Czech EBBA2 expedition in Volga delta region

1 - One of the fifty shades of steppe

One of the 50 shades of steppe in Kalmykia region (photo by Vojtěch Kubelka).

1450 km in short Lada Niva,
176 hours of atlas mapping,
155 recorded bird species,
78 nests of shorebirds,
19 homemade boršč soups,
10 nights in our tents,
9 visited squares 50 × 50 km,
4 members of the Czech Society for Ornithology,
1 vast Russian landscape…

This could be a short summary of the expedition which was undertaken by four members of Czech Society for Ornithology during twelve days in the second part of May 2017.

 

We have successfully fulfilled two goals of our expedition which were 1) realisation of a workshop on EBBA2 mapping in Astrakhan Nature Reserve in the delta of river Volga and 2) bird mapping in uncovered squares westward from the Caspian Sea.

 

The whole expedition would not be possible without great help and cooperation from Kirill Litvinov, Deputy of the director for science in Astrakhan Nature Reserve (guy on the left), here we are trying a timed survey together with Russian colleagues and discussing possible methodological issues (photo by Vojěch Kubelka).

The whole expedition would not be possible without great help and cooperation from Kirill Litvinov, Deputy of the director for science in Astrakhan Nature Reserve (person on the left). Here we are trying a timed survey together with Russian colleagues and discussing possible methodological issues (photo by Vojtěch Kubelka).

 

At the beginning, we spent two days in Astrakhan Nature Reserve with our Russian colleagues and we were sharing experiences about mapping for EBBA2 during workshop presentations and common fieldwork, here we are leaving a newly built educational boardwalk on tiny island in the middle of the delta.

At the beginning, we spent two days in Astrakhan Nature Reserve with our Russian colleagues and we were sharing experiences about mapping for EBBA2 during workshop presentations and common fieldwork, here we are leaving a newly built educational boardwalk on tiny island in the middle of the delta.

 

During our stay in Astrakhan and Kalmykia regions, we met various habitats and bird communities. Starting from the Caspian Sea and Volga estuary with immense reedbeds and riverline forests turning into agriculture landscape with fields, villages and many scattered fresh, brackish and salt lakes. In the end, we were amazed at diverse steppe ecosystem, which was changing nearly with every kilometre.

Ground breeding colony of Blue-cheaked Bee-eaters (Merops persicus) far from any settlement (photo by Vojěch Kubelka).

Ground breeding colony of Blue-cheaked Bee-eaters (Merops persicus) within vast steppe habitat (photo by Vojtěch Kubelka).

 

An adult of Black-winged Pratincole (Glareola nordmanii) at the breeding ground in the empty dam (photo by Vojtěch Kubelka).

An adult of Black-winged Pratincole (Glareola nordmanii) at the breeding ground in the empty dam (photo by Vojtěch Kubelka).

 

The full clutch of Black-winged Pratincole (Glareola nordmanii) regularly consists of four eggs which is unusually a lot among Pranticoles, here we confirmed breeding of this species, (category C15), photo by Vojěch Kubelka.

The full clutch of Black-winged Pratincole (Glareola nordmanii) regularly consists of four eggs which is unusually a lot among Pranticoles, here we confirmed breeding of this species, (category C15), photo by Vojtěch Kubelka. 

 

Altogether, it was really great experience. We have seen many interesting birds and landscapes as well as we have filled gaps in EBBA2.  Do not hesitate to do the same in any uncovered part of Europe!

The Czech expedition team in the field with reliable vehicle, Lada Niva.

The Czech expedition team in the field with reliable vehicle, Lada Niva.

20.6.2017, Vojtěch Kubelka