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The annual count of the Oriental stork is under way in the Amur ecoregion

18 may 2022
The count has been launched in 4 provinces of the Amur basin: Primorsky, Khabarovsky, Evreiskaya and Amurskaya provinces, with support of WWF Russia. Thanks to this activity, specialists monitor the state of stork population and adjust the set of protection measures.

The counts are carried out on model plots in different parts of the Oriental stork home range.

Primorsky province - the southernmost of the Far Eastern provinces - is always the first to meet birds returning to their habitat after wintering. In Khanka lowland, where half of Oriental stork breeding population of Primorsky province is concentrated, the survey is carried out by specialists of the Khankaisky Nature Reserve. The ornithologists of the Amur-Ussury Research Center for Bird Biodiversity will count the nests on power transmission towers in the Ussury River basin - one of the largest tributaries of the Amur River.

In Khabarovsky province, surveys are planned in the Bolonsky Nature Reserve and the Sheremetyevsky Nature Park by the efforts of Zapovednoye Priamurye Directorate.

In Amurskaya province, the main works will be organized on the Zeya-Bureya Plain and the Khingan-Arkharinskaya lowland. Experts from the Khingansky Nature Reserve, the Directorate of Regional Protected Areas and NGO AmurSEU are engaged in searching and mapping nests and breeding pairs of Oriental storks.

In Evreiskaya province, the winged symbols of the Amur will be counted by specialists of the Bastak Nature Reserve and activists from NGO Bagulnik.
At counts
Stork nest
Anna Serdyuk, head of the freshwater ecosystem conservation department at WWF Russia Am
The annual count of the Oriental stork in Khankaisky Nature Reserve
Protected areas and activists of public organizations prepare for the arrival of Oriental storks in advance and carry out activities to increase carrying capacity of breeding grounds. Early this year in Primorye, as part of cooperation between WWF and the Research Center for Endangered Species of the National Institute of Ecology of the Republic of Korea, the staff of the Khankaisky Nature Reserve mounted 5 more artificial supports in places where there are not enough large trees suitable for stork nests. In total, there are already 29 additional “apartments” for storks on the territory of the reserve including those established in 2020-2021. Moreover, in February-March, 10 new artificial supports were placed in the Beryozovsky and Blagoveshchensky wildlife refuges of Amurskaya province.
However, the “housing issue” of Oriental storks is solved not by artificial support installation alone. Even in places with enough strong trees, not all of them are suitable for nests. In this case specialists refine the trees to a usable condition - they clear the crowns from small branches and install special nest baskets. In early May, such work was completed in the Bastak Nature Reserve in Evreiskaya province: 15 new nest baskets were placed on trees in Zabelovsky cluster. This unique wetland plays a key role for biodiversity conservation of the middle reaches of the Amur River. Funds for the construction of baskets were provided by WWF, and the idea was initiated by ornithologist Andrey Averin, senior researcher of the Bastak Nature Reserve.
Khankaisky Nature Reserve: Oriental storks settled down on artificial support © Ivan Tiunov
One of 5 artificial supports installed in the Khankaisky Nature Reserve © Vasily Vaschenko
Mounting artificial supports in Khankaisky Nature Reserve
Comments Anna Serdyuk, Ph.D., head of freshwater ecosystem conservation department of WWF Russia Amur branch, Chairman of the Russian Working Group for the Oriental Stork Conservation: “Zabelovsky cluster has natural stork nests, a good forage base and sustained protection system. There are many strong trees that can withstand a giant stork nest. But due to branchy crown it is problematic for birds to build a nest on such trees. In order to avoid sawing the crown of a living tree for a convenient flight of birds, we put special baskets on them. I’d also like to note that the places for the baskets are carefully chosen: we install them only in places where it is possible to organize autumn fire prevention work. Doing so, we direct the storks to those trees which are best suited for them and which we can protect from fire. We hope that additional opportunities for the resettlement of stork families will be in great demand due to population growth”.
Oriental stork - one of the rarest birds of the Russian Far East
Alexander Khitrov / WWF Russia
At the recent meeting of the East Asia-Australia Flyway Partnership devoted to the international conservation status of waterfowl species, including the Oriental stork, the global community highlighted the increase in the number of Oriental storks due to the great conservation work. Basing on data collected by specialists from Russia, China, Republic of Korea and Japan, the experts estimate the world population of Oriental storks at 7,000 individuals. However, this amazing bird remains on the IUCN list as a critically endangered species.
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