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Nova Falcons, ornithological summary for the year 2023

06 May 2024

Nova Falcons, environmental company of Evissa and Formentera; specialized in scientific ringing and the study and control of fauna.

Although a few months have already passed since the end of 2023, we do not want to miss the opportunity to share a brief review of the main activities related to ornithology that we have developed throughout the year that we have left behind. When we say brief, it is more a statement of intent than something that has been possible to do, because the truth is that although we have tried, it has been inevitable that this entry has been somewhat longer than usual in the entries of the outreach area. Without further ado, we hope it will be of interest to you.

 

Compilation of quotations

Anuari Ornitològic de les Illes Balears (Ornithological Yearbook of the Balearic Islands).

The main workload we carry out at Nova Falcons is related to wildlife control, where the main type of animals we work with are birds. Among other places, we carry out the wildlife control service (SCF) in the Ca na Puntxa Environmental Area, as well as in the Port of Eivissa and the Es Colodolar airport. 

During the past 2023, we have recorded the presence of more than 120 different species of birds on the island of Ibiza. Obviously, most of them are common, without a special protection status and have no more relevance from an ornithological point of view than they may have for the correct execution of the service in which they have been documented. But of those, which either because of their scarcity, their migratory component or for any other reason are noteworthy, the citations are reported in the Ornithological Yearbook of the Balearic Islands. At Nova Falcons, we do not consider that it is lawful to appropriate the quotations collected by a technician during his working day, as far as citizen science is concerned. Therefore, as the quotations are contributed to the yearbook on a personal basis, we actively encourage our technicians to register in CITAU, the GOB website for the compilation of ornithological quotations in the Balearic Islands, all those quotations that may be considered relevant. However, the technician always has the last word.

In this sense, during 2023, around one hundred citations have been contributed to the CITAU, with slightly more than 50 different species. The compilation of quotations, whether they are all part of the yearbook or not, is of great importance in order to have a better monitoring of bird populations, their distribution, dates and intensity of migration, breeding periods, etc.

falco eleonarae IbizaEleonora's falcon (Falco eleonarae), photo Lara Abascal.

falco columbarius ibizaMerlin (Falco columbarius), together with a recently laid pellet; photo Lara Abascal.

tyto alba ibizaBarn Owl (Tyto alba); photo Lara Abascal.

carraca europea Ibiza
European Roller (Coracias garrulus).

larus Fuscus ibiza
Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus).

chorlitejo chico Ses Feixes
Adult Little Plover (Charadrius dubius) (right side of the image), with its young (left side of the image), in Ses Feixes.

vencejo pálido Ibiza
Pallid swifts (Apus pallidus). 

oenanthe
Grey wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe).

saxicola rubetra  ibizaNorthern stonechat (Saxicola rubetra).

You can access the latest available version and previous editions of the ornithological yearbook of the Balearic Islands, at the GOB web site



Remote ring reading

It is not very common to find ringed specimens of species, but as it happened in 2022 with EZS, a Black-footed Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis) born in 2011, which visited us from Scotland; or E9. a Montagu's Harrier (Circus pygargus) born in 2020 coming from Germany, in 2023 we also recorded a couple of PVC ring readings, in this case, both from Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis):

B5RY; 2016, Sa Dragonera.

B5ZE:, 2021, Illa des Bosc.

All collected records are then sent to the tagging project with which they are associated, after an internet or third-party search of the project.

 

Scientific ringing

Scientific ringing

Scientific ringing in Ibiza has a long history, which it is worth highlighting and trying to recover. Despite its decline over the last decade (mainly due to the lack of active resident ringers, together with the lack of institutional support for this necessary scientific activity), we would like to think that we are doing our bit to contribute to lay the foundations that will allow us to recover local interest and activity. In this sense, Nova Falcons actively encourages its staff to train as expert ringers. During 2023, we have completed the training of two of our technicians as auxiliary banders, and a third as an expert bander, something that has not been done in Ibiza since 1992.

Completing the basic training required to qualify for a bander's licence is a slow process and requires an undeniable vocational interest on the part of the person setting out to achieve this goal. If we add to this the lack of training possibilities at a local level, we find ourselves in a complex situation to say the least. At Nova Falcons, we have made (and continue to make) a considerable economic and logistical effort to be able to train the staff in this sense, to which our technicians are responding as required (it must be said, because without vocational interest on their part, not even all the resources in the world would be of any use). This training necessarily involves being able to participate in migration campaigns outside the island. At this point, it is essential to thank the Societat Ornitológica de Menorca (SOM) for allowing us to participate during 2022, 2023 and the present 2024, in the spring campaign of Illa de l'Aire. Of course, we also have to thank the Institut Català d'Ornitologia (ICO) for letting us participate in the autumn campaigns of Delta de l'Ebre and Cap de Creus, moltes gracies!

