Digest May 2022

Where do birds fly away for the winter? Where do their migration routes lie? Ringing will answer these and many other questions. Last spring and fall on the territory of Prioksko-Terrasny State Nature Biosphere Reserve there were large-scale bird ringing events. Bird watchers spent several weeks on duty day and night: at least once an hour they walked around the area fenced with nets and ringed all the trapped birds. It was necessary to make such regular passes as a bird trapped in the net should be released as soon as possible. Spring and autumn have been chosen not casually, because at this time there is a mass flight of birds for wintering to Southern Europe, Africa, Asia and back. In total in 2021, 1509 feathered birds of 43 species were counted in our reserve. This spring the employees of the scientific department of the “Prioksko-Terrasny State Reserve” received an unexpected message from their foreign colleagues. Belgian ornithologists sent information about the capture of a Steller’s Warbler with our ring. The tiny bird was caught on September 28, 2021 near the southern borders of the reserve, ringed and re-captured by Belgian ornithologists on November 11. The shad traveled 2,236 kilometers in 44 days, was released after the recapture and continued its journey to its wintering grounds in North Africa. New explorations and new discoveries wait for us in the future! We are waiting for the bird with the ring number Moskva VC-82 218 back home to the reserve near Moscow.

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Moscow region has compiled the top 10 places that will be interesting to visit during the May holidays. This list includes Prioksko-Terrasny Reserve. Every holiday day (May 7, 8, 9 and 10) we are waiting for everyone to visit!

Victory Day is the main holiday of our country. Let’s recall what was happening on the territory of the Reserve in 1941-1945. The decision to create the Reserve was taken and in June 1940 the future director of the Reserve, then a member of the Central Council of the All-Russian Society for Nature Protection, Alexander Petrovich Protopopov arrived in Dankovskoe forestry to collect the necessary materials and to agree on a number of issues related to the transfer of forestry lands to the Reserve regime. But the organization of the reserve was delayed by the war. Military operations were not carried out on the territory of the reserve, although preparations for war had been under way since 1938. At that time, great military maneuvers took place in the environs of Serpukhov. The weather was extremely hot, causing many forest fires, a great help in extinguishing of which had the troops of the Moscow Military District, participating in the maneuvers. Afterwards, Marshal Budyonny was staying in the village of Zhidovinovo. Apparently, he did not like the unsound name and ordered to rename the village “Rodniki” because of the abundance of powerful springs on the left bank of the Tadenka River. The Soviet command, preparing for a possible German breakthrough, strengthened the banks of the Oka. From Serpukhov to Kashira along the whole left bank defensive positions were created. On the territory of the reserve at the mouth of the river Tadenka cadets of Podolsk college dug trenches. The collective farmers of Luzhki village, expecting the arrival of the Germans, dug several dugouts on the left bank of the Ponikovka river. There are also dugouts and dugouts in other places of the reserve, where they were used as temporary dwellings by military units. In 1941, in the forests of the left bank real thickets were built: trees were cut down at a human height and trunks and branches were felled in the direction from where they were waiting for a breakthrough. In the forests of the future reserve during the war large quantities of wood were harvested for the needs of the war front and Moscow. About 25% of the forest area during five years was subjected to clear cutting and partial felling. The logging and trenching work was done mostly by women and teenagers, for whom it was exceptionally hard work, according to recollections of local residents. In November 1941, Guderian’s tank group bypassed two Soviet armies defending the Tula-Serpukhov surge. Battles broke out over Kashira, where a critical situation was being created, threatening a German breakthrough across the Oka and encirclement of Tula and Serpukhov. At this moment the 49th army, protecting Serpukhov, sent its last reserves to Kashira, and the positions near Luzhkov, Zibrovo and Nikiforovo were occupied by the 586th regiment of the 5th Guards infantry division, which had a task to prevent the enemy from crossing the Oka. But infantrymen of the 586th regiment did not have to fight at this line: near Kashira the tank group of Guderian was defeated. In December the Soviet troops launched a counteroffensive, throwing the enemy to the west. After that the Wehrmacht land units no longer threatened Serpukhov, but the war in the air continued for a long time. Summer camps of Podolsk Rifle and Artillery School appeared in the village of Luzhki (now a protected area of the reserve). Opposite, across the Oka River, on the wide floodplain near the village of Lipitsy there was a military airfield. In the early days of the war thousands of soldiers and cadets were training in the camps, and the airfield received planes of the 178th Fighter Aviation Regiment, which had to defend Serpukhov in the critical autumn of 1941, when the front was just outside the western edge of town. During the war dozens of planes crashed in the outskirts of Serpukhov and the airfield near the village of Lipitsy. One Soviet and one German plane crashed into the ground right on the territory of the reserve. Repeated bombings took place. One of the bombs with high power exploded in the forests of the reserve. Soviet bombers did not move to other airfields until 1944, after the Battle of Kursk. The war went west, but its echoes were camps for German and Hungarian prisoners of war. In the reserve, opposite the village of Rodniki (Zhidovinovo), there is the Camp Glade. The name comes from the camp of the former prisoners of war No. 15, which appeared here in 1945. In the central part of the glade in the cemetery of 15×15 m are buried the bodies of 23 prisoners of war who died in the camp. Nowadays there is a monument in the clearing – a big stone with the inscription: “Here lie the Hungarian prisoners of war, who died in World War II”. Prisoners of war were held there until 1948. The end of the war in May 1945 provided an opportunity to pay attention to the postponed pre-war projects. On June 19, 1945 by the decision of the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR the Moscow State Reserve was organized. On September 10, 1945 one of its five protected areas – Prioksko-Terrasny – began its activities. Three years later Prioksko-Terrasny area was separated from the Moscow State Reserve and transformed into a separate independent reserve. For the left bank of the Oka River an entirely new era was dawning, when man for the first time tried to stop and reverse the avalanche-like process of destruction of the natural environment.

