Seasonal dynamics of the hydrophilic bird community of Kruglaya Bay (Sevastopol, the Black Sea)

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V. E. Giragosov

M. M. Beskaravainy


The relevance of the study of hydrophilic birds in the urban areas of the Black Sea coast is due to their important role in the coastal biocoenosis structure and the need to preserve biodiversity in the conditions of anthropogenic transformation of Crimean coastal zone. The dynamics of species composition and abundance of birds in Kruglaya (Omega) Bay (Sevastopol) were investigated. The results of regular and episodic monitoring carried out in 1995 and 2005–2016 were used in this work. Quantitative accounting was carried out only in January and February (1–2 times per winter season) in 2005–2008, episodically in 2009–2013 and weekly in December — May 2014/2015 and September — May 2015/2016. Number of specimens per species was registered, and the ratio of young and adult specimens in mute swan (Cygnus olor), sex ratio in mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), common pochard (Aythya ferina) and tufted duck (Aythya fuligula) were determined. Russian and Latin names of birds are represented by L. S. Stepanian. Kruglaya Bay is one of Sevastopol bays which form the northern coastline of the Heraclea Peninsula, and it is a place of seasonal concentrations of hydrophilic birds. The basic morphometric characteristics of the bay are the following: the water area — 0.64 km2, length — 1.3 km, maximum width — 0.8 km, the average depth — 4.5 m. The water area of the bay did not freeze usually, only its inner part was covered with ice in extremely cold winters. Benthic macrophyte species are represented by two associations: Cystoseira crinita and C. barbata on stones and rocks, and Zostera noltii and Z. marina on sandy and silty areas. Two local areas of common reed (Phragmites australis) beds are located in the inner part of the bay. The zoobenthos is a significant part of the food supply of birds and includes 97 species, mainly polychaetes, molluscs and crustaceans. The ichthyofauna is represented by 42 fish species. 51 species of aquatic and semi-aquatic birds across 8 Orders were identified. The winter bird community was most diverse and numerous (32 species: 14 Anseriformes, 7 Charadriiformes, 5 Podicipediformes, 3 Gruiformes, 2 Pelecaniformes, 1 Gaviiformes). Eight species dominate regularly in winters and quantitatively — mute swan, mallard, common pochard, tufted duck, eurasian coot (Fulica atra), black-headed gull (Larus ridibundus), caspian gull (Larus cachinnans) and common gull (Larus canus). Rare species wintering in the Mountain Crimea, including horned grebe (Podiceps auritus), Bewick’s swan (Cygnus bewickii), red-breasted goose (Rufibrenta ruficollis), white-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala), knot (Calidris canutus), is of great interest. The average ratio of young and adult mute swans in the main wintering period (December — February) was 61 : 39 % in 2014/2015 and 45 : 55 % in 2015/2016, respectively. The ratio of males and females were as follows: in mallard 49.5 : 50.5 % in 2014/2015, and 51.4 : 48.6 % in 2015/2016; in common pochard 54.8 : 45.2 % in 2014/2015, and 60.5 : 39.5 % in 2015/2016; in tufted duck 51.0 : 49.0 % in 2014/2015, and 51.4 : 48.6 % in 2015/2016, respectively. Formation of the winter bird community began in October, sometimes at the end of September when single specimens of mallard, coot, tufted duck, red-breasted merganser (Mergus serrator), black-necked grebe (Podiceps nigricollis) appeared. Common gull, great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus) and the common pochard come flying in November; the mute swan appears at the beginning of December. Maximum and relatively stable number of most species was typical for January and the first half of February. Maximum number of specimens of all bird species was registered in January 13, 2015 (1288), and February 7, 2016 (1531 specimens). The feeding conditions of Kruglaya Bay allow overwintering of the birds with different feeding specializations. The benthophages (most of Anseriformes and Coot) rank first in species richness (at least 13 species) and in quantitative terms. Five species (black-throated diver (Gavia arctica), great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo), common sheg (Phalacrocorax aristotelis), red-breasted merganser, Sandwich tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)) form the group of ichthyophages. The Grebes occupy an intermediate position between benthophages and ichthyophages: small fish and benthic invertebrates are present in their diet. Four species of gull (black-headed, Caspian, common, Mediterranean gull (Larus melanocephalus)) constitute a group of omnivores. The rare visitors in Kruglaya Bay are zoophagous and omnivorous birds foraging in the surf zone and at shallow depths, such as water rail (Rallus aquaticus), common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), dunlin (Calidris alpina), knot (Calidris canutus), and herbivores which prefer to feed in terrestrial habitats — red-breasted goose (Rufibrenta ruficollis). The nutritional requirements of birds are compensated to a certain extent by additional feeding carried out by townspeople. In general 30 passing and nomadic species, mainly Charadriiformes (11), Anseriformes (7) and Ciconiiformes (5), were registered. A nesting bird community was absent, and only the nesting of little bittern (Ixobrychus minutus) was registered in 2016 for the first time in city zone. The spring migration took place from late February to May, the autumn migration — from August until the first decade of November. Kruglaya Bay is a valuable natural and ecological educational place and deserves status as a natural park.

Article Details

Giragosov V. E., Beskaravainy M. M. Seasonal dynamics of the hydrophilic bird community of Kruglaya Bay (Sevastopol, the Black Sea). Marine Biological Journal, 2016, vol. 1, no. 4, pp. 12-21. doi: 10.21072/mbj.2016.01.4.02
Kruglaya Bay, Crimea, Black Sea, hydrophilic birds, bird community, migrations, nomadings Marine Biological
Scientific communications


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