SEEN - SE European Bird Migration Network
Preliminary results of ringing activities at Azraq Wetland Reserve, Eastern Jordan

Khaldoun Alomari

Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, Amman, Jordan

Bird ringing at Azraq Wetland Reserve was carried out covering six migration seasons in the past three years. Being the first comprehensive bird ringing effort in Azraq, a lot of data were collected and many special species were recorded.
Azraq has proved to be a suitable site for the study of bird migration, especially during the spring season. The data from the first six seasons show that certain species previously thought to be rare in Jordan are probably regular migrants at Azraq. These include Menetrie’s Warbler, Pallid Warbler and River Warbler. A number of species appear to depend on the habitats of Azraq wetland as a stopover site where they can rest and refuel. This site is particularly important for Reed Warblers, which are caught in large numbers and which have been found to utilize the habitat for feeding and refuelling. Such results give indications on how to manage the habitats in future to enhance their potential for migrants.
The numbers of individuals caught of two Sylvia warblers, the Blackcap and Lesser Whitethroat were relatively high in all seasons. However, Sylvia species usually dominate at other sites in Jordan, representing different habitats. Khoury (2003) reported that Blackcap dominated the birds stopping over at a farm near Hashemite University, Zarqa, in spring and autumn, while Acrocephalus species were uncommon or rare. This shows the importance of Azraq particularly for Acrocephalus species, which depend on reeds and dense vegetation found in Jordan only near water. Such wetlands are, however, very limited in the Middle East, and Azraq seems to be a very important site, enabling Reed Warblers to stop over and refuel and thus survive and continue their journey north to their breeding grounds. Initial analysis of the physical state of Reed Warblers stopping over for longer periods (as indicated by recaptures, data not shown) in spring also suggest that most individuals stopping over for more than two days increased their body weight and replenished their fat stores (as indicated by an increase in the subcutaneous fat). Further initial analysis on habitat use indicated that Reed Warblers preferred dense reeds as habitat for stopping, resting and feeding.

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