During the first year, the project team focused on the implementation of the preparatory actions: (a) the necessary planning for the smooth implementation of management interventions on the islets, which constitute the backbone of the program, (b) updating of baseline knowledge about the Eleonora’s falcon population in the project areas, (c) the identification of the Eleonora’s falcon foraging areas, as well as the refueling areas of migratory passerines on the islets.
Specifically, the project team prepared the operational plans for the construction of artificial nests and rat eradication on the islands, as well as for the creation of “refueling oases” for passerines on the island of Antikythera. For this purpose, they seized the international experience on these issues, by organizing an international workshop involving more than 30 scientists and representatives of competent authorities from Greece and other European countries.
The field teams by autumn 2014 began the census of the species population in 5 of 7 project areas. Also, Antikythera Island was the prime area for the implementation of the first year’s preparatory actions, where the following activities took place:
At the same time, the program supported a mission to Madagascar for the study of Eleonora’s falcon wintering areas. Information about the habitats being used by the species and the main threats it faces there were collected.
By the completion of the operational plans, the field teams focused on the construction and installation of artificial nests on islets around Skyros Island.
Regarding the dissemination and awareness actions, the project team designed and started the implementation of the public awareness campaign aiming at local population and tourists in the areas of the projects. Apart from this website, the project team created a facebook page and issued the first electronic newsletter of the project.
During the second year, the project team focused on the completion of the preparatory actions, and proceeded with the launch and implementation of the concrete conservation actions on the islets.
Specifically, in the context of the preparatory actions the field teams completed (a) the census and (b) the monitoring of the breeding success of the Eleonora’s falcon in the colonies of the remaining project sites, and (c) the assessment of the refueling pattern of migratory passerines on Antikythera Island, in the frame of which an MSc thesis was conducted. Also, for the identification and the assessment of the foraging areas of the species, the field teams fitted UHF-GPS transmitters to individuals, which revealed interesting information not only about their foraging areas, but also about their migratory routes. The extensive field research on Antikythera Island continued, covering the entire island.
Regarding the concrete conservation actions of the project, in spring the field teams began the implementation of rat eradication on islets of Mikres Cyclades and the construction and installation of artificial nests on islets of Mikres Cyclades, Skyros and on Antikythera.
Networking with other LIFE projects led a joint mission with the ANDROSSPA LIFE project on the islets of Mikres Cyclades, while a declaration of cooperation with the LIFE Natura2000 Value Crete was signed.
Regarding public awareness, the campaign continued under the original schedule, while the project team produced the project leaflet and started its distribution in the project areas.
During the third year, the project team focused mainly on the implementation of the concrete conservation actions of the project.
In winter began intensively the implementation of rat eradication on Dionysades islets, while further artificial nests were constructed and installed on Dionysades islets and on Antikythera.
Through the project, HOS acquired an area of 13 acres in Antikythira and began the creation of the “refueling oasis” for passerines using the island as a stopover station during migration.
The installation of transmitters on Eleonora’s falcon individuals continues to provide very interesting information on their movements mainly during the pre-breeding period in mainland Greece.
At the same time, the environmental education team completed the environmental education material and started its implementation visiting schools in the program areas involving more than 1,000 students.
Within the framework of the project, a novella was published addressed to students and aiming at raising awareness about the species, as well as on social issues.
During the fourth year, the project team focused mainly on the continuation of the concrete conservation actions of the project, as well as monitoring their effectiveness in achieving the objectives of the project. In addition, the last phase of the preparatory actions took place, followed by the dissemination of their results to the scientific community, as well as of the presentation and distribution of the environmental education material.
In particular, regarding the conservation actions of the project, the main part of the rat eradication action was completed, while post-eradication monitoring was carried out in Makares and Dionysades. The construction of artificial nests at islets continued on the islets Antikythira, Dionysades and Tilos. Intensive work was carried out at the “refueling oasis” for passerines at Antikythira island through plantation of trees, sawing of crops, construction of a greenhouse and other landscaping work.
With regard to the preparatory actions, the evaluation of the refuelling pattern of passerines at Antikythira and the determination of supply of dummies in Antikythira and the determination of the burden on Eleonora’s Falcon by mutagenic agents were completed. Field work was carried out to monitor the autumn migrations of passerines in Antikythira with the use of radar. At the same time, Eleonora’s Falcons individuals continued to be monitored through telemetry transmitters that had been fitted on them in the past, providing very interesting information about the major feeding areas of the species in Greece.
At the same time, the environmental education team completed the presentation of the environmental education material at schools of the project sites and its posting to stakeholders and competent authorities. More than 500 students were involved in the activities that took place during this year at the broader areas of Naxos and NW Crete and at Kythira, while in total more than 1.500 students of 20 school units at the project areas have been reached during the implementation of the action.
The third newsletter of the project was produced.
The project team presented the project results in three conferences abroad (1,2,3), participated in a workshop on eradication of invasive species and participated in the preparation and publication of a scientific article.