“Greet the birds of Ilinska and Plakenska Mountains!” (2015)

GREET THE BIRDS OF ILINSKA AND PLAKENSKA MOUNTAINS!

Inspiration

In July 2008, members of the Ornithological section of the Biology Students’ Research Society from Macedonia conducted the first detailed ornithological studies on numerous locations on Ilinska and Plakenska Mountains (no previous information on this topic can be found in scientific literature). During these preliminary studies, as many as 71 different bird species were registered. The birds are an irreplaceable part of the ecosystem, important indicators for the state of the environment, they are guardians of the forests, friends of the farmers, one of the most powerful symbols in the culture and in the folk tradition and believes.  

With the aim:

  • To support the research of natural resources and the protection of the biodiversity;
  • To raise the public awareness among the locals and the visitors about the birds and their importance, and
  • To support the project for birds’ monitoring in Macedonia and the process of establishing of NATURA 2000 area,

We conducted activities for identification of the birds on Ilinska and Plakenska Mountains (mainly in the region of the upper Demir Hisar villages) and at the Belchanski (Graishki) Wetlands.

 

Activities: 

Monitoring of the birds

With the assistance of the experts from the Macedonian ecological society – MES, we learned how to recognize and observe the birds. Together, we conducted practical monitoring in the area of the village of Sloeshtitsa on two occasions, and we also observed and photographed the birds at the Belchanski (Graishki) Wetlands.

 

Field survey with the locals

We talked to nearly hundred locals (mainly farmers, hunters, fishermen and foresters and collectors of wild fruits and berries) and received interesting and original answers to the question: “What do the people know about the birds?”

 

Creative workshop

With the artists/guests at the International art residency “Art Point – Gumno 2015”, our voulonteers drew the birds that impressed them mostly, made sculptures, origami….; The artists, too, dedicated a big part of their original artworks to the birds of Ilinska and Plakenska Mountains.

 

Sharing the results

We shared the results with the public: within the program of the 9th multimedia manifestation “Celebration of the Pirey”, through presentations at several municipal schools, setting up Info-boards, distributing calendars…

 

What next?

We will keep on observing the birds and we will actively support the monitoring activities of the MES’s Program for research and protection of the birds in the next years together with our collaborators and voulonteers; additionally, we will join the Macedonian Stork Cenzus activities and will provide logistical support to the “Spring Alive” campaign.

 

Belchanski (Graishki) Wetlands

(total surface – 1,56 ha, depth – max. 3 m)

 

Within this project, for the first time ever, researches have been made on the site known as Jaushici, situated adjacent to the villages of Belche and Graishte.

Untill some 30 years ago, this location was used for exploitation of river sand. Abandoned pits were filled up with water which made conditions for appearance of lush vegetation and diverse wildlife.

Today, the holes of the willows, the branches of the alders or the shore and the reeds are home or hunting ground to more than 40 bird species. We have obtained this data through surveys of the local residents and direct monitoring. Among others, you will spot here the Great egret and the Grey heron, the Mallard (Wild duck), the Pygmy cormorant and the Great crested grebe, the White stork, the Grey wagtail, the Red-backed shrike. A few types of fish swim in the waters of this wetland (Chub, Northern pike, Carp, etc.) as well as water snakes, turtles, otters… which are continuously being flown over by blue and green dragonflies, mosquitoes and variety of other insects.

But it hasn`t always been this way. Until as recently as thirty years ago, river sand was being exploited from this area.

Today, with its rich flora and fauna which are yet to be a subject of more detailed researches by the biologists, this wetland represents a genuine example of a newly established ecosystem.

 

The project “Greet the birds of Ilinska and Plakenska Mountains!” was conducted as part of the small grants programme on Ilinska and Plakenska Mts. in the frame of the project “Balkan Lynx Recovery Programme” jointly implemented by Macedonian Ecological Society (Macedonia), PPNEA (Albania), KORA (Switzerland) and EuroNatur (Germany) with financial support by MAVA Foundation. The project implementation is also strongly supported by the municipality of Demir Hisar.