Record number of gyrfalcons spotted in Yamal
Researchers from the Arctic Research Station of the Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology at the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences logged a record number of gyrfalcons – 12 nests at once – during an expedition to Labytnangi. In nine of them, the parents continue to incubate their eggs, and in the rest, the first chicks have already hatched.
The researchers observed the gyrfalcons nesting on the world's northernmost railroad, the Obskaya-Karskaya, where these endangered birds build their nests on bridge crossings of the railroad.
The scientists installed motion-sensor cameras at each nest to track the breeding success of birds. In total, they counted 30 adults on the railroad, which is a record for all the years of observation.
“The growing population of the gyrfalcon, an apex predator of the Arctic, speaks to the favorable state of the Yamal ecosystems. Above all, this growth has been facilitated by the high number of partridges in recent years, which is the main prey of the gyrfalcon. In July, we plan to return to the railroad in order to remove the motion-sensor cameras and take samples for genetic analysis,” said Alexander Sokolov, a senior researcher at the Arctic Research Station of the Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology at the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The scientist emphasizes that the Obskaya-Karskaya railroad has created unique conditions for the gyrfalcon to move to the north of its natural range. The growing population of gyrfalcons and the successful breeding of offspring are evidence of the competent and careful operation of the railway.