ESTLAT Eagles Cross Borders project is over

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Eagles Cross Borders cooperation between Latvian Fund for Nature and Estonian Ornithological Society was officially finished by the end of September. The aim of the project supported by ESTLAT program and Environmental Investment Centre was education of public in terms of bird protection, in particular there were more actions addressed to two target species – White-tailed Eagle and Osprey. During more than two years the conservation measures and awareness were the main topics for the project. The results of the project were presented on the final event (seminar)  that took place on 25th of September in Valga. The presentations (10) are available here and the photos of event here.

Nest web cameras, migration map, and photo exposition were the key actions for getting public familiar with Osprey and White-tailed Eagle. Probably the greatest interest in both countries was noticed in web cameras near the nests of those species. For example, during the season for both, Osprey webcam in Tartumaa and White-tailed Eagle webcam in Läänemaa there were about 800 000 visits counted from all around the globe. But Osprey nest in Võrumaa picked up about 5 million  visits during one and a half seasons (we started to count visitors only in mid July 2012).With webcams, there were established extraordinary possibilities to watch the nest life of strongly protected species not disturbing the birds at all. Plus in both countries the GPS transmitters were used for following eight eagles all together. Those increased our knowledge about the behavior of eagles in breeding time and during migration or wintering, as well as movements of juvenile and immature eagles during their first independent weeks and years. Outside of breeding time, the movements of those birds are available for public through bird migration map (birdmap.5dvision.ee/en). There, for example it can be seen that male Osprey Ilmar, breeding in Estonia, winters 8000 km away in nearly desert situated in SW Angola and male White-tailed Eagle Meelis avoided hot weather in Estonia flying to the Kola peninsula at Arctic Ocean for summer. During two years, the eagles’ photo expositions travelled in 25 different places over the project area – in schools, theaters, shopping centers, cultural centers, etc. In the exposition venues, there was possible to vote for a favourite photo and win the photo. So, finally 32 photos were raffled among more than 3500 voters. The most popular photo was the life size image of White-tailed Eagle, photographed by Remo Savisaar and the winner of the picture was Liisa, a girl from Tallinn who visited exhibition in Hiiumaa with her grandmother.

The second aim of the project was raising awareness about the needs and ecology of eagles’ among target groups. Seminars for forestry related stakeholders, hunters, and fish farm personnel, as well as for environmental officers were performed. Furthermore, learning days for schools were organized. For forest related people, the Field Guide to big nests in forests was published and disseminated. So that people could recognize the nest owners better and take care accordingly.

In frames of the project, the monitoring of both target species in both years was also performed, prepared the White-tailed Eagle Conservation Action Plans for both countries. Additionally, on site artificial nests for Ospreys were installed in unsecure places and many new eagles nests were searched and found. Several staff meetings were organized to elaborate joint methodology for monitoring and other conservation means and new skills about works with eagles and their conservation were shared.

Though the project is over, the activities will go one to benefit eagles in both countries.