Autumn Great Bustard Census in Saratov

Posted on Monday, September 24th, 2012

Apologies for the lack of news of the Autumn Great Bustard Census in Saratov.

I have been sending messages by Twitter but technology and I have our usual interface problem. I flew out to Moscow on Monday night and arrived at 4am on Tuesday.
I Moscow I met with the Russian Woodcock Group – another interest of mine, and then with the staff a Moscow Zoo about our forthcoming conference on breeding Great Bustards in captivity. In the afternoon I caught the overnight train to Saratov. I then had a very interesting meeting with the Director of the Board of Hunting for Saratov Oblast. He has received some funding to help the Great Bustard work and we also spoke about special anti poaching operations as although the Great Bustard is fully protected they are still hunted illegally.

Before leaving I was presented with a huge pair of Moose antlers and after receiving such a gift I could not refuse a vodka toast to the Queen. There then followed half a dozen other toasts, never minding it was 10 am.

I then met Mikhail Oparin in the Severtsov Institute Office and we headed out to the Field Station arriving in the late afternoon.
Since then the weather has been good for the census so we are up at 5 and out to the fields.

All my allocated squares have provided Great Bustards and the census has given a few other good sights as well: wolves, big flocks of several hundred Little Bustards and many raptors. The ploughed fields are full of Common, Steppe, Long Legged and Rough Legged Buzzards, presumably feeding on the rodents killed by the ploughing. Yesterday I saw 15 species of raptors and had great views of a Golden Eagle today.

The weather is turning against us now, and rain will stop our work as the tracks become impassable. I hope it manages to stay dry, even though one day of rest does have an appeal at the moment!

David Waters

Posted by David Waters

David Waters is the founder and director of the Great Bustard Group.

2 Responses to “Autumn Great Bustard Census in Saratov”

  1. Hello David,

    Its great to hear some news on your project, and specially knowing that this years birds are joining the older ones in the field. Lets hope this way they can safely adapt to the life in the wild.

    In Castro Verde we counted 1300 birds last Spring, and so we believe we have now a stable population.

    Good luck on your fieldwork in Russia, i’ll check soon for more news on the results of your census.

    Best wishes

    Beatriz Estanque
    LPN – League for the Protection of Nature
    Portugal

  2. Sylvia says:

    Wonderful article! I just watned to put in that my family has a connection with many of these recipes as well my mother’s side is German Lutheran and came to Kansas by way of Russia. We have many of the same recipes in our family, under slightly different names. Grandma would often prepare her Bierocks (accent on the first syllable), for instance, and although we usually used Great-Grandma’s butterball soup recipe for fishing bait, it also made a nice meal. But everyone’s favorite heritage food definitely had to be Grandma’s Schlexel Kuchen (Schlexel, of course, being the local word for watermelon molasses), and we were very sad when she ran out of Schlexel, and mom because of the smell and mess refused to let us cook more at home. A few years ago (sadly, after Grandma passed away), I decided to boil down some melons and recreate the old experience. Now every year I make more Schlexel and give it out as gifts to the family at Christmas.Sadly, the exact recipe Grandma used for Schlexel Kuchen is lost with her (and may even have been her own creation, we’re not sure), but my mother and I have experimented in the kitchen and we think we’ve come up with the recipe.Schlexel Kuchensoft bread dough (frozen dough from the supermarket has the right consistency)1/2 cup sugar1/2 cup butter1 cup flourSchlexel9 9 or 13 9 panFirst, mix the revels for topping: mix the flour and sugar, then soften the butter and mix it in with a fork or pastry cutter. Clumps are good to have.Grease the pan and put the dough in. You want the dough to be pushed down flat, filling the corners of the pan. Cover the top with Schlexel: don’t drown the dough, but don’t skimp either. Then sprinkle the revels on top. We always squeeze the mix together to create larger clumps, because powder doesn’t do much, but nice clumps (about the size of a dime or a penny) are a real treat.Bake as per the instructions for the bread, but take it out of the oven as soon as a toothpick comes out clean probably 5 or even 10 minutes less than the usual baking time for the bread. Do NOT allow a crust to form.-In loving memory, Delma Irene Dumler.