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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.

 
 

Newsletter 30 - Winter 2020/21

We send you all good wishes in what, for so many, has been a difficult year. Most of us could not have imagined the long-term impact on our lives that Covid-19 has had. Despite some restrictions, however, the Management Bodies of the National Parks in Greece have continued to operate and we have been able to discuss and begin to plan future projects with them. We also were able to put up more nest-boxes for Rollers and Kestrels this autumn.

Record-breaking flamingos!

In July it was announced that for the first time flamingo chicks have fledged in Greece with an amazing 180 nests recorded! The breeding took place in a lagoon in Halkidiki, near Agios Mamas.  The news was kept secret, after being discovered in early May by Wildlife Action volunteers, as the birds are very sensitive and there is a great risk of abandoning the nest if they are disturbed.

Flamingos have been in Greece for the last thirty years and their presence has expanded to many wetlands, where they are found in greater numbers in winter. In the spring, adults go to breed in Mediterranean colonies (France, Italy, Spain, Turkey and North Africa). In Greece, attempts were made to breed in wetlands such as the Aliki Kitrous Lagoon, Koronia and the Pteleas lagoon, but without success.

"The reproduction of flamingos in Agios Mama is a great event…", says Penelope Karagianni, ornithologist and volunteer of the Action for Wildlife, which has been monitoring the area in recent years. "In fact, it is very important the place they chose for reproduction, the small but valuable for biodiversity wetland of Agios Mamas, which faces very serious problems from human activity in the protected area."

https://bit.ly/3ipA7XZ

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WWF wolf pilot project

Can a piece of rope with coloured flags stop a wolf?

It seems that a piece of rope with coloured flags, a simple fence for human eyes, can effectively prevent a wolf from attacking livestock. Reducing the damage caused by wolves means there are fewer reasons for the illegal use of poison baits. In the frame of the LIFE Project "Egyptian vulture New LIFE” in three areas, the last strongholds of the species in Greece: Meteora, Epirus and Thrace, fladry fences were installed to be tested in the Greek countryside.WWF Fladries

In Thrace, the WWF Greece team distributed the fladries free of charge to five cattle breeders and installed them in areas where during the summer months either their animals graze during the day or sleep at night. The very careful way of how the fladries are constructed and installed is extremely important for the deterrent goal of this method. Moreover, great emphasis was given to properly setting-up the fladries, always with the livestock breeders’ contribution, paying attention to the distances among stakes, flags and their height from the ground. A significant innovation approach was that each fladry was electrified, mostly for the cows not to get out of the fence and less for a wolf. As a result the cows stay all together in the fence and the wolf outside it!

After work, the WWF Greece team was offered local treats by the livestock breeders who expressed their gratitude, sometimes accompanied by traditional songs and music. They shared with the team old stories about the Egyptian vulture, when the bird was seen very often unlike nowadays because this has unfortunately  changed dramatically. For the coming months, until the winter when the breeders will need to pick the fladries up, the method will be under evaluation for its effectiveness by the team of WWF Greece in collaboration with Yorgos Iliopoulos, a wolf expert and author of this innovative method’s study.

For more information see: lifeneophron.eu/#a-can-a-piece-of-rope-with-colored-flags-stop-a-wolf

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Egyptian Vulture migration

“Aoos” the last of the Egyptian Vultures in Epirus successfully completed its migration as shown in this image. Aoos is adult female Egyptian vulture from Albania, often visiting and feeding in Epirus, and tagged with a satellite transmitter in 2015. Aoos usually winters in Chad, in the area between Chad and Fitri lakes.

For more tracking data on other Egyptian Vultures see: www.lifeneophron.eu/#transmitters

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Game for Egyptian Vulture awareness

HOS-Birdlife Greece have written and produced an excellent floor game for children and adults to increase awareness of the many difficulties and dangers faced by Egyptian Vultures and of actions that can be taken to help them. Produced as part of the Life Project “Actions to Strengthen the Balkan Population of the Egyptian Vulture and Secure Its Flyway” this game is produced in Greek and English. The large floor cards depict both positive and negative aspects with humorous and poignant cartoons including a card depicting the Anti-poison dogs which Birdwing has raised money to support.

