Following on from The Story So Far 2…
While determining the routes that Sociable Lapwings take is a key element of tagging work, these on-the-ground surveys at locations visited by the birds are vitally important to identify the main areas where habitats need protecting. The ongoing work in the core study area of Korgalzhyn by ACBK in Kazakhstan has enabled lobbying of the Government into accepting the concept of Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and the move towards Protected Area status. The recent surveys at Tallymerjan have enabled the two IBA boundaries (one on either side of the international border) to be amended to better reflect the birds’ use of the site.
Once important areas are identified, the degree of threat also needs to be examined. At Tallymerjan, rapid development of the area for gas extraction is a potentially serious issue, which could potentially be compounded by overgrazing and wind erosion. Future surveys will help determine any concerns and conservation actions required.
In Turkey, the Ceylanpınar area was identified as a core area for Sociable Lapwings to rest and refuel after their long migration across Russia, and Doğa Derneği worked tirelessly to secure a large part of the area as a No Hunting Zone. This was partly done by a project officer at Doğa Derneği, funded by the Preventing Extinctions Programme/Swarovski Optik grant, by working with village heads, the police, and local officials.
While the hunting issue was partly addressed (although, to date, enforcement has been minimal) the area has also been undergoing massive habitat change due to irrigation for crops, and Sociable Lapwing observations are becoming rarer and of smaller flocks. Doğa Derneği continues to work on analysing impacts and looking for mitigation measures.
Another area of interest has been the, hitherto of unknown importance, pivot fields in Saudi Arabia. Surveys were carried out here in 2015 and 2016 by volunteers, the Saudi Wildlife Authority and the King Khalid Wildlife Research Centre. These irrigated areas appear to provide welcome stop-over areas for birds on migration and several tagged birds have also been found to remain there for the duration of their winter season. While new habitat is good news for these birds, any positive effect may be cancelled out by hunters focussing on these locations. More research needs to be done.
Read more soon…