During 2011 “World Bird Watching Day”, most birds were counted in Turkey on Kars’ Lake Kuyucuk Ramsar Site for the 5th year in a row
Nearly 40,000 birds of 81 species were counted in Kars and Iğdır on October 2, 2011
World Birdwatching Day is a global event, yearly celebrated under the leadership of Birdlife International around the world during the first weekend in October. This day is an opportunity for people to discover the beauty and importance of the world’s birds.
In 2011, World Birdwatching Day was celebrated with the theme “Keep Migratory Birds Alive”. The goal of World Birdwatching Day in 2001 was to inform people about migratory birds and the threats they encounter during their migrations.
World Birdwatching Day has been celebrated by birdwatchers in Europe for 18 years and in Turkey since 2004. Since 2006, the KuzeyDoğa Society team and the students of Kars’ Kafkas University have been celebrating World Birdwatching Day with bird watching and ringing activities in Kars, Iğdır and Ardahan provinces. Every year, KuzeyDoğa has consistently counted most birds in Turkey at Kars’ Lake Kuyucuk Wildlife Reserve and Ramsar site. Once again, KuzeyDoğa Society and Kafkas University Bird Research and Education Center students broke the Turkey record of most bird species and individuals observed during 2011World Birdwatching Day. 18 people from 5 countries took part under the leadership of KuzeyDoğa president and University of Utah biology professor Dr. Cagan Sekercioglu, and KuzeyDoğa biologists Lale Aktay, Emrah Çoban and Sedat İnak.39, 140 birds of 81 species were counted and 73 birds of 16 species were ringed at Kars’ Lake Kuyucuk Ramsar Site, Sarıkamış Mountain-Allahuekber Mountains National Park, and Iğdır’s unprotected Aras River wetlands.
The most important reason for another World Birdwatching Day record was Kars’ Lake Kuyucuk Wildlife Reserve, which was declared the first Ramsar site of Eastern Anatolia in 2009thanks to the efforts of Turkey’s Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks and KuzeyDoğa Society. KuzeyDoğa Society also spearheaded the creation of Turkey’s first bird nesting island built in Lake Kuyucuk with the support of Kars Governship and Kars Special Projects Office. During 2011World Birdwatching Day, 38,743 birds of42 species were counted by Lale Aktay just on Lake Kuyucuk alone, once again making Lake Kuyucuk Turkey’s top birdwatching site. KuzeyDoğa president and University of Utah biology professor Dr. Cagan Sekercioglu said the following about World Birdwatching Day:
“The top three bird species on Lake Kuyucuk were 18,670 coots, 4866 ruddy shelducks, and 4000 starlings. The species that were ringed (banded) most were 14 chiffchaffs, 13 pied wagtails, and 11 common redstarts ,ringed at the Aras River Bird Research and Education Center by KuzeyDoğa’s field biologist and licensed ringer Sedat İnak. During the World Birdwatching Day celebrations, supported by Kafkas University and Kars and Iğdır Directorates of Forestry and Hydraulic Works, KuzeyDoğa Society carried out education and public outreach activities on wetland restoration, bird ringing and bird counting methods. Many migratory bird species, the theme of this year, are threatened worldwide. In a conservation analysis of world’s migratory bird species I conducted in 2007, I determined that %10 of world’s approximately 1800 migratory bird species are threatened or near threatened with extinction in the IUCN Red List. The situation is getting worse every day. The populations of millions of migratory birds that migrate between Europe, Middle East, and Africa have decreased by 40% duringthe last 30 years. In addition to worldwide habitat loss, poaching, introduced species and pesticides, global warming and climate change are increasingly major threats to migratory birds during, before and after their long and difficult journeys. Turkey is a critical country for tens of millions of migratory birds that migrate between the Balkans, Russia, Central Asia, Middle East, and Africa, providing these birds with critical feeding, resting, and breeding habitats that need to be protected much more effectively.
Since 2003, the members of the KuzeyDoğa team have been carrying out intensive ornithological research, habitat conservation, and ecological restoration work at important wetlands in eastern Anatolia. Among the most important of these wetlands are Kars’ Lake Kuyucuk and the Aras River wetlands of Iğdır province. Between 2006 and 2011, we ringed nearly 40,000 birds of 181 species and documented 283 bird species in these two wetlands alone. 283 bird speciescomprise61% of all the bird species ever recorded in Turkey, but the wetlands of Aras River have no protection, despite KuzeyDoğa’s repeated petitions for years.
During every World Birdwatching Day in Turkey, KuzeyDoğa Society has documented the highest numbers of bird species and individuals in these important areas. This year’s record-breaking numbers once again show the global conservation value of these areas and the necessity of protecting them legally and effectively.”