Archive for June, 2009

Collaborative ornithological researches in the Caucasus

Sunday, June 14th, 2009 Posted in Field researches, Photos | No Comments »
In early May 2009 the third Russian-Ukrainian expedition across the Northern Caucasus took place. The first expedition of this kind was in late May-early June 2004 along the Eastern Azov area and Taman. The second expedition in early May 2008 covered the Eastern Azov area and the Western Caucasus till Elbrus area, also Stavropolje and Kalmykia were investigated on the way. The last, most prolonged and effective route, from 1 to 10 May went across six regions of Russia: Rostov region, Kalmykia, Stavropol Territory (Stavropolje), plains and mountains of Daghestan, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachai-Cherkesia. The total length of this over Russia rally comprised about 3,300 km.

The expeditions were mainly aimed at searching for birds of prey and counting their numbers, especially rare, strictly protected ones: eagles, griffons, the Lammergeier, Egyptian Vulture, Long-legged Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, etc. At the same time we studied their ecology, phenology of breeding, behaviour and the limiting factors, which determine dynamics of their ranges and populations. Also we gathered faunistic materials, counted small species of birds at our camping sites, searched for nests and carry out other investigation.

Materials of first two expeditions have been reflected in seven collaborative publications (Belik et al. 2004-2008) and in a number of other works. Very interesting results were received during the last travel as well. Thus, in Kalmykia and surrounded areas there was traced a pattern of current distribution of the Steppe Eagle and Long-legged Buzzard. The Steppe Eagle almost disappeared during last years, only preserved in small refuges with colonies of the little souslik, while the Long-legged Buzzard gradually increases its numbers and distributes to the west, mastering substituting food and new habitats, namely the poles of power lines where Steppe Eagles once nested, forest belts in fields, solitary trees and bushes in sand areas. During last years a separate population has been formed in mountains of Daghestan with birds began nesting on rocks (Bukreev et al., 2007). Now the Long-legged Buzzard there intensively penetrates in the depth of dry mountain villages and its breeding sites we have already found near the auls of Paraul, Arkas, etc. (aul- local name of the village in the Caucasus).

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