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Wintering Waterbirds in Albania - International Waterbird Census,

January 14-25, 2016

Report prepared by Taulant BINO1 & Caterina CARUGATI2

1-
National Coordinator of IWC in Albania, Albanian Ornithological Society, www.aos-al.org
2-
Team leader at IPA 2013 Project Strengthening National Capacity in Nature Protection
Protection of Natura 2000

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Accronymes
AOS Albanian Ornithological Society
APAWA Association for the Protection of Aquatic Wildlife in Albania
ASPBM Albanian Society for the Protection of Birds and Mammals
BNP Butrint National Park
BSPB Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds
IUCN International Union for Conservation of Nature
IWC International Waterbird Census
LIPU Italian Ligue for the Protection of Birds
NAPA National Agency for Protected Areas
PPNEA Protection and Preservation of Nature and Environment in Albania
RAPA Regional Agency for Protected Areas
SPP Society for the Protection of Prespa

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Abstract
The Intenational Waterbird Census (IWC) is an international program that is organized since 1967.
In Albania, IWC has started in 1993 and it has been since undertaken almost every year. This year,
January 14-25, 2016, IWC in Albania covered 16 different wetland sites and is was carried out by 31
experts and participants, part of 11 NGOs and governmental institutions.
In total, 60 species of waterbirds were registered during the IWC 2016 in Albania with a number of
98564 individuals.

The most common species is the Coot (Fulica atra) with more than 50% of the total number of
waterbirds. Other frequent species include Black-headed Gull (Croicocephalus ridibundus), Wigeon
(Mareca penelope), Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) and the Teal (Anas crecca).

Shkodra lake, followed by Macro Prespa and Divjake- Karavasta, registered the highest number of
waterbirds with 25 620 individuals. As in previous years, Divjake-Karavasta has the highest index of
biodiversity showing thus a good balance between the high number of waterbirds and the high
species diversity.

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Aknowledgements
En behalf of the coordination team, we would like to thank Italian Embassy Development
Cooperation Office together with the National Agency for Protected Areas for their contribution in
helping to organize the IWC in Albania as well as ensuring the media coverage of this activity.

Our special thanks go to Pjeter Toni and Ardian Koci, respectively Directors of Regional Agency for
Protected Areas Lezhe and Fier for their warm hospitality and the support given to the field-work
participants.

We would also like to highlight the professional contribution provided by our colleagues from LIPU,
BSPB and SPP as well as to Borut Sturmberger.

Finally, our warmest thanks go to every expert and participant for their hard work in rather harsh
weather conditions.

1. Background
The International Waterbird Census (IWC) is an international programme that is organized since 1967 and is
focuses on monitoring the status of waterbirds and wetlands. It also aims to increase public awareness on
issues related to wetland and waterbird conservation. The census is carried out each January as a voluntary
activity at national and local level. The WC is co-ordinated by Wetlands International as part of global
programme, the International Waterbird Census.
In Albania, IWC has started in 1993 and it has been since undertaken almost every year. As in previous years,
the activities foreseen under IWC 2016 were coordinated at national level by Dr. Taulant Bino (Albanian
Ornithological Society) as National Coordinator for IWC in Albania. The coordination was supported by IPA
2013 Natura 2000 project Strengthening National Capacity in Nature Protection Protection of
Natura 2000. The latter has been the main financial contributor to the organization of the IWC 2016 in
Albania, together with Albanian Ornithological Society (AOS), Association for the Protection of Aquatic
Wildlife in Albania (APAWA) and Protection and Preservation of Nature and Environment in Albania (PPNEA)
In accordance with IWC guidelines the census had the following major objectives:

1. to obtain information on an annual basis of waterbird populations at wetlands in the region during the
non-breeding period of most species (January), as a basis for evaluation of sites and monitoring of
populations
2. to monitor on an annual basis the status and condition of wetlands
3. to encourage greater interest in waterbirds and wetlands amongst people, and thereby promote the
conservation of wetlands and waterbirds in the region.

