Bird census finds pintails, mallards high in number
Last year 230,326 water birds of 47 species were counted in natural and artificial wetlands of Turkey’s lake region near the country’s Mediterranean coast, according to Rıza Kamil, the head of the Forestry Affairs’ Nature Conservation and National Parks Directorate.
In the broad region known as the Western Palearctic, which encompasses Europe and Turkey, the inventory of the population and species of water birds is taken every year between Jan. 15 and Feb. 15.
Works in the Mediterranean provinces of Antalya, Burdur and Isparta, known as the “Lakes Region” in Turkey, have a special importance as almost two thirds of water birds in the country live there.
Speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency, Kamil said water birds have been counted around the world since 1967 and in Turkey since 2004.
The purpose of the census is to transfer healthier wetlands to future generations, and it receives support from non-governmental organizations, scientists, nature and bird lovers.
Kamil said in 2017 they counted 230,326 water birds in 47 different species in 18 natural and artificial wetlands in the Lakes Region.
“Last year in Burdur, 21,262 water birds from 37 species were detected in Burdur. This number was 207,125 from 25 species in Isparta and 1,939 from 27 species in Antalya. Works are still ongoing in the region to find new species.
Water birds are counted in order to find out the population of birds that come to the region to spend winter, to create a management plan for the protection of wetlands, to get data for scientific works on water birds, and to observe changes in natural balances,” he added.
“The counting is continuing in Eğirdir, Kovada, Beyşehir, Burdur, Gölhisar, Karaçal Dam, Yarışlı, Yapraklı Barajı, Alanköy Barajı, Karataş, Salda, Çorakgöl (Bayındır), Karagöl, Avlan, Beymelek Lagoon, Demre Bird Paradise, the Ova lakes and the Gelemiş Reeds, which are protected areas,” Kamil also said.
“In the years when many birds migrated to Turkey, a total of 1.5 million water birds were counted. Almost two thirds of the total population of water birds in Turkey can be found in the Lakes Region. Every year we publish the data we have obtained during the research month. These publications are a kind of guide for those working in this field in Turkey and abroad,” he added.
Mustafa Erturhan, a volunteer at Turkey’s bird inventory database, said he had taken part in the bird observation counting for nearly 10 years.
“We are counting the birds in many parts of Turkey with the Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks. I provide support to the bird counting and bird observation works,” he said.
“We count the birds across a whole lake with two different teams. We observe them at distances of two or three kilometers,” Erturhan added, stressing that that they paid special attention to not recount the same birds twice.
“Because of the relatively warm winter this year, not too many birds have migrated to the south. So considering the general census, this year Turkey is home to fewer birds than it was in previous years.
This year we have not been able to see the ducks that used to migrate south [to Turkey]. Birds are preferring the protected wetlands to spend winter,” he said.
“But this year we have observed a high number of pintails, mallards, shovelers and wigeons in the Lakes Region. We see fewer numbers of shelducks.
“The number of cormorants is very high and we have so far observed nearly 20 species,” Erturhan stated.