Ten years of monitoring of the tawny owl in Kharkiv Region

April 10th, 2012 Posted in Monitoring, Photos | No Comments »

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.

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The death of birds of prey as a result of poaching – a sad example of ospreys in Ukraine

March 29th, 2012 Posted in Misc, Photos | 1 Comment »

Over 40 years has already passed (since 1969) after the total ban for shooting birds of prey in Ukraine. However, in minds of many hunters, birds with the beaks curved down still remains malicious enemies (a desirable trophy, a good target, etc.). As a result, every year a large number of birds of prey are illegally and thoughtlessly exterminated by hunters, and significantly reduce their numbers. Do you think it is an exaggeration? Then read about cases of four Ospreys in Ukraine, happened only during the autumn of 2011.

Episode 1. In the first decade of October in Ripki district (Chernyhiv region) local people picked up a wounded Osprey. The bird couldn’t fly and was given to Mensky Zoo (some information can be read here).

Episode 2. On 23 September a Lviv ornithologist A.A.Bokotey (personal communication) during bird counts at fishponds near the village Babin Serednii (Kalush district of Ivano-Frankivsk region) found remains of the Osprey, shot by hunters 3-4 weeks earlier. The bird had a ring, showing that it was marked in Finland.

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Mass migration of Birds of Prey in North and Central Ukraine in mid-October 2011

February 22nd, 2012 Posted in Field researches, Migrations, Photos | No Comments »

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.

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4th International Ornithological Conference on Birds of Prey and Owls in North Eurasia

February 11th, 2012 Posted in Workshops.Conferences | 3 Comments »

Information Letter No1

Dear colleagues!

We would like to invite you to take part in the 4th International Ornithological Conference on Birds of Prey and Owls in North Eurasia:

BIRDS OF PREY IN THE DYNAMIC ENVIRONMENT

OF THE THIRD MILLENIUM:

STATUS AND PROSPECTS

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Migrations of Saker Falcons with satellite transmitters: results of June – September 2011

January 31st, 2012 Posted in Migrations, Photos | No Comments »

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).

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The International Expedition in Eastern Kazakhstan Region (Balkhash Аrea). Part 3.

January 22nd, 2012 Posted in Fauna, Field researches, Photos | No Comments »

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.

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Сurrent state of the Saker Falcon population in Ukraine

December 29th, 2011 Posted in Fauna, Field researches, New publications | No Comments »

The Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) − is a rare breeding species of birds of prey, listed in the Red Data Book of Ukraine. Its number has sharply declined in the first half of the 20th century. Then a gradual restoration of the population started in the 1980s, and in the Red Data Book of Ukraine (Milobog, 2009) the bird number was estimated as 250-300 pairs. As a result of the population growth in Europe BirdLife International in 2010 revised the conservation status of this raptor and moved it from the category «endangered» (EN) to «vulnerable» (VU). This fact caused many negative responses of birds of prey experts (see, for instance, articles of O.V.Belyalov, A.V.Moshkin in the journal “Raptors Conservation” (2010)).

The Saker population in Ukraine is extremely vulnerable. Major threats are poaching (includes taking out birds for falconry), inadequate food supply, lack of breeding sites. Therefore, we support a reasonable position to return the status «endangered» for the species.

At the Saker International Conference in Hungary, September 2010, there was presented a report by Yu. V. Milobog and V.V. Vetrov on the current state of population of this species in Ukraine and adjacent territories. As a result of more detailed studies conducted in recent years, the number was estimated as 315-345 pairs. The report is available here:

Open file
Milobog Y., Vetrov V. Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) in Ukraine and adjacent areas // Conservation of the Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) in Europe – Sharing the results of the life06nat/h/000096 “Conservation of the Falco cherrug in the Carpathian Basin” Project (Bukk National Park Directorate Eger, Hungary, 16-18 September 2010)

Size 40 kB, pdf-file

The International Expedition in Eastern Kazakhstan Region (Balkhash Аrea). Part 2.

December 28th, 2011 Posted in Fauna, Field researches, Photos | No Comments »

This post continues a story about the scientific expedition to Kazakhstan in 2011. Part 1 is available to read here.

The middle of the first decade of May was marked with appearance of first Rosy Starlings. And the Lesser Short-toed Lark and Calandra Larks had first fledglings which become easy and accessible prey for raptors. Just at that period, we began finding first broods of the Houbara Bustard and saw displaying Asian Sparrowhawks in the river valleys of Bakanaska and Ayaguz. During daily field visits it was recorded an increasing number of migratory Sparrowhawks, Merlins, Hobby Falcons, Honey Buzzards and Crested Honey Buzzards. Sites of concentration of rodent colonies (sousliks, Libyan jirds) accumulated immature or not yet started breeding Steppe Eagles, Imperial Eagles, Long-legged Buzzard and Pallid Harriers. First chicks of Long-legged Buzzards started appearing in the nests in the late first and early second decade of May. The Quail could be already seen in mass numbers, and we often observed Pallid Harriers hunting these small Gallinaceae birds.

