Bearded Vulture Visits England’s Oldest National Park

Bearded Vulture Visits England’s Oldest National Park

The only other British sighting of a Bearded Vulture occurred back in 2016 in Monmouthshire.2

This bird of prey has a commanding presence—it’s huge and hairy-looking! The bearded vulture is large: 3-4 feet long with a wingspan of 7-9 feet. It can weigh 10-17 pounds, with females being slightly larger than males. Unlike other vultures, the bearded vulture is not “bald-headed.” In fact, bristles under its chin look like a raggedly “beard,” hence the bird’s name.3

Birdwatchers have flocked to the moors to see the bearded vulture, which has only been seen once before in the UK, the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust said. But the trust’s Tim Birch said it “couldn’t have come to a worse spot in terms of bird of prey persecution”. … Mr Birch said as it was coming up to grouse shooting season, there were fears the rare raptor could be intentionally poisoned or shot. … However Richard Bailey, gamekeeper and co-ordinator of the Peak District Moorland Group, said “suggestions that this vulture is at risk from attack by gamekeepers” were wrong.1

Admittedly, the bearded vulture has a rough, if not thuggish, reputation. In Germany it is called lammergeier, meaning “lamb-hawk,” due to its habit of preying on lambs—not a positive reputation in agricultural communities. Also called “ossifrage” (meaning bone-breaker), about 80% of the bearded vulture’s diet is animal bone marrow, mostly from mammal bones, but also from bird bones.3,4

[Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s] Birch said the bearded vulture fed mainly on bones from carcasses, very rarely on live prey, and could swallow bones whole, which were dissolved in its stomach.1

Although scavenging can provide needed food, especially during the breeding season, these vultures often attack live prey, such as hares, rock hyraxes, marmots, and even monitor lizards. More so than predatory hawks or eagles, bearded vultures often attack larger mammals, such as sheep or goats, which are dropped from heights onto rocky surfaces to break their bones. Bearded vultures also grab turtles and drop them from heights to crack open their shells.3,5

Meanwhile, to say this mountain-dwelling bird is rare—only the second time ever observed in Great Britain—is an understatement.

Birdwatcher Indy Kiemel Greene, 15, who photographed the bearded vulture on Sunday, shared the trust’s fears for its safety. He said: “Unfortunately this bird is at great risk because the location that it’s at in the Derbyshire Peaks is well-known for raptor persecution….”1

Its preferred habitat is a high-altitude mix of rocky crags, cliffs, canyons, and montane gorges. So what is it now doing in England’s Peak District anyway?

[Tim Birch] said it was thought the raptor had come from the French or Swiss Alps, where the endangered species is being reintroduced. About 500 birdwatchers have come to catch a glimpse of the bird from all over the UK, as well as France, Spain and the Netherlands. … It is thought the bird could stay in the area for a couple of weeks if it has found food before eventually returning to the Alps.1

For birdwatchers (and videographers) who can visit the Peak District National Park, this could be the opportunity of a lifetime. But if you visit the park with a pet poodle, keep your pet leashed and very close to you. No need to take a chance.

References
1. Burman, H. Fears for Bearded Vulture Spotted in the Peak DistrictBBC News. Posted on bbc.com July 14, 2020, accessed July 16, 2020.
2. Staff writer. Bearded Vulture Spotted Near Severn BridgeBBC News. Posted on bbc.com May 17, 2016, accessed July 16, 2020.
3. Jonsson, L. 1993. Birds of Europe, with North Africa and the Middle East. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press (transl. by David Christie), page 124. See also Clark, W. S. 1999. A Field Guide to the Raptors of Europe, the Middle east, and North Africa. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Pres, pages 56-60 & 302-303, plus Plate 12.
4. Obviously, bearded vultures are not the only predators adept at cracking and crushing bones of their prey—lions have earned a similar reputation (Daniel 6:24).
5. Other large-winged birds of prey are noted for dropping their victims in order to prepare them for ingestion. For example, near Jerusalem, eagles soar while scouting for mammals or reptiles; these same eagles are known to snatch tortoises, and to “kill [them] by dropping and smashing [the tortoises] on rocks from high in the air” (Quoting Noel and Helen Snyder. 1991. Birds of Prey. Stillwater, MN: Voyageur Press, 164).

*Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor of Apologetics and Chief Academic Officer at the Institute for Creation Research.

