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AROUND SLOVAKIA

Anička the eagle left Slovakia, southbound for winter

THE MOST prominent Slovak eagle, Anička – a lesser spotted eagle female who has a transmitter attached to her body, enabling scientists to follow her and live broadcast her whereabouts – left her nest in the Liptov region of Slovakia on September 18 around noon and set off on a flight to her winter quarters in Africa.

THE MOST prominent Slovak eagle, Anička – a lesser spotted eagle female who has a transmitter attached to her body, enabling scientists to follow her and live broadcast her whereabouts – left her nest in the Liptov region of Slovakia on September 18 around noon and set off on a flight to her winter quarters in Africa.

She is probably accompanied by her young, since the eaglet is also away from the nest. As is Anička’s partner, a male named Arnold, head of the Tatra National park (TANAP) Pavol Majko told the TASR newswire. Anička is headed more to the east compared to her route last year (when environmentalists and TANAP administrators started following the eagle on its way from Slovakia to Africa and back), and after crossing the region of Šariš in Slovakia, she continued through Hungary to Romania.

“We already see that she has a completely different route than last year,” Majko said, adding that environmentalists are curious about her migration route and also whether she will spend the winter in the same place in Africa as last year. “We also wanted to catch Arnold, but he was careful; he saw the net and managed to flee,” Majko added, explaining why Anička’s mate does not have a GPS solar transmitter on his body. He estimates that such a transmitter should function for three to four years and should provide useful information about the life of eagles, which are protected birds of prey. The head of TANAP expressed wishes of the best luck for Anička, who is sure to fly over war zones and dangerous sites on the way south. “We believe, though, that everything goes well and she will return back to Slovakia,” Majko said, adding that the flight to Africa should last for about a month.

Last year, the environmentalists attached the transmitter to the body of an eagle they deemed male due to his smaller size, and gave him the name Arnold. However, during the mating season in 2014 it turned out that the bird was a female, and so they renamed it Anička, which is a diminutive from common female name Anna. Her partner has been then called Arnold.

“Anička is estimated to leave Europe around the Dardanelles narrow strait, as this strait is used by many migratory birds,” Majko explained for the SITA newswire. Anička’s path to Africa can be followed at www.spravatanap.sk. “We hope the transmitter will survive, as it is by no means cheap,” the TANAP head said, adding that the whole project is financed from resources outside the state budget.

“If she were lucky enough, she would have been able to find ascending thermal streams which would have helped her cross the Slovak lowland,” Majko said. Then she passed Čop, the westernmost Ukrainian town close to the Slovak border, and continued to Hungary, and then to Romania if weather conditions allow it. She can also fly along the base of a mountain to catch laminar slope streams to simplify long-distance moves for her. “We wish her many good air streams heading for the south which can help her save precious energy,” Majko said. “We can follow her whereabouts jointly on the internet, and let us hope that we will continue to have good connection, and we wish her a good flight.”

By the end of September, a conference was held in Košická Belá focused on the issue of the declining population of lesser spotted eagles, and especially on the changing trends of its protection around Europe.

This species is the “busiest traveller” among eagles, as it migrates about 20,000 kilometres a year. This is, together with the changing environment, one of the reasons why it is an endangered species and on the decline in Europe. Slovakia alone noticed a 20 percent decline in the population in the last 15 years.

Many European countries, especially Belarus, Romania, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia and Germany, have focused on the key populations of lesser spotted eagle in order to identify the threats to their populations and their disappearance due to environmental factors, helped by countries like Hungary, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Russia and Ukraine.

The biggest threat to this eagle species is reckless deforestation brought on by indifference to environmental sustainability, and it has to be addressed in a wider European context. The European Commission has supported projects to protect the lesser spotted eagle – especially by marking the high voltage wiring which used to kill them – but the EU action plan has not been updated since its approval in 1997. The process of updating and pinpointing the crucial current issues was initiated at a conference in Hungary last year and has culminated in the Slovak conference between September 25 and 27, TASR wrote.

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