Monitoring of Common snipe populations in European Russia

Monitoring of Common snipe populations in European Russia

In May 2011, the VII Symposium of European Woodcock and Snipe Specialists Group (7th Woodcock and Snipe Workshop) was held in St. Petersburg. The round table was devoted to monitoring of European Common snipe populations (Gallinago gallinago). It resulted in an important decision - to find funding and resume these studies in Russia, which were interrupted in 2009 as a result of the global financial crisis. A year later, an agreement was concluded between ONCFS (National Administration for Hunting and Wildlife of France) and BirdsRussia.

The main Project goals:

• selection of permanent sites in various types of wetland and marshy habitats in different natural zones, including some sites where the Common snipe was counted in 2003–2009;

• detailed description of Common snipe habitats on the control sites;

• foundation of 100 permanent sites in European Russia, at least 30 hectares each (an average of 60 hectares);

• double counting with obligatory mapping of “bleating” males at control sites during the period of maximum Courtship activity.

Annually in April - July field work is carried out in the territory of 12 regions of the Russian Federation: the Arkhangelsk region, the republics of Komi and Karelia (Northern region), the Pskov region (North-West region), Vladimir, Ivanovo, Moscow, Ryazan, Smolensk (Central), Kursk (Central Black Earth), Penza (Volga region), the Republic of Mordovia (Volga-Vyatka). Nesting habitats of Common snipe in the basins of the Volga, Dnieper, Western Dvina, Pechora, Kuloya, Northern Dvina, and their tributaries (Desna, Dubna, Oka, Pinega, Pёla, Sura, Usa, Hotchi and others) are examined. Over the years, up to 33 people have participated in the project. A total of 118-131 accounting platforms with a total area of 89.3 - 100.0 km2 are laid. Descriptions of hydrography, features of meso- and microrelief and plant associations of survey sites, as well as weather conditions during the observation period are made. Subzones of southern tundra, forest-tundra, northern, middle and southern taiga, coniferous-deciduous forests, deciduous forests and forest-steppe are covered by research. Monitoring sites were laid in open and forest habitats of Common snipe, in river valleys and in interfluves, in swamps, peat processing, riparian meadows, wet cuttings and burns.

Surveys at the sites show that in different types of habitats in varying natural zones and in different years, the nesting density of Comon snipe fluctuates, sometimes within considerable limits. Stable trends in numbers have not yet been identified. Research materials are published annually in the Newsletter "Wetlands International - Woodcock & Snipe Specialist Group (WI / IUCN-WSSG)" and other scientific journals.

Considering the special importance of Russian territory for Common snipe reproduction in Eurasia, monitoring of species state is planned to continue, with the support from ONCFS on Common snipe research and the desire of a large group of Russian ornithologists to contribute to these studies.

Project coordinator: Y.Y. Blokhin.

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