JAMES J. S. JOHNSON, J.D., TH.D. *  |

[Re-posted from ICR article at https://www.icr.org/article/bearded-vulture-visit-england-oldest-national-park ]

Reposted here with Dr. Jim’s permission and at his request. (Lee)

 

See Also:

James J. S. Johnson’s other articles here

Birds of the Bible – Name Study ~ Ossifrage

Birds of the Bible – Gathering of Vultures or Eagles

Gannet Blown Off-Course, by Strong Winds

Gannet Blown Off-Course, by Strong Winds

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

For Thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall. (Isaiah 25:4)

Gannet at Bempton Cliffs, Yorkshire England (Wikipedia photo credit)

What is an oceanic fish-eating seabird doing atop an inland trampoline in England? That was the question, recently, when a North Atlantic Gannet was seen resting on a British trampoline.(1)

Later, the weary-looking gannet moved to a garden, before it was gently captured by a resident (using a towel), who turned the poor seabird over to animal carers, who should return the bird to the wild after its health is aptly rehabilitated.

A seabird native to the North Atlantic has been rescued by the RSPCA after it took up residence in a Norfolk garden. Dawn Austin discovered the gannet resting on a trampoline in her North Wootton garden on Tuesday [June 2, 2020] and contacted vets when it did not fly away. … [Someone with] the RSPCA [Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] said there were no “obvious injuries” but the gannet was “very weak” and vets were doing all they could to help him. … feeding him three times a day as he was unable to feed himself, but they hoped that “having a chance to rest and recover” would help him “find the strength to pull through”.(1)

But gannets are seabirds—they belong at sea, not on trampolines! Gannets are gregarious seagulls that go far offshore to scoop up North Atlantic fish.

Gannets are a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and can dive at speeds of 60mph (96.5kmh) to catch fish.(1)

The largest seabirds in the North Atlantic can travel hundreds of miles from their homes just to catch food. … by following their elders. Scientists recorded thousands of [these] seabirds commuting to and from the Bass Rock, in the outer part of the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland.(2)

So how did the ocean-faring gannet end up resting on an inland trampoline? The animal protection charity guessed that the bird “was blown off course”.(1)

This is understandable, since the British Isles (and their coastal waters) have been experiencing some weird weather lately.(3)

Gannet flying over the Celtic Sea, near Ireland (Wikipedia photo credit)

Meanwhile, being blown off-course can change an individual’s destiny, and thus also he destinies of progeny who descend from that individual.(4)

And, in some cases, a ship being blown off-course can lead to world-changing consequences.(5),(6)

Consider how the apostle Paul, and those traveling with him in a boat, were blown off-course—and eventually shipwrecked off the coast of Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea.(5) Paul’s ministry unto Maltese individuals would not have occurred had it not been for the “accidental” shipwreck that providentially occurred there.(6)

Likewise, the Mayflower Separatists (“Pilgrims”) who sailed west in A.D.1620—400 years ago—were blown off-course, reaching (and settling in) what is now part of Massachusetts, rather than territory farther south (in “Virginia”, which then stretched up to the Hudson River) as planned.(5)

Yet God’s providence, seen in hindsight, makes sense of the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth—and thus the Pilgrims were forced to establish their own Scripture-based form of colonial self-government, rather than the Pilgrims arriving in “Virginia” territory, to merely join a preexisting colony south of Plymouth.(5)

Being blown off-course can be scary, to be sure—losing control (or, or put more accurately), losing the feeling of being in control) is usually a nerve-wracking experience. Yet God is in control—even in the storms of life.(7)

Morus bassanus adu.jpg
Gannet aloft (photo credit: Andreas Trepte / Wikipedia)

References

And, providentially speaking, sometimes an unexpected destination includes some unexpected help from strangers, such as Squanto and Hobomok, if you are a Mayflower Pilgrim. Or, if you are a wind-tossed seabird like a North Atlantic gannet, the help might come from Dawn Austin and some RSPCA vets.(8)

