Oriental storks’ baby boom has been registered by a drone.
Last week, the staff of NGO Amur Socio-Ecological Union, supported by WWF Russia, started the field season to study the distribution and nesting specifics of Oriental stork in Amurskaya Province.
For the first time a high resolution camera drone was used in the course of survey. It was purchased by WWF Russia with the financial support of the HSBC Bank. Its use has opened up new opportunities for the researchers. For the first time the experts managed to count the number of eggs in the stork nests located on the electricity transmission towers that are absolutely not available for the inspection from the ground. Previously, they only managed to determine the number of chicks flying out from the nest. The possibility to compare the number of eggs in the nest with the chicks flying out will help to evaluate the success of bird breeding process.
“For many years WWF China is working with the HSBC Group for the conservation of freshwater ecosystems in the Yangtze River Basin. All of our Oriental storks overwinter there. I am glad that now the Bank is helping us in the breeding areas of Oriental storks. Last time I've seen 6 eggs in a stork nest about 30 years ago after a serious flood. And now again the Amur River breathed freely by splashing out the high water over the floodplain, washed out the oxbow lakes and filled up the dried riverbed. The storks once again believed in better tomorrow. The more stork little chicks, the more children in Russian families on the great Amur River!' - says Yury Darman, PhD, director of WWF Russia Amur Branch, honored ecologist of the Russian Federation.
Besides the stork nest survey, the drones will be used for other purposes, such as counting cranes on rookeries and searching for crane nests on the remote wetlands.
“The first results showed that using the drone for the nests survey requires much less time than for a surface research. And, importantly, drones controlled from a distance of 200-300 meters do not scare the birds compare to human presence. In fact, the stork flies up only at the moment when the machine hangs directly over the nest, and returnes immediately after its removal on 20-30 meters to the side,” - says Yury Gafarov, wildlife biologists, director of the AmurSEU, regional environmental public organization.
Other than studying stork nesting, the experts of AmurSEU and wildlife specialists from the Amurskaya Province Directorate of Protected Areas are engaged in practical work aimed at stork conservation. In late March they carried out fire preventing treatment for 7 trees to improve the conditions of birds nesting on the territory of Berezovsky Wildlife Refuge, and in early April an artificial tripod for nests was installed in Amursky Refuge. It is by the way the 10th platform in a row on this protected area. 8 of them have been already occupied by storks this year!