Friday, February 9, 2018

First All-Russian Ornithological Conference



Wolga river in Tver © Wieland Heim
Last week, Johannes Kamp and I participated in the 1st All-Russian Ornithological Conference in Tver, Russia. More than 300 participants presented their work from all corners of this huge country.

Johannes Kamp presented an updated population trend for the Critically Endangered Yellow-breasted Bunting, and illustrated the need for a nationwide land bird monitoring using the bunting as a flagship species. Further presentations included an update on the surveys of European Russia and Kazakhstan for the new European Breeding Bird Atlas, to which members of our working group at the Institute of Landscape Ecology Münster contributed. For many species, reliable population estimates and distribution maps are now available for the first time, which is important as Russia harbors large proportions of several species that are rare or decline elsewhere.

In my presentation I demonstrated the value of light-level based geolocators to track Siberian land birds from their breeding areas to locate previously unknown stop-over and wintering sites in South-East Asia. Knowledge of these areas will be crucial to protect migratory birds all along their route.

Dr. Sergei M. Smirenski giving a talk during the symposium on status and conservation planning for the Yellow-breasted Bunting © Wieland Heim
Main audience hall at Moscow State University in Tver © Wieland Heim
Letzte Woche nahmen Johannes Kamp und ich an der 1. Russischen Ornithologen-Konferenz in Twer, Russland, teil. Mehr als 300 OrnithologInnen und VogelbeobachterInnen aus allen Ecken des weiten Landes präsentierten ihre Arbeit.

Johannes Kamp präsentierte einen aktualisierten Bestandstrend für die vom Aussterben bedrohte Weidenammer, und betonte die Notwendigkeit eines landesweiten Monitoring-Systems. Die Weidenammer dient hierbei als flag ship species. Weitere Vorträge beschrieben den Fortschritt der Kartierungen im europäischen Teil Russlands und Kasachstans für den neuen Europäischen Brutvogelatlas, an welchem auch Mitglieder unserer Arbeitsgruppe hier am Institut für Landschaftsökologie Münster mitarbeiten. Für viele Arten sind nun zum allerersten Mal zuverlässige Bestandsschätzungen und Verbreitungskarten verfügbar. Dies ist von globaler Bedeutung, da Russland die größten Populationen zahlreicher Vogelarten beherbergt, welche anderswo selten oder von Bestandseinbrüchen betroffen sind.

In meinen Vorträgen zeigte ich die Bedeutung von Licht-basierten Geolokatoren für die Erforschung der bisher unbekannten Zugwege und Rastplätze von sibirischen Singvögeln auf. Informationen zu deren süd-ostasiatischen Winterquartieren sind die Grundlage für zukünftige Maßnahmen zum Schutz dieser Zugvögel.

//Wieland
Presentation on bird monitoring in Tver © Wieland Heim
Presentation of bird tracking results in Tver © Kiyoaki Ozaki


Friday, January 12, 2018

ABP 2017 & 2018



ABP spring team 2017 with Russian friends at Muraviovka Park © Arend Heim

2017 was a very successful year for the Amur Bird Project at Muraviovka Park. We managed to keep the ringing station running during both spring and autumn season, and more than 10.000 birds were trapped. 9969 individuals of 131 species were ringed – a record year. We can use the collected data to answer diverse questions regarding migration ecology. For example, we analysed potential flight ranges of Yellow-browed Warblers Phylloscopus inornatus, with the results now published in Bird Study. But more important, we can use the annual numbers of ringed birds to estimate population trends of migrant songbirds, as we collect the ringing data in a standardized way – first results were published here.
One bird, infamous for its sharp decline, is the Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola – one of our target species, and recently uplisted to Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. In spring 2017, we mapped more than 150 territories in and around Muraviovka Park, and collected data on habitat use and niche overlap with co-occuring bunting species. First results were presented during the conference of the European Ornithologist´s Union in Turku/Finland and during the annual meeting of the German Ornithologists´ Society in Halle/Germany.