Photo by S. Domashevsky, May 2011.

On the river Ayaguz (flowing into Lake Balkhash) water levels began dropping and bars with rapid waters accumulated small fish species rising to spawn. It has lead to concentration of immature Black Storks (13 birds) and White Pelicans (about 200 individuals), as well as dozens of Yellow-legged and Great Black-headed Gulls, Comon Terns. In mid-May we found Great Bustard chicks aged 2-3 days. The plains and valleys of the rivers were full of small passerine birds migrating northward. Just in the river valleys there were found nesting Montagu’s Harriers, and their males often fly away to hunt at the distance up to 5 km from their nesting sites. Lesser Kestrels in the early third decade of May incubated full clutches. Their nests were located in the chimneys of destroyed buildings of an abandoned village. At the beginning of the third decade of May in a saxaul wood there it was revealed the Short-toed Eagle’s nest, located at the height of about two meters, where the female was incubating the full clutch – 1 egg. Our Hungarian colleague, Gabor Papp, birds of prey expert, was lucky to see a young Pallas’s Fish Eagle, which is now extremely rare in Kazakhstan.

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The International Expedition in Eastern Kazakhstan Region (Balkhash Аrea)

October 25th, 2011 Posted in Fauna, Field researches, Photos | 2 Comments »

During April – June 2011 I had the opportunity to conduct ornithological fieldworks in Kazakhstan. The expedition was organized under support of the International Fund for for Houbara Conservation (IFHC) and participated by representatives of France, UAE, Morocco, India, China, Africa, Hungary, Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Great Britain. The main objective was to study the Houbara Bustard (Chlamydotis undulate). At the same time it was collected material for other species of birds. This essay presents the results of observations conducted 14-17 April, and a series of photographs for the first month of the expedition.

Photo by S. Domashevsky, mid April – first decade of May, 2011

On the 1st of April, 2011 the swift-winged Boeing in 4.5 hours took me from the International Borispol Airport (Ukraine) to the airport of Alma-Ata (Kazakhstan), than it was additional 3.5 hours of waiting and one-hour flight to Shymkent (South Kazakhstan Region). From the airplane window it could be seen snow-capped peaks of the Tian Shan, plain and hilly steppes. Waiting for the arrival of other members of the expedition and setting of the good weather in the eastern part of Kazakhstan, I had to spend 2 weeks in the city. Not to lose time, we conducted ornithological observations with our Belarusian colleagues around the city and in its parks.

On the 14th of April, the procession consisting of 16 crossover vehicles and 10 trailers set off. For 3 days we drove 1440 km, saw a variety of steppe landscapes and mountains, went along the Alatau in 100 km from the Chinese border, and only when it got dark arrived in the Ayaguz district of Eastern Kazakhstan Region.

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International expedition to study the Saker Falcon in the south of Ukraine

August 10th, 2011 Posted in Field researches, Photos, Satellite telemetry | 2 Comments »

31.05-6.06.2011 a joint Ukrainian-Hungarian-Romanian expedition trip to study the Saker Falcon in the south of Ukraine was carried out. The main purpose was to mark Saker’s chicks with satellite transmitters to investigate their It is the first project in Ukraine dedicated to satellite telemetry of birds of prey.

Photo: M.Prommer, M.Gavrilyuk, V.Vetrov, H.Torok

As we wrote in the previous material, the project aimed at protection and study of the Saker Falcon has been implemented in countries of Eastern Europe since 2007. One of its directions is studying migration of these raptors using satellite telemetry. Generally, over the period 2007-2010 our colleagues marked over 30 Saker Falcons. It was found out that young birds widely roamed over the steppe zone of Eastern Europe: thus, birds born in Hungary often visited the territory of Ukraine. It has lead to the idea of marking birds in Ukraine as well.

Hungarian ornithologists supplied us with 9 satellite transmitters, for which we are sincerely grateful to the project manager Jozsef Fidloczky, and to Saker experts from Bükk National Park Directorate and MME/BirdLife Hungary. Participants of the expedition were Yury Milobog, Maxim Gavrilyuk, Vitaly Vetrov, Vladimir Strigunov, Matyas Prommer (MME/BirdLife Hungary), Hunor Török (Bükk National Park Directorate, Hungary), Szilárd Daróczi (Milvus Group, Romania).
Preliminary, it was planned to mark Saker’s chicks in several regions of Ukraine to clarify differences in directions of their further migration. Besides, we intended marking birds which nest in different places – on cliffs, power line poles and clay precipices (in case of they survive until their first breeding we will be able to find out their fidelity in selection nesting sites).

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