02 • 10 • 2017

Latest Technologies Come in Handy for Osprey Monitoring

AE 0765 zivju erglis

Aigars Kalvāns, JSC "Latvia's State Forests" (LVM) Environmental Expert, together with his colleagues has carried out osprey monitoring in the territory of Latvia. This year, 171 nests were surveyed; of them 80 nests were successful. Experts have made their observations not only by climbing up the trees, but also applying the latest technologies.

Within the framework of the monitoring of wild birds, osprey juveniles are counted, weighed and ringed. The data obtained are used to assess the success of nesting. Every year there are also some osprey nests that are made in dead trees.

"It is dangerous to climb up dead trees and difficult to determine the success of nesting from the ground. In such cases, the modern technologies, namely, drones come in handy. In July this year, with the help of drones, we managed to check population of three nests in Eastern Vidzeme region," LVM Expert reports.

In Latvia, ospreys build their nests at tree tops, allowing the birds to have a full view of the surrounding territory. However, if a nest is built in a dead tree, both the nest and the tree can be brought down by strong wind. In this case, the hatch perishes and the osprey couple may leave the area if they cannot find another tree suitable for nesting.

Two of the three nests were found to be successful when inspecting nests with drones in Eastern Vidzeme region. "Two baby birds could be seen in one of the nests, and three in the other. The inspection of these nests was carried out by Forestry Specialist Toms Dandens and Environmental Planning Specialist Kaspars Liepiņš," says Aigars Kalvāns.

In Latvia, osprey monitoring was started in the 80s of the last century, when around 100 bird couples were residing in the country's territory. Monitoring was stopped in the mid-90s and resumed after a considerable break - only in 2007. Currently more than 200 osprey couples nest in Latvian forests. Monitoring data show that the bird population has doubled over these years.