the U.S. National Parks Service to Finland and from South Korea to Scotland, the take-up has been impressive. Ontario Parks started promoting Healthy Parks Healthy People in 2015.

Sarah McMichael, a coordinator with Ontario Parks, said that Healthy Parks Healthy People continues to showcase the important role that healthy green space plays in human health across the province: “We promote time in the outdoors as a means to a healthier lifestyle.”

“Ontario parks are the place for you to get outside and get your dose of nature!” she explained. “In honour of HPHP, we are opening our doors and offering free day-use at all provincial parks on Friday, July 20. It’s a great opportunity to bring your friends and family out to a provincial park and enjoy one of the many outdoor activities at Ontario Parks, whether it’s hiking, cycling, swimming, paddling, or birding.”

Dozens of parks have planned special programming for July 20. It is also just a good opportunity to explore a new park or a local provincial park on your own. Last week by the Gideon Dr. entrance to Komoka Provincial Park I did well with grassland species including grasshopper sparrow and Eastern meadowlark.

Whether you visit a provincial park, a conservation area, or a municipal Environmentally Significant Area, the point is to enjoy all of the benefits of the world outdoors [ . . . ]


Continue at LONDON FREE PRESS: The World Outdoors: Boost your Vitamin N intake with nature activites | The London Free Press