To see the English cards click here: lifeneophron.eu/back2/public/files/documents/ev-floor-game-english-5ed0be3e6fbb0.pdf 

For more information about this and other materials click here: lifeneophron.eu/#a-ekpaideytiko-yliko

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New Wetlands Initiative video

Wherever in the world wetlands are found, they are havens of life that connect us all. Award-winning writer, naturalist and long-time Birdwing supporter Julian Hoffman joins the Wetlands Initiative on their 25th anniversary from his home by the Prespa Lakes in northern Greece to explore the wonder and beauty of wetlands. Hoffman is the author of Irreplaceable: The Fight to Save our Wild Places, and in this short film set beside the largest colony of Dalmatian pelicans on the planet he shows us how vital it is to protect and restore our shared waters.

Click the image or link to view the video   www.youtube.com/watch?v=L57JC6mmpxM


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 Pelican problems

At Lake Kerkini this year Dalmatian Pelicans successfully bred on the new platform funded by Birdwing.  In the early part of the breeding season the water level of the lake was unusually low which sadly resulted in some disturbance and predation for birds that attempted to breed on the nearby island. Thus the wooden platform, which is tall enough to deter predators such as jackals and wolves, was vital in ensuring some chicks successfully fledged.

Birdwing is discussing future mitigation plans to help prevent predation and the possibility of funding the necessary equipment for this.

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Poros stork village

A new centre in Poros, the Greek European Stork Village, which was previously the old school, has recently been organised to share information about storks and how the public can help them. Birdwing has been involved in helping to design banners, games and boards in conjunction with Eleni Makrigianni and the staff of the Evros Delta Management Body.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lesser White-fronted Geese news

A new LIFE Project is just beginning to help Lesser White-fronted Geese in Europe. Five countries are participating in the project – Greece, Finland, Lithuania, Estonia and Hungary, with 9 institutions and authorities. Evros Delta, being a key area for the species, will host some activities and habitat works. In order to increase the extent of safe feeding habitat for the geese, restoration works will be done to create a wet meadow close to the core feeding and roosting area of the birds. The restoration together with monitoring, public awareness and infrastructure activities will be implemented by the Management Body of Evros Delta and Samothraki Protected Areas and by the Hellenic Ornithological Society. 

Currently the population of 76-80 Lesser White-fronted Geese are at Lake Kerkini, a number which has fluctuated significantly in the last few years due to factors affecting their breeding success in Northern Europe. In 2014/15 the maximum count was 53, rising to 130 two years later, following an exceptional breeding season. Since then maximum counts are as follows: 2017/18 103, 18/19 112, 19/20 99.

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         Nest box success at Evros

 

The data for the Birdwing nest boxes at the Evros Delta, including the 14 new boxes put up this spring, showed an incredible success of take-up. All Kestrel and Roller boxes that were put up in previous years showed bird activity with confirmed or likely fledging in a high proportion of the boxes (shown in yellow in the table). Of this year’s new boxes three had confirmed sightings of birds using them.

This autumn we were able to put up additional Roller boxes in the area. If planning to visit the region, please contact us at info@birdwing.eu if you would like the Google map of the box locations.   

 

 

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New paper about Greece’s breeding birds 

A interesting and detailed new paper on the state of breeding birds in Greece has been published this week, which documents trends, threats and implications for conservation. It highlights bird species in serious decline in Greece, such as Imperial Eagle, Purple Heron, Whiskered Tern and Egyptian Vulture and also indicates those species doing well in Greece, including Starling, Yellow Wagtail, Cuckoo, Mute Swan and Cattle Egret, sometimes bucking the general European trend.

Its authors are Dimitrios Vavylis (who might be known to you as part of the Anti-poison dog units in Meteora), Anastasios (Tasos) Bounas, Georgios Karris and Kostas A. Triantis.

