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Blog posts related to Steppe eagles trapped and tracked from Oman in 2017 can be found on the Egyptian vulture blog

Sunday, May 24, 2020

The nesting area of 186

by B. Meyburg, A. Spalton, F. Al Lmaki and Mike McGrady

Russian and Kazakh colleagues working on the breeding grounds of Steppe Eagles have sent the pictures below of nests in the area around where 186 is nesting,  We are hoping that one of them might be able to make a visit to the nesting area a little later this summer.

Steppe eagle nest in western Kazakhstan in 2010 (A. Barashcova).

Two Steppe eagle chicks at a nest built on the remains of a man-made structure in 2010 (A. Barashkova).

A "typical" Steppe eagle nest in the vicinity of the nesting by 186 in 2004 (I. Karyakin)

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

186 has been nesting

by A. Spalton, F. Al Lamki, B. Meyburg, M. McGrady

Well the female Steppe eagle with the transmitter 186 appears to have taken stay at home advice seriously.  After about 40 days of no transmissions, it turned up and dumped some data, suggesting that it is a breeding bird and has spent much of that time sitting on a nest.  186 was already an adult when we caught her in 2019 at Raysut.  Below is a map of data from 29 April - 15 May.  You can see that 186 stayed mostly within about 2 km of its nest.  Only recent behaviour (perhaps ranging away from the nest or soaring higher) has allowed the logger to transmit its data to the GSM network.

It is likely that other eagles that have "disappeared" in recent weeks have simply been breeding in remote areas with no GSM coverage.  We hope to hear from them soon!

Location of likely nesting territory of an adult female Steppe eagle (186) in May 2020.

Ranging of a adult female Steppe eagle (186) during 29 April - 15 May 2020.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Out of Arabia

by B. Meyburg, A. Spalton, F. Al Lamki, M. McGrady

The last of the Steppe eagles that we have been tracking over this winter has finally left Arabia and is in southern Iran, about 130 km NE of Bandar Mahshahr.  183 spent its winter at the central Saudi Arabian dump site where more than 6000 other eagles overwintered.  Look back at post from 22 November 2019.  183 is a 5 year male that spent last summer in western Kazakhstan.  We expect it will go there again this year. 

Of course, the Steppe eagle is the focus of the Champions of the Flyway initiative.  Good luck to those participating in the event and to the eagles.

Be healthy, people.

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Monday, March 30, 2020


by M. McGrady, A. Spalton, F. AlLamki, B. Meyburg

It took a while, but 183 seems to have finally started its migration.  Just to remind you, 183 is a 5 yr old Steppe eagle that we caught in Salalah, Oman in January 2019.  It spent the summer of 2019 in western Kazakhstan, then during winter of 2019-20 settled at a rubbish dump in central Saudi Arabia.  The rather large number of tagged eagles that either wintered at that rubbish dump or passed through lead us to visit the site.  What we found was the largest winter aggregation of Steppe eagles in the world... between 4.5 and 9% of the total world population.  You can read about that site in the free issue of Sandgrouse (click here), the journal of the Ornithological Society of the Middle East. 

183 is the last of the Steppe eagles we are tracking to start migration this spring. Some are already on the summering locatons.  More about that later...  Below is a map of the movements of 183 since 1 December 2019.  Bon voyage!

Movements of a 5 yr old Steppe eagle that wintered near Shaqrah, Saudi Arabia during 2019-20.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Steppe eagle migration has started

by M. McGrady, A. Spalton, F. AlLamki, B. Meyburg

Steppe eagle migration has started, at least for some of the individuals that we are tracking.  In fact, it started some time ago, with the first tracked bird (186) making its move away from its wintering area in Dhofar, Oman on 21 February.  186 is now almost to the border between Iran and Turkmenistan. (See map).  

Migration of Steppe eagle 186 during 1 Feb - 3 March 2020.
Other birds have not moved from their wintering areas (183, See map below), and still others (182, map below) have moved away from areas used for most of the winter, but settled into new sites, and not started migrating in earnest. 

