Volume 48• Number 3• 2007

Numbers and habitat preferences of the Hazel Grouse Bonasa bonasia in the Lasy Parczewskie forest.

Andrzej Ł. Różycki, Marek Keller, Tomasz Buczek

Abstract: The study was carried out in 2002-2004 in the Lasy Parczewskie forest (eastern Poland), covering c. 7500 ha, by the annual territory mapping method performed in two stages: in the autumn-winter season the whole area was walked over by several people in extended order and then in early spring the prior localized sites of the Hazel Grouse were verified. In total, 243 observations of birds were made and evidence of their occurrence - faeces, feathers or track - recorded. The species abundance was estimated at 104-116 territories, yielding a density of 1.4-1.6 territories/km2, which made this population one of the most numerous in the belt of central Poland. A clear increase in the Hazel Grouse numbers was noted relative to the early 1990s. The paper discusses hypotheses that associate the increasing trend with a few factors which are not mutually exclusive: (1) advantageous habitat changes connected with formerly open peat-bogs getting overgrown with birches due to drainage of the terrain (land reclamation in the 1960s and 1970s); (2) introduction by foresters of the spruce into the understorey; (3) a series of warm winters in a dozen or so years preceding the study period; (4) favourable meteorological conditions in the season of young rearing; and (5) a decline in the Goshawk Accipiter gentilis abundance. The basic food items during winter are birch and hazel buds. The sheltering function is played by spruce undergrowth or, alternatively, pine stickstands, especially ones with a hazel understorey. Tree stands of younger age category (20-40 years) and old-growth pine forest with dense hazel underbush (coverage level of 0.5-0.7) are decidedly more preferred. Typical sites where the Hazel Grouse occurs are ecotone zones between young birch stands and old-growth pine forest with spruce in the understorey. The more mosaic in character the vegetation cover (diverse species composition and age structure) and surface features the more attractive the site to Hazel Grouse.



Mortality of birds in the conditions of fishponds.

Damian Wiehle, Zbigniew Bonczar

Abstract: In 2000-2006 causes of waterbird mortality on the fishponds Przeręb and Spytkowice near Zator (Małopolska province), covering 1015 ha, were investigated. During the research dead birds were collected and the number of shot ones but still alive noted. The reasons behind the birds death were established in a laboratory study or based on field observations if direct post-mortem examination was impossible. The research revealed 397 individuals of dead or deadly injured birds, which belonged to 33 species. In the group of dead birds the predominating species were the Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo and Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus, whereas among the wounded the most numerous were the Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, Coot Fulica atra, Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula and Pochard A. ferina. The examination of dead birds found indicated that 71.9% had been shot dead, and 14.6% had died naturally, whereas in the remaining cases there were other reasons, also unidentified. Eighty-seven individuals representing 15 protected species had been deadly shot and 12 birds wounded belonged to 3 other protected species. The deadly shot birds under legal protection comprised the Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus, Black-headed Gull, Garganey A. querquedula and Yellow-legged Gull L. cachinnans. Besides, hunting has been established to bring large amounts of lead (ca 98 kg annually in each fishpond complex) to the aqua-edaphic environment. A proposal has been put forward to exclude from territories under hunting large complexes of fishponds, which serve as bird refuges, or to reduce the intensity of hunting in these areas.



Breeding of the Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena and Black-necked Grebe P. nigricollis in Western Pomerania.

