Wednesday, November 30, 2016

New video about the birds of Muraviovka Park

The new video by Igor Ishenko about the birds of Muraviovka Park is online! The first part gives stunning views of White-naped and Red-crowned Cranes as well as Black-naped Oriole, Chinese Penduline Tit and Chinese Bush Warbler at their nests. You can watch the full movie below.

Der neue Film von Igor Ishenko über die Vögel des Muraviovka Parks ist fertig! In Teil 1 kann man sich über beeindruckende Aufnahmen von Weißnacken- und Mandschurenkranichen als auch über Schwarznachenpirol, Chinesische Beutelmeise und Tacsanoswki-Buschsänger am Nest freuen. Das ganze Video kann hier angeschaut werden:



//Wieland



Monday, October 24, 2016

How to age Siberian Accentors?

Siberian Accentors at Muraviovka Park (October): top: juvenile-type, bottom: adult-type
Siberian Accentors Prunella montanella are rather common migrants at Muraviovka Park in Far East Russia. In Europe, however, they occur only as extremely rare vagrants. At least, until October 2016. Right now, there seems to be an influx of Siberian Accentors, with more records in two weeks than during the previous 100 years! You can read the full story here or here (in German).
Their occurrence in Europe fits the phenological pattern of birds ringed at Muraviovka Park, which lies at more or less the same latitude like e.g. Leipzig, Brussels or London. Most birds occur during the first half of October.
Phenology of Siberian Accentors at Muraviovka Park based on standardized bird ringing
(spring 2013,2015,2016; autumn 2011-2015)
Caused by the lack of reference material, determining the age of Siberian Accentors was not covered well in recent literature. It is widely assumed that ageing should be possible based on the criteria used for Dunnocks Prunella modularis. A very nice photo documentation for Dunnocks can be found here in the Ringer´s DigiGuide. 

Since we have ringed more than 400 Siberian Accentors within the Amur Bird Project at Muraviovka Park, we would like to share our impressions about variability and possible criteria for ageing. However, we have to highlight that we never trapped a bird of known age (e.g. a ringed re-trap) - so all the features listed below are only suggestions. We are very happy to read your comments!

three left: juvenile-type; three right: adult-type
Iris colour: juvenile-type olive-brown; adult-type warm reddish-brown

Shape of greater coverts: juvenile-type narrower, edged rufous-brown; adult-type broader, edged grey-brown

Tips of greater coverts: juvenile-type buffish or yellowish, much wider; adult-type whitish, narrower

Shape of tail feathers: juvenile-type worn, more pointed; adult-type rather fresh, broader, more rounded
three left: juvenile-type; three right: adult-type
It seems that many (most?) juveniles retained all juvenile greater coverts, while adult-type birds showed all coverts uniformly edged whitish. However, there have been individuals that did not match the pattern. Please comment - we would like to learn more!

Arend & Wieland Heim

All photo© Arend Heim

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

First record of Bewick´s Swan at Muraviovka Park

Bewick´s Swans at Muraviovka Park, October 2016 © V. A. Dugincov
Another species was added to the long list of Muraviovka Park. Local ornithologist V. A. Dugincov was lucky to spot a group of Bewick´s Swans (aka Tundra Swan Cygnus bewicki) at a lake inside the nature reserve. The family with two chicks stayed for several days. Most waterbodies are already frozen in the Amur region, while night temperatures now regularly fall below -7°C. Bewick´s Swan are breeding in the Russian Arctic and wintering in East Asia. They are listed in the Red Data books of Russia and the Amur region. The Park´s bird list now contains 298 species (or even more than 300, if you like to split some of the taxa - see under "Publications"). This is quite remarkably for an area of only 6,500 ha, highlighting again its important status for biodiversity conservation in Far East Russia.

