Halfway through the season ...

Hello dear BRC-enthusiasts,

the BRC 2011 counts have been going on for just over a month now, which means it is more than time to bring you another update. Many of you have been following our daily updated counts. You can also click through to the trektellen.nl website to make graphs of the recorded species.
 
Shortly after the last update, Honey-buzzard migration really exploded with several very good days (50.000 +) leading up to the peak day on Aug 31st with some 80.000 birds. However weather conditions quickly deteriorated after this peak, and after a few days of continuous rain migration exploded on Sept 5th as with the hords of Honeys also came a wave of Bee-eaters, Rollers (upto 368 in one day), Wagtails and many other birds. We enjoyed some very nice harrier migration during these days, with over 1000 Montagu's/Pallid harriers from station 1 on Sept 5th and several other days with harrier numbers reaching 300 - 600 individuals. But that has again been two weeks already. Right now Steppe Buzzard migration is getting started, whilst the majority of Honey-buzzards have passed.
 

And now the later migrants are pushing through observations of species like Egyptian Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Steppe Eagle, ... are becoming more regular. Also the first dozens of Lesser Spotted Eagle have been counted so far. On Sept 5th the 2nd Crested Honey-buzzard was seen and we have observed the third Crested Honey-buzzard for BRC 2011 on Sep 18th: an adult male.

Of course all these counts would not be possible without our great team of volunteers...
 

At the end of August, the Turkish group of students succesfully ended their stay at the project, and at this moment a group of 6 Armenian students is here to learn more about monitoring projects and migratory bird conservation. During their stay students are introduced to the scientific principles behind structuring a protocol for data collection in function of your research questions. This includes a week-long  excercise whereby students aim to complete a mini-research project of their own at Batumi. The Turkish team tried to construct a protocol to find out if Black Kites and Booted Eagles actively follow Honey-buzzards during migration... 
 

By working with students but also locals and collaborating researchers, BRC tries to establish the local and international support needed to continue our work for conservation of migratory raptors here. Sadly, in 2011 we have again been confronted with the urgent need for conservation measures on the site, in particular for controlling illegal hunting. The fieldwork Msc. thesis on hunting pressure in the Adjaria province by BRC Coordinator Johannes Jansen is in any case turning up some interesting results. For 2012, the publication of these and other results will hopefully yield enough evidence for local policy makers to come into action.
 

Saddening and depressing as images like these above may be, our team is mostly positive about our interaction with the local community. It is clear that 2011 has become an important year for BRC, a year wherein many local families got to understand what our project is about, what our plans look like and why we feel so strongly about migratory birds. For now, we always try to enjoy the great diversity and numbers of birds that are passing through the bottleneck, knowing that we are very much needed here now, in order to be collecting pictures like the ones above as well as essential hard data to back up our findings.
 

Our apologies for the long time it took to bring you this update. We tried to make up for it with a lot of pictures and information ...

All the best

BRC Team