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Welcome to BirdWING

BirdWING (Birdwatching in Northern Greece) has been set up to raise awareness of birds in Greece and to raise money for the conservation and restoration of bird habitat in the region. Birdwing has supporters from all over the world.

 
 

Barn Owl Nest-boxes

Following sightings of a Barn Owl roosting (uncomfortably!) in a Kestrel nest-box at the Evros Delta, Birdwing submitted a proposal to the Management Body there for some Barn Owl boxes. Permissions were given and the boxes have been made by a local carpenter. They are now being positioned in several locations around the delta. Barn Owls can take some time to adopt a box for breeding purposes but we are hoping they will soon be used for roosting and that, over time, breeding will take place in them.

The boxes are quite expensive to have made but the triangular-shaped design allows the chicks plenty of room to grow and the positioning of the entrance hole is designed to prevent them climbing out of the box before they are ready.

The boxes are very heavy and we would like to thank the staff of the National Park Management Body at Evros for their help in siting them around the delta.

We would also like to thank Meriel Wilmot-Wright whose continued donations to Birdwing have ensured that these boxes could be made.

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Kouki's work continues...

Thanks to the money raised by Birdwing’s friends and supporters, HOS/BirdLife Greece is being able to continue the work carried out by the Meteora Anti-poison Dog Unit.

The Unit was created in 2014 as part of the LIFE+ Project “The Return of the Neophron”. For three years Kouki and handler Dimitris Vavylis (shown to the right) have been searching non-stop for poison baits in the wider area of Meteora and further afield.  Although  the  project officially finished in December 2016, the fight against poison is far from over. In the last five years two of the four existing Egyptian Vulture pairs in Meteora have been lost to poison baits. But it’s not all bad news. Dog Units apart from being the best method to find and remove poisoned baits from the countryside, are an incredible communication tool. Due to the activities of the Dog Unit, more and more people in the area of Meteora are now aware of this critical conservation problem, which means that more people call to report the illegal use of poison allowing for a quicker response in the field. Increasing people’s awareness directly decreases the social tolerance towards this deeply rooted practice, leading, hopefully, in the longer term, to its eradication. To achieve this however, the Dog Unit must continue with its work, as it has been doing until now. Birdwing’s generous donation greatly contributes towards this mission and brings us a step closer towards the end of wildlife poisoning.

The Dog Unit at Dadia (with Kouki’s brother Kiko and handler Ela Krets) continues to be funded by WWF Greece after the conclusion of the Life+ Project. A technical report (2016) has recently been published which includes a 3 year summary of the work and achievements of the anti-poison dog units. The whole report is in Greek, but there is a summary in English.

For more news on the Life+ Project visit: http://lifeneophron.eu

Want to help this valuable work to continue?

To donate to Birdwing via the Donate button on our website, just follow this link www.birdwing.eu   and click the Donate button on the left. You can pay by credit, debit cards or Paypal. If you do not wish to register with Paypal it is possible to donate without this, by clicking on the word ‘Continue’ at the bottom left of the first screen.

Alternatively, if you prefer, you can make a bank transfer using the following details:

Account name: Birdwing EU:

Bank name and address: Santander, Business Banking, 301 St Vincent Street, Glasgow, G2 5NT

Account number: 43604036

Sort Code 09 06 66

BIC: ABBYGB2LANB

IBAN: GB98 ABBY 0906 6643 6040 36

Please note that we do not take any money for ourselves in either payment or expenses – all money Birdwing receives goes towards helping birds in Greece. 

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Wet meadow Improvement Project

The Evros Delta Management Body, in the context of the “Wet meadows and pastures” program that is financed by Euronatur and Ciconia organizations, is implementing the “Wet meadow improvement project in Mavrakanthos, Evros Delta”.

The “Wet meadows and pastures” program has as a target to support the European Stork Villages and their partners, to implement actions that are related to the improvement and restoration of stork habitats (meadows and pastures).

As Poros village was announced as European Stork Village 2016, the Evros Delta Management Body applied to the project and received a grant in order to improve the wet meadow in the area of “Mavrakanthos” at the eastern part of the delta. The proposal was accepted and the project has as a main target to reduce the reed and tamarisk expansion in the area, in order to create better foraging conditions for the White Stork.

The main actions of the project include reedbed cutting, tamarisk pruning, cleaning of the canals, and grazing.

The project started in July 2016 and will be completed in February 2018.

The village of Poros will also hold another stork Festival this spring on 19th-20th May 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

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New wildlife hospital...

On 6th February 2017 an opening ceremony took place for the new wildlife hospital near Thessaloniki. The inauguration included the release of five previously injured birds of prey and was attended by the local mayor and presidents of the National Park Management Body and local municipality. Central to the event were representatives from Δράση για την Άγρια Ζωή (Action for Wildlife), the non-profit organisation who have been carrying out wildlife rehabilitations with volunteers for the last few years and who have been given the premises by the Municipality (Dimos Delta) to continue their important work.

