The call for the BNIP pilot projects in 2017 was a success and resulted in eight small-scale inspiring projects. In almost 2 years’ time these projects achieved great things.
Read here what Natuurhulpcentrum vzw Opglabbeek has realised.
Wildlife in Belgium and Europe: routes unraveled thanks to GPS
Thanks to the pilot project of the Natuurhulpcentrum vzw Opglabbeek (Nature Aid Centre), we followed the migratory routes of Brunhilde the harrier and Bill the spoonbill.
The Nature Aid Centre is responsible for the rehabilitation of injured, weakened or needy animals. They ensure that these animals are given the best possible care and are released again if possible. The centre came up with the idea of following some of these animals during their migration routes by means of a GPS tracker. The aim of the pilot project was to track birds during their migratory journeys and thus highlight the importance of natural areas, such as Natura 2000 sites, and natural connectivity elements.
To gather information, the selected birds were equipped with a small GPS ‘backpack’. These transmitters are special lightweight GPS data loggers, designed to transmit location data for 2 to 3 years. After 3 years, the backpack detaches itself from the bird and the transmitter can be used again on another bird.
But which birds to equip with a GPS transmitter? The centre looked at birds that migrate to other areas or that migrate to the south every year to spend the winter and return in spring. This is how you collect the most interesting data.
During the pilot project, two birds provided fascinating data on their migrations.
After recovering from food poisoning, Brunhilde the harrier was released in August 2018 at the site in De Wijers in Zonhoven. Due to the tracker she gave us a good overview of the migration of a two– year old female marsh harrier. She flew via the so-called ‘Adriatic Flyway’ (via the Balkans) all the way to African Mali where she stayed during the winter of 2018-2019 in a swamp area. During the spring of 2019 she returned to the north and eventually reached Slovakia where she spawned in a swamp area. In September 2019 she returned to Africa via the same ‘Adriatic Flyway’. She hibernated in exactly the same region as last year. Click here to read the article about Brunhilde’s route.
(continue reading under the maps)
In June 2018 Bill the spoonbill was brought into the Nature Aid Centre in a weakened condition. After a recovery period he was released near an existing spoonbill colony in Northern Limburg. The spoonbill spent the entire winter period 2018-2019 in these spacious surroundings and visited several suitable biotopes in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. In the spring of 2019, the bird headed north and found a suitable place to spend the summer in the German town of Bremerhaven. This is where the Weser estuary is located, an area that is extremely suitable for spoonbills. Bill stayed there until the autumn and then left before the autumn migration. He followed the coastline of the Netherlands, Belgium and France as far as Bordeaux. There he stayed in the Bassin d’Arcachon, a Natura 2000 site with number FR7200679.