During July, we undertook habitat reconstruction activities via mowing, in a ground squirrel habitat near Otomani locality. The weedy and shrubby vegetation was mown in two separate parts of the grassland. Soon after, grazing began also in these patches, improving the condition of the habitat. We hope next year ground squirrels will also be able to occupy these parts of the pasture.
Establishing new hamster population was not among the initial plans of the RAPTORSPREYLIFE project due to the lack of basic and up-to-date knowledge regarding the actual status of the hamster in Hungary. The experts were neither unaware of that many settlements in East Hungary were colonized by the hamster after 2010.
As part of our monitoring of European Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus citellus), initiated in the previous years, in 2017 we surveyed 24 grasslands within nine target areas, by counting burrows along transects. In comparison to the past two years of the project, this year seemed to be convenient for the species, as on many of the surveyed habitats high burrow densities have been found.
Another, satellite-tracked Saker Falcon was electrocuted, this time in Slovakia. The case was revealed by the bird's transmitter. So far, six adult Saker Falcons have received GPS-based tracking devices in the frame of the conservation project "Securing prey sources for endangered Falco cherrug and Aquila heliaca populations in the Carpathian basin” (RAPTORSPREYLIFE) LIFE13 NAT/HU/000183, supported by the European Union.
It is among the aims of the project 'LIFE13 NAT/HU/000183 RAPTORSPREYLIFE' is to reveal more details about the predator-prey relation of two strictly protected bird of prey species – the saker falcon and the imperial eagle – and their prey species – most of all the suslik and the hamster - , as well as to prepare and implement efficient conservation measures targeting those species. GPS-based satellite-tracking serves with information to those aims. In the frame of satellite-tracking, six adult saker falcons were tagged in Hungary. In Romania, two juvenile sakers and one imperial eagle were tagged.
European status of the common hamster has been extensively studied and discussed recently, however, in Hungary there were no up-to-date information regarding the density and distribution of hamsters. In most part of Europe the common hamster is retreating while in Hungary the high density populations still exist but the situation is ambivalent: it is a protected species although locally it is able to cause significant damages. Where the hamster is common, especially in urban areas, people try to eradicate it as unfortunately it is allowed in East Hungary until 31st of May by an article of law.