The International Expedition in Eastern Kazakhstan Region (Balkhash Аrea)

October 25th, 2011 Posted in Fauna, Field researches, Photos | No 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 | No 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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Monitoring of the White-tailed Eagle population in the Middle Dnieper area

July 19th, 2011 Posted in Monitoring | No Comments »

Monitoring of populations of rare Falconiformes is an important tool to organize protection of these birds. For this purpose we have developed the Monitoring Programme for the Birds of Prey of Ukraine. One of the Programme directions is long-term tracking of the White-tailed Eagle population.

We initiated the monitoring of the White-tailed Eagle population in 1992. That time numbers of this rare raptor in the Dnieper valley just started to restore and a discovery of every nest was a big event. Each year and expedition after expedition the territory of our studies expanded, and the numbers of the White-tailed Eagle also increased. At present, we know approximately 50 breeding sites of the White-tailed Eagle within regions of Chernihiv, Kyiv, Cherkasy, Kirovohrad and Poltava.

Annual monitoring includes occupation control of known breeding sites, search for new pairs, control of breeding success and productivity, organization of protection for breeding sites.
Results of these studies were reflected in a dissertation (PhD thesis) (Gavrilyuk 2002), and in individual publications (Gavrilyuk, Grishchenko, 1999; Gavrilyuk, Grishchenko, 2000; 2008 etc.). Over the 19 years we tracked 111 breeding cases. It is established that the average breeding success is 74%, i.e. approximately ¼ pairs breed successfully. Mostly the reason of unsuccessful breeding is hard to find out, however we know cases when these eagles did not breed chicks because of forestry activity in their breeding period or human disturbance.

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New issue of journal «Strepet» published

June 19th, 2011 Posted in New publications | No Comments »

The new number of Stepet journal has been published. – 2010. – Vol. 8, Iss. 2. The journal includes the following publications on birds of prey:

Belik V.P. Short-toed Eagle in the North Caucasus // С. 34-59. [in Russian]

Efimenko N.N. Short-toed Eagle in Turkmenistan: distribution, breeding ecology, current numbers and conservation // С. 60-85. [in Russian]

Tilba P.A. Passage of Red-footed Falcon in the North-Western Caucasus // С. 94-98. [in Russian]

Komarov Yu.E. Red-footed Falcon in Northern Ossetia // С. 99-100. [in Russian]

Dinkevich M.A., Markitan L.V. Recording of obligatory necrophage birds in the plain part of Adygea Republic (near the town of Krasnodar) // C. 101-105. [in Russian]

If you would like to purchase the journal please contact the editor Viktor Belik (strepet@raptors.org.ua), in Ukraine – to Yury Milobog (ym@raptors.org.ua).

Results of spring counts in the alienated zone of Chornobyl Atomic Power Station (CAPS) in March 2011

June 5th, 2011 Posted in Chornobyl alienation zone, Field researches, Migrations, Photos | No Comments »

This work continues of our studies of birds of prey fauna in the alienated zone of Chornobyl Atomic Power Station.

The Chornobyl alienated zone always attracts researches with its wild surroundings almost deprived of traces of human activity, and with abundance of various groups of animals and birds. We used a chance to realize our old desire for searching Strigiformes birds in this region, and carried out counts 21 to 25.03.2011.

For this purpose we applied a well-known method of provoking owls by records of their voices. In forest sites we played voices of the Pygmy and Tengmalm’s Owls, Great Grey Owl, in open areas – those of the Eagle Owl. Records of the Tawny Owl we used only occasionally since the species is numerous in forest areas and frequently responses voices of the above-mentioned owl species.

Information on availability of owls in the alienated zone is very poor. Data on the Great Grey Owl is limited by 6 encounters, mainly in the western part of the zone (Gashchak et al. 2006; Domashevsky 2004; pers. comm. A.V. Yastremsky). A Pygmy Owl was observed in twilight at Belorus border by S.P. Gashchak 30.06.2009 (pers. comm.) In addition, there were several records of the Eagle Owl including a fledgling found nearby the atomic station (Gashchak et al. 2006).

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Results of counts of wintering birds of prey in 2011 in the Central Dnieper area

March 24th, 2011 Posted in Field researches, Photos, Wintering | No Comments »

In January-February 2011 we have carried out counts of birds of prey to monitor their numbers.

The counts covered districts of Cherkasy, Chyhyryn and Kaniv (Cherkasy region), as well as Svitlovodsk district (Kirovohrad region) and Kremenchuh district (Poltava region). Three counts were conducted in agrolandscapes using an automobile. Additive data were received during field visits and excursions in other areas and biotopes.

Results of winter counts of Falconiformes in agrolandscapes of Central Dnieper area in 2011.

