News

Records of rare alien birds in Poland in 2010

2010-12-29

The Polish Avifaunistic Commission published a summary of decisions issued in 2010. Among the most frequently recorded rare alien birds in Poland in 2010 were Bar-headed goose Anser indicus (a total of 10 records of single individuals) i and Wood duck Aix sponsa (5 records of single individuals).

There were also 3 records of Black swan Cygnus atratus, of which one was of 5 birds (acceped in 2012), 2 records of single Sacred ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus (one of these records was accepted in 2012), and 1 record of 2 Lesser flamingos Phoenicopterus minor. The remaining decisions were issued for single records of single individuals of Snow goose Anser caerulescens, Cackling goose Branta hutchinsii, Ruddy duck Oxyura jamaicensis, emu Dromaius novaehollandiae and Southern caracara Caracara plancus. Also 2 out of 4 records of Ross's goose Anser rossii were considered as records of escapees. The origin of Green-winged teal Anas carolinensis, recorded twice, was considered to be uncertain. The species could have immigrated to Poland naturally, or escaped from captivity.

Of particular concern is confirmed breeding of Egyptian goose Alopochen aegyptiaca. In 2010 r. there were 2 pairs and 1 female with a total of 13 young. It is worth to notice that the number of records of non-breeding Egyptian geese has increased so significanntly over the past few years that the Commission decided to restrict collecting information only to breeding attempts. The same decision was taken for Canada goose Branta canadensis and Mandarin duck Aix galericulata. There is no doubt that in 2010 the numbers of records and individuals of each of these 3 species were much higher than for the rare species whose records are still reported to the Commisssion. Full information on rare birds recorded in Poland last year will be available after publication of the complete report.

Chytridiomycosis found in Poland

2010-12-28

Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is a chytrid fungus that causes chytridiomycosis in amphibians and is a proximate driver of declines in global amphibian biodiversity. It is believed that Bd may cause hyperkeratosis, thereby impeding respiration or water balance, or hosts might be poisoned by a fungal toxin. Bd infects an extraordinarily broad diversity of host species of both larval, juvenile, and adult stages. Bd infection was originally present in Xenopus spp. across sub-Saharan Africa by the 1930s, providing additional support for the ‘out of Africa’ hypothesis. Current evidence suggests that the world trade in amphibians, especially African clawed frog Xenopus laevis and American bullfrog Lithobates castesbeianus, has been a cause of a dynamic spread of the disease to new areas. In 2010 this invasive fungus was for the first time identified in Poland. A German-Swiss research team examined 161 samples, of which 29 greenfrogs Pelophylax sp. collected in 5 sampling sites in Poland were infested.

More information can be found in Sura P., Janulis E., Profus P. 2010. Chytridiomycosis – a mortal danger for amphibians. Chrońmy Przyr. Ojcz. 66 (6): 406–421.

November reports of the Polish Avifaunistic Commission

2010-11-25

Bar-headed goose Anser indicus is the only alien bird species in the November report of the Polish Avifaunistic Commission published on 4.11.2010. A single specimen was recored on 12-13.06.10 near the town of Braniewo (N Poland).

The report published on 25.11.2010 brings records of 3 other alien birds. The most alarming is another record of the Ruddy duck Oxyura jamaicensis. 1 male was seen between 23-28.08.2010 near Gliwice in S Poland. On 25.11.2010, near Szczecin (NW Poland) 1 Black swan Cygnus atratus was recorded. 1 Cackling goose Branta hutchinsii was recorded on 19.03.2010 near Krosno (SE Poland).

Threats posed by alien species of companion animals

2010-11-05

The live animal trade is developing rapidly throughout the world. More and more species are offered for sale and numbers of pets, aquarium, and terrarium species kept in households is enormous. As a consequence, there is a parallel increase in numbers of records of the species in the wild, after their escape or are deliberately freed by their owners. Some of these species are invasive aliens that may seriously threaten native biodiversity. The scale of trade makes pets, aquarium, and terrarium species most dangerous groups.

International and national frameworks addressing this problem are inadequate. The Secretariat of the Convention on Biodiversity developed a document providing examples of risk assessment and regulatory practices employed by some Parties, and presenting measures to prevent further invasions of species which pose a significant risk. This information may be relevant to importers/exporters operating in large markets, pet owners, and decision-makers considering appropriate control measures for invasive alien species.

October report of the Polish Avifaunistic Commission

2010-10-13

The Polish Avifaunistic Commission published their latest report on 12.10.2010.

This report (and the previous one from 20.07.2010) does not include alien species that recently have been regularly recorded in Poland, such as Wood duck Aix sponsa or Bar-headed goose Anser indicus. The report brings the first Polish record of Southern caracara Caracara plancus, documented by pictures. This predatory bird was observed on 22.08.2010 near Zamość in eastern Poland. The recorded individual had jesses around its legs, thus there is no doubt that it had escaped from a falconry.