Movement of Steppe eagle 183 during 1 Dec - 5 March 2020.
Movementss of Steppe eagle 182 during  1 Jan - 5 March 2020.
Reports from Kuwait are that many Steppe eagles are being seen in the desert west and north of the city, and that the numbers at the dumpsites in central Saudi Arabia and Dhofar, Oman are declining. You may recall that the dumpsite in central Saudi Arabia was used by more than 6000 Steppe eagles over the winter (see Nov 22 2019 blog post), including 182 and 183. Recently about 700-900 eagles were there. Those birds that have yet to leave seem to be mostly non-adults (P. Roberts pers. comm.).  Numbers in Dhofar have also gone down.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

End of Year Update

by M. McGrady, A. Spalton, B-U Meyburg, F. Al Lamki

Office for Conservation of the Environment ranger with tagged Steppe Eagle at Raysut, January 2019.
We have learned a lot about Steppe eagles that winter in Oman in 2019.  Here is a recap:

In 2017 we caught two Steppe eagles at Al Multaqaa, the Muscat municipal dump.  This summer one of those eagles dropped its tag in Kazakhstan.  The tag was recovered by Kazakh colleauges, and is being refurbished for future use.  The other has also disappeared, but on its northward migration in spring.  In that case, it seems like the tag was performing less and less efficiently, so we hope that bird is still alive.  In the winters that followed the capture of those birds, they did not return to Oman; one wintered in SW Saudi, and the other at a site in central Saudi.  The central Saudi site has become somewhat famous.  The tracking data led us to ask Saudi collegues to visit the site.  When they went, they found around 5000! Steppe eagles.  Click here to see a short report on the OSME website.

In January 2019, with funding from the Anglo-Omani Society, and in-country support from the Office for Conservation of the Environment (OCE), Diwan of Royal Court, we captured 13 Steppe eagles at the Raysut, near Salalah, and fitted them with transmitters.  The transmitters on two of those birds failed almost immediately.  One bird made it to the summering grounds before contact was lost.  All other birds survived the summer and then migrated back to Arabia.  However, in spring Raysut was closed and the new landfill at Hakbeet (about 50 km N of Salalah) became fully operational.

About 1/2 of the birds arriving back in Arabia, went back to Raysut, only to find that it had been closed and there was no food.  Those birds then dispersed to other areas where they could get food.  Here is what has happened:  1 bird seemed to drop its tag at Raysut, but we have been unable to recover it.  Two birds are in southern Oman, making regular use of the Hakbeet landfill, one is in eastern Yemen, one in central Yemen and one in NW Yemen. Two are in SW Saudi Arabia, and two are at the large aggregation of Steppe eagles in central Saudi mentioned above.

During the wintering times, OCE biologists have been monitoring the use of Raysut by the eagles.  They noted that eagles were not aggregating at the site once it had closed down.  The information gathered from them was presented to be'ah, which reacted quickly and made food available to the eagles at the landfill at Hakbeet.  The result has been that over 500 eagles are now using the landfill, a great example of Omani biologists and government collecting data and using it to conserve eagles, and rapid action by a company that values the environment.

You can troll back through earlier posts to see more detail.

Throughout this work we have operated under permissions granted by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs (MECA), and in cooperation with be'ah and its contractors.

So, there we are for 2019.  Our plans for 2020 include continuing the monitoring and tracking of eagles, and working with the OCE, be'ah, MECA and others to promote eagle conservation in Oman and internationally.  Our  Anglo-Omani funding runs out, but we will continue to track the birds, at least, and report on their movements every so often in this blog.  We are hoping other conservation and research initiatives can be started, but as one might expect for a project like this:  "That's up in the air."

What is not up in the air is that we wish you all (and the eagles) a healthy New Year.

Don't forget to visit the other blog about our work on Egyptian vultures in Oman: http://egyptianvultureoman.blogspot.com/

Friday, November 22, 2019

Wanderings of 186

by F. Al Lamki, B. Meyburg, M. McGrady & A. Spalton.

The "winter" has arrived for the Steppe eagles.  Most have now ceased concerted migration.  Some have settled into fairly small home ranges, especially where there is a reliable source of plentiful food, like a landfill or rubbish dump.  Those birds are moving almost exclusively between where they spend the night and those food sources.  Other birds, like the one whose movements are shown below, apparently don't find a single source of abundant, reliably available food. 

The bird mapped below, 186, migrated into Arabia on 28 September, and flew to Salalah, where it spent last winter.  Finding the rubbish dump there closed, it moved back to Yemen, then to SW Saudi, and is now back in NW Yemen.  One can see clusters of locations along this route, where the eagle probably found enough food for it to dwell there for some time.

The map also shows that his bird passed through the area of Central Saudi, where the large aggregation of Steppe Eagles was located with the help of our transmitter data. Click here to read ore about that.

Movements of a Steppe Eagle during 28 Sept - 21 Nov 2019,  (To view the map better, try double-clicking on it)