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IWC 2023 COVERED 15 WATER BODIES IN 10 REGIONS OF UZBEKISTAN, IN WHICH 176 THOUSAND WATERBIRDS OF 66 SPECIES WERE REGISTERED!

The International Waterbird Census (IWC), held annually in our country on the initiative of Uzbekistan Society for the Protection of Birds (UzSPB), in January-February 2023 covered 15 water bodies important for wintering birds in 10 regions of the country. 70 IWC participants have registered more than 176,500 waterfowl of 66 species in Uzbekistan! Among them are 17 bird species included in the National and International Red Data Books. This year, the initiative of Uzbekistan Society for the Protection of Birds to conduct a winter census was supported by the Ministry of Ecology, Environmental Protection and Climate Change of the Republic of Uzbekistan, which carried out surveys on 6 water bodies in 6 regions of the country and provided the results of their observations for inclusion in the IWC international database.

The first waterbody where UzSPB staff and members together with representatives of the Institute of Zoology of the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan and the Ministry of Ecology, conducted wintering bird counts was Tuyabuguz water reservoir (Tashmore) in Tashkent region. 15,340 waterfowl and shorebirds of 34 species were registered at the reservoir, including 7 rare and endangered species included in the Red Data Book of Uzbekistan and the International Red Data Book. The number of Red Data Book species of waterfowl at the reservoir on the day of IWC counts was 7,076 individuals - 46% of the total number of registered birds.

Interesting sightings on Tashmore included Northern Lapwings, Little Egrets, Pied Avocets, Common Goldeneyes, Smews and a Velvet Scoter. Boats moving along the surface of the water and shots of hunters can be considered factors of disturbance of birds in the reservoir. The results of the census confirmed that the Tuyabuguz Reservoir IBA is important for the conservation of rare and globally threatened bird species wintering in the Tashkent region. The main congregations of waterfowl this winter kept in the ice-free north-western and southern parts of Tuyabuguz water reservoir from the side of the fish farm. This reduced their level of anxiety and prevented hunters from entering. In the southeastern part of the reservoir, in the bays covered with ice, active hunting was carried out this winter. The gunshots greatly disturbed wintering birds, forcing them to fly from place to place when the air temperature was below -19C.

On January 15, members of 'Sociable Lapwing' student ornithological club under the guidance of the senior lecturer of the Faculty of Geography and Soil Science of the Karshi State University Tulkin Uktamovich Rakhimov carried out bird count at the KBA 'Talimarzhan water reservoir'. More than 19,000 waterfowl were observed at the reservoir. Among them were more than 16 thousand Greylag Geese and several thousand Mallards. The coastal area of the reservoir was completely covered with ice on the day of counting. Active hunting was carried out in the western part of the reservoir. On days when the air temperature in the reservoir dropped below -21C, the shots of hunters were especially disturbing to congregations of wintering waterfowl.

On January 22, members of 'Flamingo' student ornithological club under the guidance of the lecturer from the Faculty of Geography and Ecology of Samarkand State University, Associate Professor Leyla Enverovna Belialova, counted birds at Chimkurgan water reservoir in the Kashkadarya region. UzSPB members from Samarkand region Natalya Vladimirovna Marmazinskaya and Bakhtiyor Kudratovich Mardonov also joined the IWC counts. As the survey participants showed, more than 95% of the reservoir was covered with ice, there were no birds on the water. Only in the unfrozen canal they managed to meet 549 birds. Of the rare and interesting sightings, the Eastern Imperial Eagle and White-tailed Sea-eagle should be noted.

On January 22, members of the 'EcoBirds' student ornithological club under the guidance of the lecturer from the Faculty of Biotechnology of Namangan State University, Associate Professor Erkin Fayzullaevich Ikromov, counted birds at Rezaksay water reservoir in Namangan region. More than 3,400 waterfowl were recorded at the reservoir, most of which were represented by Mallards, Common Teals and Coots. Of the interesting observations, White Storks and Northern Lapwings wintering at the reservoir should be noted. On February 11, UzSPB members of staff together with lecturers of Karshi State University carried out another IWC count at the KBA 'Talimarzhan reservoir'. More than 54,000 waterfowl have been observed at the KBA this time. The Greylag Goose, Common Pochard and Mallard were most common species at Talimarzhan on the day of observation. Of the key sightings, Saker Falcon and White-tailed Sea-eagles wintering on the reservoir should be noted. In these frosty winter days, thousands of waterfowl on Talimarjan suffered from severe disturbance from hunters. Shots from five-shot hunting rifles were heard for nine hours, including from the side of the protected dam of the reservoir.

On the same day, members of 'Ivolga' student ornithological club under the guidance of the lecturer of the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the Bukhara State University, Associate Professor Mukhtor Murodovich Turaev, carried out survey at the Ramsar site - Tudakul and Kuyumazar reservoir in the Navoi region. More than 18.5 thousand waterfowl were recorded at Tudakul reservoir. Mallards and Common Teals were most common species on the day of observation. Rare and interesting sightings included Ferruginous Duck, Pallas's Fish-eagle, White-tailed Sea-eagle, Northern Pintails, Greater Scaups and Tufted Ducks. On the same day, at the Kuyumazar reservoir, participants in the survey registered more than 37 thousand waterfowl of 17 species. Interesting sightings included Horned Grebes and Pallas's Fish-eagle.

On February 19, the head and members of 'Flamingo' student ornithological club at the Faculty of Ecology and Geography of Samarkand State University carried out bird counts at the IBA 'Kattakurgan reservoir' in Samarkand region. More than 300 waterfowl were recorded at the reservoir on the day of counting, including Great White Pelicans, Greylag Geese, Greater Scaups, Smews and Goosanders. According to local residents, this winter there was a mass death of waterfowl at the Kattakurgan reservoir: hundreds of dead birds lay on the surface of the ice-covered reservoir, the ice was so strong that people crossed it to the other side of the reservoir. The dead birds were eaten by dogs, foxes, jackals and birds of prey

On the same day, members of 'Steppe Eagle' student ornithological club at the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Jizzakh State Pedagogical University, under the leadership of the head of the Department of Zoology and Anatomy Lola Shukurboevna Sanaeva, conducted bird counts at the Ramsar site - IBA 'Lake Tuzkan'. More than a thousand birds were observed, including Mute Swans, Great White Pelicans, White-tailed Sea-eagles, and a single Short-toed Snake-eagle.

On February 22, the leader and members of the 'Otus' student ornithological club at the Faculty of Biology of Karakalpak State University under the supervision of Dean Yakub Idrisovich Ametov, doctoral student Islambek Muratbayevich Arepbaev and lecturers of the faculty carried out bird count at the Lake Ashshikul near Nukus city. It should be noted that Lake Ashshchikul is a potential Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) and is an important habitat for globally threatened species, the White-headed Duck on its autumn migration. Ashshchikul needs protection and regular monitoring in different seasons of the year. About 200 waterfowl have been recorded on the lake, including Mallards, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Eurasian Wigeons, Coots and Caspian Gulls.

All IWC counts data has been processed and entered into the international IWC database. The Uzbekistan Society for the Protection of Birds expresses its gratitude to all its members and supporters for their active participation in this year winter census of waterfowl in our country!

Supported by: BirdLife International NABU

© Compiled by Oleg Kashkarov
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Last modified: 15.08.2023