In the Belarusian swamps arrange bird Renaissance

The rarest songbird in Europe loves the Belarusian swamps, on a relatively small area, there is almost half of the global population of aquatic Warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola). There are issues with the swamps where there are problems and this little bird made the UN list of species threatened with global extinction.

The bird flea, no bigger than a Sparrow — body length 14 cm, weight — as a teaspoon of sugar with a slide — 10 grams, maximum 18. Spends a lot of time on the ground, can sit on the stems of plants like cricket — pads, holding it with two different foundations. Apparently, due to stealth even with the name of the discrepancies — often she’s Warbler, but sometimes dictionaries give the option Warbler, bird slang — vertievka.

In Russia, unfortunately, just left that name earlier breeding range of the aquatic Warbler extends from European side to the upper reaches of the Ob river in Western Siberia. Here latest birds were observed in the early 2000s. Over the twentieth century the world population of aquatic Warbler (only in Europe more than three dozen species of this genus) decreased by 95% due to drainage of almost all fens. In Belarus remained stable fragment habitat — half of the world population, and made the bird popular. Carotene Varleva (as she is called in Belarusian) became one of the business cards of the country — the bird is on stamps, calendars, and in the town of Bereza — just in those marshes bird as a monument.

Last year the preservation of birds attended to the UN — along with other species at risk in Belarus. The project “Wetlands”, which is funded by the Global environment facility and implemented by the UN development Programme jointly with the Ministry of natural resources, have to restore the reserves “Sporovsky” and “Zvanets” — swamps in the southwest of Belarus — the habitat of the aquatic Warbler. These marshes are one of Europe’s largest lowland, preserved in a state close to natural. Zvanets is the world’s largest nesting grounds for the aquatic Warbler at this site nests about 27% of the global population.

Belarusian habitat threatens not reclamation, and the overgrowing of wetlands. The Director of the Sporovsky reserve Vadim Protasevich explains to the correspondent of RFI that the reason no one eats the grass.

Vadim Protasevich: “it’s very simple — in the villages there are few people, and cows in the villages… Here we have High (village at the Sporovsky reserve — RFI) only one cow lives there used to be about 140 heads. And in all the villages the same situation. People not only do not mow the marshes, but they no need to mow — that’s all. Now farms provide them with hay — those one or two cows are kept. Before cows were grazing here on the swamp, but you know what it is — a local cattle were up to 500 pounds of weight, 400 pounds is a big cow. One year tried the farm flock here to drive, they sink! Cows now at 600-700 kilograms — they are not able to walk through the swamp. A little bit more even have become species — that’s it. Village population left in the city — there is no one to keep a cow, no one to mow”.

On another issue, said an employee of the Academy of Sciences, biologist Maksim Koloskov.

Maxim Koloskov: “This river of Yaselda was started in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, for the tide is a huge network of irrigation channels that are thrown into its nutrients, Rybkhoz “Selets” with a huge amount of feed poured into the lake to feed the fish, big city Bereza, which is waste. In our opinion, the growth is affected by a constant flow of nutrients. The groundwater level was very changed, over a large section of the river channeled — no floods, which stood here during the summer. You ask any local resident, he will say that the water here was up to the threshold until the autumn. Now this does not happen, everything changed. And these reasons have been the source of intense overgrowth”.

  • The river Yaselda in Sporovsky reserve
    RFI/ G. Charipkin

  • The mowed part of the swamps, Sporovsky
    RFI/ G. Charipkin

In the framework of the project “Wetlands” purchases equipment for the organization of a complete process chain for mowing and use of plant biomass of wetlands. Be removed trees and shrubs with an area of at least 1,200 hectares, and the resulting biomass will be used in the form of fuel chips, hay, litter for fertilizer. According to Protasiewicz, the hay with the Belarusian swamps are interested in Italian konezavodchik — is marsh grass (especially of protected areas) is very popular with the horses, but while everything rests on the high cost of delivery. “Coming on solid volume of harvested hay in rolls — can be, and you will be able to send food to Europe”, — said the Director of the wetland reserve.

