Bird Observations in Severnaya Zemlya, Siberia


  • J. de Korte
  • A.E. Volkov
  • M.V. Gavrilo



Animal distribution, Animal population, Arctic foxes, Bird nesting, Birds, Lemmings, Reindeer, Sea birds, Karskoye More, Severnaya Zemlya, Russian Federation


Fieldwork in different parts of Severnaya Zemlya in 1985, 1991, 1992 and 1993 and aerial surveys in 1994 revealed a limited bird fauna with a total of 17 breeding species. The most numerous breeding birds are cliff-nesting seabirds, comprising little auk (Alle alle), 10 000-80 000 pairs; kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla), 5000-10 000; black guillemot (Cepphus grylle), 1000-5000; ivory gull (Pagophila eburnea), 1000-2000; and glaucous gull (Larus hyperboreus), 500-1000. They breed all over the archipelago, usually in rather small mixed- or single-species colonies. Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea) 100-500, and herring gull (Larus argentatus) 1-10, breed as solitary pairs or with a few pairs together. Of tundra birds, only brent goose (Branta bernicla), purple sandpiper (Calidris maritima) and snow bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis) are found breeding on most of the major islands. The other tundra species--red-throated diver (Gavia stellata), king eider (Somateria spectabilis), sanderling (Calidris alba), Arctic skua (Stercorarius parasiticus), long-tailed skua (Stercorarius longicaudus), snowy owl (Nyctea scandiaca) and Lapland bunting (Calcarius lapponicus)--breed in small numbers and in limited areas, often not every year. Of the even fewer mammal species, reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) occurs occasionally, while Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) and collared lemming (Dicrostonyx torquatus) are locally common in some years.

Key words: Severnaya Zemlya, high Arctic birds, breeding distribution