Common Pochard Aythya ferina, Красноголовый нырок, Կարմրագլուխ սուզաբադ
Distribution and biological peculiarities in Armenia: The species occupies western Europe, central Asia to south-central Siberia, being monotypic. In Armenian the species is distributed at the shores of Lake Sevan, in the Araks Valley along the border with Turkey, at Lake Arpi and some other smaller lakes and reservoirs, occupying natural and man-made lakes with extensive open water, rivers, deltas, large marshes, and bays. Year-round resident. It breeds in thickets of reed and hornwort, having from 8 to 9 eggs in the clutch. The fledglings are observed in June-August. The food of the species is mainly consisting of seeds, roots, rhizomes, the vegetative parts of grasses, sedges and aquatic plants as well as aquatic insects and larvae, molluscs, crustaceans, worms, amphibians and small fish.
Population dynamics: According to the last estimation, population of the species makes from 770 to 980 breeding pairs. Population trend during last ten years demonstrates minor decline, at the statistically insignificant rate though. The latest fact might be influenced by short period of time, therefore increase of observation period can provide more viable information. The main reasons of possible decline can be further urbanization of its habitats at the wetlands of Ararat Plain and lack of proper management of hunting throughout Armenia (since the species is allocated for hunting until now). The first reason is connected to further development of carp-farming in Ararat Plain, which mainly results in extensive occupation of wetlands. The second reason is mainly related to lack of proper planning of game bird resources and further inspection of number of shot birds. Indeed, during last five years there was no nation wide survey of populations of game birds and their productivity. Also the species can potentially suffer from eutrophication caused by agricultural runoff and from lead poisoning caused by lead shooting: these questions require further study in Armenia. At the same time, it is worth to mention the story of success at the Lake Sevan National Park: due to increase of its water level the new wetland area was formed in vicinity of famous Gull Island (the breeding habitat of Armenian Gulls), which caused increase of number of breeding Common Pochards there.
Conservation Measures: The species is included in IUCN Red List as Vulnerable A2ab+3b+4ab, however it was not yet included in the Red Book of Animals of Armenia (2010). Also the species is included in EU Birds Directive Annex II and CMS Appendix II, as well as listed as part of AEWA, and therefore its harvest is regulated by 'Guidelines on Sustainable Harvest of Migratory Waterbirds' published by Waterbird Harvest Specialist Group of Wetlands International (2015). At current some breeding populations of Common Pochards are protected in the Lake Sevan and Lake Arpi National Parks; however other populations inhabit Ararat Plain and lakes in Northern Armenia, which are not included into the Protected Areas of Armenia. As the first step in this direction, some wetlands of Ararat Plain have been suggested to be included into Emerald Network, protected under Bern Convention (2016). The proposed conservation measures can be divided into urgent and long-term measures. The first category means excluding of the species from National game bird list of 2017 and further on, and raising of public awareness on the fact that the species is internationally protected. Also it is important to train hunters in identification of the species and its distinguishing from the similar Red-crested Pochard and Tufted Duck (which are allowed for hunting). The long-term measures include better planning of carp-farming aimed at securing the proper habitat for the Common Pochards and other waterfowl. One of the possible instruments for that can be development of the management plans for the newly discovered Emerald Sites. Also it is important to study the influence of eutrophication and lead poisoning on the species in Armenia and further development of mitigation measures aimed at decrease of agricultural runoff and reduction of lead shooting in the country. The mentioned measures can be supported by continuous hunters' education, institutionally based on improving of licensing conditions.