Studies of birds of prey in the alienated zone of Chornobyl atomic power station, continued in May 2012Wednesday, September 5th, 2012 Posted in Fauna, Field researches, Photos | 1 Comment »
Prior studies in the CAPS alienated zone were provided by us in the first and second decades of April 2012. That time we did night census of owls and in the daylight searched for nests of birds of prey in special distinguished parts of forest areas. From 21 to 27 May we undertook the second expedition.
Photo: S. Domashevsky, S. Gashchak
In the morning hours expedition participants carried bird censuses along transects, during the daytime checked occupation of raptor’s nests which had been found in April.
First sites of forests and meadows we investigated in Tolstolesivske Forestry. There were surveyed 9 nests of feathery raptors, of them only 2 were occupied by birds. One nest belonged to the Buzzard, four chicks there; the eldest is about 2 weeks. One of the most impressing finds was an occupied nest of the Spotted Eagle. Obviously, this is a single known case of breeding this species in Kyiv Region for over last 30-40 years. However, this pair of birds were hybrids: female of the Spotted and the male of the Lesser Spotted Eagle. Another luck was discovery of an Eagle Owl’s nest in the place where we had observed an adult bird from a breeding pair on 7 April in the village of Bovishshe. The birds reared chicks in an attic of the small bathhouse which still stand half-flooded by waters of a small rivulet. The brood included 3 chicks (2 females and a male, which was the youngest). The eldest owlet was about 1 month age. The attic roof composed of planks, slits between them about 5 cm wide. The floor was covered with feathers and pieces of bones belonged to the Eagle Owl’s prey. Judging by the state of some feathers and bones, the Eagle Owls nested in the place for at least the second year.
The Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) – is a rare accidental species of Ukrainian fauna (Kostin, 2004), entered in the Red Data Book of Ukraine in a ‘vanishing’ (Beskaravainy, Klestov, 2009). A majority of accidental visits of this bird were registered in southern and south-western regions (Knysh et al., 2005). However, this vulture was also recorded in Dnipropetrovsk (Ponomarenko, 2001), Sumy (Knysh et al., 2005) and Donetsk regions (Burakov, Vetrov, 2010).
26.05.2012 in Zolotonosha City (Cherkasy region) over houses of individual building plot at a small altitude (approx. 20 m) an adult Egyptian vulture was making circles haunted by two Rooks. Having made several circles and gained altitude the raptor flew to the south. Several photos of the bird were unfortunately made from a big distance that is why they are not of good quality. However, they allow to see unmistakably a typical silhouette and coloration underneath.
The described accidental visit of the Egyptian Vulture is the first observation of the species in Cherkasy region.
N.N.Borisenko, Kaniv Natural Reserve
Beskaravainy M.M., Klestov М. L., Kostin S. Yu., Osipova M. O., Tsvelykh O. M. Egyptian Vulture// Red Data Book of Ukraine. Animal world / Ed. by. I. A. Akimov. – Kyiv: Globalkonsalting, 2009. – P. 433. [in Ukrainian]
Burakov G.K., Vetrov V.V. About a record of the Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) in Donetsk region // Birds of Seversky Donets basin: Iss. 11: Proc. of 15 scient. conf.of Working Group for Birds of Seversky Donets Basin dedicated to memory of I.A.Krivitsky (16–18 October 2009). – Donetsk, 2010. – P. 271. [in Russian]
Knysh N.P., Bugaev I.A., Parkhomenko V.V., Kurash I.I. Accidental visits of the Egyptian Vulture to the north-east of Ukraine // Berkut. – 2005. – Vol. 14, Iss. 2. – P. 270-272. [in Russian]
Kostin S.Yu. History and perspectives of studies of necrophage birds of Ukraine // Zapovdina sprava v Ukrayini – 2004. – Vol. 10, Iss. 1–2. – P. 40–43. [in Russian]
Ponomarenko A.L. About accidental visit of the Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) into the territory of Dnipropetrovsk region// Vestnik zoologii. – 2001. – Vol. 35, No 5. – P. 96. [in Russian]
Studies of birds of prey in the alienated zone of Chornobyl atomic power station (CAPS) in April 2012Thursday, August 2nd, 2012 Posted in Fauna, Field researches, Photos | No Comments »
In April 2012 we continued studies on fauna, numbers and ecological characteristics of birds of prey in the CAPS alienated zone. This time our works were conducted under the program “Study and revealing in the alienated zone the sites with valuable natural complexes deserving the highest protection status and their passportisation”.
Photos by Sergey Domashevsky
The studies were carried out over the period from 2 to 8.04. A particular attention was paid to forest biotopes: we investigated 2 sites of aged forest, one of them situated in the Uzh river valley, another – in Tolstolesivske Forestry. During the daytime we searched raptor’s nests by combing most promising sites; nesting pairs were also recorded during automobile rides and near open spaces. During the night we counted owls using records of their voices. We also registered migratory birds.
