Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Roller Counts for Birdlife Cyprus

Roller Count Day 1

The Roller count had very specific information we needed to report to BLC.  The protocol was to drive no more than 20 kilometers per hour and to stop every two kilometers for 5 minutes.  I scanned with my binoculars while my dad drove and my mom also helped me search.  BLC also wanted us to fill out information about the weather.  We needed to report if the cloud cover was a "one" "two" or "three."  We decided that there was about 30 percent clouds which meant it was a two.  There was a little breeze so that meant it was a "two" for windiness.  There was no rain so it was a zero.  

Our first Roller count took place on a 10 kilometer "track" near Everetou Dam.  It was not really even a road.  It was very hilly and windy and in places there were huge rocks that looked like they could pop our tires.  The survey was supposed to take one hour but it took over two hours because we had to drive so slow.  The geography was rolling farm land with many orchards, and was very pretty.  After a long sometimes scary drive, we saw NO Rollers!

Near the end of our first Roller Count near Everetou Dam

Roller Count Day 2:

Before we started our second Roller Count in Pachna we needed to record the wind and weather.  There were fewer clouds than the first day, so we recorded a one. There was a bit of a breeze, so we recorded a two. Also a two for the “warm” weather.

After recording this information, we were ready to begin our count.  I felt excited and knew we were going to see some awesome birds, but I wasn't sure if we would see any Rollers.  We stopped and scanned for five minutes at our first stop but there was nothing.  We began driving again, and looking closely out of the window.  We were driving as slow as tortoise when my dad began shouting "Roller Roller Roller!"  I saw a streak of blue fly across the country road in front of us.  Then we got out of the car and began walking quickly through an orchard toward a stone wall.  We thought we heard his call nearby but it could have been a Magpie (Pica Pica).  Listening carefully and scanning with our eyes, we waited.  Then we heard him and knew he was in the orchard behind us.  Suddenly, the Roller flew up out of the dense trees that were not neatly organized in rows.  He flew up and disappeared across the road.  We were all very excited because we knew we might see more, and also because it felt good to be able to record that we saw one on our official survey.

Roller from the day before in Akamas - no pictures of the Rollers during the survery

It was on our way to the third stop then my mom saw one fly across the road in front of the car and I saw it disappear into a distant tree.  We got out of the car and looked around and in the tree to get a picture, but we never saw it again.  But on our way back to the car we saw another one flying toward us from the other direction.  The rules of the Roller count say that if the recorder is unsure if it is the same Roller that has already been recorded, to not count it.  So we knew for sure this one was a different Roller because it came from the opposite direction.

It felt good to help BLC conduct a meaningful survey so they could have more information about where the Rollers live in Cyprus, and where they don't.  I hope to get another opportunity to participate in another Roller count, or another scientific project in Cyprus soon.

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