This spring, from 19 to 24 April, the EBCC (European Bird Census Council) and ASC (Atlas Steering Committee) meetings were held in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), followed by an atlas training workshop . Training was mainly focused on explaining methods for EBBA2 data collection to local ornithologists in BiH and subsequently applying them jointly with EBCC Board members in the field. This was followed by fruitful discussions aimed at clarification of all potential misunderstandings regarding EBBA2 methodology among BiH ornithologists.
Support for doing atlas work in countries that lack capacity does not only include financial contributions but also the provision of know-how regarding EBBA2 methods. This year, such training in the field with local ornithologists was combined with the EBCC board meeting in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. BiH is one of the countries that were identified as priority country for providing support (financial, methodological, and in human capacity) early on from the start of EBBA2. The financial support from the MAVA foundation to EBBA2 gave us the possibility to organise a training workshop as part of this support.
In cooperation with the society „Naše ptice“, the training took place in Sarajevo on the weekend of 23 to 24 April 2016. In total, 11 local participants from BiH gathered for the training, including both national coordinators, Dražen Kotrošan and Jovica Sjeničić. They were supported with almost an equal number (10) of foreign experts, members of the EBCC board and the EBBA2 coordination team. The training started with the initial introduction of the overall aim and progress of EBBA2 to the local ornithologists which was given by the main coordinator, Verena Keller. After introducing the project of the European atlas to the local ornithologists, an overview of ongoing atlas work within BiH was provided by the main national coordinator, Dražen Kotrošan. A short overview on methods used for EBBA2 field data collection was given by Sergi Herrando who also provided potential field forms that participants would be able to use in the field. The main identified problems for atlas work in BiH included lack of people and support on a national level along with limited field access in certain areas due to minefields. The participants were also less familiar with EBBA2 methodology, mainly with making complete species lists during timed visits and using atlas codes, so this was the focus of the field training.
Fieldwork included two timed visits in two different habitats on mountains Igman and Bjelašnica, one on grassland and the second one in mixed forest. These enabled participants to have a first-hand experience with making complete species list in different habitat types. In the field, participants were encouraged to simultaneously record and get more familiar with using atlas breeding codes. The afternoon was reserved for a smaller hiking trip above the treeline which was aimed at filling in the new species and collecting atlas breeding codes for the overall 50×50 square. In the mountain habitat, participants were able to observe interesting species such as Alpine cough (Pyrrhocorax graculus), Alpine accentor (Prunella collaris) and Northern wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe). Although the weather conditions were not ideal for atlas work, in total during the field day, 49 species were recorded.
Overall discussion afterwards was aimed at clarifying the difference in data collection within the 10×10 and 50×50 km squares followed by a passionate auction of who had recorded the highest atlas breeding code for each species. Before the conclusion of the training, Mikhail Kalyakin motivated the participants by presenting his experience from the Russian atlas, showing how even challenges arising from the huge size of a country can be solved with a joint effort of fieldworkers and good communication with the national coordinator. The training was one of the first steps in systematic data collection for EBBA2 in BiH, but hopefully it can also lead to a systematic data collection for a national BiH atlas.
3.5.2016, Marina Kipson