An expedition was undertaken during the last decade of May 2009 in the framework of the project supported by the Falcon Research Centre (United Kingdom). The aim was to reveal the sites, suitable to set up nest boxes for Saker Falcons on poles of power lines.
The participants of the expeditions were Vitaly Vetrov, Sergey Domashevsky and Elena Vetrova. In the first place they investigated the power lines adjoined the sites with good food resource (colonies of small sousliks, rooks, gulls and other species of birds) and with absence of territorial pairs of ravens (main suppliers of nests for falcons) or human disturbance factor.
Territories of Kherson region, Zaporizhzhya region and Crimean Autonomous Republic were studied by car ‘Niva’. The route crossed both virgin steppes and agricultural landscapes. The points interested for the project were fixed with GPS. A total of 49 points, prospective for further setting up of nest boxes, were identified.
Steppes and agrocoenoses of the Central and North Crimea, south areas of Kherson region and Zaporizhzhya region were rather thoroughly investigated. In a total, the expedition covered over 2,500 km.
Two attempts of illegal transportation of falcons were registrated during last month in Ukraine.
Cases of detention of illegally transported falcons by customs officers in Ukrainian airports have been already known. For instance, in 2002 Donetsk Airport suppressed exportation of three Gyrfalcons and six Sakers. After that, the birds were given to Kyiv Zoo. In 2005, Zaporizhzhia customs stopped an attempt of transportation of a falcon consignment (probably transit through Ukraine), comprising over 40 birds. In 2006, five Gyrfalcons were detained in the airport of Borispol, and due to unknown motives given to the Ukrainian Children Ecological and Naturalistic Centre (UCENC). Conditions of bird- keeping did not correspond to the norms prescribed for such cases, and the keeper in the UCENC was unqualified. As a result, birds began getting sick and die. It is strange, that the director of UCENC did not want to part with falcons until the last moment, and did not address for help to experts of Kyiv Zoo.
The year 2008 was also fruitful with detentions of illegal consignments of falcons by the customs of Borispol Airport. October 10, during customs examination of passengers of the flight Kyiv-Damask there were detained a consignment of 9 birds. According to our data it included the Gyrfalcon, Peregrine and 7 Sakers, all in awful condition. And again, due to inexplicable reasons these falcons were given to UCENC. The situation repeated with a bad scenario for the forfeited birds. To-date we know that one Saker died. There is also a suspicion that some birds were substituted for less “marketable” individuals.