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Deadly Perch

October 5 2012, 15:12

WINDHOVERS DIE IN PAIRS

According to Mark PESTOV, the employee of the Dront ecological center, the design of the transmission line pole of this capacity is such that the metal traverse, to which the wires are fastened, is connected to steel rebars of reinforced-concrete pole and serves as an electric grounding. This traverse is used as a perch when a bird lands on a pole. The scientists calculated that in half of the cases when birds touch the wire with wings the electric circuit closes and the birds fall dead onto the ground.
15 species of birds of prey nest in our region. The same number of birds “fly through.” The lack of trees and elevated plains in the Atyrau steppes from where birds can view surroundings is the reason for their frequent deaths on poles.
In our oblast there are about 8 thousand kilometers of 6-10 kV power lines. Under the law the companies should equip their power poles with bird protection devices (BPD), but they are not in a rush to do so.
In May and September last year the ornithologists of Dront ecological center travelled along power lines of the following companies: KazTransOil, KazTransGaz, Caspina Pipeline Consotrtium (CPC) and Agip KCO. It total they covered 410km. The majority of dead birds were found along KazTransGaz cathodic protection power lines between Makat and Inderborsky – 96. In total, during the expedition there were found 136 dead birds: 63- steppe eagles, 41- long-legged buzzard, 9– windhovers, etc. 8 birds had died as the result of touching the wires: swans, gray crane, little bustard, larks.
It is worth saying that windhovers were found dead in pairs. These remarkable birds have the habit of looking after each other. Probably, one of them lands on a traverse and the other on a wire - when feeding each other, they fell dead being struck by a current generated after they hardly touched each other.
The scientists suppose that the actual number of bird corpses must be much higher, as in the areas they travelled, they found many traces of scavengers – foxes and jackals.
If from the collision with the wires mostly die congregatory birds, then the large-sized predators listed in the Red Book of Kazakhstan, die on the power line poles. These birds grow slowly, they start breeding late and lay just two eggs in a year.
Thus, the scientists concluded that in Atyrau oblast the population of birds suffer a serious damage every year. Based on the expedition results, the natural resources management sent letters to all companies in the oblast that utilize 6-10 kV power lines. So far, only two companies responded: EmbaMunayGaS and CPC.

SCARE TACTICS AGAINST EAGLE

According to Gabit IMANGALIEV, EmbaMunaiGas chief power engineer, the company operates 1 020 kilometers of 6-10 kV power lines. This year they decided to install the experimental bird protection devices (BPD)  in the form of polymeric sleeves on the fastenings of the poles. At the moment, they have installed 350 sleeves. The problem is that for installation of BDPs they have to cut power supply. But you cannot cut power supply to the oil fields. Therefore, they will install the remaining sleeves during autumn audit and next year’s spring audit of electrical facilities.
According to Victor SUTYAGIN, CPC operations manager, in 2003-2008 the company installed BPDs in the form of suspended isolators along 440 km of power lines. They spent $500,000 on this operation. The reasons were not solely humanitarian: each death of the bird on the pole is accompanied by a short circuit. And this may cause the equipment failure and stop oil transportation process. Besides this, they installed SIP type BPDs (wires fully insulated with polymer) along 116 km of the new oil pipeline. In addition, they installed ultrasonic bird scarers on 30 electric isolators.
On the oil pipeline section near the city landfill short circuits occurred frequently and for a long time due to presence of multiple flocks of crows and seagulls. This year SIP type BPDs have been installed on this 2-kilometer section preventing from short circuits.

Murat SULTANGALIYEV

Photo from Ak Zhaik archive

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