Sunday, April 30, 2017

ABP 2017: Week 1

Japanese Sparrowhawk, female © Mickael Fivat
The ABP field season at Muraviovka Park has started! After two long days of travel (during which I had to visit six airports) Alex and I finally arrived on Thursday in Blagoveshchensk, where our team already waited for us: Erna and Laszlo came from Hungary, and Mickael from Switzerland. This time I decided to rent a car in town, to avoid the never ending troubles with our beloved Lada Niva. But already on our first excursion our new vehicle had a battery problem and would´nt start – business as usual. But after all this years here in Far East Russia, one gets used to problems of that kind (like lack of electricity in the ringing station or thousands of dead ants in our “bathroom” water pipes).
Our mist-nets were ready the next day, but strong northerly winds made trapping not easy. However, many birds were migrating even against the wind. Numerous Buff-bellied Pipits Anthus rubescens, Olive-backed Pipits A. hodgsoni, Bramblings Fringilla montifringilla and Oriental Greenfinchs Chloris sinica were flying overhead, while many Bluetails Tarsiger cyanurus and buntings moved through the shrubs. Within three days, we observed 8 out of 16 Emberiza species: Black-faced Buntings E. spodocephala, Common Reed Bunting E. schoeniclus, Elegant Bunting E. elegans, Japanese Reed Bunting E. yessoensisLittle Buntings E. pusilla, Pallas´s Reed Bunting E. pallasi, Rustic Bunting E. rustica and Yellow-browed Bunting E. chrysophrys. We were also happy to see some rare migrants as Osprey Pandion haliaetus,  a pair of Mandarin Ducks Aix galericulata, a Japanese Waxwing Bombycilla japonica and a late Siberian Accentor Prunella montanella.
Today I started with the breeding bird point counts. Oriental Storks Ciconia boyciana and White-naped Cranes Grus vipio are already sitting on their nests, and in the early morning one can hear the display calls of Great Bittern Botaurus stellaris and Eastern Water Rail Rallus indicus. The first Siberian Rubythroats Calliope calliope are also singing, but so far none of the geolocator-tagged birds were found. More surprising was the view of a pair of displaying Japanese Sparrowhawks Accipiter gularis at Gilchin river near Muraviovka village, as well as a Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia in the south of the Park – first for the ABP and very rare in the region.
So, there is always something new, and I´m glad to be here again. Many thanks to Sergei M. Smirenski and Anastasia V. Fedichkina for making our stay at Muraviovka Park possible!

Die ABP Feldsaison hat wieder begonnen! Nach zwei sehr anstrengenden Reisetagen (an welchen ich sechs Flughäfen besuchen musste) kamen Alex und ich am Donnerstag in Blagoweschtschensk an, wo unser Team bereits wartete: Erna und Laszlo aus Ungarn, sowie Mickael aus der Schweiz. Diesmal hatte ich mich dazu entschlossen, gleich einen Mietwagen in der Stadt zu leihen, um die andauernden Probleme mit unserem geliebten Lada Niva zu vermeiden. Doch schon bei der ersten Exkursion hatte unser neues Vehikel bereits ein Batterieproblem und wollte nicht mehr starten – also alles beim alten. Nach all den Jahren hier in Fern Ost Russland gewöhnt man sich an Probleme dieser Art (wie auch an fehlenden Strom in der Beringungsstation oder tausende tote Ameisen in der Wasserleitung unseres „Badezimmers“).
Unsere Netze waren schon am nächsten Tag bereit, aber starke Böen aus Nord schränkten den Fangerfolg ein. Erstaunlicherweise zogen zahlreiche Vögel auch gegen den Wind: vor allem Pazifik- und Waldpieper, Bergfinken und Chinagrünlinge flogen über uns hinweg, während in den Büschen zahlreiche Blauschwänze und Ammern unterwegs waren. Acht der 16 hier vorkommenden Arten konnten wir innerhalb von nur drei Tagen beobachten: Gelbbrauen-, Gelbkehl-, Mandschuren-, Masken-, Pallas-, Rohr-, Wald- und Zwergammer. Außerdem konnten wir uns auch über seltenere Durchzügler wie Fischadler, Mandarinente, Blutseidenschwanz und eine späte Bergbraunelle freuen.
Heute habe ich zudem mit der Brutvogelerfassung begonnen. Die Schwarzschnabelstörche und Weißnackenkraniche sitzen bereits auf ihren Nestern, während man am frühen Morgen balzende Rohrdommeln und Östliche Wasserrallen hören kann. Auch die ersten Rubinkehlchen singen schon, aber bisher konnte noch keiner der mit Geolocatoren ausgestatteten Vögel gefunden werden. Unerwartet war die Beobachtung eines Pärchens Trillersperber am Gilchin bei Muraviovka, und neu für die ABP Liste war ein Löffler, den wir im Süden des Parks entdecken konnten – eine absolute Seltenheit im Amurgebiet. Es gibt also immer noch Neues zu entdecken, und ich bin froh, wieder hier sein zu können. Vielen Dank an Sergei M. Smirenski und Anastasia V. Fedichkina, welche unseren Aufenthalt hier ermöglichen.

