Kotkaklubi (Eagle Club) is a group of 31 Estonians ornithologists, biologists and scientific researchers both professional and amateur, whose mission is to work toward ensuring that eagles and black storks will continue to enrich and beautify the Estonian landscape in the future. All of the Club's activities are based on that goal.
Some of the work done by Eagle Club members is funded by specific projects example (ESTLAT, LIFE, state monitoring scheme, etc) and much is voluntary.
Members dreamed for several years of seeing the nest life of the birds they work to protect and the web cameras fulfill that dream. The knowledge gathered through the cameras allows them to better protect the nests and habitat where the birds live.
Web cameras are only a small part of the Club's work, but have already produced a variety of positive results including not only the collection of scientific data but also the education of the public on the nature and lives of these species. Another benefit is that the general population becomes more "nature friendly". Handicapped people have the opportunity to experience the natural world which might otherwise be denied to them.
Some of the projects carried out every year by Kotkaklubi include:
-finding nesting sites of Osprey, White-tailed Eagle (further WTE), Lesser Spotted Eagle (LSE), Greater Spotted Eagle (GSE) and Black Storks ( BS), monitoring them for breeding success, and ensuring their protection
-monitoring eagle and black stork populations
-ringing young birds in these nests
-using transmitters to monitor and plot the migration routes of osprey, LSE, GSE, WTE,
-feeding during harsh winter conditions, when birds of prey are unable to find their own food, thus supporting birds through to the next breeding season
-responding to reports of injured wildlife and arranging veterinary help if needed.
-participating in international meetings to present information on Estonian bird studies and sharing of experience
One of the financial puzzles is that there is an award scheme for anyone (except Eagle Club members) who finds and notifies the Club about the discovery of a new nest. The funding for the awards is from Eagle Club funds, which would otherwise provide salary for paid workers (Club members mainly). In the recent six years such funding of awards has amounted to €10000. The awards have been to forest workers, forest owners, forest inspectors, hikers, hunters, etc. This award scheme has provided information on 100 new nests of eagles and black storks.
If the newly discovered and reported nest is determined by Eagle Club members to be an eagle or black stork nest and if it is not previously known, then its location, nesting species, nest success, problems found, etc. are reported to the State Environmental Board. Officials there make an application to add the nest to the State Environmental Register. Usually this process will take several days, but not a long time.
Once the nest is in the Register, there automatically appears a protection zone around the nest (according to the Nature Conservation Law). The radius of that zone depends on the species (nest owner): from 100m (LSE) up to 500 m (Golden Eagle). Zones for other species are in between. That automatic protection zone is usually (but not always) temporary. If it is reasonable, there will be established a species protection site (like micro reserve), which has natural borders and usually is bigger than that automatic zone. In Estonia we do not mark the nest sites of protected species in any way, because that invites some people to enter there looking for something interesting... and of course, no fences - eagles live in the environment and that is not fenced.
The amount paid for new nest information is
Osprey, LSE,WTE, Golden Eagle: 65 €
BS, GSE, Short-toed Eagle: 300€
These sums are paid out of the Eagle Club Foundation Fund account, which is getting very low. Eagle Club members have given some of these awarded amounts from the sums they expected as salary, but long-term voluntary work without any pay is not sustainable, and other sources of funding must be found in order to continue grants for finding new nests and to protect the nests already known.
If you would like to support the Eagle Club, the bank account details are:
Swedbank AS, 8 Liivalaia Street,15040 Tallinn, Estonia
If you like to donate some for specific action, please mention it when you make your donation.
Edited to update numbers on 26. June 2016
The Work of Looduskalender, Kotkaklubi and Wildlife Veterinary Care
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