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Why does the collared pratincole prefer T-Solar for nesting?

25 November 2020

The collared pratincole (GlareolaPrantincola) is one of the most unique waders (that wade to forage for food in the mud or sand).

This species has been able to develop a peculiar feeding technique based on hunting mainly insects in the air, very similar to common swifts, common house martins, and swallows. Regarding its morphology, its spring plumage stands out, very striking mainly in the throat area, forming a cream-colored bib with black borders. they are fast, agile, spinning fliers and generally travel in flocks. They are gregarious, social, and noisy birds.

When it comes to nesting, this species chooses any open space near bodies of water, such as islets or banks, although in Spain both in Extremadura and Castilla-La Mancha it nests in crop fields several meters away from the Water. The nest is installed in holes found on the terrain, laying 2 to 3 eggs during May and June. After a month, the chickens fly away.

In our solar thermal CSP plant in Olivenza, a colony of collared pratincole is settled annually. The species is distributed in the unbuilt areas that exist near the water reservoirs. The fact of having clear surfaces, with sparse vegetation and the presence of edges and gravel, favors the settlement of the colony and favors reproductive success.

Currently, the collared pratincole is a species that suffers a lot of predation consisting of a bird of prey that hunts in the plant, magpies, shrikes, and probably a mammal such as a weasel or a mongoose. Despite this, the predatory pressure suffered by the species inside our plant is less than outside. The main threats to their colonies are the existence of power lines, trampling by cattle, and being run over, among others.

For this reason, in T-Solar we carry out a study and monitoring program of the reproductive colony of thecollared pratincole within the so-called Environmental Surveillance Plan of the Plant. In this way and writing, we establish bimonthly visits, for the observation and identification of possible affections to this species. These visits are carried out more frequently and exhaustively during April, May, and June since the courtship takes place at the end of April. Subsequently, we prepare an annual report with the data collected during these months, both for the infrastructures inside the Plant and for the evacuation electrical line, and it is presented to the Public Administration for approval.

The way of working to carry out this monitoring is based on identifying the areas of occupation within the CSP plant, and then proceeding to establish observation points of the colony. For each nest detected, its status is tracked, visit by visit. Where possible, we also count the number of chicks. Thus, with the initial data on the number of pairs and the population monitoring throughout the breeding period, reliable data on the reproductive efficiency of the collared pratincole can be obtained.

Therefore, environmental monitoring plans constitute a subsequent step (but no less substantial) to the development of impact studies due to the large amount of data they provide. They help us to detect changes or modifications that had not been foreseen in the environmental impact study and in this way to know if the environmental situation of these species in the place has changed, how it has done so, and why. If necessary, they even allow us to establish new mitigating measures for these impacts, complementary to the existing ones, thus strengthening the reproductive success of the colony.

Collared pratincole male (GlareolaPrantincola).

Beacons that cut off vehicles and prevent accidents, as one of the protection measures established during the nesting months of the collared pratincole.

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