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Netherlands

Netherlands

Low flying ducks might be at risk

Night flying habits of diving ducks could stop further development of wind plants in the IJsselmeer, the Netherlands. Initial findings of a recent study conclude that diving ducks flying between resting and foraging areas in the dark could be adversely affected by wind turbines. The study is part of a national study, Effects of Wind Turbines on Birds, sponsored by environment and energy agency, NOVEM.

The night flying habits of diving ducks could stop further development of wind plants in the IJsselmeer inland sea in the Netherlands. The initial findings of a recent study conclude that diving ducks which fly between resting areas and foraging areas in the dark "could be adversely affected by wind turbines."

Described by the study as "a wetland of international significance," the IJsselmeer is already home to a four-turbine wind plant, with a second project of 19 turbines being built (Windpower Monthly, April 1996) and other wind plant operating on its shores.

The study, Measurement of the Night Flying Height of Diving Ducks in the IJsselmeer Region," is part of a larger national study, Effects of Wind Turbines on Birds, sponsored by environment and energy agency, NOVEM. The study of diving ducks was carried out by the Bureau Waardenburg BV of Culemborg along the banks of the Wieringermeer, around Lelystad and in south west Flevoland. Monitoring was undertaken of the movement of scaup ducks and tufted ducks from their resting to their foraging areas. As well as visual monitoring a converted ship's radar was also used.

"The study showed that the foraging areas are generally within three kilometres of the resting areas. The diving ducks mostly flew at heights ranging from 0 to 60 metres," reports NOVEM. "It was found that both scaup ducks and tufted ducks prefer to fly in the dark. Significantly, the birds flew higher when crossing dikes (up to 70 metres), than when crossing open water (up to 40 metres). Flying periods, were mainly limited to one and a half hours after sunset and before sunrise.

NOVEM explains that in its assessment of proposals for wind projects, the potential effects on bird life "play an important role." However, until the study is complete, NOVEM says it will not be drawing conclusions.

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