Waterbird inventory

So far, the studies about waterbirds in the Eastern Baltic Sea, were carried out fragmented covering only certain spots of the area. More systematic inventories were carried out many years ago and thus most of available data is already outdated.
In order to get comprehensive knowledge about waterbird concentrations, the project will carry out the inventories in the project areas employing different methodologies.

Most of the project areas are very important for certain wintering waterbirds, such as Black-throated Diver (Gavia arctica), Red-throated Diver (Gavia stellata), Velvet Scoter (Melanitta fusca), Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis) and others, which are concentrating in big numbers during winter period. Some of these species, like Steller’s Eider (Polysticta stelleri), are particularly rare and threatened. This species breeds sparsely scattered in the North Russia, but gathers to the concentrations in it’s wintering places. The wintering population of Steller’s Eider in certain project areas in Lithuania and Estonia is the biggest and therefore most significant in the world.
The marine waters of Eastern Baltic are important for birds not only in winter season, but also during migration and breeding periods. The Little Gulls (Larus minutus), which as the other birds targeted in the project, are protected by the EU Birds Directive, are staging in the project areas during their migration period around August. In difference to Lithuanian and Latvian marine waters, Estonia has  lot of islands in the sea, which makes these waters favourite for lots of breeding bird species. The data about these species will be gathered during the project as well.

In order to get proper knowledge about these species, the project team employs different methodologies to gather data. To gather data about wintering water birds, the project will perform coastal observations as well as birds counting from ships moving by transects in the sea. Bird counting from ships will be also perfumed for counting Little Gull during its migration period in Lithuania and Latvia. Since most of Estonian waters are quite shallow and surrounded by islands, here the bird counting will be performed by aerial surveys (inventory from the plane).
These birds inventories are performed during 2006-2007 period.

In order to get equal knowledge on the birds inventory methods, the project team got training as well as gathered in several meetings to harmonise the methodology and discuss specific aspects of the inventory. This will allow comparing the data gathered between the countries and draw the conclusions on the whole region.
BEF Life Natura