pesticides a suspected cause of a big drop in North American bird numbers since 1970

birdmap-900The skies are emptying out.

The number of birds in the United States and Canada has fallen by 29 percent since 1970, scientists reported on Thursday. There are 2.9 billion fewer birds taking wing now than there were 50 years ago.

cactus wrenThe analysis, published in the journal Science, is the most exhaustive and ambitious attempt yet to learn what is happening to avian populations. The results have shocked researchers and conservation organizations.

In a statement on Thursday, David Yarnold, president and chief executive of the National Audubon Society, called the findings “a full-blown crisis.”

Experts have long known that some bird species have become vulnerable to extinction. But the new study, based on a broad survey of more than 500 species, reveals steep losses even among such traditionally abundant birds as robins and sparrows.

There are likely many causes, the most important of which include habitat loss and wider use of pesticides. Silent Spring, Rachel Carson’s prophetic book in 1962 about the harms caused by pesticides, takes its title from the unnatural quiet settling on a world that has lost its birds:

“On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn chorus of robins, catbirds, doves, jays, wrens, and scores of other bird voices, there was now no sound.”

Kevin Gaston, a conservation biologist at the University of Exeter, said that new findings signal something larger at work: “This is the loss of nature.”

Balitmore orioleCommon bird species are vital to ecosystems, controlling pests, pollinating flowers, spreading seeds and regenerating forests. When these birds disappear, their former habitats often are not the same.

full article on the New York Times website

Rugby World Cup: the AB’s blow the Irish away

By Roger Childs

Fast and furious 

Abs v Ireland 1It was expected to be a tight game and the Irish could look back to a 40-29 win over the All Blacks in 2016 and 16-9 two years later.  This time they were never a threat, and the New Zealanders turned on an efficient and dominant performance to win 46-14. And only a bad  refereeing decision gave the Irish a second try.

From the start the All Blacks showed their intentions to play a fast, open game and, by running the backs deeper and invariably having an extra man, they were two tries up in the first quarter. From there on it was one-way traffic with seven tries in total. 

Abs V Ireland 2019The Irish did score under the posts late in the game, and were awarded a second highly controversial penalty try. Matt Todd put his body between an Irish forward trying to touch the post with the ball. Todd’s action was quite legitimate, but referee Nigel Owens ruled he had entered the non-existent ruck by the side, sent him off and awarded a penalty try. However, the All Blacks roared back to get the last laugh, when Beauden Barrett set up brother Jordie away to score in the corner in the 80th minute.

A wonderful spectacle

The 60,000 at the ground, plus the millions watching on television around the world, were treated to a rugby master class.  The All Blacks were at their best with a combination of rapid passing, backing up the ball carrier, variation in kicking which allowed players to contest the ball, and excellent driving by the forwards in mid field. The pack only lost one lineout, and were efficient in protecting the ruck ball so new attacks could be mounted.

ABs v Ireland the final tryThe Irish couldn’t cope with the speed of the New Zealanders and the three Canterbury players who had never faced Ireland before – Richie Mohunga, George Bridge and Sevu Reece – were outstanding on attack. Aaron Smith provided the essential speedy service from scrums and rucks, and Beauden Barrett frequently injected pace in the backline as the extra man.

When the forwards did the “pick and go” in mid field they always made ground and invariably linked up with the backs. A case in point was the sixth try where Ardie Savea made a break of 30 metres, handed on to Dane Coles in support who then sent left winger George Bridge away for the try. 

It doesn’t get easier

Next week’s semi-final is against England who thumped Australia 40-16 in their quarter final. That match probably pitches the world’s two best teams against each other. It will be another interesting spectacle and the All Blacks should not be complacent or over-confident. England has a big pack and fast backs, but hopefully the New Zealanders will be able to tire the English forwards.  A mouth-watering encounter is in prospect. 

movie review — ‘The Nightingale’

One of the most powerful films yet seen about the country’s colonial foundation and the cruelties that were an indelible part of it. –Sandra Hall, Sydney Morning Herald

Tough and uncompromising viewing

By Roger Childs

The NightingaleBack in 2009 the movie Van Diemen’s Land delved into Tasmania’s colonial past with a grim story based on actual events. A group of convicts escape from the remote Sarah’s Island settlement on the west coast and attempt the tough crossing back to Hobart. When they run out of food, they turned on each other and the inevitable cannibalism occurs.