Stavros Kalpakis, of Action for Wildlife, stressed the importance for society of such a project. "The Mayor contributed substantially to setting up the station and has embraced the effort we are making," he said.

"With the station will contribute to the awareness of society but also the prevention and treatment of diseases that exist in nature," he said and stressed that none of this would have happened without the continued effort and support of volunteers to offer assistance to the first-aid station.

Action for Wildlife NGO is dedicated to the conservation of wildlife and is the primary first aid centre for wildlife treatment in all of North Greece. We receive over 1300 animals yearly, mostly birds that are injured (mainly from hunters, electric cables and natural causes), malnourished or nestlings.

Our team consists entirely of volunteers who are trained in our centre in order to rehabilitate as many wild animals as possible. Through this effort we aim to promote public awareness about biodiversity loss.

It is extremely challenging to meet the needs of such a centre with such few financial resources and no permanent staff, and even more, since the financial situation in Greece prevents many people from donating to our cause.

Anyone can join Action for Wildlife’s rehabilitation centre and their efforts to continue providing help to wild animals by subscribing to our cause!

Why not adopt an animal or donate?

Go to: www.drasi-agriazoi.gr

www.facebook.com/drasiagriazoi/

Find out how you can help and save a hawk, owl, eagle or a mammal TODAY!

For more information about the location of and directions to the new hospital click here


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A historic day for Prespa

14th February 2017

Tuesday 14th February 2017 was a historic day for Greece in the field of nature conservation and sustainable development. The parliament of the country ratified the international ‘Agreement for the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Prespa Park Area’ by an overwhelming majority. The agreement was originally signed in February 2010 by the Ministers of Environment of Greece, FYROM and Albania but Greece did not ratify it for the next 7 years. Nonetheless, it has now done so and the agreement is ready to be implemented.

This development is pivotal for Greece, as it is the first time that the country has gone ahead with the official establishment of a system of permanent collaboration in a border area that is protected for its outstanding biodiversity. The case of Prespa provides a compelling instance of Greece overcoming its economic malaise and overall insecurity to boldly visualise and build the future of an area which is small in size and population but intensely symbolic. The participation of the EU as a contracting party in the ‘Prespa Agreement’ reconfirms exactly how important the region is from an environmental, geopolitical and symbolic viewpoint.

Besides its importance for Prespa and Greece, the implementation of the 2010 agreement will definitely be a milestone for SE Europe too. In 2000 the declaration on the establishment of the transboundary Prespa Park relayed a message of peace and co-operation between the peoples of the region, following the years of great upheavals and wars of the 1990s. In today’s world of insecurity, introversion and new nationalisms, the implementation of the international agreement for the Prespa Park takes on an optimistic symbolism once again, as it will cultivate friendship and peaceful coexistence for the sustainable prosperity of local societies on the basis of nature conservation. It is thus reconfirmed that environmental protection is not a restriction, but rather an opportunity and a means for sustainable development; it is also reiterated that the way forward is not isolationism and hostility, but bridging differences and building synergies for the benefit of all.  

These are also the ideas behind the European Green Belt, on which the Prespa basin lies. The EuroNatur Foundation - as chair of the European Green Belt Association - congratulates the Greek Parliament on this important decision and calls on the three countries sharing the Prespa Park to promptly implement the agreement.

The undersigned 5 environmental organisations - EuroNatur, KORA, MES, PPNEA and the SPP - joyfully acknowledge this day, which marks the beginning of a new and more mature phase in transboundary co-operation in the Prespa basin. Its main feature will hopefully be the operation of new permanent and official joint institutions with the participation of local authorities, protected area authorities and environmental NGOs alongside the state authorities, i.e. all the significant stakeholders who believe in the effectiveness of this model of local and transboundary governance. We firmly pledge our unequivocal support for this progressive and forward-looking process.

For more information:

Katharina Grund, EuroNatur katharina.grund@euronatur.org

Manuela von Arx, KORA: m.vonarx@kora.ch

Daniela Zaec, MES: zaec@mes.org.mk

Vivi Roumeliotou, SPP: v.roumeliotou@spp.gr

Klaudja Koci, PPNEA: k.koci@ppnea.org

The SPP website: www.spp.gr

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Please take part in our survey

To help us with writing the third edition we’d like you to give us feedback. Answer just a few short questions to help us make the third edition as good as it can be. 

Click here to take part! It will only take a few moments and will be so helpful to us!

 

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Other Birdwing news...

We’re pleased to announce two exciting developments for Birdwing working together with the Nestos/Vistonida/Ismarida National Park Management Body. We are expanding our nest-box programme firstly by putting up more Roller and Kestrel boxes in the Komotini region, around the Rhodope lagoons and Lake Ismarida, where we are using existing electricity poles to mount them. Secondly, in the Xanthi region of the National Park we are hoping to work together with the local electricity company who are willing to erect old disused poles in appropriate places so that more boxes can be put up there.  

We’re also delighted to be able to announce that Kestrels are already pairing up and using Birdwing boxes at the Evros Delta, where in February pairs were seen mating on both of the pumping stations!

