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michalIMG_2873As is widely known, birds do not recognize state borders. This concerns also great snipes during their lekkings, as has been clearly evidenced in last year's telemetric studies. It has turned out that males move between lekking sites distanced by many kilometers from each other. In doing this, they do not stick to the Upper Narew River Valley only. PTOP and Natura International Polska Foundation representatives have undertaken to follow one of the studied males and visit Belarus – the county which can pride itself with second to Russia largest lowland population of great snipes, estimated at 4.6-6 thousands of males. Below, we present the report from PTOP President Tomasz Kułakowski on the visit to Belarus.

"End of February and beginning of March (28.02 – 2.03) we have paid a diplomatic visit to our friends from around the corner, namely in APD BirdLife Belarus. This organization, or, in fact, its branch in Grodno, was founded in late 90s thanks to our support, and – in spite of its slightly modified mode of operation, it still relies on well-established members and activists. The three of us, including Michał Korniluk and Jarek Stepaniuk, have taken up on the invitation sent to us by Dymitr Vinchesky and Yevgen Sliz. On Friday evening, in a modest team, we have helped in preparing conference materials, and on Saturday our talks were already included in the meeting programme. We have shown the achievements of the Life+ Project "Active protection of the great snipe Gallinago media in the Upper Narew River Valley Natura 2000 site": Michał's presentation has triggered a vivid discussion and a storm of questions. We were also keen to learn about the activity of APB and the conditions of conservation works in Belarus. The circumstances are tough, and the main focus of APB's actions were monitoring, outreach and presence in media. During the evening debate we have proposed an initiative aiming at facilitating contacts, visits and exchange of experience. Our plans are also to identify the opportunities of cooperation in relation to projects realized in both countries (e.g., concerning wetlands or the great snipe). The evening banquet with its numerous florid speeches and toasts , ended long after midnight, and on Sunday morning we were already setting off in the field! The aim was to discover a new lekking site, unknown to our Belarussian colleagues, but visited by our birds (results of GPS studies by Michał's team). With the support of Nikolay Cherkas, a laptop, and multiple study methods, we have discovered this magic site at the edge of the Wild Nikor. The wetlands which we have crossed by car on the way resembled our Biebrza, and the lekking site itself – PTOP's reserve Rabinówka! We will keep you updated about the outcome of our actions on the "eastern front".

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