Łukasz Ławicki, Zbigniew Kajzer, Michał Jasiński

Abstract: In the season of 2005, 142-145 pairs of the Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena were recorded at 68 sites within Western Pomerania. The breeding sites with the largest number of pairs included the Dzwonowo fishponds (23 pairs), Lake Świdwie (10 pairs), Solne Bagno near Kołobrzeg (5-6 pairs) and the Międzyodrze region (5 pairs). During a repeated control in the 2007 season at these same locations a considerably lower abundance of this species was noted, i.e. 59-63 pairs were observed at 34 sites. The decrease in the Red-necked Grebe numbers between 2005 and 2007 concerned as much as 89% of pairs at the sites which in 2005 grouped over 4 pairs and 43% at those with 1-4 pairs. The Black-necked Grebe P. nigricollis occurred only at 5 sites, with a similar number of pairs in the two seasons mentioned: 57-60 in 2005 and 66-76 in 2007. In 2005 ca 85% of all sites of the Red-necked Grebe, at which ca 120 pairs nested, were situated on lakes, flood waters and ponds, whereas the Black-necked Grebe bred only on fishponds and flood waters. In the last dozen or so years the Red-necked Grebe has withdrawn from many breeding grounds within Western Pomerania, with simultaneous decline in its abundance. No decided trends in the Black-necked Grebe numbers have been revealed.



Breeding avifauna of the agricultural landscape of the environs of Nowogard (Western Pomerania).

Michał Jasiński, Dariusz Wysocki

Abstract: The study was carried out in the agricultural landscape of the Równina Nowogardzka plain (county Goleniów, Voivodeship Zachodniopomorskie) in 2002-2004. The counts were performed at landscape plot "Sikorki", covering 7.44 km2 and at three plots, each of 28-31.9 ha, comprising fields (PO), pastures (PA) and meadows (ŁA). The abundance of most species was estimated based on mapping of sites of birds displaying territorial behaviour. Each year 6-7 controls were made at plot "Sikorki" and 5-6 at each of the PO, PA and ŁA plots. In the study period, 78 species were recorded to breed on plot "Sikorki" (including 31 in the village of Sikorki) and from 10 (on PO) to 17 species (on PA) on the other plots. The mean density amounted to 11.3, 16.7 and 25.4 pairs/10 ha on PO, PA and ŁA respectively; on each of these plots the most numerous species was the Skylark Alauda arvensis. The investigations indicated that the avifauna of the Równina Nowogardzka plain was characterized by high densities of the Quail Coturnix coturnix and Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra, but relatively low that of the Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava. The Pomeranian proglacial stream valley was an area of high density of the Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia, whereas the Yellow Wagtail was not observed there. The density of birds on plot PO was high as compared with similar plots in the country, which might have been caused by local factors, e.g. extensive agriculture, strong land comminution.



Molecular techniques and markers in studies of genetic variation in birds.

Magdalena Zagalska-Neubauer, Anna Dubiec

Summary: The paper reviews basic issues of molecular methods based on the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) techniques in the studies of avian genetic variation using molecular markers. Biological material used to DNA extraction can be obtained as invasive (blood or other tissues, growing feather quills) or non-invasive samples (faeces, dropped feathers, tissues from museum specimens). Short-term storage of samples (especially ones preserved in alcohol) does not usually require special treatment, but samples which are going to be analyzed later are best kept frozen (in -20°C or -40°C DNA is stable). Before a PCR is performed, DNA must be extracted from cells using commercial kits or other, cheaper but time-consuming, procedures. Typically, the PCR technique involves three stages: denaturation of double stranded DNA (94°-95°C), annealing (primers binding to the single DNA strand, 54°-60°C) and synthesis of the complementary DNA strand (72°C). Thus, during a PCR, the selected fragments of DNA are amplified from the total DNA in a huge number; repeatability or reliability of the reaction usually requires experimentally fixed conditions by manipulation of the DNA amount, amount and concentration of reagents, annealing temperature, number of repeated cycles. A number of modifications to the PCR techniques have been developed. The RAPD (Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA) technique, with arbitrary primers, allows generation of a big number of RAPD markers which could be useful in estimation of genetic polymorphism. Similarly, the AFLP (Amplified Length Fragment Polymorphism), technique combines use of RAPD markers and restriction enzymes, which enables to obtain a very high number of anonymous fragments dominant in character. To detect polymorphism, the SSCP (Single-Stranded Conformation Polymorphism) method could also be very useful. However, this method employs the PCR technique but polymorphism is detected during electrophoresis, as fragments differences result from different conformation of single stranded DNA fragments. Visualization of PCR products is traditionally performed using gel electrophoresis, which allows separation of the PCR products that differ in size (because of differences in size they move with different speed in the gel). DNA sequencing is the most advanced (and expansive) method of PCR product analysis: the sequence composition and its exact length are obtained. Due to their application in the detection of polymorphisms at different levels (nucleotide, gene and genome), molecular techniques and markers are useful tools in avian evolutionary and ecological studies. Markers, neutral or particular genes, differ in polymorphism level, frequencies in populations, mutation ratio, type of selection and way of inheritance. Thus, the choice of molecular markers to be used in the studies depends on the question being addressed. Further studies should take into consideration the specific character of markers, the samples and primers availability and also the financial and technical capacities. Molecular markers are widely applied to the analyses of genetic polymorphism in species and between and among populations. At the population level, analyses of mating systems and paternity as well as demography and migration behaviour which make use of molecular markers have received most attention, whereas phylogeography and hybridization, including hybrid detection, have extensively been investigated at the species level. Examples of these studies are presented and discussed.



