The construction of a permanent fence is underway at two great snipe sites in Lublin region, which will soon allow the introduction of grazing animals. At the first of the sites, which includes an active lek located within Szyszła River Valley Natura 2000 site, almost 9 kilometres of fence are built, additionally equipped with a set of electrifiers, preventing damaging the fence by animals. Further 3165 meters of the fence is being built near the village of Olchowiec in Puszcza Solska Natura 2000 site on a historic great snipe lek, probably abandoned as a result of land abandonment.
Grazing provides birds with a mosaic of habitats and, compared with early mowing, increases the chance of nest and chick survival. Grazing animals create thousands of microhabitats rather than a compact uniform turf through browsing and trampling of dense dead vegetation, which would not be available despite of the seemingly appropriate type of plant community. In mineral soils, grazing also has a positive effect on the density of earthworms in the soil, which are the main food of the great snipe. Grazing animals also have a function to deter potential predators, which can affect the breeding success of the great snipe. Such a relationship was observed, e.g. for lapwing, black-tailed godwit and redshank, where the probability of predator destruction of nests was significantly lower in intensively grazed areas.
In June, we made the first aerial maps of habitats within four selected leks in Podlasie and Lublin regions. To this end, we sent our regional coordinators – Paweł and Michał to a drone flying course and exam, which they surprisingly completed with a satisfactory result. Then, with the help of these clever devices (DJI Mavic 2 Pro), we flew over the meadows where great snipes occur. Drones took hundreds of photos at that time, which in turn enabled us to create the most current map of habitats within the lek areas. This is a very important task in protecting this amazing bird. In this way, we obtained valuable material that will allow us to plan the best protection, e.g. reach the owners of the plots in attempt to modify the management in this area. Next year - when we supply the birds with GPS transmitters - we will learn more about the habitat preferences of great snipes.