Fauna of the Baikal
In the world there is no other lake, biological variety of which is so great and unique. As Russian writer A. P. Chehov “Strength and charm of the taiga consists not in trees-giants and not in the deathly silence but in the fact that migrant birds know, where it ends”.
In Baikal lake dwells wonderful beast - a seal.
Seal spends almost all its life in water, rising to the surface every 20-25 minutes for a portion of air. Seal breeds in the den under snow among hummocks (hummock is foliated ice). A brood contains a seal-calf. It feeds mostly on fish, mainly on bullheads and viviparous (oilfish is a viviparous fish). Color is not monochromatic with a pattern of dark and light veins. Seal likes to take a bath in “Ushanchiky” (Ushanchik island). Seal has a perfect ear, therefore it is better to observe it from the neighbouring island. In winter when ice covers the lake, seal gets out of its burrow under ice and harrows several holes.
The biggest elk dwells in forests of different types. It gets to forest-tundra and forest plantings in the steppe. Usually 2 calves are born. In summer it feeds on grass, in winter – with shoots and bark of trees.
It mews on January. New horns began growing on March and they weigh about 300-400 kg.
In the mountain taiga of Baikalia musk-deer, the least deer, is found. They are little, slender hoofed animals on thin long legs, hind legs of which are much longer than front ones. Its color is brown with unclear patterns of light spots. They feed mostly on mosses and lichens, keep alone. They have little antlers, consisting mostly of five twigs.
In the mountains of Transbaikalia where snow lies long, not thawing, a very nice small animal dwells, Black-capped marmot. Deep color of its head reminds a fur cap. This small animal has very many enemies among beasts. Close-fitting fur saves from frost. It prefers herbs, grasses before six-month hibernation. Before hibernation it acquires about 2 kg of fat. Very many animals die because of cold. Marmot is a day animal. Under the slightest danger it utters a sound, which is like whistle.
In the mountain meadows and grass slopes of Baikalia and Transbaikalia long-tailed souslik dwells. It lives in groups. Under the direction of the eldest souslik, they gather food, build burrows.
Sousliks have summer and winter burrows. They feed on seeds, grass, roots. The elder souslik watches nothing to assault its group. And if it seems to him that a danger threatens it, it stands on hind legs, utters clattering sound and raps at the ground. Its congeners hide oneself in the burrows. Souslik, like marmot, also falls into hibernation. However it is shorter.
In the south-east Transbaikalia Daurian hedgehog dwells. The length of its body makes up 195-250 mm. The length of tie is 23-35 mm. Ear is short. If turn back it, it doesn’t touch eyes. Hair and quills cover its head all over without “parting”. Color is brown-gray. They dwells in the steppes, hide in baizes, in overgrown bushes. They are active in twilight, and sometimes in the daytime. They eat toads, snakes, little rodents.
In the gulfs of the Baltic sea grey seals dwell. For rookeries on land they choose uninhabited, small islands with rocky, rarer pebbly coasts. They feed on sprat, cod, eel-pout, eel, salmon, bream, flounder, rarer crawfishes and shell-fishes. Color of seal is changeable. It is mostly of grey color (from light-grey to almost black). About the body sharp contrasting dark threads of various seize and form are littered, belly is lighter than back.
In Baikal lake various species of birds are found. For example: Pallas’ sea eagle. It looks like erne. Adults have wide brown-black hem at the end of tail. Head and neck are ochre-brown. They make their eyeries on trees or between logjams of reed. A laying contains one-two eggs.
The imperial eagle is a big bird with very deep coloring of feather. Adults’ top of the head is ochre, and some humeral feathers are white.
Eyerie halo spreads from the east of Europe to Transbaikalia. Habitats are various from desert to forest zone. Eyeries are made on the trees, seldom on the steeps. The laying contains two-three eggs. Hooded crane is one of the smallest species of the genus. Common color is grey, but neck and head is white. Skin on the forehead and crown is red. Widespread places of nesting are moss bogs with rare trees and bushes. By winter they fly away to Japan. In the places of wintering they hug in the rice fields and crops of grains.
In the Baikal there is a very beautiful bird – herring gull. In stormy weather when western winds drive water ashore, over the ridge of dunes lines of gulls fly, quietly gliding on air flows, originating from clash of wind with sandy ridges. The gull has bright color – silver-grey back, snow-white head, neck and abdomen, yellow beak with bright scarlet spot on the mandible. Eggs and baby birds are colored differently. Eggs are of brown or dim-selenium tones, color of a baby bird reminds color of khaki. All winter long nesting-places of gulls are empty.
In this time nobody will know the place where in spring every year a generation of gulls is settled. In one of warm sunny days gull’s interest in their nesting-places arises. When they glide down their wonderful white wings flash in sunlight, they circle, like huge snowflake in snow-storm. This wonderful scene may last about a quarter of an hour.
At warm weather these visits will repeat. At last, at the end of March the whole flock will fly down on the dunes. Gulls make up pairs, indeed they gather in groups. And the whole scene seems to non-specialists Chaos. But it is far from the truth. Gulls have their own rules of relationship. Even for this rookery it is worth to go in the Baikal. And with luck one can find both hedgehog and unusual animals of the Baikal.