The latest report confirms records of two Australian species, including Emu Dromaius novaehollandiae. The bird that escaped from a farm was seen on 17.07.2010 near Wrocław in south-western Poland. It was captured and put on the farm the following day. Although this is the first Polish record of this species verified by the Commision, escapes of farmed Emu and Ostriches Sturthio camelus are more and more frequent in Poland. The other Australian species is Black swan Cygnus atratus, recorded on 12.09.2010 near Opoczno in central Poland. This species is becoming popular in private aviaries.

May and June reports of the Polish Avifaunistic Commission

2010-07-06

On 25.05.2010 and 16.06.2010 the Polish Avifaunistic Commission published reports on records of rare birds in Poland, including a few alien species.

Among alien birds that are regularly recorded are Wood duck Aix sponsa (4 records) and Bar-headed goose Anser indicus (1 record). Particularly worth noticing is the record of Sacred ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus. This African bird is listed among 100 of the Worst alien species in Europe. Wild populations were established by birds that had escaped from zoos. The Sacred ibis is a severe predator, particularly in heron and tern colonies in France, where its population exceeded 5000 individuals and is still increasing despite efforts to control it.

Another alien species is Demoiselle crane Grus virgo. On 4-8.05.2009 2 birds were recorded (1 was filmed) near Olsztyn (NE Poland). This is the 4th documented record of the species in Poland, after almost a 100-year break (the 3rd record was in 1912). While the origin of the birds recorded in the past was not clear, the birds recorded in 2009 are undoubtedly escapees from a private collection.

Other interesting records include 2 species of unclear origin. Their presence in Poland was either a result of natural migration, or escape from a zoo or a private aviary. One of them is American Green-winged Teal Anas carolinensis recorded on 20.04.2010 near the city of Police (NW Poland). It was probably another record of the individual that on 22.03.2010 had been observed near Gryfica (c.a. 80 km away) – see the news from 22.04.2010 for details. The other species is north American Ross's Goose Anser rossii. Until 2010 there were no confirmed records of this species in Poland, while in March and April 2010 there were 4 records. The Commission classified the 2 records from western Poland as natural occurrence, while the origin of birds recored in eastern part of the country is uncertain.

Alien species in resolutions of the State Council for Nature Conservation

2010-06-10

On 7-9.06.2010 the Roztocze National Park hosted a plenary meeting of the State Council for Nature Conservation. Among most widely discussed topics were biological invasions. The Council adopted 3 resolutions related to alien species.

Resolution 1/VI/2010 dealt with the problem of alien turtles, sliders and terrapins, commonly kept as companion animals (this refers particularly to Red-eared terrapin Trachemys scripta). The Council stressed the urgent need to remove individuals released into natural environment. Another priority is developing a network of asylums where unwanted animals could be returned by their owners.

In resolution 2/VI/2010 the Council recommended restricting trade of subspecies of the Large earth bumblebee other than the native Bombus terrestis terrestris. This would reduce risks posed by alien subspecies imported for horticulture. The imported individuals carry alien parasites and hybridise with native bumblebees, thus “polluting” their gene pools.

In resolution 5/VI/2010 the Council supported prompt adoption of the decree on alien species that pose risks for native species and habitats. At the same time the Council recommended several amendments in this legal act, including changes in the list of alien species to be covered.

Project of a new regulation on alien species

2010-05-17

The project of a new regulation on invasive alien species that can threaten native species and habitats is available (in Polish) on the server of the Ministry of Environment. Import, keeping, breeding and selling of species included in this regulation will require obtaining a permission from the General Director for Environmental Protection.

Comments regarding this project can be sent to karolina.mazurska@gdos.gov.pl and magdalena.ciesielska@mos.gov.pl (closing date is 31.05.2010).

Alien birds in the latest report of the Polish Avifaunistic Commission

2010-04-22

New report of the Polish Avifaunistic Commission from 16.04.2010 confirms 3 records of Wood duck Aix sponsa and 1 record of Bar-headed goose Anser indicus. There is also the first confirmed record of North-American Green-winged teal Anas carolinensis in Poland. The origin of the male observed on 22.03.2010 in NW Poland is not certain. As this species is not very common in captivity throughout Europe, natural occurrence of this individual cannot be ruled out. Approximately 1 month later, on 20.04.2010, 1 male was seen again, about 80 km from the previous place (this record has not been confirmed by the Avifaunistic Commission yet).

