Initial Project Actions:
The initial project work of the 2011-2015 EU Andros LIFE+ Nature project requires preparatory actions, such as the procurement of requisite permits, equipment and site assessment data, as a prelude to conducting the project actions which are designed to improve the foraging and breeding success as well as the conservation status of the targeted priority bird species.
During the initial project period, the Eleonora’s falcon (Falco eleonorae) foraging areas associated with its breeding sites on Andros are to be identified and assessed for falcon insect-feeding behaviour and habitat use by telemetry and visual observations. This data, which provides information on the distribution, extent and quality of the falcons’ foraging areas, is used to identify the falcons’ most important foraging areas where the project’s conservation actions for the improvement of the species’ foraging habitat can be implemented to achieve the greatest conservation benefits for the species in the project area. When the most important foraging areas are located, plans for traditional crop cultivation, coastal wetland improvement and wildlife pond creation can be made and implemented.
Audouin’s gull (Larus audouinii) and Mediterranean Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii) foraging areas, distribution at sea and behaviour are also required to be assessed with telemetry and visual boat-based and coastal-based observations in order to determine their primary foraging habitats which will determine the project’s location of mooring buoy installations, monitoring and surveillance. These essential foraging habitats are also required to be mapped for incorporation into the island’s Special Protection Area (SPA) Management Plan.
The Bonelli’s eagle (Aquila fasciata) foraging areas and patterns are required to be assessed by on-site visual observations in order to determine their foraging range and preferred foraging areas on Andros island. Following this assessment, the information will identify the best areas for the project’s enhancement of the Chukar partridge (Alectoris chukar) and Rock pigeon (Columbia livia) populations. This data is also to be recorded and mapped in order to facilitate the development of a SPA Management Plan proposal for sustainable land use within the eagles’ foraging range and to prevent eagle mortality from power lines and prospective wind farms. This information should also be provided to the competent authorities for the future update of Wildlife Reserves (KAZ) and Natura 2000 coverage.
Plans are also required to be made for Black rat (Rattus rattus) eradication and Yellow-legged gull (Larus michahellis) population control. The rat population adversely impacts the breeding success of Eleonora’s falcons, Audouin’s gulls and Mediterranean Shags at their respective breeding sites by preying on eggs and chicks. In addition, the rats reduce the vegetation coverage, which is already scarce, at breeding colonies thereby reducing available nesting sites because the vegetation provides much needed shelter and concealment. The Yellow-legged gull population control is designed to improve (i) the foraging and breeding prospects of Audouin’s gulls by reducing food competition, nest site competition and predation on Audouin’s gulls’ eggs and nestlings, and (ii) the breeding prospects of Mediterranean Shags as the Yellow-legged gulls also prey on the Shags’ eggs and chicks. These plans are to be conducted at the targeted species’ most important breeding and foraging locations which are required to be evaluated and prioritised.
We hope that you will have an opportunity to ask questions of the project management staff as well as follow the progress and discoveries of this worthwhile LIFE+ Nature project endeavour through the project’s official website and social networking venues such as Facebook or Twitter. Through our shared aims and collective efforts, we can all make a difference in restoring and protecting the natural wildlife beauty that surrounds us and provides us with inestimable benefits.
Contact: Constantine Alexander
copyright © 2012 Constantine Alexander