An annual survey of the waterfowl population in the Port of Riga

The annual bird population survey and counting were completed in the Port of Riga. The said survey has been carried out by the Freeport of Riga Authority within the framework of waterfowl nesting monitoring with the aim to assess and analyze changes in bird nesting, as well as to control the impact of port activities on waterfowl nesting habitats. Due to the regular reed cutting carried out by the Freeport of Riga Authority, after a long break the black-headed gulls have started nesting in the Krēmeri Nature Reserve again - about 100 pairs of the waterfowl have been detected there. Pursuant to the outcome of the current year's survey, it was established that no significant changes in habitats which might be referred to port operation have been observed.


Bird counting activities are carried out in cooperation with ornithologists of the Institute of Biology of the University of Latvia. Thus the information on changes in the species and number of birds at nesting sites is being obtained, as well as the need for further measures to ensure a bird-friendly environment is being assessed. According to the ornithologists' report the greatest damage to nesting waterfowl shall not be attributed to the impact of the port operation, but to predators destroying the birds' nests. Mink and fox are considered to be the main threat, but waterfowl nests on the ground can become the prey of carnivorous birds’ air attacks.

The Port of Riga can definitely be called the “greenest” port in Europe - 75 hectares of the port territory are protected nature territories where economic operation is prohibited. There are two protected nature objects in the port of Riga - Krēmeri Nature Reserve and Mīlestības Isle, which is a part of the Piejūra Nature Park included into Natura 2000. In addition, the territory of the port directly borders with the Daugavgrīva Nature Reserve and the Vecdaugava Nature Reserve. The above mentioned issues shall be taken into account while planning the operation and development of the port.


The Freeport of Riga Authority takes care of the unique habitats in nature reserves, as well as provides for the environment protection in other port territories. The green areas are regularly monitored to ensure timely reed and shrub cutting as well as waste and debris removal. The birds, which settle in the port area both seasonally in search of food and for nesting, are especially grateful for that.


The Freeport of Riga Authority has built a 12-meter-high bird-watching tower on Mīlestības Isle. Reaching the top of the tower one can see the whole island with small lakes and reed, as well as the River Daugava estuary and surrounding wetlands, which are popular bird nesting habitats. The Krēmeri Nature Reserve was established specifically for the protection of bird nesting sites, and the Freeport of Riga Authority regularly carries out bush and reed cutting there to create favorable living and nesting conditions for birds.


The Freeport of Riga Authority takes special measures to create new or renovate existing waterfowl nesting sites in several locations within the port territory. The small Zhurku Island has become a home to river terns, oystercatchers, terns, mallards, gadwalls and herring gulls, and a lot is done to create favourable conditions so that birds do not leave the island. The Authority takes care of the island territory by cutting bushes and providing for lack of disturbance during the nesting period. For the waterfowl colonies residing at Mīlestības Island and the Krēmeri Nature Reserve artificial islands and floating platforms were created.