Species Date / length of the route, km Total, ind.
9.01/50 24.01/57 22.02/61
Goshawk 1 1
Sparrowhawk 1 1 1 3
Rough-legged Buzzard 6 4 6 16
Common Buzzard 6 6 3 15
White-tailed Eagle 1 1
Kestrel 1 1
Number, ind./km 0,28 0,21 0,18 0,22

Generally, the number of birds of prey in the winter of 2010-2011 was extremely low. Compared with January 2009, when we conducted counts according to the same technique and approximately in the same sites, the number of Falconiformes during the current winter was 4 times lower. The total number was smaller mainly due to the Common Buzzards, which were 6 times less; the count numbers of the Rough-legged Buzzards were 3 times lower. Reduction of the Common Buzzard numbers we connect, primarily, with cold and snowy conditions of the previous winter, when there was mass mortality of these birds from starvation. We assume that a grouping of the wintering Common Buzzards, which had been formed during the last 5-6 years due to reduction of the distance of autumn movements, suffered from a significant “stroke” last winter. Although we agree with Sergey Domashevsky, that populations of raptors in Europe in the breeding season of 2010 were affected with heat and fires, which led to an extremely low breeding productivity, but there is no reason to think that it could brought about the 6 times reduction of the population of the Common Buzzard. Decline in bird numbers on wintering grounds in the Central Dnieper area is also linked with redistribution of birds within the wintering area. Also in the neighboring Kyiv region S. Domashevsky recorded low number of birds of prey during this winter. The number of hawks in our counts is not indicative, since these birds prefer not to stay in agricultural landscapes in winter.
Similar to previous years, the Common Buzzard and Rough-legged Buzzard dominated, their ratio was approximately equal. Except for main counts, the Hen Harrier was once observed. The Merlin was not recorded even once for the whole winter. Thus, we observed 7 species of Falconiformes.

Maxim Gavrilyuk, Alexandr Ilyukha, Nikolay Borisenko, Sergey Nadtochy

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

March 24th, 2011 Posted in Field researches, Photos, Wintering | No Comments »

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.

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Counts of White-tailed Eagles at Kremenchuhske Reservoir during autumn 2010

January 30th, 2011 Posted in Field researches, Migrations, Photos, Video | No Comments »

In autumn 2010 we continued monitoring works in areas of autumn concentration of the White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) at the Middle Dnieper. Results are presented below.

The counts were carried out in key territories of concentrations of these eagles. They were fishponds, sites with high numbers of waterbirds discovered by us in previous years. We controlled the ponds near the village Irkliiv (Chornobai District of Cherskasy Region), ponds between the villages Lypove – Bugaivka (Hlobine District of Poltava Region), and also shallows of Kremenchuhske Reservoir near the Lypove Ornithological Reserve. The counts were participated by Aleksandr Ilyukha, Yury Sumskoy, Nikolay Borisenko; results of one of their expeditions together with Sergey Domashevksy and Roman Vatrasevich were presented in the previous materials of the website. In a total 8 counts were done, the automobile route amounted to approx. 1000 km. In addition, the ponds near Irkliiv in October were visited by Odesa birdwatchers A.Arapov and V.Malinoshevsky who gave us a number of photos with the White-tailed Eagle.

An adult White-tailed Eagle on the drained pond, in the background you can see about 40 sitting White-tailed Eagle.

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Birds of prey in steppes of Russia – 2

January 18th, 2011 Posted in Fauna, Field researches, Photos, Video | No Comments »

In a previous material we have presented the results of studies of birds of prey during the automobile trip to Orenburg for the 13th international ornithological conference. On the way back the route of our travel was changed. Observation results for birds of prey during the car expedition from Orenburg (Russia) to Luhansk (Ukraine) are presented below.

Photo: M. Gavrilyuk, V.Vetrov, E.M. Pisanets, V. Remenny

On the 4th May 2010, immediately after the conference, we left the hospitable Orenburg City and in the evening already reached a famous Buzuluk Forest (Orenburg region) where camped for the night. In the surrounding area we discovered an adult Imperial Eagle which is not unusual since the forest is known as a habitat for this species.

A pair of Steppe Eagles in their nesting site

Next morning, 5th May 2010, our team split into two groups, and afterwards went by different routes. One group composed of V. Milobog, E.M Pisanets, V. Remenny and A.Rashelevskaya, intended to reach the Ciscaucasia as fast as possible to conduct the foreseen herpetological and ornithological observations. The main purpose ofanother group including V.P. Belik, V.V. Vetrov, M.N. Gavrilyuk, E.V. Guguev, S.P. Litvinenko, A.B. Chaplygina, G.A. Yevtushenko and N.I. Konoplya was the ornithological survey in steppe areas of Volgograd and Astrakhan Regions. Below there are results of these particular observations.

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New issue of journal «Strepet» published

December 15th, 2010 Posted in New publications | No Comments »

The new number of Stepet journal has been published. – 2010. – Vol. 8, Iss. 1. The journal includes the following publications on birds of prey:

Efimenko N.N. The Saker Falcon in Turkmenistan: distribution, breeding ecology, current numbers and conservation // P. 75-94. [in Russian]
Belik V.P., Fedosov V.N. Breeding of the Levant Sparrowhawk in the village of Divnoe (Stavropol Territory) in 2010 // P. 95-102. [in Russian]
Belik V.P. Toward the status of the Red Kite in the Caucasus // P. 103-113. [in Russian]
Perevozov A.G. Breeding of the Black Vulture in the Caucasian Reserve // P. 121-124. [in Russian]
Belik V.P. Breeding of the Short-toed Eagle on Abrau Peninsula (Krasnodar Territory) // P. 125-127. [in Russian]

Price of the journal is 70 roubles + shipping costs. If you would like to purchase the journal please contact the editor Viktor Belik (strepet@raptors.org.ua), in Ukraine – to Yury Milobog (ym@raptors.org.ua).