On 4-5 and 11-12 July, specialists (ecologists) from the Directorates of Protected Areas (PAs) took part in internships on monitoring of Birds of Prey and Black Stork. Traineeships are a form of training where more experienced colleagues share their experience with new or less experienced staff.  The traineeships were organised in different regions, not only for the convenience of the participants, but also because of the ecological differences between the regions.

The traineeship took place on 4-5 July in the Gubernija Forest Biosphere Research Area and on 11-12 July in the Taujėnai-Užulėnis Forest Biosphere Research Area. The traineeships were attended by 24 ecologists from the Directorates of Protected Areas, mainly involved in the state monitoring of this group of birds. The traineeships were led by ornithologists Dr. Gintarė Grašytė and Saulis Skuja from the State Service for Protected Territories, and Dr. Rimgaudas Treinys from the Nature Research Centre.

The monitoring of birds of prey and the Black Stork is one of the most complex, so the aim of the traineeship was to improve the ecologists’ knowledge in the field of bird observation and nesting, as well as to determine the number of pairs living in the territory.

The monitoring of Birds of Prey and Black Stork consists of two parts, the first of which is bird watching to determine where pairs of birds may be located in the SPA. For this purpose, it is important not only to identify the different bird species as accurately as possible at long distances (up to 3-4 km), but also to have a very good knowledge of their ecology and behaviour (which behaviour is indicative of the territory occupied, how far they can fly to forage, etc.). During the traineeship, experienced representatives of the State Service for Protected Areas and the Nature Research Centre gave a detailed presentation of all these aspects in the field, while the specialists of the Protected Areas Directorates were able to share their experience, where the trainees were able to consolidate their knowledge in small groups in the areas.

The second part of the monitoring of Birds of Prey and Black Stork was the search for bird nests based on observations. This part is important both for determining the number of pairs present in the area and directly for the conservation of the birds, as this group of birds returns to the same places and the same nests, so it is very important to know and protect them in order to conserve these species in Lithuania. The search for nests of Birds of Prey and Black Stork is not only technically challenging, but also requires specific knowledge to identify and determine which nest has been found, whether it is occupied or whether it is producing chicks. Dr. Gintarė Grašytė prepared and presented detailed information on how to distinguish between the nests of different bird species, how important it is to be aware of the timing of the breeding of different species, and what additional features can help to identify the host of the nest. During the internships, ecologists from the directorates of protected areas and foresters from the Kuršėnai regional unit of the State Forest Enterprise, who joined the internship in the Gubernija forests, put the training material into practice – they checked previously identified nests, searched for new nests, identified their occupancy, and identified the species.

During the traineeship, the participants not only improved their knowledge and gained experience, but also carried out part of the state environmental monitoring. The relevant information collected on the nests of protected species and their occupancy will be uploaded to the Protected Species Information System, thus contributing to better protection of these species.