During 2016, more than 30 lakes and temporal water bodies in and around Muraviovka Park were surveyed for waterbirds during May and June, with a special survey focusing on former Baer’s Pochard breeding sites also carried out (using an inflatable boat) during July 2016. The initial water levels were rather low in May, but following heavy rainfall in June conditions for breeding ducks were more favourable later in the summer.
Not a single Baer’s Pochard was observed in the area around Muraviovka Park in spring or summer 2016. Two other Aythya species were observed during June and July and might have bred at the Park. Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula is a common migrant in the area during May and October, but this year at least three pairs have been found at two lakes during summer. Common Pochard Aythya ferina was known as a rare migrant in the past, but observations of this globally Vulnerable species have increased within the last five years. Several birds were still present on a lake in the south of Muraviovka Park in June 2015, and this year at least five pairs were regularly observed on two lakes during July. Both species might have bred at the Park this year for the first time.
This is not the only change among the breeding waterbirds: Eurasian Coot Fulica atra have creased to breed in the region, whereas Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus is increasing. Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena has become extremely rare, while Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis has colonised the area. There are no known changes in water quality or shape of the lakes which could explain these changes.
Not all suitable lakes were surveyed in 2016, and unfortunately surveys will not take place in August 2016. There are still huge wetland areas along the middle stream of the Amur River worth surveying in 2017, so there remains hope that Baer’s Pochard is still breeding in the region.
Thanks to Wieland Heim for this news update.