A total of 14 raptor’s nests were found, two of them belonged to the Lesser Spotted Eagle, another was presumably of the Goshawk and the rest belonged to the Buzzard. Besides, we registered 12 territorial Buzzards, 2 Goshawks, 1 Short-toed Eagle, 3 Kestrels and 3 White-tailed Eagles. Compared to the size of investigated nest-suitable area numbers of the birds of prey were low. We relate this to succession processes in the alienated zone: thus, overgrowing of open spaces with trees and high grass in the period of chick-feeding make it impossible for raptors to get enough quantity of prey.
A non-freezing area of the river downstream from Kanivska Hydropower Station is one of major wintering sites of the White-tailed Eagle at the Middle Dnieper. Due to HPS working in a peak regime there are regular changes of water levels in the tail-water. It leads to constant break of ice carried away by water flow. Even in heavy frosts unfrozen water areas still remain, and during water drainage the ice breaks again. A continuous solid ice cover had no time to form. It is a site of usual wintering for ducks, first of all the Mallard, Merganser and Goldeneye as well as gulls and some other birds..
The White-tailed Eagles began wintering near Kaniv immediately after start of HPS exploitation. In the 1970s-1980s their numbers did not exceed 4-6 birds (Loparev, Grishchenko, 1992), quickly increasing since that time. Recent years the site held 15-20 individuals, sometimes more. Maximum numbers of these eagles in this wintering area were counted on 3.01.2009 (26 birds) and 17.02.2011 (24).
Annual counts of the White-tailed Eagles and other wintering birds we provide near Kaniv since 1987. The eagles which reached 5 years age were considered as adults. The age was identified by plumage coloration (see Gensbol, Thiede, 2005). Usually, the count route went from Kanivska HPS to Lake Prosered or the Ros river mouth (12 to 18 km) depending on the length of unfrozen the area.
In autumn 2011 we proceeded monitoring of autumn concentration sites of the White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) at the Middle Dnieper. Results are presented below. Results of the year 2009 please see here, за 2010 год – here.
Counts were conducted in key concentration sites of these eagles: at fishponds and other areas with high bird numbers which we had revealed in previous years. We monitored ponds near the town of Irkliiv (Chornobaiv district of Cherkasy region), ponds between the villages of Lypove-Chervona Sloboda (Cherkasy district), territory of Kremenchuhske Reservoir adjacent to the ponds, and the reservoir shallows near Lypovsky Ornithological Zakaznik (sanctuary). Each site we visited at least once a month, in Lypovsky Zakaznik counts were taken 2-3 times a month, and in case of repeated counts the table below reflects maximum numbers of these birds during the month.
Photo by P.Vatrasevich, N.Borisenko
We conducted a total of 15 counts, the automobile route comprised approximately 1,100 km. Also, in November 2011, Irkliiv ponds were visited by Roman Vatrasevich intending to take photos of the White-tailed Eagles. His beautiful pictures were used in this material.
The Pallas’s Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus leucoryphus) is a rare accidental species in Ukraine. By the present time only two registrations have been known. 29.05.1910 a female in the first plumage was shot in “Askania Nova” (Zubarovsky, 1977). The female at the age of about 1 year was hunted in the first decade of June 1964 in Poltava Region (Gavrilenko, 1967).
A new visit was recorded by us on 27.04.2011 during an expedition to the Orel river floodplain, at the border of the regions of Dnipropetrovsk (vicinity of Hupalovka Village, Mahdalynivka District) and Poltava (vicinity of Nekhvoroshcha Village, Novi Sanzhary District). This area is crossed by the Dnieper-Donbass Canal. Going by car along the river channel, I saw a large raptor sitting on a tree in the distance. At first I tried to scrutinize a bird in the binoculars and immediately took notice of its brownish-rusty plumage colouration. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to take a photo of the sitting bird. My camera was in the rucksack and while I was taking it out and stopping the car, the bird flew off the tree and I could only pictured her in flight.
A.S.Nadtochiy, Kharkiv State University named after H.S.Skovoroda
We already published information on attracting the Tawny Owl to artificial nest boxes in Kharkiv region at our web-pages. The present material is dedicated to experience of attracting this owl species to artificial nests and some results of studying its ecology.
MONITORING RESULTS OF USING NEST BOXES
IN NATIONAL NATURAL PARK “HOMILSHANSKI FORESTS”
If you remember, in 2001-2002 a group of Kharkiv ornithologists and bird lovers installed 55 nests boxes for the Tawny Owl in the oak grove in the territory of the present NPP “Homilshanski Forests”. Regular checking of nest boxes and bird observations in the area allowed to receive a lot of information how the Tawny Owl lives in the oakery.