This participation is always done by our technicians as trainee ringers, which means that the infinite patience of the expert ringers with whom they live during the training days is also something to be thankful for.

For those who are not familiar with what exactly scientific ringing is, we will refer you to this other small entry, so as not to make this one longer than necessary.

-https://www.novafalcons.com/en/blog/67-about-scientific-ringing

 

During 2023 we have had the opportunity to make more than 330 new ringings in Ibiza, on a total of 49 species. We also made 41 recoveries, all of them of local specimens (most of them ringed or captured by us, between 2019 and 2023). But there were also some that were not ours, and which were at least interesting for the information they provided, such as a specimen of Stone-curlew (Burinus Oedicnemus), recovered on 9 September, and which had been ringed on 20 August 2015 by the Environment Agents at the "recovery centre".

In order to put these figures into context, it is worth bearing in mind that the total number of ringings in Ibiza in 2023 was less than 500 new ringings, the usual average total in recent years being around 300 new ringings. To put these figures into context, the average in Mallorca is over 2000 new ringings, and in Menorca over 5000.

scientific ringing Ibiza



scientific bird ringing Ibiza

Now that we know the figures a little better, looking at the 330 ringings in 2023, we can draw two conclusions. On the one hand, it can be stated that a small step has been taken in terms of continuing to make progress in reactivating scientific ringing in Eivissa, but on the other hand, it is clear that there is still a long way to go to keep up with the rest of the Balearic archipelago. It should be noted here that in order to be able to carry out this small amount of local ringing in 2023, the direct involvement of Oscar García (SOM) has been essential, who has been and is giving us tireless support in training matters related to scientific ringing, from the very first moment that Nova Falcons decided to undertake this training process at a local level.

Cattle egret ibizaCattle egret (Bubulcus ibis).

alcedo atthis ibizaKingfisher (Alcedo Atthis). 

Caprimilgus europaeus ibizaEuropean Nightjar (Caprimilgus europaeus).

Redstart ibizaRedstart (Phoenicuros phoenicuros).

Great Tit ibizaGreat Tit (Parus major).

Aquatic warbler ibizaAquatic warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus).


PVC ring marking/Remote reading

During the year 2023, we have launched two projects of marking with PVC remote reading rings. These projects are associated with the wildlife control that we do at Ibiza Airport, although it should be noted that they do not have the least funding (and it must be said, nor interest), by AENA, who in the best of cases, appropriates your work to wash their own image in the eyes of AESA and other agencies, and demand the implementation of this measure without having at all the technical, human or economic resources needed for its implementation, execution and monitoring.

In any case, there are two species with which we are currently working in this regard:

Eurasian curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus).

It is a bird that is halfway between a wader and a steppe bird and is listed as a protected species. Its local name is Sebel-lí. It is mainly nocturnal, gregarious and is undoubtedly one of the most emblematic and characteristic species of the birds of Ibiza and Formentera. This project is justified mainly for two reasons: the high number of incidents that this species produces at airports in the Mediterranean region, and at the same time, the great lack of knowledge that exists about its degree of dispersion (migratory flows), population density and degree of local movement. The complexity of working with this species lies both in its peak activity time (at night) and in its habits: it prefers fields and open spaces, which makes it difficult to trap. As we have said, this species is still little studied, but there are already records of GPS-tagged individuals, which show that despite being a species present all year round, it also has an important migratory component. In this sense, it is a pity that there is a complete lack of interest in carrying out GPS tagging of 5-10 individuals that would allow us to better understand both resident and migrant populations.

Eurasian curlew ibiza 

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus).

It is a small bird of prey, commonly known in Eivissa and other Catalan-speaking regions as Xoriguer (in fact, there is a famous alcoholic drink on the neighbouring island of Menorca to which it gives its name). Most of the birds we capture and mark are juveniles that enter the flying field attracted by the great power of attraction that the area represents as a potential hunting territory during the summer months. Kestrels, as is the case with all birds of prey due to their important role in ecosystems and their sensitivity to artificial alteration of their environment and populations, are catalogued as a protected species. To a lesser extent, their presence also increases during the prenuptial dispersal of young birds from the previous year that are seeking to establish their territory for breeding, i.e. at the end of winter or beginning of spring. Kestrels are a widely distributed species locally, within the immediate vicinity of the airport there are breeding pairs, and trying to prevent this would be almost impossible without crossing environmentally ethical lines, which would not be justified at all from an aviation safety point of view. Therefore, it is a matter of working with this species in the same way as with all other species: through scientific study and the implementation of measures that respect the environment and the target species.

kestrel ibizaCommon Kestrel (Falcon tinnunculus); photo Lara Abascal.

