Ornithological center in Merkine
Ornitologinis centras. Foto brolių M. ir A. Černiauskų

Ornithological center in Merkinė

On the 18th of October, a discussion took place in Merkinė Visitor Center with reference to the activities and results of the project ‘The Potential of Natural Heritage for the Development of Ornithological Tourism in Dzūkija and Biebrža valley’, financed by the European Regional Development Fund in Dzūkija National Park and Čepkeliai State Nature Reserve. Vidmantas Blažys, mainly known for his recording of sounds from nature, presented "Dzūkijos ir Bebros gamtos garsai", a CD created during the project. The album includes two CDs. There are 30 tracks lasting more than 62 minutes and containing about 25 species from Bebrzanski National Park. There are also 85 tracks lasting more than 79 minutes and recording over 65 species from the Dainava region.

Eugenijus Drobelis, presenting his new book ‘Wildlife Extension’, shared not only the discoveries of natural observations but also his historical consideration: “We worked with Vidmantas in Dainava, thousands of years old, in the Dainava region. What would we like to show? We wanted to show what was left. <...> Which natural aspects make Dainava so different from other territories of the present-day Lithuania? Where else in Lithuania can we find an European pond turtle? Only in Dainava. Where can we find the tree frogs? Only in Dainava. Not to mention insects, plants that are mainly found here ... In this book I wanted to put everything I saw and found in the land for 40 years. All of that gave me the desire and strength to live here and did not allow me to go back to Anykščiai. However, when I open a book, it is evident that everything is far from the rest <...>” These words from Eugenijus made us hope to see more than one book by this author. After the premiere of his movie ‘Wildlife Mysteries’, the ornithologist Marius Karlonas stated that this is currently the best environmental film in Lithuania.

Eimutis Gudelevičius, the director of the park, was glad that this Lithuanian-Polish project was successfully implemented in a joint effort. Not only the employees of the park did contribute to the leisure time of the Nemunas island, but also the Merkinė community, the museum, the people of the Cultural Center. As regards discussion about islands, they were populated by scanty shrubs, opened up spaces for water birds and cattle in order to prevent the emergence of new fossils. One of the islands was inhabited by the Hereford breed of cattle, guarded and supervised by the mercenary Algimantas Dzimanavičius. For nature lovers there is a bird watching platform. In the recreational area of the Merkinė’s Manor, an ornithological center can be found near the picturesque Mergelių akelės and next to the campsite. Construction works went on for ten years in an abandoned building. A major repair of the building was carried out, trails were installed and a lot of nesting houses were hung.

Tourists who are interested in bird watching will be able to stay here not only with campers, but also with tents. The total value of the project is 958 thousand EUR, 335 thousand of which was paid by Dzūkija National Park, while the remaining part was used by the project partners - the Lithuanian Ornithological Society and the Biebrzanski National Park in Poland. Marius Karlonas, an expert on ornithological tourism, who represented the Lithuanian Ornithological Society, introduced his book "A Guide for Birdwatchers in the Dzūkija Region." This book contains a detailed account of possible places and time for hearing the birds' voices. This is a great textbook for those who want to know the voices of the flying kingdom. Understandably, not everyone wants to buy this book, but it can be downloaded for free in the PDF version from the website of the Lithuanian Ornithological Society http://www.naturetourism.eu/medija-leidiniai/leidiniai

Mindaugas Lapelė, Head of the Park's Biodiversity Division, reminded the idea of ​​the younger naturalist Bronius Šablevičius: ‘write down everything, so you can show those who come after you how beautiful it was. "I would very much like to believe that the islands of this wildlife will expand although, in the present situation, I'm not quite sure. God grant that what is left of nature will still be there - despite all our efforts to save it - and it will always be interesting, and that is what Marius did. Everyone listens but not everyone hears, everyone is watching but not everyone sees, and this book helps us to hear and see. "

Albertas Stanislovaitis, Director of the State Protected Area Service, was pleased with the work done and the fact that his colleagues were able to develop such projects by putting into practice ideas connecting several states and creating enthusiasts for birds in bogs by recording the most natural sounds of nature. Director of the VSTT Albertas Stanislovaitis wished that, after several years, we would be happy not only with the increased flow of tourists but also with more than one book by Eugenijus Drobelis.

Algirdas Kašėta, Mayor of the Varėna District Municipality, greeted the work of the park and productive publishing activities. He also shared his childhood ornithological observations.

Bogdan Browarski, a spokesman for the Bebrzanski National Park in Poland, said: "I participated in lots of conferences where I understood the language, but did not understand the topic of those meetings. I did not understand the language here, but everything was clear. Wetlands are one of the most beautiful natural habitats and at the same time the first to be subject to an outbreak. And as we become more familiar with this project, we should expect this cooperation to continue. "

Translated by Adriana D‘Amato, volunteer from Italy


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