Spring migration of waterbirds and raptors at Medvedce reservoir (Dravsko polje, NE Slovenia)/ Spomladanska selitev vodnih ptic in ujed na zadrževalniku Medvedce (Dravsko polje, SV Slovenija)

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Abstract

Spring migration of birds, particularly waterbirds and raptors, was monitored from dawn till dusk from an observation point located on the levee on the northern side of the Medvedce reservoir (Dravsko polje, NE Slovenia) in three separate years (1-17 Mar 2009; 25 Mar-10 Apr 2011; 28 Feb-12 Apr 2012). In all three years, 42,045 individuals of 89 species (66 waterbirds, 23 raptors) migrated over the site. 38,238 of these were waterbirds. The most numerous species was Lapwing Vanellus vanellus (11,813 individuals), followed by Blackheaded Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus (10,515 individuals). In total, 3807 migratory storks, raptors and Cranes Grus grus were counted. Harriers (2303 individuals) were by far the most numerous group. The prevailing direction of migration was SW-NE. Half of all migrating birds were observed in the altitudinal belt between 10 and 100 m above ground level. Harriers were mostly observed up to 100 m above ground level, whereas storks, other raptors and Cranes were observed most often in the altitudinal belt between 100 and 500 m above ground level. The highest numbers of waterbirds were observed between 10 and 100 m above ground level. In the first five hours after sunrise, 61.3% of all waterbirds, 44.0% of all storks and raptors and only 20.5% of Cranes were observed. Although other parts of Dravsko polje have never been studied in such detail, it is possible that a significant portion of migrating birds from a larger area gathers at this site. This study confirms the importance of the area for migrating and staging birds, especially for Great Egret Ardea alba, Marsh Circus aeruginosus and Hen Harriers C. cyaneus, Osprey Pandion haliaetus, Crane, Ruff Calidris pugnax and Black-headed Gull that all reached at least 0.1% of their respective biogeographic populations. Internationally significant are particularly the numbers of migrating Marsh (1079 individuals in 2012) and Hen Harriers (408 individuals in 2012), as there are only few sites where these species migrate in such high numbers in spring.

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