Autumn Migration White Stork Census

By leventerkol September 22, 2017

22-30 August 2017 / Büyükçekmece – İstanbul

Doga/BirdLife Turkey organised “Autumn Migration White Stork Census” study between 22-30 August 2017 in Istanbul with partnership of LeylekEL, a local conservation group. These censuses were funded by Local Stewardship for Migrating Birds of Turkey Project (Champions of the Flyways 2017 Project).

LeylekEL (Storkland) is a local conservation group in Istanbul.  It is also the nickname of the migration bottleneck which includes the Güzelce and Tepekent districts. It is an unknown bottleneck and an important roosting site for thousands of individuals for almost every night of the season.

Fikret Can, the leader of local conservation group LeylekEL (Storkland), has been periodically studying in the Büyükcekmece district of Istanbul since 2007 with his small team. According to his observations, more than 1 million White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) use this bottleneck during the autumn migration season from early August to late October.  This exceeds the current global esimate of 300k for the global population of the species.

Studying in LeylekEL (Storkland) site has crucial importance to understand the passage of White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) from this unknown bottleneck. Firstly, this study serves to define the migrant population of White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)  over Istanbul. Secondly, it researches migration patterns of the White Stork through Thrace. Finally, it helps to identify the major threats against the White Stork in their roosting sites overnight.

From 23 August till 29 August 2017, migrating birds were counted synchronously from three observation stations: Güzelce Marina, Boztepe and Tepekent. Every station was manned by two or more observers. In total, 18 volunteers joined the census. Records made by different observers were compared and double counts were eliminated. Censuses were carried out from 09:00 to 18:00. In total 153.799 individuals of White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) were counted during the study. European Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus), Black Kite (Milvus migrans)  and European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)  were other significant species in all census.