The bee-eater, the hoopoe, or the harrier. Ornithological research confirms that the large hoofed animal reserve is extremely rich in rare birds

2021 - 08 - 31

Since the former Milovice Military Training Area, which is largely covered by a hoofed-animal reserve, is extremely rich in rare bird species. This has been confirmed by observations of ornithologists, who repeatedly monitored the area this spring.

“This is an utterly unique bird location. An exceptional refugium of bird diversity,” emphasised David Storch from the Centre for Theoretical Study at Charles University in Prague and the Czech Academy of Sciences. During two days of observation, he discovered birds such as the Eurasian wryneck, partridge, barred warbler, two species of stonechat, and the European bee-eater.

However, this list of rare birds identified during the ornithological observation is far from finished. Other species spotted include the great grey shrike, spotted woodpecker, honey buzzard, Eurasian hoopoe and two species of kite. “A red kite even attacked a black kite!” said David Storch describing his observation. Common cranes strolled right along the grazing land. Rare birds of prey found in the area include the Montagu’s harrier. “I observed a beautiful male for the first time in my life in such detail,” David Storch remarked.

As he says, the location excels in the number of rare birds concentrated in large numbers. “Although some of these species also occur elsewhere in the Czech Republic, their population density is incomparably lower. The partridge and Eurasian skylark used to be a common species on farmland, but their numbers have sharply declined due to industrial agriculture. In this reserve, however, they are really plentiful. Similarly, stonechats, buntings, barred warblers and wrynecks are not entirely rare, but they hardly ever occur in such large numbers like they do here. This is why the location is so unique,” David Storch points out.

“Populations of butterflies, bees, plants and other groups of organisms are similarly plentiful in Milovice, which is an irreplaceable sanctuary for all of them. They can exist there in large populations while elsewhere in the Czech Republic, they usually lead an unremarkable existence in small isolated islands of natural biotopes in otherwise uninhabitable landscapes. It is extremely important that a multitude of species, including rare ones, live in large numbers in Milovice. These rich communities with large populations of individual species allow for adaptation to changes in the habitat, whether natural changes or changes caused by humans. Nature simply needs something to choose from in hard times,” adds Miloslav Jirku from the Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

The former Milovice Military Training Area was declared a Special Area of Conservation a few years ago. “Rare species gradually disappear from certain protected territories in the Czech Republic because there are insufficient funds for suitable care. We are happy that much of the original diversity has been preserved in the former Milovice Military Training Area in part thanks to the grazing land of large hoofed animals that covers a significant portion of this location. Some butterfly species have also returned to the preserve even though they died out there several decades ago. But now the large hoofed animals have created a suitable habitat for them again”, says Dalibor Dostál, director of the European Wildlife conservation organization.

The large hoofed animal reserve was established in the former Milovice Military Training Area in 2015. It is inhabited by European bison, wild horses and back-bred aurochs. At present, it covers an area of about 340 hectares. The large hoofed animals help to suppress aggressive grass species and self-seeding shrubs, thereby creating space for flowers, butterflies and other groups of organisms. The project has been rewarded with several prestigious prizes, such as the 2020 SDG award (for sustainable development goals) in the Climatic Change category.

Photo: Pixabay / Konni Selonke

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