OSME and OBC jointly fund White-headed Duck surveys in Kazakhstan

White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala

OSME and OBC are delighted to announce we are joining forces to provide £2000 of funding for the further monitoring of White-headed Duck in Kazakhstan. ACBK, the BirdLife International partner in Kazakhstan is also collaborating with the Universities of Munster and Bielefeld, Germany, and combining components of the white-headed duck work with broader waterbird surveys – a truly collaborative project! International collaboration across political borders is increasingly important as an increasing number of migratory species are declining. Understanding the underlying causes of a species’ decline is crucial if we are to implement appropriate conservation actions. The joint OSME and OBC funding has part-funded the purchase of a new field car to transport the survey teams around the study area.  Survey work has just commenced and will continue from May through to October. Alyona Shmalenko of ACBK, and the Directorate of the Korgalzhyn Nature Reserve will be co-ordinating the surveys. A key part of the project will be the training of several students from universities across Kazakhstan.

Bird watching in Kazakhstan

In July, the team will test methods of trapping White-headed Duck at moulting sites that were identified during the first years of the project in 2013 and 2014. If a reliable catching method can be developed then the project team will investigate the use of attaching data loggers in future years. This will enable a detailed study of the white-headed duck migration routes as well as staging and wintering sites. It is clear that the number of White-headed Ducks recorded in Pakistan is declining and collaboration by scientists and conservationists across the species’ range is crucial. Who knows, maybe some of the ducks in this part of central Kazakhstan follow differing migration routes, like the Critically Endangered Sociable Lapwings http://www.birdlife.org/sociable-lapwing/2014/10/four-tagged-birds-two-migration-routes/ that have been satellite tracked to wintering areas in the Middle East and North-east Africa, as well as to India and Pakistan.

White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala

OSME and OBC jointly fund White-headed Duck surveys in KazakhstanWe will provide further updates on this project as the field season continues. In the meantime, OSME and OBC wish the field teams good luck with their surveys.

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