group picture with the first bird ringed in 2017 - a Bluetail  © Alex Thomas
 storm clouds over Muraviovka Park © László Bozó
Rubythroat XZ93390 - ringed as juvenile in 2015 and now returned as adult male © Mickael Fivat
two nice couples: Erna and Laszlo with two Rustic Buntings © Alex Thomas
Brambling, adult male © Alex Thomas
Mickael and his first Oriental Scops Owl © Alex Thomas
Asian Azure-winged Magpie © Alex Thomas
Olive-backed Pipit © László Bozó
car problems - again... © Mickael Fivat
Oriental Stork © Mickael Fivat
Where is the Spoonbill hiding? © Mickael Fivat
a nice flock of Falcated Ducks Anas falcata © Mickael Fivat
many Oriental Turtle Doves Streptopelia orientalis are singing around the station © László Bozó
a fire hit the south of the Park - hopefully, the rest will be spared © Wieland Heim
28.-30.04.2017, total traps: 68 birds out of 16 species

Blauschwanz Red-flanked Bluetail Синехвостка Tarsiger cyanurus 39
Bergfink Brambling Юрок Fringilla montifringilla 6
Maskenammer Black-faced Bunting Седоголовая овсянка Emberiza spodocephala 3
Meisengimpel Long-tailed Rosefinch Урагус Uragus sibiricus 3
Sumpfmeise Marsh Tit Черноголовая гаичка Poecile palustris 3
Waldammer Rustic Bunting Овсянка-ремез Emberiza rustica 3
Gelbkehlammer Elegant Bunting Желтогорлая овсянка Emberiza elegans 2
Dunkellaubsänger Dusky Warbler Бурая пеночка Phylloscopus fuscatus 1
Rubinkehlchen Siberian Rubythroat Соловей-красношейка Calliope calliope 1
Weißwangenstar White-cheeked Starling Серый скворец Sturnus cinereus 1
Azurelster Asian Azure-winged Magpie Голубая сорока Cyanopica cyanus 1
Zwergammer Little Bunting Овсянка-крошка Emberiza pusilla 1
Orient-Zwergohreule Oriental Scops Owl Восточная совка Otus sunia 1
Eichelhäher Eurasian Jay Сойка Garrulus glandarius 1
Gelbbrauenammer Yellow-browed Bunting Желтобровая овсянка Emberiza chrysophrys 1
Rostflügeldrossel Dusky Thrush Бурый дрозд Turdus eunomus 1

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Songbird migrants in East Asia: new publications

Negative trends of ringed Emberiza buntings at Muraviovka Park (Heim 2017)
Last year we published our study on the drastic decline of the Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica, and in the following the species was added to the IUCN Red List as "Vulnerable". One of the major drawbacks of our study was the lack of long-term data from Russia. A very recent paper by Marina Yakovleva and Alexander Sukhov now fills this gap: based on more than 30 years of transect counts they were able to analyze the population trend of breeding Rustic Buntings in the Kivach Nature Reserve. Sadly, they found the same pattern - a strong decline since the late 1990´s.
A first published analysis of our autumn ringing data from Muraviovka Park supported this decline, but not only for Rustic Bunting - several more Emberiza species might suffer as well.
One potential impact factor is illegal hunting. A recent study from China demonstrates the scale and number of species involved.
But there are not only bad news: last year we found two species at Muraviovka Park which were new for the Amurland - you can find this paper here.

Very soon you can expect more exciting publications - since February 2017 I´m part of the working group of Prof. Norbert Hölzel and Dr. Johannes Kamp at the Institute of Landscape Ecology in Münster/Germany. Together we will work on the migration ecology of Asian land birds

Our field work starts next week - so stay tuned for regular updates from far East Russia! And by the way: our blog was listed as one of the 80 best bird blogs worldwide.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

New video: autumn and winter birds at Muraviovka Park

The second part of the documentary on the wildlife of Muraviovka Park by Svetlana and Igor Ishenko is now online. Enjoy!

Der zweite Teil der Dokumentation von Svetlana und Igor Ishenko über die Tierwelt des Muraviovkas Park ist nun fertig. Viel Spaß dabei!

// Wieland