Coauthor: Damien Robuchon
In the habitat conditions of Belarus the great grey owl relates to the water vole a lot. This is the basic prey species for great grey owl to persist during the harsh winter conditions and when great grey owls raise their nestlings in May-July (Sidorovich, 2011). Since the naturalized American mink got a high population density this extra exotic predator tended to predate water voles a lot and finally American minks crashed the water vole population. In turn, the whole predator guild of water vole consumers including the great grey owl had declined. The great grey owl was still present in Naliboki Forest, but it was not so common as it used to be before the American mink arrival. Since 2003 in Naliboki Forest as well as in the whole Belarus the American mink population began cycling because of the impact of virus diseases, and therefore the exotic mink stayed with a low population density often (Sidorovich, 2011). In turn, the water vole population gradually recovered. Consequently, the prey-related predator species gets commoner. First of all, that relates the great grey owl.
During the last several years in Naliboki Forest we saw great grey owl and heard its calling markedly more frequently that before in 2000s. For instance, during this September great grey owls were seen by us for four times without a special searching for the species just during general wildlife excursions we did for our guests. Especially rich observations and nice photos of great grey owls were taken during our being in Naliboki Forest together with Damien Robuchon and Anne-Cecile Rehel from France. Damien Robuchon took these beautiful photos with his advanced photo technic. I was with photo camera too, but even did not try to compete with Damien due to my low quality lens.
The reference is
Sidorovich V., 2011. Analysis of vertebrate predator-prey community. Studies within European Forest zone in terrains with transitional mixed forest in Belarus. Minsk, "Tesey" Publisher.
Damien Robuchon and Anne-Cecile Rehel