Action A2. Assessment of the population status, habitat use and phenology of the target species (2017)
In this study, the population status of nine target species was assessed for 2017, namely of the two species of pelicans, the pygmy cormorant, four species of herons, the glossy ibis and the ferruginous duck. Methods included counts from vantage points from late January to May, late - period in situ visits and analysis of drone photos taken several times during the breeding period. Habitat use was assessed through observations at preselected and delineated suitable sampling sites in the period March-July. The winter of 2017 was extremely cold with very low temperatures in January resulting in a delayed arrival and onset of egg laying for the Dalmatian pelican (DP). The first DPs arrived at Prespa on the 13th of February. In total, 1310 DP breeding pairs were estimated at Prespa in 2017 and breeding performance was estimated to 0.95 fledged chicks/breeding pair. The first great white pelicans (GWP) were observed at Prespa on the 24th of February, but most of them arrived in April. A total of 649 breeding pairs of GWP were estimated in 2017 and their breeding success was estimated to the very high value -for the species and the area- of 1 fledged chick/breeding pair. In regards to the pygmy cormorant, the herons and the glossy ibis, the numbers of breeding pairs were equal to or below the average of previous years’ values. Great white egrets had a very low breeding success of 1 fledged chick/ breeding pair and only 50% of the breeding pairs managed to raise their chicks. The population of the ferruginous duck was estimated to be at least 10 pairs. As 2017 was a very dry year and consequently shallow water areas remained inaccessible to waterbirds, the habitat use counts are not considered typical and this is demonstrated in the results, i.e. the numbers of waterbirds observed at sites used extensively in previous years were very low this year. Low precipitation resulted in very low quantities of water flowing in the lake in spring from the whole catchment area. As a result, the water level of Lake Lesser Prespa remained low and as a consequence, waterbirds had a hard time finding suitable feeding sites. Management implications including non-intervention areas and firewalls for colonies’ protection are presented and discussed.
Society for the Protection of Prespa, 2017. Assessment of the population status, habitat use and phenology of the target species. Report within the framework of the project “LIFE Prespa Waterbirds” (LIFE15 NAT/GR/000936).