Data collected for the IWC 2016 in Albania are being delivered to several interested institutions including the
Ministry of Environment, National Agency for Protected Areas, National Environmental Agency, Wetlands

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International and other institutions directly involved in IWC. The document would be public and available for
reference by interested parties and stakeholders. Apart from providing information on wetlands and
waterbirds, the report would encourage local or national conservation measures for important wetlands.

2. Participants
The census itself was undertaken by national and international experts representing national and
international organizations. Apart from being a census process per se the event served as on job training for
the staff of National Agency for Protected Areas (NAPA) and Regional Agencies for Protected Areas (RAPA).
Therefore the census was preceded.
Overall, there were 11 NGOs and institutions involved in the census (see Table 1). The teams were supported
by 3 independent experts. In total, 31 persons including experts and field assistants were directly
participating in the counts (see Annex 1 for a full list of participants). This number becomes even higher if we
calculate also the staff of Regional Agencies for Protected Areas participating in the event.

Table 1: Institutions and bird experts directly involved in the IWC 2016 in Albania
NGOS Nb. of sites* Sites
AOS 11 Shkodra, Bune-Velipoja, Kune-Vain, Patok, Shen Vlash, Karpen,
Karavasta, Narta, Orikum, Thana & Semani
APAWA 2 Shkodra, Bune-Velipoja,
ASPBM 3 Lalzi, Thana & Semani
BNP 1 Butrint
BSPB 3 Narta, Orikum & Butrint
IPA 2013 Natura 2000 4 Kune-Vain, Karavasta, Narta & Orikum
IUCN 3 Kune-Vain, Karavasta, Narta
LIPU 3 Karavasta, Narta, Orikum
PPNEA 4 Lalzi bay, Ohrid, Macro Prespa, Narta, Orikum
RAPA Fier 1 Divjake-Karavasta
SPP 1 Micro Prespa
Independent experts 6 Shkodra, Bune-Velipoja, Ohrid, Macro Prespa, Thana lake,
Semani
* Several sites has been covered by several teams simultaneously

In some wetlands, due to their large size and the need to conclude in the shortest time possible more than
one team was involved in the counts.

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3. Sites covered during IWC 2016
In total 16 wetland sites were monitored during the 2016 IWC (Fig. 1) with the majority of them being also
covered in the past. The sites covered included rivers, lakes, reservoirs, swamps, coastal sites, sandy beaches,
etc.
Two new sites, namely Karpen fish ponds and Shena-Vlash waste water treatment plant were added to the
traditional list of the wetlands being monitored. The other sites have been covered in previous censuses.

Figure 1: Sites covered by IWC 2016 in Albania

Among the 16 sites visited, 14 of them are designated as IBAs (Table 2) and thus protected from hunting
activity in accordance with the national legislation. Furthermore, 10 of the sites belong to the network of
Protected Areas in Albania with a special emphasis on its management and monitoring of environmental
parameters including the biodiversity.

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Table 2: Sites covered by IWC 2016 in Albania

