The second cycle of counts of BP in the alienated zone of CAPS
The second cycle of counts of birds of prey in the alienated zone of Chornobyl Atomic Power Station (CAPS) was carried out from 20 to 22.01.2009. The length of automobile counts was about 380 km within the zone.
Snow cover was 15-40 cm thick. In the first day of works, 20th January, the weather was windless and sunny. A plot in the Pripyat-Dnieper interfluve was chosen for a visit, recommended by S.P. Gashchak (Chornobyl Centre on Problems of Nuclear Safety, Radioactive Waste and Radioecology). Unfortunately, during our last visit into CAPS zone this region had remained unsearched because of difficulties arisen with a permission to get there. That was a reason of underestimation of birds. Having gone by car along the Pripyat upstream, we turned to the north-west. On open areas we recorded 3 White-tailed Eagles. A concentration of White-tailed Eagles was revealed near the village of Gorodchan in Chornobyl district on ice-covered ponds of the Nesvich River, which separates borders of Ukraine and Byelorus (Braginsky district of Gomel region). Birds sat there on ice and trees. Several White-tailed Eagles were recorded also in the village of Chapaevka. In a total, 16 birds were registered there. One of the reasons of the bird concentration was two small unfrozen patches of water near closed sluices. On ice and walkways there were many tracks of birds. Some blood spots of the fish eaten by predators were discovered. In water, there were well seen backs of several fish species, gathered near the source of oxygen. On our way back, we observed 2 other individuals of White-tailed Eagles, and another bird was registered in the Pripyat floodplain. Overall, 22 White-tailed Eagles were counted during the day, 6 of them in adult plumage.
On the 21st January, the weather has significantly worsened. The wind was up to 12m/sec, sun appeared for a short time only in the second part of the day. We surveyed the left bank of the Pripyat mouth (villages of Ladyzhychi, Teremtsy). To improve visibility we went on ice, and climbed trees on islands. Only one White-tailed Eagle was observed there. Another bird was met near the village of Paryshev. We visited a cooling pond of CAPS, covered with ice. One more bird was counted near the village of Lelev. In a total, 4 birds were recorded, 1 of them identified as a juvenile.
On the 22nd January the weather was similar. We repeated the route of December counts and surveyed mouths of the rivers Uzh and Pripyat and a part of Kyiv Reservoir to the village of Strakholesye. The area of open water equaled to near 2 ha. Waterfowl was not observed. One adult White-tailed Eagle was near the glade. Another adult bird rested on a power line near the village of Ivanovka.
Thus, 28 White-tailed Eagles were counted in a total. Of them, 17 birds were juveniles, 8 adults, for 3 birds their age was not identified.
Also according to words of game-keeper’s service of one of the hunting lands located near the village of Fedorovka (a border of the alienated zone, the Uzh River floodplain) on wolf’s baits, made of carcasses of home animals in mid-January, they recorded a concentration of White-tailed Eagles consisted of up to 10 birds.
We are sincerely thankful to the Director of the building firm “Remontnik” (Kyiv) A.A. Mikhalko for sponsor support of our works.
Sergey Domashevsky, Ukrainian Birds of Prey Research Centre
Igor Chizhevsky, Chornobyl Radioecological Centre