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Enthusiasts flock to bird festival

SUFFERING from post-summer depression? In need of relaxation? Then why not try birdwatching?
Certainly Martin Sárossy, from the Association for the Protection of Birds in Slovakia (SOVS), believes people can derive a good deal of pleasure from watching our feathered friends.
Moreover, almost 18,000 professional and casual ornithologists, from 30 countries worldwide, would readily agree with him. During the first weekend in October, when European Birdwatch took place, they spotted about 3,342,000 birds.


photo: Peter Lipták

SUFFERING from post-summer depression? In need of relaxation? Then why not try birdwatching?

Certainly Martin Sárossy, from the Association for the Protection of Birds in Slovakia (SOVS), believes people can derive a good deal of pleasure from watching our feathered friends.

Moreover, almost 18,000 professional and casual ornithologists, from 30 countries worldwide, would readily agree with him. During the first weekend in October, when European Birdwatch took place, they spotted about 3,342,000 birds.

European Birdwatch, the most popular birdwatching event in Europe, runs within the month-long World Bird Festival, organised by BirdLife International, the association dedicated to the protection of birds.

The beginning of October is of special importance to ornithologists because it marks the culmination of avian migration patterns and provides an ideal opportunity to spot even rare species of birds. SOVS organises the event in Slovakia.

"We were interested to see how many people would take up birdwatching in Slovakia," said SOVS Director Rastislav Rybanič. Because it can be a casual activity, done during a stroll through the park, or in the privacy of one's garden, participants were encouraged to report their sightings to the SOVS. As much information as possible, as to the number of birds spotted and at which location, should be recorded, and if possible an accurate description of the bird should be provided.

Altogether the association received data from 400 people throughout Slovakia, who sighted a total of more than 25,000 birds. Ducks were the most frequently observed birds, in particular species close to the Danube.

In western Slovakia birdwatchers sighted six rare spotted redshanks on the ponds of Trnava. And a huge flock of chaffinch was sighted above Urpín hill close to the central Slovak town of Banská Bystrica. In nearby Zvolen one observer even spotted an exotic cockatiel enjoying a flight above the town's dam after escaping from its owner's cage. In eastern Slovakia, close to the village of Senné, noted as an important European stopover for migrating birds, observers saw more than 3,000 birds, including a white-tailed eagle, the biggest avian predator in Slovakia, whose wingspan measures up to a massive 2.4 metres.

"We would certainly like to organise events such as European Birdwatch 2004 more often. Birds after all connect people with nature," said Rybanič.


By Jana Liptáková

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