Expedition to Maloe Lebedinoe Lake, Chuvashia

    Expedition to Maloe Lebedinoe Lake, Chuvashia

    • Dates: July 25 to August 12 and August 31 to September 16, 2022
    • Location: Maloe Lebedinoe Lake, Chuvash Republic
    • Participants: A.V. Tikhomirova of the Zoological Museum of Moscow State University, volunteers

    Another expedition to Maloe Lebedinoe Lake, Chuvashia, took place in 2022. The work was organized in two sessions, in July and in August. A.V. Tikhomirova of the Zoological Museum and several students of various universities and volunteers of various organizations and institutions participated in it. The research station was visited by 2 to 5 persons per time. As in the previous years, the main tasks of the expedition included the mist-netting and banding of the passerine birds during their post-nesting migrations.

    The bird ringing on Maloe Lebedinoe Lake has been carried out since 1999, and 27,364 birds of 88 passerine species have been ringed during that time. 5751 repeated catches were registered, including 318 multi-years repeats.

    When catching birds, we do not just ring them, but also record certain biological data on them, which are difficult to obtain without having the birds in hands. We record their sex, age, fatness, body mass, take some morphometric data, and describe their molting state. These data are needed to explore sex and age structure of the studied populations, to assess migratory readiness of the birds, as well as to explore subsequently the intraspecific variability of particular species.

    During this season, 2401 birds were caught, 1995 of them were ringed, and 250 individuals were caught repeatedly. Among the latter, 22 birds of 8 species were caught, who were ringed by us in the previous seasons, mostly in 2020-2021.

    Of special interest was the netting of a specimen of the willow tit (Poecile montanus) who had been first caught and ringed by us as a full-fledged nestling at this station in August 2018. It has been observed during the breeding season in the last summer, and this was its another record in this year. The willow tits are known to be sedentary, territorial birds. The young birds tend to leave the parental territories during the post-breeding period and roam for some time. They usually gather in youth flocks and settle in the particular sites, free of adults, during the late summer and middle autumn. This particular tit survived and stayed in its territory for several years, and it went this summer to the fifth year.

    A total of 50 species of the passerine birds were caught and ringed during our long-term expedition. The most common forest birds were netted by us, including the common chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita), the willow warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus), the great tit (Parus major), and the European robin (Erithacus rubecula). In general, such a netting method allows recording secretive or poorly distinguishable birds, which often remain unnoticed or unidentified during visual observations, especially in the post-nesting period, when passerine birds stop mating vocalization.

    This year we also managed to net the birds that are rare for that local fauna.

    Thus, we recorded in September the yellow-browed warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus), a Siberian species whose main breeding range is located much to the east. This was the third case of recording this species in the vicinity of our station, and this is the only its location in the Chuvash Republic known so far. So, our records indicate that this warbler may occasionally appear much to the west of its ordinary migration routes, carried away by the migrating flocks of other species.

    A record of a young male of collared flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis) was also noteworthy, which appeared to be the third record of this species during the entire observation period. The border of its breeding range passes to the south along the Volga River, so the birds fly occasionally to our station locality during their migrations. In general, the collared flycatcher has been expanding its breeding range during recent years, so its observations at Maloe Lebedinoe Lake will probably become more frequent.

    Finally, several young rustic buntings (Emberiza rustica) were ringed again during their autumn migration in September. The nesting of this species has not been recorded in the studied region, and it was extremely rarely observed by the bird watchers during its migrations. However, according to the results of our mist-netting, the rustic buntings appear in the area of Maloe Lebedinoe Lake almost every year in September.

    We are looking forward with a great interest to the next field season.

    A.V. Tikhomirova