The paper presents general characteristics of bird species diversity in the tree-shrub complex during a period of spring migration at the Western Crimea coast (Tarkhankut Peninsula, Chornomorske District, Olenivka Village 45°25’N 32°32’E), considers phenology and dynamics of migrations taking into account weather conditions in the study seasons (April-May 2008-2009 and 2011). New data on some rare bird species of Ukraine and Steppe Crimea are presented, and geographical links of Sylviidae, migrating across the coast of Western Crimea, are revised.
Tarkhankut Peninsula is located in the westernmost part of the Crimea and washed by the Black Sea in the north, west and south-west. Steppe vegetation and agricultural lands dominate on the peninsula, and natural shrubs occur only in gully depressions and coastal slides. Such a geographical location and biotopic features conditioned a considerable concentration of dendrophilic birds in gullies during seasonal migrations. At the same time, breeding avifauna of the peninsula is characterized by poor species diversity, which simplifies differentiation of local and migratory birds. As a result, Tarkhankut is one of the most suitable places to study seasonal migrations in the south of Ukraine.
Studies of spring migration in this territory, based on regular catching and ringing of birds, were first carried out by Schmalhausen Institute of Zoology and the Azov-Black Sea Ornithological Station in 1989-1991 and 1993. Later the research was interrupted (except for 2004) and renewed by us in 2008-2009 and 2011. As a result of the studies, there were given general characteristics of species diversity for birds of the tree-shrub complex during spring migration at the Western Crimea coast, considered phenology and dynamics of migrations taking into account weather conditions. New data on some rare bird species were obtained, and geographical links of Sylviidae, migrating across the coast of Western Crimea, were revised. Actuality of the work has risen due to the designation on 11.12.2009 of the National Natural Park “Charivna Havan” [Magic Harbour] was in the west of Tarkhankut.
Catching and ringing of Passeriformes and other bird species of the treeshrub complex, along with visual observations of migrations and counts on a standard route were carried out 9 April – 13 May 2008, 17 April – 19 May 2009, and 8 April – 4 May 2011 on Tarkhankut Peninsula (near Olenivka Village, Chornomorske District, 45°25’N 32°32’E). Also, there were studied additional count routes in gullies of Chornomorske District and along the sea coast to revise species composition of migrants. The work was conducted under cooperation and sponsorship of SEEN (SE European Bird Migration Network).
Birds were captured by mist nets (18-21 nets) on fixed plots and ringed. Their species, sex and age (Svensson, 1992) and standard biometrical parameters (Busse, 2000) were identified. A total, for the 3 years of the research there were captured and ringed 8,860 individuals of 70 species (including 8,686 ind. of 57 species of passerines). The 1990s data were used for comparison when the species diversity and migration phenology were estimated.
Biodiversity of migratory birds in the spring period in tree-shrub biotopes of Tarkhankut gullies in 2008-2009 and 2011 made up 70 species (Table 1), among them representatives of 10 orders: 57 species of Passeriformes, 3 – Falconiiformes, 2 – Coraciiformes, 2 – Strigiformes, per 1 species each – Gruiformes, Columbiformes, Cuculiformes, Caprimulgiformes, Upupiformes and Piciformes. In all studied years, according to species diversity and numbers, Passeriformes dominated, both, in catching results and counts. Species composition of Passeriformes in the period of spring migration in Tarkhankut gullies is mostly constant during, at least, last 20 years. Of 57 species, captured in 2008-2011, 48 were also registered in the early 1990s, and 28 of them now annually occur in catches (Table 1). In the 2000s there were not registered only 7 species (rare accidental or irregularly vagrant) out of the species registered in the 1990s, which also proves a long-term permanency of the main species composition.
The earlier published data on timing of spring migration of a number of species in the Western Crimea are limited by a few years and were collected several decades ago (Kostin, 1983), sometimes not available or changed. Table 2 presents extreme dates of spring migration for the species observed in the 1990s-2000s. For a majority of species the timing of the start of spring migration varies in different years in the range of 7-16 days (Table 3) and often depends on average daily temperatures of the first half of spring.
Weather conditions has also a considerable impact on the general dynamics of migrations (Fig.1), however in different years there are observed 2 peaks of its maximal intensity – in April with the number-dominant species Collared Flycatcher and in May when the Willow Warbler dominates.
