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Number of migrating Lesser White-fronted Geese increasing at Estonian demonstration site


Lesser White-fronted Goose30 June 2008 – The WOW demonstration project team in the Silma Nature Reserve in north-west Estonia, implemented by the Estonian State Nature Conservation Centre (SNCC), is excited by this year’s bird monitoring data. In spring 2008 the WOW demonstration area was the main stopover site in Estonia for the globally endangered Lesser White-fronted Goose (LWfG), Anser erythropus. This past April and May, at least 22 different birds were observed at the demonstration site.

All birds were identified by video analysis of their individual belly patches. Two individuals equipped with satellite transmitters in the framework of the EU LWfG Life project were also observed at the site.

This is the first time since the early 1990s that the number of birds in the Silma Nature Reserve exceeded 20 individuals. Usually, no more than 1-4 individuals are observed during the spring migration, in 2007 a total of 8 birds were seen at Haapsalu Bay in Estonia.

The annual monitoring has been implemented in cooperation between SNCC, WWF Finland and LWfG EU Life project team. The counts are a vital component in establishing long-term population trends of various migratory waterbird species.

Currently the size of Fennoscandian LWfG population is estimated at a maximum of 20-30 breeding pairs. During the spring migration period about a third of the population is thought to be staging along the coastal meadows in western Estonia. The sightings in Estonia also contribute to the updating of the International LWfG Action Plan which is currently underway with the 22 principal range states to the species, under the auspices of AEWA.

The plan is a Single Species Action Plan (SSAP) being developed in the framework of the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), an international treaty dedicated to enhancing trans-boundary cooperation in the conservation of waterbirds across Africa and Eurasia.

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