Between April 2007 and April 2008, 40 systematic waterbird counts were conducted on the Drava River between Lake Maribor and the Melje Dam (length 8.5 km, area 155 ha) to determine the specific composition, abundance and seasonal dynamics of bird occurrence. Between October and May, counts were conducted every week, whereas between June and September they were carried out once every two weeks. In total, 26,803 individuals of 30 species were counted. The number of waterbirds and diversity of species were the highest from late December to late February, when more than 1,000 individuals were regularly present in the area. Waterbirds were distributed along the river unequally, with the highest number of birds present yearround in the city centre and in the first counting sector of Lake Maribor. The Mallard Anas platyrhynchos and Mute Swan Cygnus olor were recorded during every count, while occurrence frequency was greater than 50% in another 10 species. Dominant species in terms of percentage composition were Mallard, Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus, Coot Fulica atra, Mute Swan, Pochard Aythya ferina and Tufted Duck Ay. fuligula. Mute Swan and Mallard were the only breeding waterbirds in the study area. Both the total number of waterbirds and the highest daily total in the first two counting sectors were greater between October and March 1992/93 than in our study. The decline in numbers was the greatest for Mallard, Pochard and Tufted Duck, while an increase was noted in Mute Swan and Yellow-legged / Caspian Gull Larus michahellis / cachinnans. The total number of waterbirds and the number of some species in the study area were significantly higher than expected solely based on its length compared to the length of the lowland Drava in Slovenia (125.7 km). The study area is conservationally important for Pochard, Tufted Duck and Black-headed Gull
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