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Mid-winter waterfowl census

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This project was started in 1967. The reasons for waterfowl research, monitoring and protection are the continuous deterioration of wetlands, the increasing frequency of oil spills in water bodies, and the necessity of regulating bird hunting. Large numbers of waterfowl often assemble in wintering sites. Research on such assemblies is the most rational way to estimate the number and condition of winter bird populations. The project is international, and in 1995 it was included in the Estonian national programme of biological monitoring.

The success of the project owes a lot to the use of a simple questionnaire that has routinely been used over a long period of time. Every year, observers have been provided with a summary of the previous year’s census results. Both transect and point censuses have been used. In coastal areas, the wintering waterfowl have also been counted from planes and helicopters.

Since 1995 permanent monitoring sites have been:

  1. all the inland water bodies where the number of wintering waterfowl (predominantly mallards) is permanently greater than 100 individuals; there are about 40 to 50 such sites;
  2. the coastal sectors of the Baltic Sea that do not freeze in normal winters and other sites known to be important wintering areas for waterfowl; there are about 100 such sites.

Project manager:Leho Luigujõe