"Code of conduct on horticulture and invasive alien plants" available in Polish

2010-04-01

The Polish version of the „Code of conduct on horticulture and invasive alien plants” is available on the portal of the General Directorate for Environmental Protection. The original Code was prepared in 2009 by Vernon Heywood and Sarah Brunel as a joint collaboration of the Council of Europe (CoE) and the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO).

The Code is addressed to Governments and the horticultural industry and trade – plant importers, commercial nurseries, municipal nurseries, garden centres, aquarists – and to those who play a role in deciding what species are grown in particular areas such as landscape architects, municipal Parks and Gardens Departments, Recreation and Leisure Departments.

Its aim is to enlist the cooperation of the horticultural trade and industry and associated professionals to adopt good practices in raising awareness on this topic among professionals, preventing the spread of alien invasive species already present in Europe, and preventing the introduction of possible new plant invaders into Europe. The Code is voluntary and its effective implementation will depend on its wide distribution among the stakehloders and on there being a high level of self-regulation by the horticultural industry.

The latest report of the Polish Avifaunistic Commission

2010-03-22

The latest report of the Polish Avifaunistic Commission was published on 18.03.2010. The report verifies records of rare birds in Poland, including alien species that escaped from captivity or were deliberately introduced by their owners.

The most alarming is a another record of breeding Egyptian geese Alopochen aegyptiaca: on 13.06.09, a female with 3 goslings and a pair with 6 goslings were seen on a polder near Racibórz, S Poland. This was the third year in a row when breeding of this species was recorded in Poland, which confirms that there is urgent need to include it into hunting species list.

Other records of alien birds verified by the Commission include Wood duck Aix sponsa and Ring-necked parakeet Psittacula krameri. A pair of the parakeets was observed over 2 weeks in December, which suggests that the species can survive winter in Poland (between 1992-1996 one bird was regularly seen in a city park in Łódź; Tomiałojć i Stawarczyk 2003).

Egyptian goose, Wood duck and Ring-necked parakeet became constant elements of the Avifaunistic Commission reports, which is a good illustration of the scale of their escapes or deliberate illegal introductions.

Alien species in the latest report of the Polish Avifaunistic Commission

2010-02-18

On 4.02.2010 the Polish Avifaunistic Commission verified a new batch of records of rare birds in Poland. Among rare alien birds, particularly interesting is the first Polish record of Reeves's Pheasant Syrmaticus reevesii. One male was recorded on 11.10.2009 near the town of Chodzież in W Poland (the picture of the observed bird was taken by Bogdan Rudzionek). Other records of alien birds verified by the Commission include Wood duck Aix sponsa, Bar-headed goose Anser indicus, Ruddy duck Oxyura jamaicensis (information on this record was reported on 26.10.2009) and a parakeet – probably Ring-necked parakeet Psittacula krameri.

Among birds of uncertain origin (most likely escapees), there is a new verified record of Ruddy shelduck Tadorna ferruginea. It is worth to notice than the Commission decided to exclude Ruddy shelduck from the list of species whose observations made after 1.01.2010 should be verified. This is a consequence of the increasing number of records of non-breeding Ruddy shelduck (records of breeding will still be verified). The same procedure was introduced over the last few years for records of Canada goose Branta canadensis, Egyptian goose Alopochen aegyptiacus and Mandarin duck Aix galericulata). Observations of non-breeding individuals of these three species became so frequent that there is no need to verify them any longer.

There is no doubt that one of the main factors behind the increase in the number of these birds are escapes from captivity. According to the Polish Nature Conservation Act, a person whose negligence results in an escape of an invasive alien species (Canada goose and Egyptian goose will be among species included in 2010 in the Decree defining the list of such species), can be fined or detained. Rendering captive-bred birds able to fly is an example of this kind of negligence.

New (alien?) snake in Poland

2010-02-10

The latest issue of Herpentology Notes includes an article reporting occurrence of a stable population of a Dice snake Natrix tesselata in the Czech and Polish Silesia. In 2009 around 80 individuals were recorded on the Czech side and 1 juvenile snake on the Polish side (about 9 km from the Czech population).

This area is approximately 150 km north-east from the nearest known locality of this species near Brno in the Czech Republic. The origin of the Silesian population is therefore unclear, as such a distance is considerably long for a snake to naturally expand. It is possible that the occurrence of Dice snake in this area is a consequence of intentional or unintentional introduction by man.

There is a similar uncertainty about the origin of some French populations of this species. In Switzerland introductions of Dice snake are documented. Snakes were translocated for short distances from the native range in Ticino region to areas north of the Alps, outside of their known natural range (Wittenberg 2005). As the alien species definition does not refer to administrative boundaries, Dice snakes are considered to be alien species in these parts of Switzerland despite the fact that the species is rare within its native range in the country.