In the Amur River basin 80 Oriental storks were fitted with GPS trackers
The program on tracking is implemented under the Memorandum of cooperation signed in April 2018 between the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Honghe Nature Reserve, the Coordination Board of Directors of the nature reserves of the Southern Far East and WWF Russia Amur branch. All necessary governmental permits were obtained, and in the summer of 2018 ornithologists placed the first batch of GPS transmitters provided by the Chinese side for the first birds.
“This work is of both scientific and practical value. Such studies were conducted the first and last time 20 years ago, and it is important for us to find out the changes in the Oriental stork migration routes over this time,” commented Anna Serdyuk (Barma), PhD, senior coordinator of protected areas at WWF Russia Amur branch. - Our studies have already revealed important stop overs and concentrations of birds; protection of these wetlands is already in plan. It is interesting that only 45% of tagged chicks have returned this year to those areas of the Amur basin, where they were born. The rest migrate within the Yangtze River basin and the Yellow Sea coast in China. This year, 80 chicks were fitted with radio trackers in the Amur basin. This device is equipped with solar batteries, its weight is 50 grams, about 1% of the chick’s weight, and the straps with which it is mounted on the back of the bird, will not stop storks from further growing and flying. The transmitter is designed for 3-5 years, moreover, the fastenings are made of such a material that decomposes under ultraviolet rays, and after that the “backpack” simply falls from the back of the bird”.
The group of specialists from NGO AmurSEU, WWF Russia Amur branch, Blagoveshchensk Pedagogical University and the Directorate of protected areas management were involved in the storks tracking work in Zeya-Bureya plain in Amurskaya province. In order to tag the GPS transmitter and ring the bird, specialists first need to get to the nest. Oriental stork, unlike its European cousin, prefers to nest away from people, in swamps and mashes, on lakes and valley streams. And it’s a luck if it’s possible to get to the tree with nest on wheels.
In Bolonsky Nature Reserve in Khabarovsky province, 7 Oriental stork were fitted with the trackers. From July 1 – 5, Rimma Andronova and Irina Nikitina, the specialists from “Zapovednoye Priamurye”, organized an expedition to the territory of Bolonsky Nature Reserve along with Leonid Yasnev, the head of the reserve. Storks were tagged with GPS transmitters at this PAs for the first time, however, the program to install artificial pillars for nests in the Simmi river valley, which has been carried out in Bolonsky Nature Reserve for many years, and the annual monitoring of nesting sites help to select the right nests. At the same time, pieces of the shell and biomaterials under the nests were collected for bacteriological research and for heavy metals analysis.