Paloukia lagoon, 04/02/1997 10:45, 25 Bewick’s Swans including a brood of 4 cygnets are resting on the ice. They are found during a survey aiming to search for Slender-biller-Curlews Numenius tenuirostris a much threatened wader species. Extraordinarily, one adult is marked with a blue neck collar inscribed with a 4 digits code. It allows to determine that it comes from the Pechora Delta, on the Siberian breeding grounds. It was marked on 15/08/1992 by a joined team of Russian and Dutch ornithologists.
George Handrinos and Filios Akriotis report in their opus “The Birds of Greece” (Ch. Helm, 1997) eight previous records of the Bewick’s Swan in the country. The first was in 1934 in Kavala, others were in the Evros Delta (3 records), Kerkini (3 records) and Kastoria Lake (1 record). The grand total of individuals is 21 with a maximum flock size of 6.
Since the winter 1996-1997 at least, the Bewick’s Swan is an annual winter visitor in the Evros Delta. The increase is regular, almost 500 ind. are counted during winter 2005-2006, 800 in 2008-2009. The numbers explodes during next winter with 2250 Bewick’s Swans counted simultaneously. During winters 2013-14 and 2014-2015, the flock is estimated at 4500 individuals. A spectacle not to forget! Moreover many thousands of Mute Swans originating from Ukraine and southern Russia and Whooper Swans of unknown origin are wintering in the Evros Delta at the same time. On 28/01/2015 it is not less that 10.800 swans of three species that are counted on the lagoons of the Evros Delta! Probably an European record.
The wintering of Bewick’s Swans in the Evros is closely surveyed and a Russian ornithologist working on the shores of the Arctic Ocean was also coming to the delta to track the swans up to the Mediterranean.
The Evros Delta is a unique place in the Mediterranean with a very diverse biodiversity. It is a National Park worth to paid a visit. A dedicated team of environmentalists, ornithologists and wardens monitor the site and assure its preservation. You are looking for a field trip for the next holidays? See here!