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2.1.5 Birds

    The territories of the Danube Delta, including the Chilia area, represent, at an international level, important areas of massive reproduction and gathering for the waterfowl. 257 species of birds (62% of the bird species of Ukraine) can be found here, among which 124 species build their nests in the Danube Delta. The migratory birds are the most numerous - 196 species, 129 species remaining in the delta during winter. Besides them, there are 41 species that stay here only temporarily. 42 species are listed in the URB and ERL. The Chilia area of the Danube Delta is listed, since 1975, among the wetlands of international importance. This status was confirmed in 1996 by the Conventions on the wetlands of international importance, on the basis of the 1971 Ramsar Convention.
    Most of the Danube Natural Reserve birds are protected. 42 species (around 16 %) are listed in the UCR (1994) and the ERL (1991) among which one specie build is nests here, 31 stay only temporarily and 22 species spend winter here. Pelecanus crispus, Phalacrocorax pigrnaeus, Rufibrenta ruficollis and others are listed in the IUCN.
    The waterfowl represent most of the species in the delta, especially swans, geese and ducks, pelicans and cormorants, ibises and herons, seagulls, among which Pelecanus onocrotalus, Platalea leucorodia, Plegadis falcinellus, Ardeola ralloides, Aythya nyroca and others are listed in the URB.
    Some of these species, for example Phalacrocorax pigmaeus are not found anywhere else in the world and Pelecanus crispus - anywhere else in Europe.
    Out of the 4 main sectors of the Danube Natural Reserve, the area of the secondary delta of the Chilia arm is remarkable for the extreme diversity of birds. On the second and third places are the Stentsovko-Jebriansk swamps, the Jebriansk rocky structure and the Ermakov Island.
    In the area of the secondary delta of the Chilia arm (territory of the former natural reserve) the main colonies of cormorants, ibises and herons are located. The large territory of the Delta with its shallow waters is of great importance for bird life. Most of the migratory ducks gather here. In certain periods of the year the number of the big wild ducks is about 16,000-20,000 birds. Other species are less numerous. Almost every year about 500-5,000 swans spend their moulting period in the southern part of the delta.
    Presently, the anthropic influence on the birds on the territory of the Danube Natural Reserve is relatively insignificant. The anthropic factors can be ranked out in two main groups: the ones having a direct influence (fisheries, tourism, fires, pasturage) and the ones having an indirect influence (the anthropic modification of the river and delta regime, the influences on the processes of formation of the delta, the degradation of the water and air quality). Nonetheless these factors are not decisive for the living of the birds on this territory.
    The comparative significance of the territories to be crossed by the tract of the deep water navigable canal can be seen in the following chart:
Chart 2.2.1
    Comparative characteristics of the impact on birds of the coitstruction and exploitation works of the canal
Indicators
choice 1
Choice 2
Number of bird species within the area directly affected by the construction works
223
245
Number of species within LRE
5
5
Number of species registered in the Ukrainian Red Book(URB)
31
36
Number of nests within the directly affected area (couples)
up to 850
Up to 5,600
Number of nests of the URB species, within the directly affected area (exemplars)
Up to 15
Up to 10
Number , of exemplars within the directly affected area, during autumn migration
Up to 7,500
Up to 3200
Number of couples during autumn migration (URB species)
Up to 120
45
Number of exemplars during autumn migration within the directly affected area (URB species)
Up to 1,150
Up to 1,150 Up to 450
Number of exemplars within the directly affected area, during winter time
Up to 12,000
Up to 750
Number of exemplars within the directly affected area (LRE species)
Up to 460
Up to 25
Number of exemplars within the directly affected area (URB species)
Up to 510
Up to 270
The Danube Natural Reserve areas, to be crossed by the deep water navigable canal
Buffer area, anthropogenic configurations
Reserve, buffer area
The probability for the main ornithological structures to be disturbed
Big
Big
The probability for the character of main ornithological structures to be disturbed
Very Big
Very Big
Practical possibility to recover the envisaged damages
Small
Small

    The data of the chart reveal the fact that, as far as choice 1 is concerned, the direct impact territory has a special value, being the nesting place of migratory birds during autumn and winter; moreover, many of these species are protected. As far as the direct impact area on the Bystroe channel is concerned, this area is more valuable, taking into consideration criteria related to the number of nests, the diversity of species and the number of protected species.
    Basically, both areas can be considered equally valuable for the conservation of the ornitho-fauna within the Danube Natural Reserve.
    Following the works on the sand banks at the mouth of the Bystroe channel, the Pticiia land strip is expected to join the maritime edge of the delta and, as a consequence, many of the nesting and hibernating places of many of the species will be destroyed. Such consequences are expected for choice 1 , for the Baklanii island (Pereboinaina land strip). choice 1 provides for a significant area of territories valuable from the point of view of the preserving of birds to be used for the construction of the locks canal and of the installations necessary for its good functioning during the exploitation period. This is not provided by choice 2.
    Thus, the construction of the canal according to choice 1 has more negative consequences for the ornitho-fauna than those caused by choice 2.
Conclusions
    The territories where the canal is envisaged to be constructed according to choice 1 should be considered more valuable than those to be crossed by the canal according to choice 2, considering the following criteria: the diversity of the flora and of the herpetofauna. As far as other fauna groups are concerned, both areas are equally valuable.
    Should the canal be constructed according to choice 1, the flora and the majority of the above evaluated animal groups are expected to be more affected, while the aquatic fauna is to be equally affected by both choices.
    Consequently, as far as the impact on flora and fauna are concerned, choice 2 should be preferred.
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