In August and September 2019, the Albanian Ornithological Society (AOS) conducted some 41 km of transect surveys for mapping of dangerous pylons and detecting mortality due to electrocution and collisions with power grid in the stronghold of the Egyptian Vulture in Drino valley, part of the Globally Important Bird Area of Gjirokastra, in the southern part of Albania.
The survey gave evidence of several dangerous power lines in the lower part of the Drino valley and particularly in the power line connecting the main grid with Glina. Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix) and Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni) were found as victims of hazardous power lines. It is worth to mention here that these results are just “the top of the iceberg” as many of the victims are removed by terrestrial predators (as in the current cases – only feathers were found). Identified mortality, although not massive, is quite concerning especially regarding the globally threatened Lesser Kestrel, as the area is known as an important pre-migration congregation site for the species (hundreds to thousands of individuals gather all along the Drino Valley in autumn).
Figure 1. Feathers of Hooded Crow (Corvus corone) under the electric pylon
It is obvious that some of the power lines, especially those located in the floodplain, are dangerous for many birds of prey due to their hazardous design. There are no visual barriers (vegetation) along those power lines to make birds aware of the risk of collision and these areas are used by many birds of prey as perching places or feeding sites as well as corridors for their migration. The most common birds of prey seen perching in the transect of Glina-Drino valley are the Short-toed Snake Eagle (Circaeetus gallicus), Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus), Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo), Lesser Kestrel and Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) while other large raptors such as Egyptian Vulture, Golden Eagle and Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata) cross through the area.
The collection of evidence about bird mortality due to hazardous energy infrastructure in the area will continue in 2020. Meanwhile, considering the above, AOS has recommended the insulation of dangerous electric poles and the installment of bird diverters in the power grid Glina-Drino valley for avoiding respectively electrocution and collision.
In addition, AOS has also recommended the installment of bird diverters in the short power line segment, very close to the nest of the Egyptian Vulture, in order to avoid any potential danger for a collision of the Egyptian Vultures using this nest and the territory.
The full technical report can be found – here.
We remain hopeful that the implementation of the above recommendations will be beneficial to the recovery of the Egyptian Vulture and other birds of prey using Drino valley and the Globally Important Bird Area of Gjirokastra.
This survey was implemented in the frame of the Egyptian Vulture New LIFE project.