Marking individuals with rings that can be read at a distance, regardless of the species involved, allows us to carry out a more detailed census and monitoring of the existing populations, as we can "individualise" each specimen. This is useful, both to monitor local populations and to better understand the degree of dispersal of the species, survival rate, longevity... and all this without having to recapture the tagged individual; all that is needed is for an observer from outside the project to read the ring and report it through the Doñana Biological Station. Since we began to implement scientific ringing, specimens from our captures have been recovered in other parts of the island and in Formentera; but also in more distant areas such as the province of Alicante.

DNA sampling and scientific ringing of European Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur)

At the end of the summer, we collaborated on a voluntary basis with the collection of DNA samples of this species by the Grup de Biologia de la Conservació del Centre de Ciència i Tecnologia Forestal de Catalunya (CTFC) in different parts of the Balearic Islands, Iberian Peninsula and North Africa, in order to determine whether or not there is a subspecies in the Balearic Islands; in addition to the biometric and genetic differences that may exist (or not) with respect to the populations of the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa.

This work was the subject of a specific entry in the divulgation area, where you can obtain more information:

-https://www.novafalcons.com/en/blog/69-european-turtle-dove-streptopelia-turtur-or-tortora-in-ibiza

European Turtle Dove Ibiza

 

Preparation of and participation in bird censuses

During 2023, we carried out a voluntary census of the nesting population of the common house martin (Delichom urbicom), something that had not been done for years. We were not able to cover the whole of the Pitiusan archipelago, and no doubt some colonies will have been left out, but this was a first approach to an annual census that we hope will be gradually expanded and consolidated.

House martins are migrant birds that winter in sub-Saharan Africa, and we only see them in our latitudes during the breeding season. Every year, they rebuild their nests in the same colonies, which are located in buildings and artificial infrastructures built by humans, i.e.: ships, buildings, concrete supports, etc.

This close interaction with humans is likely to cause disturbances, although these are completely unjustified, as they do not generate significant amounts of noise, dirt or any other damage or prejudice, but they do result in the destruction of their nests. Fortunately, current legislation protects them from this aspect of human ignorance of the benefits of this species and their dependence as a species on their breeding grounds. For further information on this census, we refer you to the entry that was made at the time:

-https://www.novafalcons.com/en/blog/53-the-common-house-martin-delichon-urbicum-in-eivissa

 common house martin ibiza


Other censuses in which we are collaborating directly or indirectly, either by providing means or encouraging voluntary participation, are the Seguiment de Aucells Comuns de Eivissa (SACE), which are of vital importance to have a scientific knowledge of the local species and their evolution over time; and which until 2023, also had not been carried out for years. We also promote within our staff, when this is technically feasible, the participation in any other census that requires local voluntary participation, such as the census of wintering waterbirds that is carried out annually and simultaneously in the wetlands of the Balearic archipelago and other locations, comprising up to 2,000 points spread throughout Spain.

 Gavatxet roig eivissa
Gavatxet-roig, European robin (Erithacus rubecula).

 

Text: own elaboration.


Photographs:
unless otherwise specified, Borja Pérez; and unless otherwise stated, all photos have been taken in Eivissa or Formentera.


To find out more:

-https://www.novafalcons.com/en/blog/67-about-scientific-ringing
-https://www.novafalcons.com/en/blog/69-european-turtle-dove-streptopelia-turtur-or-tortora-in-ibizaa
-
https://www.novafalcons.com/en/blog/53-the-common-house-martin-delichon-urbicum-in-eivissa
-https://www.gobmallorca.com/ornitologia/
-
https://www.miteco.gob.es/es/biodiversidad/temas/inventarios-nacionales/inventario-especies-terrestres/ieet_aves_sist_seg_censos_acuat_invernantes.html
-
https://www.sioc.cat/socc



About Nova Falcons:

Nova Falcons is a company specializing in wildlife control and environmental services.

-Controls on birds, mammals y reptiles.

-Wildlife surveys, censuses and monitoring.

-Survey and control of invasive and protected species.

-Environmental impact studies and environmental consultancy.

-Pest and microorganism control.

-Consult other services without obligation.

nova falcons tagline




If you have any questions or doubts, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Contact

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+34 604 048 298

Wildlife control in Ibiza