Nr. Sites National IWC IBA Code Date 2016 Observers Institutions
Code involved
th
1 14 of January, BSE, BST, DUL, EXE, FBR, APAWA, AOS &
th
Buna-Velipoja AL00001 013 revisited on 24 TBI RAPA Shkoder
of January & 2 RAPA Shkoder staff
th
2 17 of January AGH, EAL, EXE, CCA, CCE, AOS, BSPB, IPA
DNA, IAL, MGU, OAV, RLL, 2013 Natura
Narta (Vlora bay) AL00002 005 TBI, VDO, YBA 2000, LIPU, IUCN,
& 2 RAPA Vlore staff PPNEA & RAPA
Vlore
th
3 17 of January AOS, BSPB, IPA
EXE, MGU, NHY, RLL, TBI,
2013 Natura
Orikumi (Vlora bay) AL00002 010 VDO, YBA
2000, IUCN, LIPU,
& 2 RAPA Vlore staff
PPNEA
th
4 16 of January AGH, AKO, CCA, CCE, AOS, LIPU
Karavasta complex AL00003 006 DNA, EAL, EXE, IAL, MGU,
TBI, OAV
th
5 15 of January, AOS
th EXE, IAL, TBI
Kune-Vain AL00004 007 revisited on 18
& RAPA Lezhe staff
of January
th
6 Lake Macro Prespa 16 of January MTO, SSH, WFR & 1 RAPA PPNEA
AL00005 003
(Albanian part) Korce staff
th
7 Lake Micri Prespa 16 of January SPP
AL00006 004 ALO & CMO
(Albanian part)
th
8 Lake Ohrid (Albanian 17 of January MTO, SSH, WFR & 1 RAPA PPNEA
AL00007 002
Part) Korce staff
th
9 14 of January, BST, BSE, DDH, DUL, EXE, AOS, APAWA,
Lake Shkodra th
AL00008 001 revisited on 25 FBR, TBI & 2 RAPA Independent expert
(Albanian Part)
of January Shkoder staff
th
10 15 of January ASPBM, PPNEA
Lalzi bay AL00009 015 MTO & GKA
th
11 15 of January TBI & EXE AOS
Patok AL00011 014
th
12 17 of January AOS, ASPBM,
Semani AL00012 016 FBE, GKA, PTH
Independent expert
th
13 16 of January AOS, ASPBM,
FBE, GKA, PTH &1
Thana AL00013 017 Independent expert
Rapa Berat staff
& RAPA Staff
th
14 Butrinti AL00014 012 17 of January SNI, VGE, DGR & EEL BSPB, BNP
st
15 Karpen - - 21 of January BSE, BVO, EXE & TBI AOS
st
16 Shena-Vlash - - 21 of January BSE, BVO, EXE & TBI AOS

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4. Materials and Methods
The census took place within 14th-25th of January 2016, a period of time when populations of wintering
waterbirds seem more stable and attached to a particular site. They are gregarious and form groups of
different size facilitating the counting activity. The census was done by binoculars and spotting scopes. Both
direct and estimation counts (Bibby et al. 2000) were be used.
16 sites were visited during the survey (see the above list). Each site was divided in sectors using landmarks
in the field and a site map of 1 : 25,000.
The counting points used during the survey were the same being used in previous surveys. The counting
points were chosen in function of accessibility, visibility and the best coverage of the area. Observers used
GPS devices in order to monitor from the same counting point.
Information on weather forecast such as nebulosity, temperature and visibility were also noted.
For each site different parameters were be collected including the number of species and the number of
individuals per each species, weather conditions etc. The census was interrupted in very bad weather
conditions and reconducted in a later date for several sites.
All species of waterbirds associated with wetlands and other wetland dependent birds were entered onto
standardised count forms that were delivered to the National Coordinator.
Finally the waterbird data registered data for each site were compared with other sites in terms of the total
number of birds, total number of species and the Shannon-Wiener diversity index.

5. IWC Detailed Results


In total, there were 60 species of waterbirds registered during the IWC 2016 in Albania with a number of
98564 individuals, distributed in the 16 wetlands part of the IWC.

The group of Coots, Moorhen and Water Rails compose the most abundant group with circa 52,000
individuals (Table 3) or more than 50% of the total number of waterbirds . Dabbling ducks form the second
most numerous group with circa 14400 individuals. It is followed by Waders (c. 9500 ind.) and Gulls (8950
ind.). For a more detailed list of birds and their abundance see Annex 2.

Table 3: Major groups of wintering birds.


Main Taxa Nb. of individuals
Divers 1
Grebes 2252
Cormorants 4734
Pelicans 174
Herons 1086
Flamingos 1354
Swans 32
Geese 2
Dabbling ducks 14403

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Diving ducks 3811
Coots, Moorhen & Water Rail 51968
Waders 9547
Gulls 8950
Terns 190
Unidentified waterbirds 60
Total waterbirds 98564
Birds of prey 116
Kingfishers 33

Meanwhile, the wetlands visited offer also roosting and feeding sites for 7 species of birds of prey with a
total number of 116 individuals (Annex 3). The most common among them is the Marsh Harrier (Circus
aeruginosus) with circa 50% of the birds of prey. The southern part of Kune-Vain offers a very interesting
roosting site with more than 30 individuals observed at the same spot.

Among the 60 species of waterbirds, the Coot (Fulica atra) is the most common species with circa 51200
individuals (Fig. 2).