  1. Staff writer. 2020. North Atlantic Gannet Found on Norfolk Trampoline. BBC News – England (June 5, 2020), posted at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-norfolk-52938253 .  
  2. “By demonstrating that young gannets follow more experienced adults, we have shown that knowledge about the best feeding grounds may be being passed down from generation to generation.” Staff writer. 2019. Scientists Solve Mystery Behind How Gannets Hunt for Fish. BBC News – Scotland (November 1, 2019), posted athttps://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-50267180 . See also Wakefield, E. W., R. W. Furness, et al. 2019. Immature Gannets Follow Adults in Commuting Flocks Providing a Potential Mechanism for Social Learning. Journal of Avian Biology. Posted (September 18, 2019) at  https://doi.org/10.1111/jav.02164
  3. “A top climate scientist has called for more investment in climate computing to explain the UK’s recent topsy-turvy weather.” Harrabin, R. 2020. Weird weather: Can computers solve UK puzzle? BBC News – England (June 5, 2020), posted at https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-52921479 .
  4. Johnson, J. S. S. 2014. People Yet to Be Created. Acts & Facts. 43(11):20, posted at https://www.icr.org/article/people-yet-be-created .
  5. It was 400 years ago that the Mayflower providentially sailed for America, arriving at Plymouth (Massachusetts). See James J. S. Johnson, Mechanical Multi-tasking on the Mayflower. Acts & Facts. 46(11):21 (November 2017), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/mechanical-multitasking-mayflower .  See also James J. S. Johnson, Maple Syrup, Gold Nanoparticles, and Gratitude. Creation Science Update (May 25, 2020), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/maple-syrup-gold-nanoparticles-and-gratitude . The Spanish Armada’s disastrous experiences with “freak” storms during 1588 would be another example of sea-storms with historic consequences.
  6. Regarding the apostle Paul’s providential visit to and ministry at Malta, via shipwreck, see Acts 27:6-28:11.
  7. God is our personal refuge in all of the storms of life. Isaiah 25:4.
  8. God cares for birds at the individual level. Matthew 6:26; Luke 12:6-7.

Whinchat, Redstart, & Redchat: Debunking the “Speciation” Myth Again

Whinchat-perching.Parrotletsuk-photo

WHINCHAT photo credit: Parrotletsuk.typepad.com

 Whinchat, Redstart, and Redchat:  Debunking the “Speciation” Myth Again

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Are not two sparrows [στρουθια] sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows [στρουθιων].   (Matthew 10:29-31)

Are not five sparrows [στρουθια] sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?  But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows [στρουθιων].   (Luke 12:6-7)

It’s good to know that we are worth far more, to God Himself, than many “sparrows”.  However, the term “sparrows” (as quoted above) is an English translation of the New Testament Greek noun strouthion, a fairly general word for “small bird’ that can include many varieties of perching songbirds, in general, including yet not limited to the birds we label “sparrows”(1) —  including the Whinchat, a sometimes inconspicuous little songbird that resembles a thrush, wheatear, or a flycatcher.  (Or maybe a redstart?)

Whinchat-male.ScottishOrnithologistsClub

WHINCHAT Scottish Ornithologists’ Club

It was my privilege, on July 13th of AD2006, to view a Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra) among some roadside weeds, while in the fine company of my wonderful wife (Sherry) and Dr. Bill Cooper, England’s top-tier gentleman and scholar.

The bird-book that I was using, that day (as Laird Bill drove us along a motorway between Harwich and London), described the common Whinchat as follows:

Restless, short-tailed chat that perches openly on bush-tops, tall weeds and fences, flicking its wings and tail. Males in summer distinctive.  Females and autumn birds can be confused with the female Stonechat, but Whinchat’s conspicuous creamy eyebrows, boldly streaked rump and white wedges at base of tail (often noticed as birds flick tail to balance in the wind) are reliable fieldmarks.

[Quoting Chris Knightley & Steve Madge, POCKET GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF BRITAIN AND NORTH-WEST EUROPE (Yale Univ. Press, 1998), page 212.]  The Whinchat is a summer migrant, visiting (and nesting in) Great Britain and much of western Europe during the spring and summer months, migrating south to northwestern Africa for the winter months.  Its habits are typical of many other insect-eating passerines:

Nests on heaths, grassy moors, rough fields, damp rushy meadows and young coniferous plantations. Like Stonechat, pounces to the ground for insects, returning to same slightly elevated perch or flying quickly to another sprig nearby.  Broken song mixes short musical phrases with dry churrs and distinct pauses.  Call an agitated tu-tek, tu-tek-tek. Widespread on migration, often in some numbers in coastal bushes and fields.

[Again quoting Chris Knightley & Steve Madge, POCKET GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF BRITAIN AND NORTH-WEST EUROPE (Yale Univ. Press, 1998), page 212.]