Yellow-breasted Bunting with geolocator returned to Muraviovka Park © Arend Heim
 Furthermore, we were able to re-trap several Yellow-breasted Buntings equipped with geolocators in 2016. Three devices were recovered, containing valuable information about their autumn stop-over sites and wintering areas – a publication is currently in preparation. We also recovered three geolocators carried by Siberian Rubythroats Calliope calliope, and our manuscript containing details about their spatio-temporal behaviour is now under review. 86 more birds of six species were equipped with data loggers in 2017, and hopefully many of them will return in 2018.
Another hot topic are the annual fires in the wetlands at Muraviovka Park. We continued our studies  on the effects of fires on bird and plant diversity in 2017, and first results were presented at the “Ecology across borders” conference in Gent. But not only fires have an impact on threatened birds: we were able to show that crane populations at Muraviovka Park depend on regular flooding – published in Waterbirds journal October 2017. Unfortunately, recent dam constructions will limit the natural floods in the Amur river valley.
Another threat is the agricultural intensification - huge areas of fallow land were converted recently to crop lands. In 2017, we were shocked to see that former wet meadows were ploughed - even inside the protected area of Muraviovka Park!

Participants of Muraviovka Park´s Bird Ecology Summer School © Arend Heim
To raise awareness among local people, the staff of Muraviovka Park organized two camps for local schoolchildren in 2017 – one of them lead by us, the Bird Ecology Summer School. All participants visited our ringing station and learned about bird migration and nature conservation. In total, several hundred visitors came to our ringing station in 2017, and we visited a village school in June 2017 to reach an even greater audience. To my opinion, showing the beauty and explaining the value of their surrounding nature to the local people is one of our most rewarding and most important tasks.
In May 2018, our field studies in Far East Russia will start again, and we hope to continue our educational program as well.

I want to thank Sergei Smirenski and the staff of Muraviovka Park for their long-lasting cooperation and for hosting us since seven years.
Many thanks also to all members of the field team in 2017 – a total of 21 volunteers and researchers from 9 countries took part: Carmen Azahara, Isabelle Berner, Nils Bigalke, Laszlo Bozo, Erna Bozone, Hans-Jürgen Eilts, Euan Ferguson, Mickael Fivat, Arend Heim, Ramona Heim, Tim Korschefsky, Jennifer Leung, Benjamin Meißner, Sissel Sjöberg, Alexander Thomas, Mikkel Willemoes, Jonas Wobker, Tom Wulf, Anna Zimin and Sean Zimin.
Furthermore, I want to thank all private donors, sponsors and supporters, especially the German Ornithologists´ Society (DO-G e.V.), the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, NABU RV Erzgebirge e.V. and Zeiss Sports Optics.
Further thanks go to Aleksey Antonov, Vassili Dugincov, Norbert Hölzel, Johannes Kamp, Lykke Pedersen, Dmitriy Matushevich, Yuriy Shpak, Anders Tottrup, Kasper Thorup. Additional thanks go to Avtoluxe Blagoveshchensk.

2017 Highlights:


  • standardized bird ringing during spring & autumn: 10.000 birds of 131 species trapped
  • recovery of three geolocators each from Yellow-breasted Buntings and Siberian Rubythroats
  • continuation of breeding bird counts
  • studies on habitat use of buntings and fire impacts on birds and plants
  • discovery of new sites for Swinhoe´s Rail
  • bird ecology summer school for local children
  • 6 articles published, 4 of them in international peer-reviewed journals (see here)
  • 12 contributions during 3 national and international conferences

Höhepunkte 2017:

  • Netzfang an der Beringungsstation im Frühjahr und Herbst: 10.000 Vögel aus 131 Arten
  • Rückfang von je drei mit Geolokatoren ausgestatteten Weidenammern und Rubinkehlchen
  • Fortführung der Brutvogelzählung
  • Studien zur Habitatnutzung von Ammern und zum Feuereinfluss auf Vögel und Vegetation
  • Entdeckung neuer Vorkommen des Mandschurensumpfhuhns
  • Sommerschule für Kinder aus umliegenden Dörfern
  • 6 Artikel publiziert, davon 4 in renommierten internationalen Fachzeitschriften (siehe hier)
  • 12 Beiträge auf nationalen und internationalen Tagungen

//Wieland

six more Swinhoe´s Rails were ringed at Muraviovka Park © Alex Thomas/Tom Wulf



Saturday, December 16, 2017

New publication in Bird Study

Yellow-browed Warbler ringed at Muraviovka Park © Arend Heim
Yellow-browed Warblers Phylloscopus inornatus are common migrants in East Asia, and have been recorded in increasing numbers as "vagrants" in Europe. However, little is known about their migration routes and behaviour. In our newest study, published yesterday in Bird Study, we quantified fat loads of 2125 Yellow-browed Warblers ringed during autumn migration at Muraviovka Park within the Amur Bird Project. Flight ranges of 660–820 km were estimated for the fattest individuals, suggesting that they would need to stop for refuelling at least six times to reach their wintering areas in South East Asia. If you are interested in the article, feel free to contact us through ResearchGate or via email.

