Wednesday, December 8, 2021

ABP 2021 - Siberia, Part 2

Bluethroat with colour-rings and geolocator. All photos © Johannes Amshoff/Moritz Meinken

Sooner or later turns up the report about the second week (end of June 2021) in Mirnoye/Central Siberia. After Vera and Wieland left, we (Johannes and Moritz) had a week left to tag 19 Bluethroats. We didn´t have high hopes as we could tag only a total of 4 Bluethroats with four persons the week before. Nonetheless we continued catching at a new spot, the riverbank directly at the Yenisey just south of the station. The location was only accessible by boat, but the team made a safe journey possible. We placed our nets directly at the shore in the few willow shrubs that remained upright. Combined with a muddy and wet surface, it seemed to be a good spot for our target species, which was immediately confirmed by two singing males after leaving the vehicle of our choice. During the first night we could tag three Bluethroats and started to be more optimistic regarding our goal. During the afternoon we followed Oleg to the other side of the Yenisey trying to help planting potatoes and repairing the bridge the best we could. But as hard work often pays off, a surprising Oriental Turtle Dove visited the just prepared field. The second night of catching turned out to be incredible. We advanced our target species by Common Reed Bunting and could tag three of them supporting the nine tagged Bluethroats during that night. Apparently, the density of territories was much higher than expected. The following night we could easily finish the task. Besides Bluethroats we enjoyed the nights with displaying Common Sandpipers, who also found their way in the nets covered by bushy willows. An incredibly beautiful bird in breeding plumage and even more from short distance! They were joined by the display flight of Swinhoe´s and Pintail Snipe as well as Terek Sandpiper. The migration of Pallas´s Grashopper Warbler came in full swing and matched the numbers of Blyth´s Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers caught. Corncrakes were using every blade of grass left in between the horizontal willows to attract a female. As bycatch Red-flanked Bluetail, Brambling, Siberian Rubythroat, Garden Warbler and even a Pallas´s Leaf Warbler, visiting us from the taiga, could be ringed. After dismounting the nets during the third night by the riverside, we enjoyed a bit of free time and slept very well. With two days left, we tried our best to catch Oriental Cuckoos and adding them to the Russian-wide project by using ICARUS satellite tags. The tape lure attracted up to ten different birds in the area, which shows the high density of the species in the floodplains. We didn’t catch even one of them. On our last day we went on a little hike uphill into the Taiga and through beautiful swamps. We enjoyed a totally different species composition with Black-throated Thrush, Eurasian Treecreeper, Greenish Warbler, lots of Yellow-browed Warblers and Mugimaki Flycatcher, while Eyebrowed Thrush, Yellow-browed and Rustic Bunting could only be heard. These last days the mosquito situation started to become more critical, so it felt like we hit the right timing with leaving Mirnoye at 23.06., although we would have liked to stay longer at this beautiful place. With only four hours delay we could jump on the ferry in Bakhta. During the long, relaxing journey we had enough time to test the rich selection of local beers and enjoy the beautiful landscape. We added White-winged Tern and Little Gull to our list. Several times Pacific Swifts and Hobbys flew over the ferry and every time we drove past rocks, Peregrine Falcons were around. We made it in time to Krasnoyarsk airport thanks to our taxi driver who just knew where to drive with 150 km/h and where he had to respect speed limits. It seemed like a little wonder we didn’t take off right there and then on the highway. With a short stop in hot, sweaty Moscow we arrived in Germany sooner than we expected.

//Johannes Amshoff & Moritz Meinken

Yenisey river
Male Siberian Stonechat
Pallas´s Grasshopper Warbler
the new ringing site
Can you guess the species from the tail?
Bluethroat habitat at Yenisey river
Pallas´s Leaf Warbler
Returning from the ringing site in the morning
in the taiga
Yenisey river bank
the vehicle of choice
Male Common Reed Bunting
every year, bridges have to be rebuilt
planting potatoes
Common Sandpiper