Impressions of the ІІІ International Conference «Birds of prey of Ukraine»

The inevitable occurred, and the long-awaited 3d international conference “Birds of Prey of Ukraine” already held successfully.

For me, conferences look like meetings of friends – some you meet often, others you haven’t seen for ages. On arriving you also see new faces. This time it was similar.

The conference gathered many people in love with birds of prey. They had a lot to discuss. Undoubtedly, importance of the conference was added by participation of Russian and Byelorussian colleagues, represented by such well-known ornithologists as V.M. Galushin, V.P. Belik, V.V. Ivanovsky, L.V. Malovichko. Among other Byelorussian colleagues of ‘young and middle generation’ it was pleasant to see V.Ch. Dombrovsky, D.E. Vinchevsky, D.A. Kitel, taking active part in the conference.

Photos by: S.A. Gladkevich, E.V. Gugueva, M.N. Gavrilyuk, K.A. Pismennyi, N.M. Seliverstov

Probably many participants wondered why the conference is called ‘third’. All doubts were cleared up by Vladimir Strigunov, the Chairman of Working Group of Falcons and Owls of Ukraine. The first workshop was in 1985, Melitopol, the second in 1988, Kyiv, during the second conference on birds of prey of the USSR.

Over 40 reports were presented at Kryvyi Rih conference. As for me I would like to mention the following.

The presentation of Vladimir Galushin about tolerant ornithology touched actual problems of bioethics. When study birds of prey, we do not always think about birds suffering from investigation press. Mr. Galushin correctly reminded us about it, using a postulate that ‘a blank spot in science is better than emptiness in nature’.
Sincere interest and I could say, even admiration, caused a report by Vladimir Ivanovsky about attraction of birds of prey to artificial nests. If someone did at least a birdhouse or nestling box, he can understand scale of this work. During 25 years it was made and hung out 219 artificial nests (2 to 5 nests in each group)! Here is a real contribution of a scientist in conservation of birds!
Vitaly Vetrov without extra pomposity told about results of investigations of birds of prey in steppe zone of Ukraine for the last decade. A work group including V.V. Vetrov, Yu.V. Milobog and V.I. Strigunov surveyed it almost completely, length of automobile routes exceeded 50,000 km. The steppe zone of Ukraine is undoubtedly best investigated for birds of prey.
The report of V. Dombrovsky revived the audience. Though dedicated to transboundary protected areas, it awoke interest in translocation of Sakers. These three falcons, marked with satellite transmitters flew (in spite of generally accepted views on their migration) across Belarus, Ukraine, and even into Russia.
Ivan Mitiay always surprises. It seemed nothing new could be discovered in oology. But it turns out there are many unsolved issues. Results are also interesting: according to oological indices it is possible to distinguish related species and subspecies of birds of prey (Black Kite and Red Kite, Lesser Kestrel and Common Kestrel, Buteo buteo buteo and Buteo buteo vulpinus, etc.)
Speeches of Viktor Belik were also an example of high ornithological professionalism. Earlier, literature data of the Imperial Eagle breeding in Stavropol Territory were limited by finds of 2 nests in 1980s. However, in May 2008, Viktor Belik investigated Stavropol Territory by car together with Vitaly Vetrov, Yury Milobog and Lyubov Malovichko and found 2 new nests for two days. During this trip they also discovered 28 breeding sites of other rare species of the Northern Caucasus namely the Lesser Spotted Eagle.
D.E. Vinchevsky presented interested data on diet traits of the Montagu’s Harrier, earlier I had been puzzled why they do not eat entrails of mouse-like rodents. I would like to note a high observation keenness of the author, large volume of collected material and its high scientific quality.
The report of N.A. Bagrikova on breeding of Black Vulture in the Crimea proved my idea that some species are not rare, but poor studied. Sometimes unexpected discoveries wait for us nearby. The same can be said about reports of V.V. Vetrov on breeding Barn Owl and Eagle Owl in the Crimea.
Presentation of A.N. Tsvelykh about wintering of different coloration morphs of the Buzzard in the Crimea impressed by thoroughness of collected material. Indirect data, without use of traditional methods of investigation, demonstrate their migratory relocations.
It was interesting to listen to S. Gladkevich about his experience of taking pictures of birds. It’s a pity that little time remained for this report.

Generally, the conference stayed in memory with its warm atmosphere, friendly reception and sincere interest of participants in study and conservation of raptors. A light feeling of sorrow remained because the conference so quickly finished…
The only regret you had no time to communicate with someone, ask something or share some news. It means, this can be done at next meetings.

Impressions presented by Maxim Gavrilyuk

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