Analysis of information sources on waterbird migration in the Azov–Black Sea region of Ukraine: bibliography, count results and ring recoveries

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Courtesy of Wetlands International

The study of bird migrations, particularly waterbirds, is one of the most important areas of ornithological science, but is also very important for designing measures aiming to protect them along the entire African–Eurasian fl yway. In this context, it is vital to distinguish the value of each more or less large wetland area as stopover for migratory birds. One step in this direction is to analyze the state of knowledge of bird migrations in the Azov–Black Sea coastal area of Ukraine, gained in the frame of the project “Stop–over Black Sea: the importance of the Black Sea region in the migratory systems of waterbirds in the African–Eurasian Flyway”, supported by the BBI–MATRA fund.

This publication includes three interconnected parts. The fi rst part is an overview of scientifi c publications on bird migrations in the Azov–Black Sea region of Ukraine. The second delivers the results of counts accomplished in August of 2004, 2006 and 2009, which characterize the value of key coastal wetlands in the region at beginning of the autumn migration season and is quite close to International Waterbird Census in the methodology. The third part consists mainly of maps depicting bird ring recoveries, demonstrating in such a way the connections of the Ukrainian coast with other regions of the African–Eurasian Flyway.

1. A review of scientifi c publications on the migration of waterbirds in Azov–Black Sea region of Ukraine

The study of migratory waterbirds in the Azov–Black Sea region was started in the late 18th century and to date has been presented in more than 450 publications. Before analyzing them, it is worth making a few comments about changes in the general approach to the study of migration over time.

From the late 18th century up to the early 20th century explorers (Nordmann, 1845; Radde, 1854; Браунер, 1894, 1899; Вальх, 1911; Паллас, 1999 and others) concentrated most of their attention on the composition of the fauna of the region and the status of each species (migratory, breeding etc.). These researchers paid particular attention to observations of various species outside their usual home range areas, records of invasive species and other uncommon ornithological phenomena.

Only in a few of the fundamental reports of this period (Кесслер, 1860; Мензбир, 1895 and some others) was special attention paid to bird migration, migration routes, and in some cases relative estimates of the numbers of individual species during the period of their migration. The attention of ornithologists who studied migration one and a half or two centuries ago was mainly focused on specifi c ecological or taxonomic groups of birds. Undeniable interest at that time was devoted to game birds (anything which was regularly hunted), wetland birds in general, birds of prey, and soaring birds, the migrations of which were most likely to have been visible to observers. In this case, it should be noted that no consistent (for one or several seasons) observations of birds carried out in the same area, in the manner accepted today, were accomplished, which signifi cantly reduces their value.

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