Bewick´s Swans - a family with two chicks  © V. A. Dugincov
Wieder einmal konnte eine neue Vogelart der langen Liste des Muraviovka Parks hinzugefügt werden. V. A. Dugincov, Ornithologe aus Blagoweschtschensk, konnte eine Familie des Zwergschwans auf einem See im Schutzgebiet entdecken. Die Familie mit zwei Jungvögeln blieb für einige Tage. Die meisten Gewässer sind nun bereits zugefroren, denn die Nachttemperaturen liegen meist bei unter -7°C. Zwergschwäne brüten in der russischen Arktis und überwintern in Ostasien. Er wird auf den Roten Listen Russlands und des Amurgebietes geführt. Insgesamt konnten nun bereits 298 Vogelarten im Muraviovka Park nachgewiesen werden (oder mehr als 300, je nach Taxonomie - siehe "Publications"). Das ist beachtlich für ein Gebiet von nur 6.500 ha, und zeigt erneut, wie wichtig der Park für den Erhalt der Biodiversität in Fern Ost Russland ist.

//Wieland





Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Poachers kill threatened Hooded Crane

Hooded Cranes at Muraviovka Park, April 2016  © Tom Wulf
It´s not only China: a globally threatened Hooded Crane Grus monacha was now killed by a poacher in the Konstantinovka region, not far from Muraviovka Park in Far East Russia. The global population is estimated at around 11,000 individuals (IUCN 2016), and the south of the Amur Oblast is an important stop-over site for most of them. The poacher will be punished with a payment of up to 200.000 rubles, two years of work or six months of jail.

See the Russian news here: http://www.amur.info/news/2016/09/19/115897

Nicht nur in China haben es Zugvögel schwer: ein Mönchskranich wurde kürzlich von einem Wilderer bei Konstantinovka getötet, unweit des Muraviovka Parks in Fern Ost Russland. Nur etwa 11.000 Individuen dieser bedrohten Art leben noch in in der Wildnis (IUCN 2016). Der Südteil des Amur Oblasts ist für einen Großteil der Population ein wichtiges Rastgebiet. Der Wilderer muss mit einer Strafe von bis zu 200.000 Rubel, zwei Jahren Arbeit oder sechs Monaten Haft rechnen.

Hier geht es zum russischen Originalartikel: http://www.amur.info/news/2016/09/19/115897

//Wieland

Saturday, September 10, 2016

6000 Yellow-breasted Buntings at illegal trapping site

Rescue came too late for this Yellow-breasted Bunting © news.qq.com 
A new shocking case of illegal bird trapping in China has come to light. Simba Chan (BirdLife Asia) writes:

"On 5 September 2016, Forest Police of Tangshan, Hebei Province (near Beijing and Tianjin) and NGO activists raided an illegal captive site and rescued about 36,400 migratory birds, including about 6,100 dying Yellow-breasted Buntings. At the site antibiotics and fatten agent were found and these chemicals were used to fatten the birds before shipping to the markets in Guangdong. The journal (Pengbai Xinwen) calls for more severe terms to stop such crime."

You can find the reference here: http://news.qq.com/a/20160907/046305.htm
A video documenting the police raid can be viewed here: http://www.miaopai.com/show/bxFNnCxYrwzUqpLSPpdljA__.htm

The global population of the Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola has declined by at least 80% during the past decades. Over-harvesting on the stop-over and wintering sites is believed to be one of the major drivers. Congratulations to the Chinese police department and the involved NGO activists! It is still not too late to save this species among many more that might become rare in the near future. In the video you can also see Yellow-browed Bunting Emberiza chrysophris and Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus.
Last week I had the pleasure to give a talk about the demise of East Asian songbirds during the 20th conference of the European Bird Census Council (EBCC) in Halle-Saale/Germany, where 250 participants from more than 50 countries took part. In November I will participate in a workshop in Guangzhou/China, where we will discuss an action plan for migratory landbirds.

