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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

Friday, September 25, 2020

Stopover 187

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

As mentioned in yesterday's post (click here), 187 has been in southern Russia for the last week or so.  Migrating birds, including the Steppe eagles we are tracking, sometimes "stopover" during their migration.  In other words, they halt active migration, and remain in an area for some period of time.  Mostly these stopovers are probably related to the availability of food.  So, an eagle might interrupt its migration in a place where food is plentiful.  There it will feed and build up reserves before continuing on its way.  

Below is a map of some recent locations of 187.  Although we do not know for sure that there is food at this place (Dobrozhelannyy, Stavropol Krai, Russia), it seems to have a number of buildings that appear to be chicken sheds.  This bird was caught in Oman feeding on chicken remains from a local farm in Salalah, and the large number of eagles seen in central Saudi Arabia last year (See: http://steppeeaglesoman.blogspot.com/2019/11/6700-eagles-found-in-central-saudi.html).  

Stopover location for a tagged Steppe eagle (187) at Dobrozhelannyy, Stavropol Krai, Russia during mid September 2020.  Red arrows indicate buildings that may be chicken sheds.  Waste from the production of chickens could be a reason for this eagle to stopover at this location. (© 2020 IAR)

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Progress of migration - mixed

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

The status of the Steppe eagles we are tracking is mixed. Some birds have moved south, but have not checked in for some days.  We think they might be in a GSM hole, and are unable to upload data.  Such is the case for 183 (See http://steppeeaglesoman.blogspot.com/2020/09/183-in-iran.html).  Indeed, some birds "disappeared" for weeks on the summering grounds when they settled into areas where there was no GSM coverage (See http://steppeeaglesoman.blogspot.com/2020/07/187-checks-in-after-110-days-of-silence.html).  We hope those birds will "call in" soon.

Others are still fairly far north, like 185 and 187.  Below is a map of these birds' movements since 1 September.  They are still located north of the Caucasus.  In contrast, a Steppe eagle tagged in Kuwait last winter is now making its way down the Saudi Arabian Red Sea coast (See: https://kuwaiteagles.blogspot.com/2020/09/steppe-eagle-now-west-of-medina.html)

Movements of two Steppe eagles since 1 September 2020.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

183 in Iran

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

While most of the tagged Steppe eagles are still on their summering grounds, 183 has made a leap forward and is now in south-central Iran, about 400 km NNE of the head of the Gulf.

We'd also like to announce the lauch of a new blog about eagles in Kuwait.  You can access it here https://kuwaiteagles.blogspot.com/.  We'll be updating it often as we try to catch up with historical events, and the eagles being tracked are likely to start their migration soon.

Movements of Steppe eagle 183 during 1 August-10 September 2020.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Bon voyage

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

Bird migration has started, but not all birds have moved.  This is the situation across species.  For the Steppe eagles we have tracked, its also mixed, so far. Below is a map of locations from six tags since 1 August.  You can see that some are still on their home ranges (186), some seem to be wandering and have not pushed along their migration route (182), and others have started their migration (183,185,187).  184 was last heard heading east from its summer home range on 5 August.  Two of the birds appear to be heading around the north part of the Caspian, and has headed down the east coast of the Caspian.  None of the birds we have tracked have ever wintered outside of Arabia.  We'll see if that record holds.  

Migration can be a perilous time, and Steppe eagles have been lost to electrocution and poisoning on the way.  Hopefully, all the birds will arrive safely.

As the migration gets going, we'll post progress reports to the blog, so come back every so often or sign up to be notified when we post something.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Has migration started?

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

It's been a rather quiet summer.  All birds migrated to western Kazakhstan, and settled into territories. Some did not send any data for long periods because those territories were outside the GSM network.

These are the dates of the latest locations:

182 - 23 August

183 - 26 August

184 - 5 August

185 - 25 August

186 - 20 August

187 - 22 July

222 - 8 August

It seems that migration has started for some individuals.  A Steppe eagle was seen on Farasan Island, Saudi Arabia a few days ago, and one being tracked by a Kuwaiti team has moved from summering areas mostly in western Kazakhstan to a location just north of the Caucasus, near Stavrapol, Russia.  183 may be the first of our tracked birds to make a move.  Below is a map of its movements since 1 June.  From 1 June to 7 July, it was quite settled, but then went on an excursion.  It retuned to that initial settlement area on 3 August, but just passed through.  It then headed NW until 7 August.  Since then it has made its way SW, and is currently just west of Beyneu, Kazakhstan.

Movements of a Steppe eagle during 1 June - 26 August 2020.

Friday, July 24, 2020

187 checks in after 110 days of silence

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

187 has reported in, after last being heard on 3 April.  There are still some Steppe eagles that have not been heard of since arriving on the summering grounds, but we remain hopeful.  The map below shows data since 3 April. The cluster of locations at the "start" label is most likely its breeding home range.  Recently, as the duties of being a territory holder wane, the bird has started moving and has come into the GSM network and started to upload its stored data. Over time the gap during 3 April - 21 July should be filled in.  As you can see in the post just before this one, other eagles are showing up after long periods of silence.  They, too, are probably now less tied to breeding home ranges, and able to move away.  Changing availability of food around their summer home ranges may be a factor in the movements.
Locations for 187 during 3 April - 22 July, that had been uploaded by 24 July 2020.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Steppe eagles are popping up!

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

Its been almost two months since we last reported on the movements of Steppe eagles we have been tracking.  One reason for this was that, upon arriving on the summering grounds, most of the birds 'disappeared'.  At the time we did not know for sure why they had disappeared, but thought that at least some of them had settled into areas with poor GSM coverage, meaning they were unable to upload their locations.  Although we were fairly confident that this was the case, we could not be sure until they moved back into GSM coverage, so in the meantime we just worried about them. As it turns out, we had no need to worry... at least for some.

Below is a map of four birds that have sent data recently.  183 went missing during 26 April to 2 July.  184 went missing during 9 April to 11 July.  185 and 186 have been sending back data sporadically since arriving on the summering grounds.  182 has been missing since 25 March, and 187 has been missing since 4 April (we hope they will show up soon).

The reason these birds are popping up now is that they are probably no longer tied closely to their nest site, especially if their young have flown.  In the coming weeks these birds may wander in the summering grounds looking for food (they should also upload the stored locations during the time they were missing).  Susliks, ground squirrels are important food, and their availability varies across the landscape.  Pretty soon they will hibernate, and that will be an important cue for the eagles to start their migration.

Stay healthy!

Movements of four Steppe eagles on their summering grounds during 15 May - 17 July 2020.