With upcoming conflicts of wild boars around protected areas such as the core zones of the biosphere reserve ‘Schwäbische Alb’, the research centre for wildlife at Aulendorf has launched a project to study its ecology and behaviour more closely. One part of the research project is to determine the influence of its activity on important bird species such as woodlarks and its habitat preference. The main observations are taking place at the former military training field at Münsingen, which is part of the biosphere reserve.
Populations of woodlark across Europe have been in decline, with habitat loss in favour to agricultural land as major cause. However, agricultural development and intensification has not been affecting landscape and wildlife at the former training field here in Münsingen and periodic training manoeuvres didn’t seem to have bothered the local woodlark population during the last century. The right mix of habitat structures such as sparse vegetation with areas of bare or disturbed ground for foraging, patches of longer grass which provides cover and the vicinity of woodland for song perches or security is commonly found here. Nowadays the maintenance of an open landscape here is largely due to sheep grazing, but also wildlife such as roe deers, wild boars and hares do their share.
Apart from woodlarks, one can see a vast abundance of common bird species like red kites Milvus milvus, European pied flycatchers Ficedula hypoleuca and European stonechats Saxicola rubicola and furthermore rarities such as whinchats Saxicola rubetra and northern wheatears Oenanthe oenanthe.
My objective for the next two months will be to determine whether rooted patches created by wild boar are frequently used by woodlarks and form important feeding grounds, especially during the breeding season. And as a secondary goal, I will be detecting habitat preferences and collecting information about the breeding territories.
Since the beginning of April, I started observing woodlarks and am really looking forward to gain first results.
I strongly recommend visiting the biosphere reserve and especially the former training fields here at Münsingen to all nature and biodiversity lovers!