14 Nov 2017
Danara Zharbolova and Alyona Koshkina from our Kazakh partner ACBK tell us about their first attempts to catch and tag the elusive White-headed Duck with geolocators out on the lakes of the Central Kazakhstan.
The White-headed duck Oxyura leucocephala, with its long tail (often cocked vertically) and striking blue bill, is an unmistakable sight – if you are actually lucky enough to spot one out in the wild. European populations have markedly declined in the last 10 years due to habitat loss, making this famously elusive waterbird even more of a rarity. It is classified globally Endangered by the IUCN Red List. Due to its furtive behaviour and rarity, this species has not been studied extensively. In recent years, BirdLife and several of its partners have been working to change this. In 2015, the White-headed duck was selected as one of sixteen iconic European bird species for the EU-funded LIFE EuroSAPproject which aims to address population decline on a continental scale. SEO-BirdLife Spain, together with AEWA (The African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement), has been coordinating efforts to identify threats and conservation measures to feed into a revised International Species Action Plan.
At the same time, BirdLife’s Kazakh partner ACBK (Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan) has been working to learn more about the migration of the Central Asia population which nests mainly in Northern and Central Kazakhstan and the steppes of Southern Russia.