From 25 January to 1st February founders of UBPRC took part in the Bustard census organized by the Azov-Black Sea Ornithological Station (http://ornitology.narod.ru) in zonal landscapes of South Ukraine. At the same time the data were collected on distribution and numbers of birds of prey.
Our team has covered with counts the following regions of the Crimea: Dzhankoy, Krasnohvardiiske, Nyzhn’ohirskyi, Bilohirsk and Simferopol. A car ‘Niva’ was used for investigations. A total length of transects equaled to 1300 km.
Weather conditions during fieldwork were not quite typical for the Crimea. According to information of local people, there was almost no frost in the steppe Crimea until the second decade of January. However several days before the counts the weather had dramatically changed: a cyclone caused rains, temperature decrease resulted in strong frosting-up, and after that snow fell. It was unusual to see this picture of the traditionally warm Crimea: ice-coated trees glimmering in the sun, ice-covered road as plain as glass, all dumped with snow… In some places in open terrain the snowdrifts reach more than 0.5 m, being a considerable obstacle to move outside the highways. Sometimes even on highways there were piles of snow hardly getting over by motor-cars. Night temperature amounted to -20oC! Only in last days of counts the warming came, small rain fell, and snow began quickly melting.
Main habitats in the region of our investigations consisted of agricultural landscapes separated by forest belts and irrigation canals, part of the area was occupied by vineyards and settlements. The areas of steppe sites were small. Since the count routes were long, we observed quite a high number of birds of prey. However, they distributed unevenly: sometimes there wasn’t any raptor for many km of ploughed fields. But fallows, field with unploughed stubble and also steppe sites held concentrations of raptors – sometimes up to 15 individuals of different species were visible from one point of observation. At this, distribution of species was also unequal: in different days different species dominated. A total of more than 700 individuals of 13 species of Falconiformes were counted and 300 individuals of 3 species of owls. Generally, the Rough-legged Buzzard prevailed, and 4 species simultaneously were subdominant: Common Buzzard, Long-legged Buzzard, Hen Harrier and Kestrel.
In the period from 16 to 20 January 2010 within the work of the Dnieper Ornithologists Working Group there were carried out mid-winter counts of birds. They were focused on waterfowl, but at the same time the material on birds of prey was collected.
Weather during counts was quite cold. The temperature at night fell to -10-18oC, which was accompanied by strong wind. The depth of snow cover varied mostly within 15-20 cm.
The situation with the White-tailed Eagle corresponded to the weather conditions. Since the Dnieper froze in the second half of December, the vast majority of eagles migrate to southward regions. White-tailed Eagles, as usual in such circumstances, kept to ice-free areas downstream the Dnieper hydroelectric station and around the warm discharges, where waterfowl also concentrated. But even in these traditional wintering sites there were less White-tailed Eagles than in previous years. This fact is explained by quite frosty weather of January.