Figure 2. Most common waterbirds during IWC 2016 in Albania


60000 51875
50000
40000
30000
20000
8026
10000 4671 3881 3460 2735 2491 2475 2258 2071
0

Other commonest species are Black-headed Gull (Croicocephalus ridibundus), Wigeon (Mareca penelope),
Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) and the Teal (Anas crecca).

With regards to the sites visited, Shkodra lake registered the highest number of waterbirds with 25 620
individuals (Fig. 3). Shkodra is followed by Macro Prespa and Divjake- Karavasta (see Table 3 and Annex 2).

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Figure 3. Waterbird registered in different wetland sites
during IWC 2016 in Albania

Seman

Shena-Vlash

Orikum

Patok

Kune-Vain

Oher

Divjake-Karavasta

Shkodra

0 5000 10000 15000 20000 25000 30000

The highest number of waterbird species, 41 in total, was recorded in Divjake-Karavasta. Other important
sites in terms of waterbird diversity are Narta with 34 species, Kune-Vain with 218 species and Butrint with
26 species (Table 4).

Table 4: Waterbirds registered during IWC 2016 in Albania

Nr. Sites Number of individuals Number of species


1 Shkodra 25620 21
2 Bune-Velipoja 988 20
3 Kune-Vain 5243 28
4 Patok 2242 20
5 Giri i Lalzit 1855 17
6 Shena-Vlash 468 14
7 Karpen 111 6
8 Divjake-Karavasta 15653 41
9 Thane 6080 24
10 Seman 164 10
11 Narte 10672 34
12 Orikum 1138 16
13 Butrint 2986 26
14 Oher 9334 16
15 Prespe e Madhe 15730 22
16 Prespe e Vogel 272 9
Total 98556 60

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As in previous years, Divjake-Karavasta has also the highest index of biodiversity (Fig. 4). showing thus a
good balance between the high number of waterbirds and the high species diversity. Other sites with
particularly high diversity are Narta, Gjiri i Lalzit and Butrint.

Figure 4. Shannon-Wiener Species Diversity Index

Oher
Prespa e Madhe
Shkodra
Karpen
Thane
Patok
Seman
Bune-Velipoje
Prespa e Vogel
Kune-Vain
Orikum
Shena-Vlash
Butrint
Gjiri i Lalzit
Narte
Divjake-Karavasta

0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3

Overall, the number of birds counted in 2016 is lower than in 2015, with circa 58700 individuals. This is
largely due to the mild winter preceding the census as well as the harsh weather conditions during the 15th
and 16th of January that reduced the visibility and posed quite some challenge for the counters and the
participants.

Despite a lower number of birds it is worth mentioning that birds were less shy than in 2015. Such a behavior
was noticed in several sites and particularly in Divjake-Karavasta, Kune-Vain, Salinas of Narta, Karpen, Shena-
Vlash etc. It is clear that the implementation of hunting ban in those areas has been more efficient than in
others ensuring thus relatively safe areas for birds and increasing the potentials for birdwatching and further
awareness activities for the conservation of birds and nature in those areas and all over Albania.

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Annex 1. List of experts and participants in IWC 2016 in Albania
The midwinter waterbird census will be coordinated by Taulant Bino (TBI) in his position as National
Coordinator for IWC in Albania. Participants in the IW are:
1. Andrea Ghiurgi (AGH) of IPA 2013 Natura 2000
2. Annita Logotheti (ALO) of SPP
3. Ardian Koci (AKO) of RAPA Fier
4. Besjana Sevo (BSE) of AOS
5. Besmir Vokopola (BVO) of AOS
6. Borut Sturmberger (BST)
7. Caterica Carugati (CCA) of IPA 2013-Natura 2000
8. Chris Mounsey (CMO) of SPP
9. Claudio Celada (CCE) of LIPU
10. Denik Ulqini (DUL) of APAWA
11. Dimitar Gradinarov (DGR) of BSPB
12. Dorian Nasi (DNA) of RAPA Fier
13. Dritan Dhora (DDH) of APAWA
14. Erald Xeka (EXE) of AOS
15. Ervin Allushi (EAL) of RAPA Fier
16. Everest Elmazaj (EEL) from BNP
17. Genci Kadilli (GKA) of ASPBM
18. Ilda Allushi (IAL) of RAPA Vlore
19. Marco Gustin (MGU) of LIPU
20. Mirjan Topi (MTO) of PPNEA
21. Oliver Avramovski (OAV) of IUCN
22. Philipe Theou (PTE)
23. Roland Lleshi (RLL) of PPNEA
24. Spase Shumka (SSH) of PPNEA
25. Stoyan Nikolov (SNI) of BSPB
26. Taulant Bino (TBI) of AOS
27. Vanya Georgieva (BSPB)
28. Vladimir Dobrev (BSPB)
29. Wolfgang Fremuth (WFR) of FZS
30. Yana Barzova (YBA) of BSPB

