Night herons on their way to Africa

14 Oct 2019 | News

We can already follow the flight routes of night herons on the computer screen! The birds have already left the breeding grounds and after a period of nomadism they began to migrate to wintering grounds.

Night herons are the ornithological symbol of the Upper Vistula Valley. These birds nest regularly in four Natura 2000 refuges: the Upper Vistula Valley, the ponds in Brzeszcze, the Lower Soła Valley and the Lower Skawa Valley. The Upper Silesian Ornithological Circle in the LIFE.VISTULA.PL project carries out research consisting in identifying the feeding sites of night herons, which will help to protect this species in the future. Until now, the night heron feeding habitats during the breeding season and during the post-breeding period, until the beginning of migration to wintering grounds, have not been accurately identified. The feeding preferences of young birds are also unknown – in the period between the departure from the nest and the start of migration to wintering grounds.

In 2019, 40 GPS/GSM transmitters were attached to adult and young night herons in two refuges. This year, another 40 transmitters will be put on birds in the next two refuges. The results obtained this season indicate new, unknown places where adult herons search for food to feed their young. In addition to breeding ponds and rivers, they are also small reservoirs located even between buildings or narrow mid-field watercourses.

Thanks to the use of transmitters, on one hand, we observe specimens that did not leave one pond complex throughout the whole period, while others nomadized in southern Poland, also outside their typical habitats such as ponds, oxbow lakes and watercourses.
On the other hand, some adult birds quickly left their homeland and, flying through Italy and northern Africa, reached their wintering grounds in Ghana and Nigeria.

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