That film was not for the faint-hearted and neither is The Nightingale, which contains graphic violence against men, women and children, both white and black, involving assaults, murders and rapes. It is set in 1825 and is a story of hardship, brutality, endurance, revenge, and, ultimately understanding and redemption.

Jennifer Kent with an award at the Venice Film FestivalIt has created a stir on the Film Festival circuit, and director and scriptwriter Jennifer Kent, has earned high praise for not flinching from recounting an absorbing story about the cruelties and realities of Australia’s convict past. However, some cinema-goers have been appalled at the murders and rapes, and walked out. This violence is not easy viewing, but as much of it occurs in the first quarter it is worth enduring to get to the main element of the story — the tension of the hunters and the hunted trekking through the Van Diemens Land wilderness.

Nightingale turns hunter

The Nightingale 1 (1)Clare is a young Irish convict woman who has been given permission by her “supervisor” — Lieutenant Hawkins — to marry and have a child.  Early on she sings to a group of colonial soldiers and this gives the film its somewhat unlikely title. But Hawkins is a self-centred, arrogant and abusive master and with two of his soldiers commits shocking acts of violence against the family.

The unrepentant lieutenant then sets off on the long journey through the dense Tasmanian wilderness to take up a promotion in Launceston on the north coast. Clare is bent on revenge and with the help of the reluctant Aboriginal tracker, Billy, sets off in pursuit.

The pleasure of this movie is slowly watching Clare (Aisling Franciosi) and Billy (Baykali Ganambarr) find their common ground, and Jennifer Kent doesn’t make it easy for either of them in any step of the way. –Amy Nicholson Film Week, Los Angeles.

Billy, like Clare has had a traumatic past and lost family members, however in their evolving relationship this common ground ultimately leads to a growing empathy and loyalty, set against the rugged Tasmanian landscape.

Grim but absorbing

The Nightingale 2The Nightingale is a very impressive achievement and does not shy away from the brutality of the time. The acting is first rate and the two leads are excellent. Also Sam Claflin does superbly as the imperious, narcissistic and ruthless Howard – a man who has no redeeming features.

The cinematography does justice to the dense forests and varied landscapes of what was then Van Diemen’s Land, and there is a very convincing reconstruction of early 19th century, colonial Launceston. Another impressive feature is the evocation of the much abused Aboriginal culture with its fascinating, spiritual elements, and traditional survival skills in tracking and living off the land.

Jennifer Kent is to be congratulated on a brave and uncompromising film about a period of history many Australians would like to forget.

This is presently screening at the Shoreline.

jazzy simulated flyover of the 27-km Transmission Gully freeway


‘Freeway’ as it’s been stated that tolls will not be charged as had been mooted. In NZ an ‘Expressway’ is different from a ‘Motorway’ — the latter means no stopping and a ban on all animal, pedestrian and cycle traffic.  If Transmission Gully gets a Motorway designation, the change to an Expressway may be at MacKays (Crossing).

Paris to be home to the World’s largest rooftop urban farm

Paris urban farm

In an Olmstedian effort to bring city dwellers back to nature and to produce a sustainable, local assortment of fruits and vegetables, urban farming company Agripolis is bringing what will be the world’s largest rooftop urban farm to Paris. Situated along the périphérique in the city’s 15th arrondissement, the 150,000-square-foot [about 14,000 m² ] sprawling green space will sit atop the Exhibition Center at Porte de Versailles when the space opens in 2020. Designed by local French firm Valode & Pistre (who were also responsible for the recent transformation of Gare du Nord), the urban farm is a part of the decade-long renovation project to make the exhibition center a model for sustainable development as the rest of the city follows suit.

Located atop an exhibition center in the 15th arrondissement, the farm will provide the community with over 2,000 pounds [about 900 kg] of produce a day during high season when it opens next year

Read the rest

proposed 1080 aerial drops close to us next year

from the STOP our Tararuas, water, birds, animals being poisoned with 1080 Facebook group.

Tararua 1080 drop in 2020

The maps shows the proposed zone for aerially dropping of 1080 over Tararuas next year. So many steams and rivers. Our Water Ways. Right up to public roads. Privately owned farmland, lifestyle blocks, pine forest…

NZ is TB free by world standards. There were no possums found with TB in the survey, there is no evidence possums could give cattle TB. There are no infected herds in this area.