Study of birds of prey migration in the north of Ukraine

In spring of 2010 we continued studies of migration features of raptors in various regions in Ukraine.

To observe migrations of birds of prey we have chosen three regions in the territory of Polissia in Zhytomyr and Kyiv regions. From 26 to 29.03.2010 investigations were carried out on Slovechansko-Ovrutskyi Ridge, located in Ovruch district of Zhytomyr region. This forest-covered ridge stretched from west to east for about 50 km, the maximum altitude is 316 m above sea level. The observations were done from two points, placed at the height about 260 m above s.l. near the villages Barvinkovo and Pokalev on abandoned agricultural lands. There, the open landscape prevails in the upper Ridge, resembling steppe areas with their gully systems. The southern wind dominated in the days of observation; the wind velocity changed from 3 to 12 m/sec. The bird passage went in eastern, north-eastern and north directions.

In addition to observations we caught raptors to mark them with rings. The captured birds were measured and weighed. Two Goshawk females, one female of Sparrowhawk and one Corvidae (Raven) have been captured. That was the period when only juvenile Goshawks migrate with mass not exceeding 1200 g. The goshawks differentiated in coloration from those, for instance, captured in the vicinity of Kyiv (these were lighter). Apparently, these birds do not relate to ‘Ukrainian’ breeding population. Unfortunately our observations got into a drop of the migration wave, so with every day there was smaller and smaller number of migratory birds. Similar picture was seen for other species of hovering birds such as White and Black Storks, Common Crane. It was registered the appearance of first migratory birds in the region – Lesser Spotted Eagle (26.03), Osprey (28.03), Short-toed Eagle (29.03). Among local birds of prey we saw only the Common Buzzard, actively displaying, and also the Goshawk.
There were observed 11 raptor species, 90 individuals in a total: Osprey – 1 ind.; Hen Harrier – 9; Marsh Harrier – 3; Sparrowhawk – 16; Goshawk – 3; Rough-legged Buzzard – 14; Common Buzzard – 28; Short-toed Eagle – 1; Lesser Spotted Eagle – 12; White-tailed Eagle – 1 (juvenile); Peregrine Falcon – 2.
Among nocturnal birds of prey we noted a display of Tawny and Long-eared Owls. Playing records with voices of other owl species, breeding in Polissia, didn’t bring any positive results.

From 30 to 31 March we took observations in the floodplain of the Uzh River near the village Maksymovychi (Polissia area of Kyiv region). This river flows along the border of the Chornobyl alienation zone thus being rarely visited by people. In the studied period the river had a high flood, and the floodplain sheltered a multitude of migratory waterbirds. The south-eastern wind dominated in the days of observation. Birds mainly followed north and north-eastern direction of migration. Only Harriers and Merlin were keeping to the river floodplain. Other species crossed it moving to northward direction.
10 birds of prey were counted, 46 individuals in a total: Hen Harrier – 5 birds; Marsh Harrier – 6; Sparrowhawk – 8; Goshawk – 3; Rough-legged Buzzard – 4; Common Buzzard – 13; Short-toed Eagle – 1; Lesser Spotted Eagle – 3; Golden Eagle – 1 (juvenile); Merlin – 2.
Among nocturnal raptors the Tawny Owl has been recorded.
It was observed a displaying pair of the Short-toed Eagle and a conflict of these birds with an individual of their species from a neighbouring pair. Also there were registered local birds of such species as the Goshawk and Common Buzzard.

The investigations in the third area of observation were undertaken from 31.03 to 1.04 near the village of Liubydva (Vyshgorod district of Kyiv region) in the mouth area of the river Zdvyzh, where it falls into the river Teteriv. Because of started rainfalls we had to stop the observations. Among migratory birds we saw only 1 ind.Marsh Harrier and 1 ind. of Hobby Falcon – first migratory birds in the region. By this time it is the earliest observation of this falcon in spring. Of local birds 31 March – copulation of the Buzzard, 1 April – display of the March Harrier, records of the Goshawk, Short-toed Eagle, and Common Kestrel.

We express our sincere thanks to the director of ‘Remontnik’ company Andrey Mikhalko for the sponsor support of the field investigations.

Sergey Domashevsky, Yury Demidenko

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