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Annex 2. Waterbirds registerd in Albania during IWC 2016
Nr Species (Latin) Species (Albanian) SH B-V K-V PA GJL SHV KA D-K SE THA NA OR BU OH PRM PRV Total
1 Gavia arctica Nori gushezi 1 1
2 Tachybaptus ruficollis Kredharaku i vogel 90 6 22 5 9 3 5 47 2 31 52 10 74 209 565
3 Podiceps cristatus Kredharaku i madh 119 15 15 11 75 2 24 3 168 77 82 60 651
4 Podiceps nigricollis Kredharaku gushezi 297 3 10 41 9 208 468 1036
5 Phalacrocorax carbo Karabullaku i detit 501 57 66 62 11 952 8 124 206 143 240 10 55 40 2475
6 Phalacrocorx aristotelis Karabull. me cafke 1 1
7 Microcarbo pygmeus Karabullaku i vogel 657 28 63 14 39 34 1019 163 109 52 80 2258
8 Pelecanus crispus Pelikani kacurrel 126 11 27 10 174
9 Botaurus stellaris Gakthi 1 1
10 Bubulcus ibis Cafka lopcare 1 1
11 Egretta garzetta Cafka e vogel 13 7 115 17 24 2 149 3 44 11 18 2 405
12 Ardea alba Cafka e madhe 2 2 32 7 6 2 238 1 4 13 22 9 6 344
13 Ardea cinerea Cafka e perhime 26 12 18 15 15 9 112 14 20 35 31 1 2 4 314
14 Plegadis falcinellus Kojliku i zi 1 1
15 Platalea leucorodia Capka sqepluge 2 18 20
16 Phoenicopterus roseus Lejleku krahekuq 8 431 10 904 1 1354
17 Cygnus olor Mjelma me xhunge 1 6 15 22
18 Cygnus cygnus Mjelma qafedrejte 10 10
19 Anser sp. Pata 2 2
20 Tadorna tadorna Laroshja 0 32 12 12 1302 13 1069 51 2491
21 Mareca penelope Kryekuqe e madhe 85 694 5 300 2919 85 481 75 25 2 4671
22 Mareca strepera Rosa e perhime 7 48 2 4 30 15 18 11 8 2 32 177
23 Anas crecca Rosa kere 5 24 1048 314 122 425 1350 170 2 3460
24 Anas platyrhynchos Kuqla qafegjelber 367 76 18 137 267 706 468 2 25 5 2071
25 Anas acuta Rosa bishtgjele 16 227 73 316
26 Spatula clypeata Sqepluga 88 76 324 13 73 574
27 Netta rufina Murrcaku 2 49 1 52
28 Aythya ferina Kryekuqe e mjeme 444 127 50 199 86 906
29 Aythya nyroca Kryekuqe e vogel 11 1 5 17
30 Aythya fuligula Rosa me cafke 1381 61 1293 2735
31 Melanitta nigra Rosa e zeze 1 1
32 Bucephala clangula Rosa me kater sy 1 14 15
33 Mergus serrator Zhytesi me callme 14 29 18 12 73