Gelbbrauen-Laubsänger sind häufige Durchzügler und Wintergäste in Ostasien, und werden immer häufiger auch in Europa festgestellt. Tatsächlich ist aber sehr wenig über ihr Zugverhalten und die Zugwege bekannt. In unserer neuesten Studie, welche gestern in Bird Study veröffentlicht wurde, haben wir die sichtbaren Fettanteile von 2125 Gelbbrauen-Laubsänger quantifiziert, welche wir während der Herbst-Zugzeit im Muraviovka Park im Rahmen des Amur Bird Projects beringt hatten. Die fettesten Individuen könnten nach unseren Berechnungen bis zu 660-820km ohne Stop zurücklegen. Die Mehrzahl der Vögel muss also mindestens sechs Mal stoppen, um aufzutanken, bevor sie ihr Winterquartier in Südostasien erreichen können. Bei Interesse ist die Publikation über ResearchGate zugänglich, oder auf Anfrage per E-Mail.

//Wieland

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

ABP2017 @ ILÖK Münster - our largest project meeting ever

ABP meeting at ILÖK Münster - the largest ever © Martin Freitag
On Saturday, 9th of December 2017, the annual meeting of the Amur Bird Project took place at the Institute of Landscape Ecology (ILÖK) in Münster, Germany. More than 45 participants, including guests from Kazakhstan and Russia, listened to 12 presentations in three sessions. A wide range of scientific topics based on the data collected at Muraviovka Park and Far East Russia´s Amur region covered diverse aspects of ecology, habitat use, fire impact, biodiversity and conservation as well as parasites, population trends and migration of birds. Furthermore, additional results were presented on eight posters. This was the 5th meeting of its kind, the largest one so far and the first one to take place in Münster. I want to thank Norbert Hölzel, Johannes Kamp and the staff of the ILÖK for making this meeting possible, and many thanks to all speakers, the Amur Bird Project team and all visitors for their contributions resulting in a great and successful meeting.

Am Samstag, den 9. Dezember 2017, fand das Jahrestreffen des Amur Bird Projects am Institut für Landschaftsökologie (ILÖK) in Münster statt. Mehr als 45 Teilnehmer, inklusive Gästen aus Kasachstan und Russland, besuchten 12 Vorträge in drei Themenbereichen. Es wurden Ergebnisse aus der laufenden Forschung im Muraviovka Park und dem Amurgebiet im fern-östlichen Russland vorgestellt, welche ein breites Spektrum zu verschiedenen Aspekten der Ökologie, Habitatnutzung, Biodiversität, Feuereinfluss und Naturschutz als auch zu Parasiten, Bestandsveränderungen und Zugwegen von Vögel abdeckten. Dies war das 5. Treffen dieser Art, das bisher größte und das erste in Münster. Dank gilt Norbert Hölzel, Johannes Kamp und den Mitarbeitern des ILÖK für die Ermöglichung dieser Veranstaltung, und natürlich allen Vortragenden, dem Amur Bird Project Team und allen Gästen für ihre Beiträge, welche die Tagung spannend und erfolgreich gemacht haben.


 //Wieland

Martha Maria Sander estimated potential flight ranges of leaf warblers © Wieland Heim
Food, drinks and time to talk between sessions in the foyer of the ILÖK © Wieland Heim
Martin Frommhold gave insights into habitat choice of Amur Falcons © Arend Heim
Poster presentation © Wieland Heim
Ramona Heim explained fire impact on birds and plants © Arend Heim
Diverse reactions on Benjamin Meißners photos of parasitic louseflies © Arend Heim
Presenting newest results of our bird tracking studies with geolocators © Ramona Heim