Another counting of the Red-footed Falcons!

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The autumn gathering of the Red-footed Falcons is a common phenomenon. In the western part of Romania, in the regions Crișana and Banat, Milvus Group has been following the evolution of the numbers of the traditional gathering sites for more than 15 years.

This season, too, Red-footed Falcons were counted every Wednesday evening from mid-August to the first week of October. This autumn four of the usual sites were used in large numbers by this species. As we have over ten years of data for each site, it is not difficult to see how this year’s results are, compared to the average.

Overall, the numbers in western Romania were below the usual, with two, usually very strong, sites only approaching the multi-year average at the end of the survey period. However, the good news is that the gathering in Variaș (Timis County) has been revived after having seemed to disappear last year and the year before, and the only gathering in Bihor County also produced great numbers, with more than 200 individuals counted at any one time for the first time in 15 years.

Blue line: the avarage of Red-footed falcons in the last 14 years; Yellow line: this year’s data

As for the total Pannonian population surveyed, the results are average, so there was no decrease in the number of migrating Red-footed Falcons in the wider area, but this year they visited the Hungarian gathering sites in higher numbers than usual compared to the areas of Crișana and Banat. At this time of the year, these birds are not bound to specific places, as in the breeding period, and presumably prefer areas with better food sources. The main purpose of the autumn gathering of the Red-footed Falcon is not to enable birdwatchers and nature lovers to admire this special autumn event, but to ensure that the birds are physically prepared for the demanding flight to the wintering sites and that as many of them as possible return to these breeding colonies next spring.

In the meantime, we work at maintaining the artificial nests for the Red-footed Falcons and will be able to see them again in May. Thank you to our enthusiastic volunteers for all their devoted work, without them we would have had a hard time!

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