Birdwatching news and bird photography from Azerbaijan- by Kai Gauger and Michael Heiß

Dienstag, 27. Juni 2017

Volunteers needed: Bird ringing at Besh Barmag

© Emil Lundahl & Pia Fetting

The Besh Barmag bottleneck near Siyezen (coordinates: 40°59'N, 49°13'E) has recently been identified as a major flyway, where high concentrations of migrating birds are funneled through a narrow coastal plain between the Greater Caucasus and the Caspian Sea. The existence of a bottleneck was proven in extensive field studies in 2007, 2011 and 2012. These studies mainly focussed on visual field observations, hence, several bird species are often failed to notice. In the coastal plain, a woodland with some freshwater lagoons is surrounded by inhabitable steppe and therefore acts as an ‘oasis’ for resting and re-fuelling migrants.
By using mist-nets, data of elusive species (e.g. warblers), which could not be studied by migration counts, can be obtained. The area is expected to be an excellent mist-netting site, but except from occasional, nevertheless promising short-term ringing, no comprehensive research has been done yet. The method of mist-netting would be quite new to Azerbaijan, thus several new discoveries regarding species composition and phenology, but also new species for the country can be expected.
After a long period of development, bird ringing during the entire autumn season will finally take place this year. To broaden the preliminary knowledge of this bottleneck of global importance, our main target will be to catch and ring as many birds as possible. But temporarily there will also be others doing migration counts and we will have some time for birding as well.

So come to Azerbaijan with me and help to explore one of the least known migration hotspots at the edge of the Western Palaearctic!

This invitation goes to everybody who is interested in bird migration and ringing and has at least some experience in one of these topics. Considering the long journey, you should be able to stay for two weeks at least.

We will set up mist-nets in the woodlands and mainly catch birds. Mist-netting will daily start at sunrise for at least six hours. Depending on the circumstances (number of present people, wheather, migration etc.) this timeframe will be extended. The freetime can be used for bird watching and excursions in the surroundings.

The fieldwork will be between mid August and mid November 2017. This timescale is a minimum; depending on the number of volunteers, weather, migration etc. and it might start earlier/ end later.

Where to stay?
The bottleneck area is quite remote, there is neither electricity nor running water available. On site we will build up a real field camp, sleep in tents and look after oneselves. The site is optimal for camping; the ground is soft and dry, the forest provides fuel wood and the Caspian Sea for swimming is close by. We also will have a car to buy groceries and electricity via a solar panel on its roof.

What to bring?
The participants have to bring all their personal equipment (including a tent and sleeping bag) with them. You need your binoculars and if available telescope and photo camera. Also bring some dishes, a cup etc.

Flights to Baku are coducted for example by Turkish and Azerbaijan Airlines. For the board you should calculate about 40 € per week. Transportation between the airport and the survey area can be arranged by a local travel agency for about 50 €. This agency can also organise visa for about 85 €.


Besh Barmag in September 2016 © Pia Fetting

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