Among rare and scanty transit species of the Steppe Crimea captured on Tarkhankut in 2008-2009 and in 2011 there are presented: the Firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus), Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica), Stonechat (Saxicola torquata), Blyth’s Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus dumetorum), Scarlet Grosbeak (Carpodacus erythrinus), Mediterranean species – the Subalpine (Sylvia cantillans) and Orphean (Sylvia hortensis) Warblers. In addition, there were not captured but visually recorded: the Red-rumped Swallow (Hirundo daurica), Rock Thrush (Monticola saxatilis) and the Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus).
Among rare accidental species for the Steppe Crimea for the first time in the spring period there were captured 2 individuals of the Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris). Spring accidental flights of the Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator) are observed regularly and annually in this area in recent years (Table 1, 4).
All information from abroad on birds, ringed during spring passage in the 2000s on Tarkhankut Peninsula relates to the family Sylviidae, Passeriformes. It is shown that the route to wintering grounds and back for the Blackcaps (Sylvia atricapilla), migrating in spring and autumn across Tarkhankut, goes across the East Mediterranean (Turkey, Syria, Israel) and, correspondingly, has the north-western direction in spring and south-eastern in autumn. This species is recorded on wintering grounds on southern coasts of Turkey and in Israel, and in high numbers in East Africa, Sudan (Cramp, 1992), therefore the received recoveries can belong both to the birds reached their wintering ground or being on way to it. It is known (Cramp, 1992), that European populations of the Blackcap, dwelling to the west of 12° E mainly flies south-west (Southern France, West Africa), when those distributed more to the east choose mainly the south-eastern direction. To the second migration route, according to recoveries, also belong Blackcaps, migrating across the Western Crimea.
Recoveries of Phylloscopus species (Phylloscopus trochilus and Phylloscopus collybitа), including one direct recovery of the Chiffchaff, are linked with the Baltic coast of Finland and therefore with more eastern Scandinavian populations which migrate across the Western Crimea to the north-west in spring and in reverse directions from the southern to the south-eastern in autumn and mainly winter in East, Central and South Africa (Cramp, 1992).
Species composition of migratory birds in the spring period of 2008-2009 and 2011 in tree-shrub biotopes of Tarkhankut gullies, according to catching results, consisted of 70 species of 10 orders including 57 species – representatives of Passeriformes. Comparison of the species composition of migrants in the 1990s and the 2000s shows its high permanency, at least, during the last 20 years.
In April – the first half of May the following species dominate in number, each of them usually makes over 5% in catches: the Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Collared and Pied Flycatchers, Robin, and in May also the Thrush Nightingale, Garden Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher. Subdominants (usually over 2-4% in catches) are the Whitethroat, Wood Warbler, Redstart, Song Thrush, Red-breasted Flycatcher. The main, number-dominant species of the first, April, maximal peak of migration in different seasons remained the Collared Flycatcher, and the second, May, peak – the Willow Warbler. In the 2000s in the spring period accidental visits of Mediterranean species to the North Black Sea Region became more frequent (e.g. Subalpine and Orphean Warblers).
All ring recoveries received from Sylviidae (Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff) link an intermediary point of migration on Tarkhankut Peninsula with habitats in the north-eastern part of Scandinavia (namely Finland) and with wintering grounds (or ways to them) in the East Mediterranean (Turkey, Syria, Israel). In other words, they can be related to the south-eastern migration stream of Euro-African migrants. Authors are thankful to all organizers and participants of expedition seasons of 1990-1991, 1993, 2004, some data of whom were used for comparison and estimation of extreme terms of migration – especially I.I.Chernichko, V.M.Popenko, A.M.Poluda, Yu.A.Andryushchenko, students of Melitopol State Pedagogical Institute. We would like to express a particular gratitude to P.Busse – the founder and head of the SE European Bird Migration Network for the organizational and financial support of the expeditions 2008-2009, 2011, and to Poland birdwatchers, postgraduates and students, who helped with setting of nets and catching of birds. We are very grateful to the personnel of Ukrainian Bird Ringing Centre and its head A.M.Poluda, and to a German ornithologist G.Nikolaus for their efficient help in supplying expeditions with rings and in receiving information on bird recoveries from foreign colleagues.Read the paper in a PDF file