Wintering Waterbird Census in the Azov- Black Sea Coastal Wetlands of Ukraine, Georgia and Turkey


Courtesy of Wetlands International

The coastal wetlands of the Black Sea region are important for millions of waterbirds wintering each year in that region. This attracts attention from ornithologists from the Black Sea countries as well as from international conservation organizations. The fi rst counts were conducted about 80 years ago, but they were organised on a regular basis only due to the development of the International Waterbird Census (IWC). IWC has already quite a long history in the region – it was launched about 40 years ago, and a lot of data on wintering waterbirds was accumulated due to this. At the same time there is still a need for further improvement of IWC methodology and infrastructure in the Black Sea region, as well as using such improvements as a basis for development of monitoring system for migratory waterbirds. In relation to this in 2009 Wetlands International started 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 BBI- MATRA fund. The project is directed at coastal wetlands of three Black Sea countries – Georgia, Turkey and Ukraine. The main partners of Wetlands International for this project are: Environmental Association “Psovi” in Georgia, Doga Dernegi in Turkey and the Azov-Black Sea Ornithological Station in Ukraine.

The aim of this report is to provide results of gap analysis of IWC in coastal wetlands of Georgia, Turkey and Ukraine, fi rst of all in relation to current status of its methodology and infrastructure, as well as to present count data for key coastal wetlands.

Kostiushyn V., Andryuschenko Yu.
Ukraine’ coastline is about 1,050 km long and includes many big bays, limans, lakes, deltas and other types of wetlands. 19 coastal wetlands are recognized as Ramsar sites. The majority of these wetlands play a very important role for waterbirds and support many hundreds of thousands of them during their wintering along the country’s Azov-Black Sea coast. Winter waterbird counts have a long history in Ukraine. During that time Ukrainian scientists and birdwatchers have collected a large volume of information. This data has accumulated in IWC data base of Wetlands International and in IWC archives of Azov-Black Sea Ornithological Station of Ukraine. A large part of the historical counts data is already published. Within the current project new data from the last few years of IWC counts has also been collected, which is dispersed among counters. The current overview is based on all of these sources of information.

1.1. Brief history of wintering waterbirds count
The fi rst publications devoted to the wintering waterbirds in the south of Ukraine appeared in the beginning of the 20th century concerning the Obitochna Spit (Костюченко, 1926, 1928а, 1928б, 1929а, 1929б, 1929с), the southern coast of the Crimea (Аверин, 1928; Даль, 1929), Yagorlytskii and Tendrovskii bays (Киселев, 1932). Only a few works appeared in the 1950s and 1960s (Берендейм, Перов, 1957; Федоренко, 1959, 1965). Regular winter counts of waterbirds were started in 1954 (Ар- дамацкая, 1975) by the Black Sea Nature Reserve and until 1984 were devoted to swans only. But in the 1970s in connection with the beginning of the systematic study of bird wintering sites the number of publications increased sharply and continues to grow up to the present day. A list of 200 publications devoted to the results of wintering waterbirds counts is presented at end of Ukrainian part of this report (see 1.7 References).

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