Maxim Koloskov noted that until now, ornithologists do not know the exact routes and wintering area of reed warblers. Belarusian scientists secured to the reed warblers were captured with dedicated sensors — geologger that should “tell” a secret about these birds. But it is known that France is one of the favorite places of transit of Belarusian Warbler on the way to Africa. And not just transit — both sides of the English channel and Bay of Biscay, scientists also sometimes called hibernation.

Maxim Koloskov: “this year in Belarus were hanged about 30 sensors on the aquatic Warbler. Constantly produced catches of monitored and want to see where they are going after the breeding season, where they fly and how we this process not enough studied, just started. In 2019 we will be much more aware of their movement. Just assume the data is small enough, when you are flying and where, we wonder how it behaves. They should be sure to peratrovich and these geologger to remove — then we will be able to obtain these data. Typically, this small percentage if one or two catch — it will be a success. Our aquatic Warbler often flies through France, we have caught birds with French rings, and returns from France. It’s probably a country that most actively exchanges information on the rings of verclause. There are mainly on the coast it is actively caught. The largest number of return rings — from France is a transit country.”

The chance to see the rarest songbird of Europe in the Belarusian marshes bird-watchers have known for a long time, but the introduction of the first five days and then a 30-day visa-free regime has made it easier for the bird lovers. However, the Warbler season is short — may and early June.

Vadim Protasevich: “Not more than 40 days a season. Well, when every day in the group. But when it happens three or four day break, and then six groups, it certainly is…”.

But there are other birds, adds Maxim Koloskov.

Maxim Koloskov: “Some people are interested in the citrine Wagtail, great grey owl there is also the greater spotted eagle, well, there are types that are simply nice to everyone to watch is a Flycatcher, a whole family of cavity nesters — want to see all the types, it is woodpeckers. Those species of birds that really almost never occur in Europe, their habitat involves the territory of Belarus”.

After successful observations of clamorous reed Warbler bird-watchers from the Scottish city of Inverness was organized by the fan club birds of Belarusian marshes — and the season coming is not one group from Scotland. The French tourists had the reputation in the swamps of energetic observers.

Vadim Protasevich: “there Were two groups, shall we say, unique, they came at the same time. They wanted 50 species of birds in one day. Guys, do you know what you want? We want one day. In General, at four in the morning we began our epic, 10 PM — the day is long, yet light looked 49 species. Had to travel 15 kilometers (up to 50). They said: we believe, but we will not go there, everyone! People just fell asleep, so it was hard.”

Belarusians are ready to help with the recovery of the Warbler in the EU — if I may say so, to start exporting birds. In synergy with the project “Wetlands” launched EU initiative “life”. Last spring, scientists have made translocation or relocation of the Chicks of this species from the Belarusian bogs in the Lithuanian Zvanets reserve “Zuvintas”.

Irina tells Gignac, Manager of the project “life — Aquatic Warbler”.

Irina Giginyak: “Translocation of the aquatic Warbler is the first time in the world. With the reserve “Zvanets” 50 birds were transported in “Zuvintas”. They’re okay, ringed, healthy, flew (for the winter). Now waiting for spring, now is important and I wonder where they will fly. It is believed that the birds remember their place from the 30th to 40th day (life). Really looking forward to the spring, in 2018, the did all — we did all of that what you will. Now, fingers crossed, we will wait for spring”.

Scientists hope that the Belarusian population of the project will not only continue, but will increase by at least half. Now the whole world population does not exceed 25,000 birds.

The total budget of the project “Wetlands” — 4.3 million dollars. The five-year program provides for some changes in environmental legislation (including the long-awaited law on the protection and use of wetlands), conservation of valuable forest areas, introduction of sustainable use and refining of biomass of the marshes, improved grassland for volnovoda micro-population of the European bison, the restoration of the habitats of wading birds, wetlands and grasslands, the development of ecotourism.
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