The Prioksko-Terrasny Nature Reserve is a unique open-air natural laboratory. Among the available biodiversity, there is a great variety of organisms about which we have a far from complete understanding. One of these groups is myxomycetous – the so-called mushroom-like organisms. They look like mushrooms, but in fact, they are not. In total, about 1,100 species of myxomycetous are currently described in the world, almost 200 are noted in the Moscow region. Until last year, no regular studies of species diversity of myxomycetous were conducted on the territory of the Reserve. At the same time, we knew about the presence of 34 species of slime beetles. In the autumn of 2021, staff members of the Biology Department of Moscow State University conducted a series of field trips. Then 54 species were identified, 36 of which were new to the Reserve, and 5 of them had not previously been found in the Moscow region. These are Dianema harvei, Physarum atroviolaceum, Siphoptychium violaceum, Trichia ambigua and Trichia crateriformis. It is worth noting that with the exception of Siphoptychium violaceum, which can have sporonodia reaching several centimeters, the size of sporonodia of other representatives of myxomycetes is about 1-2 millimeters! In 2022 the field work was continued. Expeditionary trips at the end of April yielded a number of surprising discoveries. For the first time in the Moscow Region, sporonoderms of nival myxomycetes, which form on the border of melting snow in early spring, were found. This year, these are mainly representatives of the genus Lamproderma.

The educational project “School of Protected Friends” of the current academic year is over. As part of the project, students of Serpukhov College regularly met with employees of Prioksko-Terrasny State Reserve at thematic lectures. The meetings were held in the reading room of the A.P. Chekhov Central City Library. During the lectures, pupils learned about the tasks that are solved every day by representatives of various departments of the Reserve. Today, the young reserved friends, as part of an organized group and accompanied by their teachers, arrived at the Reserve for their graduation. The students tried on the role of volunteers and worked in the fresh air for the benefit of the Central Bison Nursery and its inhabitants. The program continued with a guided tour of the ecological trail The Way to the Bison and the Museum of Nature. The event ended with a friendly tea party, during which the graduates shared their emotions about their participation in the project “School of Protected Friends. This concludes the educational cycle. “School of Protected Friends” is heading off for the summer break to open its doors again in September, welcoming new, open to environmental knowledge. Enrollment for the new school year is now open!

An exchange of bison between Prioksko-Terrasny State Reserve and Oksky State Reserve took place as part of the Agreement on Cooperation and the Plan for Resettlement of Bison from Nurseries and Free Groups for 2022. On May 12, a young bison named Medsi, born in 2020, was brought to the Central Bison Breeding Station from the Oka reserve nursery for the purpose of renewal and replenishment of the breeding stock. On May 19, a young bison, Munmagicstone, born in 2019, arrived from the Central Bison Nursery of the Prioksko-Terrasny Reserve at its new home in the nursery of the Ryazan region. For those who follow our publications, Munmagicstone is well known. This legendary bull is the son of one of our most famous bison, Murakami, and the bison Mumugenvin. Munmagicstone’s unique hallmark is his ability to juggle weighty logs with the ease of an athlete. His brisk exercise was shown early last year on the TV channel Russia. This is not the first exchange between the kennels. In 2020, Prioksko-Terrasny swapped Mufa and Muelza for Memuvin and Medoris. In two years, these young bison have grown and matured and may soon become parents.