It is available to read in full at:

www.cambridge.org/core/journals/bird-conservation-international/article/state-of-breeding-birds-in-greece-trends-threats-and-implications-for-conservation/18F3E39F35BD5A8256C5E584201D854E

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European Breeding Bird Atlas published

After ten years of work, the results of the second European Breeding Bird Atlas EBBA2 are now brought together in a single volume. The book is the most up-to-date source of information on distribution, abundance and change of bird populations in Europe. A tremendous effort by the European Bird Census Counciland its partner organisations from 48 countries have made it possible. Around 120,000 fieldworkers contributed data to the atlas, mainly from 2013 to 2017. As such this project constitutes one of the biggest citizen science projects on biodiversity ever. Thanks to the support by the MAVA Foundation and many other donors, the project not only generated new information but also strengthened the network of individuals and organisations working in bird research and conservation.

The atlas presents information on all species reported to breed in the study period. A total of 556 species are treated with a full species account including maps, text and an illustration. Full species accounts include 50×50 km maps (usually showing abundance data), modelled distribution maps with a resolution of 10×10 km (for 222 breeding birds) and change maps (comparing current distribution with that obtained for the first atlas 30 years ago). All these data document the state of the European breeding avifauna using the most rigorous scientific approaches with the final aim to encourage the effective conservation of birds and their habitats.

The book can be ordered from Lynx Edicions: https://www.lynxeds.com/product/european-breeding-bird-atlas-2-distribution-abundance-and-change/

Pre-publication price 70 Euro (plus shipping costs), valid until 30 November 2020

Citation: Keller, V., Herrando, S., Voříšek, P., Franch, M., Kipson, M., Milanesi, P., Martí, D., Anton, M., Klvaňová, A., Kalyakin, M.V., Bauer, H.-G. & Foppen, R.P.B. (2020). European Breeding Bird Atlas 2: Distribution, Abundance and Change. European Bird Census Council & Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

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Winners of our competition

Congratulations to our three winners of the ID competition in our last newsletter, which included ten-year old Bill Papaioannou, pictured below! Varadini Konstantina, Bill’s mother sent in the entry on his behalf and told us how much Bill loves nature and birdwatching. The other winners were Stavros Polymeros and Mike Youdale and all three were sent limited edition prints by award-winning macro photographer Matt Doogue (facebook.com/mattsmacro        Twitter@MattDoogue)

There were many entries with the three winners identifying most or all of the birds in the grid. The solutions are shown here…

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Bird news

The bird news round-up in this issue is another casualty of Covid-19 as lockdown in Greece has inevitably led to far fewer sightings being reported. However, here are a few unusual highlights that have come to our attention:

  • Early November brought sightings of Yellow-browed Warblers, like the one shown in this photo, one being seen near Panorama in the Thessaloniki area on 6th November and several sightings nearer Athens.
  • A Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultia) was seen at Messolonghi at the end of October.
  • An usual visit from an Eider was observed at Amvrakikos on 24th October, like the one shown below.
  • Several Bluethroats were spotted this autumn, including individuals at Lakes Koronia and Ismarida.
  • A juvenile Citrine Wagtail was spotted by Dimitirs Kokkinidis at the end of August at the lakes at Nea Adriana, near Lake Ismarida.

You might also be interested in this lovely video by Sotiris Kountouras of Alpine Choughs going to roost in a cave in Northern Greece…

https://youtu.be/aidA2anTyfA

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With thanks to all our contributors and to the staff of the Management Bodies of the National Parks for their continued collaborations, in particular the staff of the Evros Delta region and of Kerkini and to Dora Skartsi (WWF Greece) and Roula Trigou (Birdlife Greece) for their help in producing this newsletter. 

If you would like to read our newsletter as a pdf click here.

If you would like to donate to help our work please go to www.birdwing.eu/howtodonate

If you have any queries contact us at info@birdwing.eu

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