Counts and ringing of birds of prey in the north of Ukraine in winter 2011

March 24th, 2011 Posted in Field researches, Photos, Wintering

To carry out monitoring of numbers and ringing of wintering birds of prey we did 5 visits of the areas within Kyiv region in the winter of 2011.

4.01 and 20.02 we visited a dump of solid domestic waste of Kyiv, 24.02 − cattle farm, 27.02 − grain elevator in Boryspil district, and 1.03 − meadows in the vicinity of Kyiv.

On the Kyiv dump of solid domestic waste, located in Obukhiv district, we recorded a large concentration of Corvidae (Rook, Jackdaw), Yellow-legged Gulls and a small number of the Rock Dove (100 birds); overall numbers of birds exceeded 7000 ind. In spite of this, only one individual of the Goshawk was recorded during each visit which is extremely low for such concentration of its prey. The Common Buzzard turned out to be one of common species. But its numbers were not stable – 10 birds during the first visit, and 3 – during the second. There was also recorded one Sparrowhawk.

At the cattle farm we recorded 1 Goshawk, 2 Sparrowhawks, 3 Common Buzzards, 1 Rough-legged Buzzard and Common Kestrel. Near the grain elevator, where stayed approximately 500 Rock Doves, 100 Rooks and 150 Jackdaws, we registered 3 Goshawks (2 adult males and 1 juvenile), 1 Sparrowhawk, 4 Common Buzzards, 1 Rough-legged Buzzard, 1 Peregrine Falcon (young female) and Kestrel. The Peregrine Falcon was actively chasing doves for about 2 minutes and once attacked a group of jackdaws.
Generally, this winter we observed small numbers of wintering birds of prey. For instance, in Kyiv there were rare registrations of Goshawks and Sparrowhawks. In the countryside, in sites of concentrations of their potential prey, the situation is similar. In open habitats the numbers of one of the commonest wintering species – Common Buzzard and Rough-legged Buzzard – were low. Very rare there were records of the Hen Harrier and Merlin. We suppose that such sharp changes in numbers of birds of prey are directly linked with abnormal hot summer in Europe and large-scale summer forest fires in Russia. These factors have led to high mortality of occupied nests and young birds. As a result, this winter numbers of young Goshawks, registered by us, are much lower that those of adults.

Last years, in the period of snowy winters, we have noticed changes in the behaviour of the Common Buzzard. Birds become more tolerant to people – the individuals, which keep to sites of prey concentrations, now fearlessly perch on farm buildings. We observed two Common Buzzards, one sat in the farmyard and another – on the grain elevator. Earlier we did not see such behaviour of the Common Buzzard in the study area.
In the course of investigations for the studying migrations of raptors and demographic structure of populations there were captured and ringed 2 Goshawks, 4 Common Buzzards and one Rough-legged Buzzard.

Sergey Domashevsky, Yury Demidenko

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