Tens of thousands of migratory Passerines have been kept in this cages © news.qq.com  
the local Forest Police destroyed the facility © news.qq.com 
Schockierende Neuigkeiten aus China: wieder einmal wurde eine illegale Fangstation in Zusammenarbeit von Polizei und NGO´s entdeckt. Eine unglaubliche Anzahl von Singvögeln konnte gerettet werden - unter den insgesamt 36,400 Zugvögeln waren auch 6,100 Weidenammern, viele davon sterbend oder bereits tot. Die Vögel werden mit Antibiotika behandelt und mit Fettmachern gemästet, bevor sie auf den Markt kommen. Die Weidenammer gilt bereits global als stark gefährdet. Mit dabei waren aber auch Gelbbrauenammern und Karmingimpel. Dank gilt Simba Chan (BirdLife Asia) für die Mitteilung.
Während der 20. Tagung des European Bird Census Councils letzte Woche in Halle an der Saale hatte ich die Gelegenheit, das Schicksal der ostpaläarktischen Singvögel in einem Vortrag zu präsentieren. 250 Delegierte aus mehr als 50 Ländern haben an der Konferenz teilgenommen. Im November soll im Rahmen eines internationalen Workshops in Guangzhou/China ein Schutzkonzept für ostasiatische Zugvögel ausgearbeitet werden. 

Video: http://www.miaopai.com/show/bxFNnCxYrwzUqpLSPpdljA__.htm

//Wieland

ABP talk at the EBCC conference, 07.09.2016 © Susanne Jähnig

Friday, September 2, 2016

Watch out for colour-ringed Buntings!

Yellow-breasted Bunting ringed in 2015 and re-located at Muraviovka Park in 2016 © Arend Heim
Rapidly declining population trends have recently been found for Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola (see here) and Rustic Bunting E. rustica (see here), but our knowledge about their migration routes and survival rates is still very limited. 
To address this, a colour-ring study was started at Muraviovka Park in Far East Russia. Volunteers of the Amur Bird Project equipped the first Yellow-breasted Buntings with individual combinations during breeding season in 2015. Happily, three out of seven males safely returned to their breeding grounds in 2016. To compare survival rates among sympatric breeding species, we decided to include Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala, Chestnut-eared Bunting E. fucata, Common Reed Bunting E. schoeniclus and Japanese Reed Bunting E. yessoensis in our study. During spring and summer 2016, we managed to equip almost 200 buntings with colourful ring combinations at our study site on the Amur river.
Now, migration has begun for most of these species, and our colour-ringed buntings might occur anywhere in East Asia. Please scan all bunting flocks carefully! All birds have one colour-ring above the metal ring of the Moscow ringing centre on one leg, and two colour-rings on the second leg. Used colours are black, blue, green, orange, purple, red, white and yellow. If possible, take pictures of buntings which seem to wear a ring. We had to find out that it can be hard to determine the colour in the field, however it is very easy on the computer screen, even if the photo is anything but perfect.

Please let us know if you come across a colour-ringed bird, and help to shed light on the yet unknown migration routes of this beautiful birds! We will send you in return all information about the bird.

Colour-ringed Chestnut-eared, Black-faced, Common Reed and Japanese Reed Bunting - do you know, who is who? © Arend & Wieland Heim

Um Informationen zu den bisher unbekannten Zugwegen und den jährlichen Überlebensraten bedrohter Ammerarten zu bekommen, wurde im Frühjahr 2015 mit einem Farbberingungsprojekt begonnen. Das Amur Bird Project Team konnte im ersten Jahr sieben männliche Weidenammern im Muraviovka Park in Fern Ost Russland beringen, von denen drei im nächsten Jahr zurückkehrten. Seit 2016 werden auch Bandammer, Mandschurenammer, Maskenammer und Rohrammer mit individuellen Farbringkombinationen versehen. Die fast 200 markierten Ammern müssten sich nun auf ihrem Herbstzug befinden, und könnten überall in Ostasien auftauchen. Hiermit möchte ich dazu aufrufen, alle Ammertrupps der oben genannten Arten mal ganz genau unter die Lupe zu nehmen - vielleicht gelingt ja eine Ablesung?

//Wieland