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Discovering and protecting biodiversity by collaborating in the census of nocturnal raptors

This census was an open activity to all those interested in nature.

This census was an open activity to all those interested in nature.

16/04/2019

Fotonotícies

Students, naturalists, engineers, economists, bankers, computer scientists, agriculturists, architects and even children with their families are some of the volunteers that took part in the nocturnal raptor census of the Parc Natural de Sant Llorença d’Amunt i l’Obac. From December 2018 until February 2019, this initiative has gathered around sixty people –aged between seven and sixty-two- with different profiles but with something in common: the interest in knowing about biodiversity, environment and birds of prey, and to contribute to improve the preservation of natural spaces.

 

Regardless of where they come from, be it areas near the natural park or other places –the Basque Country, Castile, Madrid, Galicia, Valencia and even France- volunteers were the true stars of this activity, always prepared with the proper clothes and a sound guide to identify male birds’ singing during their mating season.

The creation of the census of these nocturnal raptors –a citizen science initiative with a great social response- was carried out over six sessions, in two areas of the park, at the east side and in the Obac range. With the help of a guide, and under the guidance of the expert teams, volunteers participated in the sound identification of raptor species that grow in cliffs and forests. Therefore, they could count up to forty-six male twany owls (Strix aluco) –twenty-five in the east side of the park and twenty-one in the Obac range.

During these days, the volunteers discovered the methodology –and the restrictions due a lack of certainty or receptivity from the guards- conducted in the working field to identify the sounds of nocturnal birds. As a result, data revealed there are twelve areas occupied by this species in Serra de l’Obac, and sixteen in the east side. The different topography of each area of the Park brought another finding: the thirty minutes that separate the sunset from each side involve a similar shift in the nocturnal activity between the owls from each valley.

During the census, they could also listen to a male Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo), Eurasian woodcock (Scolopax rusticola), blackbirds (Turdus merula), Eurasian jays (Garrulus glandarius), wood pigeons (Columba palumbus), European roe deers (Capreolus capreolus), and red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), and saw ravens (Corvus corax) and peregrine falcons (Faclo peregrinus), among other species. Participants could see how the natural environment is affected by noise pollution, the great amount of people visiting the area and the impact of hunting on birds of prey.

The initiative of the nocturnal raptors census is promoted by the Biodiversity Monitoring Center of Mediterranean Mountains (CMBMM), an entity created in 2016 by the UB and the Barcelona Provincial Council, led by the lecturer Joan Real, from the Faculty of Biology and the Biodiversity Research Institute of the UB (IRBio).

Located in the masia de la Mata –the office of the natural park in Sant Llorenç del Munt i l’Obac- the Biodiversity Monitoring Center of the Mediterranean Mountains is a pioneer initiative in the Catalan territory and in Spain regarding the study of biodiversity preservation and management.

The Conservation Biology Team –led by the lecturer Joan Real, member of the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences, began their first raptor census in this natural park more than thirty years ago, a determining task to identify one of the densest populations of tawny owls in Catalonia.


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