Ornithological expedition: Red Data Book findings
Almost elusive gray shrike and traces of the Central Russian willow ptarmigan were found by ornithologists during the expedition to Polistovsky Reserve, which took place from the 11th to the 14th of December. Both species are rare and included in the Red Data Books of Russia and Pskov Region.
The last expedition was devoted to the study of the Central Russian subspecies of the willow ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus rossicus) population in the southeastern part of Polistovsky Reserve. Main food of ptarmigans in winter are shoots and buds of willow and birch, that's why expedition surveyed meadows and the outskirts of the raised bog with willow and birch bushes.
Unfortunately, the specialists did not meet the ptarmigans themselves - birds were very cautious. However, footprints of ptarmigan on the snow and their feeding places were found, that indicates the presence of these rare birds in the surveyed part of the reserve.
This year, three expeditions devoted to a detailed study of ptarmigan lifestyle, preferred habitats and distribution of this species in the protected area depending on the season have been held. Employees of Polistovsky Reserve conduct research together with a biologist Marina Rubtsova. During the summer and autumn expeditions, ornithologists met several ptarmigans and many evidences of their activity.
An important event of the expedition was a meeting with another inhabitant of Polistovsky Reserve - a gray shrike (Lanius excubitor), rare bird of passerine, vulnerable due to changes in its habitats under the influence of anthropogenic factors. Another nice bonus for the participants of the expedition was black grouses gathering, birds seated on the branches of trees and even allowed to take photoes of them.
Next year, observations of the population of the Central Russian willow ptarmigan in Polistovsky Reserve and its игааук zone will be continued.
The Central Russian willow ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus rossicus) is a rare subspecies of the willow ptarmigan, listed in the Red Data Book of Russia as decreasing in number. In the Pskov region it is endangered, at the end of the twentieth century, the population was estimated by experts as 200 pairs.
The conservation of the Central Russian willow ptarmigan is based on special regime of protected areas, that include raised bogs. The southern part of Polistovo-Lovatskaya raised bog system is protected by two reserves: Polistovsky in Pskov region, and Rdeisky in Novgorodsky region.
Gray shrike (Lanius excubitor) – a rare species included in the Red Book of Russia and the Pskov Region. The exact number of the shrike is unknown, due to sporadic distribution, inaccessibility of typical nesting sites and secretiveness during the breeding season. A few sightings of this species took place in several districts of the Pskov region.
It is assumed that anthropogenic transformation of optimal nesting habitats of the gray shrike leads to a decrease of its population. In raised bog systems, especially protected, such changes are minimal, which contributes to the conservation of the species.