The Whinchat has other names, including Paapje (Dutch), Braunkehlchen (German), Traquet tarier (French), and Buskskvätta (Swedish: “bush chat”).  [See Roger Tory Peterson, Guy Mountfort, & P.A.D. Hollom, BIRDS OF BRITAIN AND EUROPE (Houghton Mifflin / Peterson Field Guides, 5th rev. ed., 1993), pages 175-176.]  Moreover, to the chagrin of taxonomic “splitters”, the Whinchat is known to hybridize with the Siberian Stonechat and the Common (European) Stonechat of western (and southern) Europe.  [See Eugene McCarthy, HANDBOOK OF AVIAN HYBRIDS OF HE WORLD (Oxford, 2006), page 238.] – proving that those 3 chats descend form a common ancestor pair that survived the worldwide Flood aboard Noah’s Ark.

More surprising, to the birding community, is the capture and DNA verification (by the Lista Bird Observatory in Vest-Agder, Norway, during September AD2013) of a hybrid parented by male Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) and a female Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra), published in the Journal of Ornithology.(2)

Redchat-Redstart-Whinchat-hybrid.Norway-JonasLangbraten-photo

Common Redstart x   Whinchat HYBRID

Photograph by Jonas Langbråten

(18 Sept. AD2013, Lista Bird Observatory, Vest-Agder, Norway)

The male Redstart-Whinchat hybrid was captured by bird-banding volunteers, near the southern tip of Norway’s peninsula.

“We have a standardized bird banding project where we mark migratory birds in the spring and autumn. We have volunteer bird watchers going every hour to catch birds in mist nets to band them,” says Jan Erik Røer from the Norwegian Ornithological Society.

[Quoting Ingrid Spilde’s “Mysterious Bird was Unique Cross of Two Unrelated [sic] Species”, Science Nordic, (3-11-AD2015), at http://sciencenordic.com/mysterious-bird-was-unique-cross-two-unrelated-species . ]

The hybrid’s unofficial name is rødskvett (“redchat”), blending parts of the Norwegian words (Buskskvett and Rødstjert) for its two parents.

Needless to say, this little “redchat” has caused a lot of confusion and controversy among evolutionists at the Natural History Museum in Oslo, where the “speciation” mythology (of supposed biogenetic divergence, “13.3 million years” ago) is popularly taught, as if there was real “science” (empirical or forensic) to support that imaginary scenario.(3)

Once again the “speciation” myth of “natural selection”-advocating evolutionists, both theistic and atheistic, is debunked by the real-world evidence.


References

  1. When the Lord Jesus referred to God’s watchcare over “sparrows” (English translation for Greek strouthion], He used a Greek word that is more general in its categorical coverage than is our English term “sparrow”. The Greek noun strouthion denotes a bird in the wild, possibly any small perching songbird, including but not limited to what we call “sparrows”. (In fact, the Septuagint translators used strouthion to translate the Hebrew noun tsippôr, in Psalm 84:3a [84:4a BH], which is usually translated simply as “bird” (e.g., Genesis 7:14; Deuteronomy 14:11 & 22:6; Psalm 104:1; Ezekiel 39:4) or “fowl” (e.g., Deuteronomy 4:17; Nehemiah 5:18; Ezekiel 17:23 & 39:17). The Septuagint translators also used strouthion to translate the Hebrew double-noun qe’ath-midbâr in Psalm 102:7b, a construct phrase that refers to some bird or birds that habituate open desert or semi-desert areas.)
  2. See Silje Hogner, Albert Burgas Riera, Margrethe Wold, Jan T. Lifjeld, & Arild Johnsen, “Intergeneric Hybridization Between Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus and Whinchat Saxicola rubetra Revealed by Molecular Analyses”, JOURNAL OF ORNITHOLOGY, 156(3):829-836 (2015), cited in Dave Appleton’s “Common Redstart x Whinchat”, BIRD HYBRIDS (1-13-AD2016), posted at http://birdhybrids.blogspot.com/2016/01/common-redstart-x-whinchat.html . This unexpected hybrid is discussed in Ingrid Spilde’s “Mysterious Bird was Unique Cross of Two Unrelated [sic] Species”, Science Nordic (3-11-AD2015), posted at http://sciencenordic.com/mysterious-bird-was-unique-cross-two-unrelated-species .
  3. See 1st Timothy 6:20, regarding the folly of “’science’ falsely so-called”.  See also, accord, John 3:12.
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