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34 Mergus merganser Zhytesi i mesem 4 8 12
35 Anatidae sp. zzAnas spp 9 24 360 250 643
36 Rallus aquaticus Gjeli i ujit 1 2 8 5 16 3 35
37 Gallinula chloropus Puleza e ujit 1 12 4 15 3 2 19 2 58
38 Fulica atra Bajza 20682 267 2594 230 45 44 2593 39 620 2695 517 1202 7567 12780 51875
39 Vanellus vanellus Gicvilja 0 12 61 450 280 1 2735 317 25 3881
40 Recurvirostra avosetta Sqepbiza 60 13 150 223
41 Burhinus oedicnemus Gjelaci symadh 13 13
42 Charadrius alexandrinus Vrapsi gushebardhe 103 9 2 114
43 Pluvialis apricaria Gjelaci ngjyre ari 3 1 362 100 466
44 Pluvialis squatarola Gjeleza pikaloshe 2 66 70 291 429
45 Calidris alba Gjeleza me tri gishta 6 6
46 Calidris minuta Gjelaci i vogel 262 3 265
47 Calidris alpina Gjeleza gushezeze 1 75 561 76 713
48 Calidris sp. zzCalidris spp 1200 1335 2535
49 Gallinago gallinago Shapka e ujit 1 7 21 3 2 34
50 Limosa limosa Gjeleza bishtzeze 1 1
51 Numenius arquata Kojliku i madh 155 168 139 4 2 9 477
52 Tringa erythropus Qyrylyku i murrme 1 1
53 Tringa totanus Qyryl. kembeqirize 2 97 6 170 6 281
54 Tringa nebularia Qyrylyku i madh 20 1 21
55 Tringa ochropus Qyr. kembeperhime 2 1 3
56 Actitis hypoleucos Qyrylyku i vogel 1 3 8 2 14
57 Tringa sp. zzTringa spp 70 70
58 Larus melanocephalus Pulebardha kokezeze 1 2 3
59 Croicocephalus ridibundus Puleb. e zakonshme 921 499 198 1508 114 156 44 659 10 44 2018 13 327 953 559 3 8026
60 Croicocephalus genei Pulebardha roze 6 351 110 467
61 Larus fuscus Puleb. shpinezeze 1 1
62 Larus michahellis Puleb. kembeverdhe 9 34 21 165 16 35 70 1 4 16 29 15 36 2 453
63 Hydroprogne caspia Dall. deti e madhe 2 2
64 Thalasseus sandvicensis Sterni dimerak 59 48 11 70 188
65 Aves aquaticus Shpend uji 60 60
Total species 25620 988 5243 2250 1855 468 111 15653 164 6080 10672 1138 2986 9334 15730 272 98564

SH Shkodra lake, BV Bune-Velipoja, KV Kune-Vain, PA Patok, GJL Gjiri i Lalzit, SHV Shena-Vlash, KA Karpen, DK Divjake-Karavasta, TH Thana lake, SE
Seman, NA Narta, OR Orikum, BU Butrint, OH Ohrid lake (Albanian part), PRM Macro Prespa (Albanian part), PRV Micro Prespa (Albanian part)

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Annex 3. Birds of prey and other wetland dependent birds
Nr. Species (Latin) Species (Albanian) SH BV KV PA GJL SHV KA DK SE THA NA OR BU OH PRM PRV Total
1 Buteo buteo Huta 5 1 2 2 1 5 1 1 4 4 4 30
2 Accipiter gentilis Gjeraqina 1 1 1 3
3 Accipiter nisus Gjeraqina e shkurtes 1 1 2 1 2 7
4 Circus aeruginosus Shqipja e kenetes 1 2 32 3 2 1 4 2 1 2 2 6 58
5 Circus cyaneus Shqipja e fushes 1 2 1 1 5
6 Falco columbarius Skifteri i vogel 1 1
7 Falco tinnunculus Skifteri ktherazi 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 3 11
8 Alcedo atthis Bilbili i ujit 4 1 3 1 8 1 9 6 33
9 Motacilla cinerea Bishtatundesin i malit 1 4 5
10 Motacilla alba Bishtatundesi i bardhe 45 11 7 63
11 Hirundo rupestris Dallendyshe e gureve 40 2 42
12 Emberiza schoeniclus Cerla e kallamishteve 25 25

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