In particular, our initial assumptions about decreasing bird numbers due to felling of old hollow trees were not confirmed. The bird density was rather high (4-6 pairs/km2), similar to the highest known figures among European populations, and bird numbers in the studied area kept stable for 10 years. With such a high density, a number of territorial pairs in the area exceeded the number of installed nest boxes. However, most pairs preferred natural hollows for nesting. Special studies to clarify to what extent the birds are supplied with hollows showed that the density of hollows in the area (1.9 hollows/10 ha) much exceeds the number of owl boxes (0.1 box/10 ha). Though this parameter much depends on the forest age, obtained results can be extrapolated to other forest-steppe oak groves of Eastern Ukraine.
We already mentioned at our web-pages, that migration intensity of birds of prey significantly differs for various regions of Ukraine. However, numbers of migrating raptors can be also greatly impacted by weather conditions, forming migration waves. It is the phenomenon which we observed in mid-October 2011.
MIGRATION OF BIRDS OF PREY ALONG KYIV RESERVOIR
15 and 16.10.2011 we observed migration of birds of prey at one of our observation stations located to the north from the village Lebedivka (Vyshhorod district of Kyiv region) at the shore of Kyiv Reservoir. On 15 October it rained until 11 a.m., alternated with hail. Only when it stopped and the sky was getting clear, we saw single Buzzards and their pairs. Gradually, the number of birds in groups became higher, and in the afternoon the sky was full of migrating raptors.
At first, bird groups flew to the south-west, then to the south and to the end of the day the migration mass of raptors were moving to the east and south-east. The birds, which chose the latter direction, flew from the reservoir; we saw about 400 of them and for many years of observations we recorded such direction of passage for the first time. One of Buzzard’s flocks included 212 birds. Big flocks of these birds stretched for several kilometres.
We intentionally selected this territory to study migration of birds of prey. A vast area of the reservoir stretched from the north to the south makes migrating birds to keep to the left bank during their autumn passage. Thus, raptors fly around the water obstacle and form a narrow stream of migrants. Besides, after the cold spell numerous birds actively left northern territories.
We bring to your attention the first results of tracking the Saker Falcons, marked with satellite transmitters in the south of Ukraine in 2011. About the previous expedition on searching Saker’s nests and marking the birds read here.
As you probably remember from the earlier article, eight Saker’s chicks were marked in their nests, each of them got its own name.
Authors of photos: M.Gavrilyuk, M.Prommer, V.Vetrov, Yu.Milobog
The male, named «Gagarin» was marked 1 June 2011 on Kerch Peninsula. Why ‘Gagarin’? There are several reasons of it. Yury Gagarin was the first spaceman and we wanted the chick’s flight to be distant and successful, and also the name of our leading saker’s expert in Ukraine is Yury (and he was born exactly on the Cosmonautics Day). So, could we give the chick any other name? Gagarin flew out of the nest already 5 June, but not far away; 11 June he flew for the distance of 100 m. At first he was staying in the vicinity of the nest and often returned into it. About a month he was keeping within the nesting area; after 10 July extended the territory of his flight over Kerch Peninsula; on 22 June went on an eastward trip around the Sea of Azov. It took for him a total of 5 days to fly over the sea and realize that ‘east or west the Crimea is best’. From late July until now he has chosen for himself rather a limited area on Tarkhankut Peninsula and stay there (map of movements).
This post finishes a story about the scientific expedition to Kazakhstan in 2011. Part 1 is available here, Part 2 is here. The period of observations covers the middle of the third decade of May to the middle of the third decade of June
In the third decade of May the Nightjars were already actively displaying. In the evenings a pair of these birds constantly hunted in the camp area, attracted by a huge number of various insects circling in the light of electric lamps. Often, when returned late to the camp, we saw Nightjars well visible in the headlights of the car.
Photo by S.Domashevsky, May-June 2011.
Once, crossing the bridge across the Ayaguz river, we disturbed a group of White Pelicans. One of these birds had eaten so much fish that couldn’t fly off. To lift in the air it had to regurgitate its catch and only after that was able to fly away. The catch mainly consisted of minnows and some Caspian roaches. There were 395 fishes, with a total weight of 3.2 kg. Fresh and brackish lakes always were full of active bird life. In this period we could observe there up to 8 species of ducks and 13 species of waders.
Some nests of the Long-legged Buzzards were occupied by several pairs of Indian Sparrows. Their nests, similar to those in Ukraine, located among large twigs of the raptor’s construction or were stuck as balls at the margin of interlacement of lower branches of the big nest. Some rocky outputs were occupying with colonies of Rosy Starlings, some of them include over 2,000 birds.