Ornis Hungarica. vol.7. (1997) p.19-26.
Status of Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) in Hungary
Population size, distribution and reproductive success of Kentish Plovers in Hungary are summarised. 105-140 pairs bred in 1988-1992. Two breeding sites (Miklapuszta and Southern Hungary) contained the bulk ofthe population, with 60-80 pairs and 35-40 pairs, respectively. The number of breeding pairs has declined in recent years. Kentish Plovers have disappeared from some oftheir traditional breeding sites such as Hortobágy-puszta, and their numbers have dwindled in other areas such as in Southern Hungary and Vásárhelyi-puszta. I suggest two reasons for the reduction in number ofbreeding pairs: loss ofbreeding habitat and low reproductive success. First, the loss of breeding habitat may be due to reduction in grazing pressure by sheep flocks. I argue that sheep grazing is important in maintaining short vegetation and bare ground in these alkaline grasslands. Short vegetation and bare grounds, may attract Kentish Plovers to settle. In addition, Kentish Plovers prey upon the insects following sheep flocks and they may feed on insect larvae which develop in sheep dung. Second, the breeding success of Kentish Plovers was poor: 28% of eggs hatched and 29% of chicks that hatched reached fledging age. I estimate that new recruits replace only 17% of adults which die each year. To prevent the disappearance of Kentish Plover from Hungary urgent measures are needed, such as to increase hatching success by stricter control of stray dogs and cats, erect protective fences around some nests and maintain, or preferably increase, the current intensity of sheep grazing.