Eagle Owls are making their presence heard at this time of year across Northern Greece, like this one at the Evros Delta. A pair were seen mating by Roy Clarke there on 19th February.

At Lake Kerkini, following the theft of the wood on the newest tern raft Birdwing will be paying for a new raft to be made, this time out of concrete! There are a range of long-term difficulties with wooden rafts as weeds often become entangled in the wood and gradually become so intertwined small bushes grow and cannot be kept in check. It is hoped that the concrete raft will be more long-lasting and won’t be as attractive to potential thieves!

Roller and Kestrel boxes are also being put up in the Kerkini area.

The exceptionally low water levels at Kerkini in February caused some problems for the Dalmatian Pelicans, which, although ready to breed, found that the nesting platform and islands were not yet surrounded by water.  Their response was to move the reeds that had carefully been laid on the stone islands by the Management Body up to the higher wooden platform where they felt safer.

Greenwings Wildlife Tours

Fancy a birding holiday in Greece? Why not join us, Steve and Hilary, for 8 days in May in Northern Greece? We will be leading a Greenwings trip called Birds of Lake Kerkini in Spring from the 6th -13th May 2017. We will be based near Lake Kerkini and will visit nearby woods, mountains and coastline as well as the lake. Last year’s trip was excellent with over 170 species seen including Terek and Broad-billed Sandpipers, Great Spotted Cuckoos and Alpine Chough.

Those guests with cameras benefitted from Steve’s photography tuition and everyone improved their ID skills.

For more details on the trip click here or go to www.greenwings.co for information on all the wildlife holidays they run.

Please note that we donate our guiding fee to Birdwing and Greenwings kindly give 10% of their profits from the trip and so it is a valuable source of income to Birdwing. We’re very grateful to Greenwings for their continued support for our work.

Birdwatching and Photography Boat trips

Working on Lake Kerkini, Nikos Gallios of the popular Limaio hotel in Chryssohorafa, has begun running a variety of boat trips.  These include pelican and flamingo photography in winter and trips around the drowned forest during spring and early summer.  In addition, Nikos will tailor trips to suits your needs and interests. The company is called ‘Itavros’ which means Bittern.

For more information contact Nikos on: 0030 6936 116066

 

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Watch this video

Wonder what the Evros Delta can be like in winter? Watch this video with clips of some of the birds there in February. Click the image below to watch the video.

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Bird news round up

Birds have been finding the cold winter conditions hard this year in Greece, where, together with the usual pressures, incidents of avian bird flu have been reported. But there has been some great news - the European population of the endangered Lesser White-fronted Geese which winters in Greece reached 130 - the largest number in over a decade. The birds seemed quite settled at Lake Kerkini but then came the severe weather and the lake completely froze for the first time since 2001. The geese had little option but to leave and did so on 6th January and were not reported anywhere until the 24th when 38 arrived back on the lake. Numbers then continued to rise until 113 were back on the lake by February 2nd with 116 on the 15th. Whether the other 14 are still out there is unknown. There have been high numbers of geese, swans and duck in many other areas of Northern Greece and magical Hen Harriers and Spotted Eagles can be seen around several other locations in the region.

 

Evros

The beginning of the month saw the delta littered with dead birds following a harsh and prolonged freeze, many of these being Flamingos and Mute swans, particularly immatures. Large numbers of swans sought refuge from the frozen conditions, with 5742 Mute, 1248 Whooper and 8240 Bewick's.

Almost 200 Dalmatian Pelicans and 1032 Flamingos joined the huge number of duck which included a record 84 000 Mallard as areas of open water froze. Geese numbers rose to include 2400 White-fronts, 800 Greylags, 28 Red-breasted and 3 Lesser White-fronts. Spotted Eagle numbers rose to 22 in January before falling to 10 by early February. A rare Pallas’ Gull was seen on the 18th February.

Kerkini

 The severe weather of January continued into the month with temperatures dropping to -15C. Over 300 swans of all three species along with 2000 Greater White-fronted and 43 Red-breasted Geese were also present. Plenty of Goldeneye, 10 000 Pochard and 25 Smew were crowded into ever-decreasing areas of open water and the severe weather also brought more unusual visitors in the form of Ruddy Shelduck, Goosander and Long-tailed Duck. Crane numbers reached 42.

Ismarida and Vistonida

The difficulty of finding food in their more regular haunts in the prolonged cold snap has led to many geese appearing in areas where they are less usually found. The area around Ismarida played host to some 2000 Greater White-fronts, 3 Red-breasted, one Greylag and a single - and unusual - Bean Goose. In addition up to 11 Little Bustard have been around the lake. Nearby Vistonida held 6 Long-tailed ducks, several Smew and small numbers of White-headed Duck.

 

And finally, because they look spectacular at this time of year we thought we’d finish with some of Steve’s photos of wonderful Dalmatian Pelicans, from both Lake Kerkini and the Evros Delta.

 Thanks!

Thanks to everyone who has helped us with this newsletter and to all the staff members at the Centres across Northern Greece who have provided us with information

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