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  • Author: István Szentirmai x
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Abstract

The Corncrake is a strictly protected species in Hungary and a qualifying species of many Natura 2000 sites. Despite its Least concern global conservation status, it receives much attention and was elected as “Bird of the Year” by MME BirdLife Hungary in 2016. In this paper, we estimate its population trends and analyse the suitability of the protected area system and agri-environment schemes for the species. We compiled information on major threatening factors and conservation measures applied for the species. We reviewed international publications on the ecology and conservation management of the species to extract information for practical conservation. We estimated that 500–2000 pairs of Corncrakes breed in Hungary. Although their breeding sites are well covered by protected areas, Natura 2000 sites (42%) and High Nature Value Areas (67%), their population has declined by 55% over the last 20 years. We found that most of the major threatening factors are addressed by conservation management, and appropriate measures are applied in most cases. Recent research findings and recommendations by the BirdLife International Corncrake Conservation Team suggest that mowing of grasslands around nesting places should be delayed until 1–15 August either in the entire field or at least on 2 hectares around nests. Prescriptions of agri-environment schemes should also be adjusted to the above requirements and more farmers should be encouraged to enrol in Corncrake conservation programmes. We strongly suggest that more emphasis should be devoted to combat important threats for the most important breeding sites such as aridification and flooding.

Abstract

We investigated habitat preference of Common Sandpipers as part of a monitoring program in the Őrség National Park, Hungary. Field observations were conducted during the summers between 2008 and 2012 along a 47-km long section of the River Rába. During the observations we recorded the number and location of birds on the river bank. We divided the studied area into 1 km long sections and measured the proportion of the visually distinguishable habitat types (water, low gravel and sand bank, vegetation and degraded area) from a digitalized map. Furthermore, we recorded the number of the low banks and the number of bends of the river within each section, as well as the sections’ distance from the closest hydroelectric power plants and human settlements. In 2012 we also performed a detailed habitat mapping, recording the proportion of the vegetation types along the river bank and the number of fishing spots, embankment strengthenings and gravel banks. We tested the correlations between these habitat variables and number of birds present in the river sections. Our results show that Common Sandpipers were observed more frequently in locations which have (1) larger number and area of low gravel and sand banks, (2) less dense vegetation, and (3) lower proportion of degraded habitats. These findings can be taken into account in the conservation management of River Rába