Adult Red-necked Grebes Podiceps grisegena feeding nestlings of the Great Crested Grebe P. cristatus - brood parasitism or adoption?
Cezary Dziuba

Summary: In the period 27th-30th June, 2004, on two neighbouring fishponds in the "Stawy Milickie" reserve within the Barycz Valley (south-western Poland) the author observed two adult Red-necked Grebes solitarily feeding single nestlings of the Great Crested Grebe. The birds fed and took care of the young without showing any symptoms of aggressive behaviour towards them. The nestlings were similar in size, one slightly larger than the feeding bird. This situation was probably a result of interspecific brood parasitism by the Great Crested Grebe. The breeding biology, the size and coloration of eggs, each similar in the two grebe species, are conducive to this phenomenon. Obstacles for the parasite can be the difference in the egg incubation periods and proneness of Great Crested Grebes to abandon the last unhatched eggs. Adoption of young is also possible but less probable. It can result from a mistake as during the first weeks of nestlings' life parents cannot distinguish their own offspring from other birds. This is a fourth record of such behaviour in these two species.



Great Spotted Woodpeckers Dendrocopos major of atypical coloration in the Kampinos Forest.
Adam Olszewski

Summary: Among 24 Great Spotted Woodpeckers trapped between 2000 and 2005 in the Puszcza Kampinoska Forest (central Poland), there were five atypically coloured birds. Three individuals trapped during postjuvenile moult (11th August 2002, 20th July 2003 and 4th September 2005) were partially melanistic and similar in appearance, with uniformly dark grey to salmon-pinkish underparts and dark streaking extending into the sides of breast and flanks as in the White-backed Woodpecker D. leucotos lilfordi. A bird from August was significantly smaller than most of Great Spotted Wodpeckers, more similar in size to the Middle Spotted Woodpecker D. medius, but having an all-red crown bordered by a black line (the Great Spotted Woodpecker's feature). An adult female trapped on 15th April 2005 showed partially leucistic wings and mantle, with an café-au-lait colour replaning the black and white nostril feathering (as in the Syrian Woodpecker D. syriacus). The last individual, trapped during postjuvenile moult on 22nd July 2003, had white nostril feathering, like that in the Syrian Woodpecker, but other characters, including the white pattern on the outer tail-feathers were typical of the Great Spotted Woodpecker.



Mystery bird 48: Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii.
Jan Lontkowski



Wójciak J., Biaduń W., Buczek T., Piotrowska M. 2005. Atlas ptaków lęgowych Lubelszczyzny. Lubelskie Towarzystwo Ornitologiczne, Lublin.
Tadeusz Stawarczyk





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