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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

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Steppe eagles dying while on migration

by Mike McGrady and Bernd Meyburg

It is with sadness that we receive a report of about 30 Steppe eagles (and at least one Eastern imperial eagle) being found either dead in Iran, The photos below appeared in Iranian newspapers.  They show some of the birds, including some that are not dead.  Those that were alive were taken into veterinary care.  The birds were apparently sickened when feeding on chicken carcasses dumped along the roadside near Sarvestan (South part of the country).

We have not heard whether the poison has been identified or whether it is a natural toxin (e.g. botulism) or something anthropogenic.  Apparently, such events happen regularly during migration in Iran.  Also, there are reports of similar mortality events in India and along the migratory routes of eagles and vultures in south central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, but we know nothing of the scale.

Landfills and dump sites are sources of food for scavenging birds (indeed our tracked birds have spent every winter at dump sites in Oman and Saudi Arabia.  See earlier blog posts), and could have a positive effect, if they do not expose the birds to toxic material.  This can be achieved by proper segregation and disposal of toxic waste.  In Oman, globally important numbers of endangered vultures and eagles use the landfills and waste transfer sites.  If the food available to the scavengers there is safe, then the scavengers can benefit.

Monday, November 26, 2018

20 months of Steep eagle movement

by Mike McGrady and Bernd Meyburg

After animating the data on the movements of  an Egyptian vulture caught by us in Oman in January (see 31 October posting at https://egyptianvultureoman.blogspot.com/), John Burnside of Sustainable Houbara Management and University of East Anglia has kindly animated the movements of the Steppe eagles over the past 20 months (visit them on Twitter @SustainHoubara  and at sustainablehoubaramanagement.org ).  See below!  Pretty cool!.  (Click on the box in the lower right hand corner to open the animation in a new window. Return by pressing Esc).

After capture in January 2017, the birds migrated and summered mostly in Kazakhstan.  In winter 2017-18 they both were in Saudi Arabia, one in the middle and one on the coast near the Yemen border.  In summer 2018 they both migrated back to Kazakhstan, to areas different than those used in summer 2017.  In autumn 2018 both migrated back to Saudi Arabia.  Look back at earlier blog posts to get details.  Since tagging, one bird has travelled over 30,000 km, the other over 42,000. In the coming days we'll update where exactly the birds are in Saudi Arabia.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Both eagles in central Saudi

By Bernd Meyburg and Mike McGrady

The two Steppe eagles we have now been tracking for almost 2 years are back in Arabia, and both are currently located in central Saudi Arabia, NW of Riyadh.  See below.

Current location of two Steppe eagles first trapped in Oman in January 2017
162312 (the transmitter ID number) is back at the same location it used during winter 2017-18.  If you click on the image below to enlarge it, you can see the rubbish dump where this bird is spending most of its time.  You can look back at blogs from last winter.  For example: https://steppeeaglesoman.blogspot.com/2018/02/ 

Rubbish dump at which Steppe eagle 162312 is spending much of its time.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

18 October 2018

105 had spent a month around Soltanabad, Iran, then on 16 October it continued on its migration south.  It moved into Iraq, and is currently near the town of Diwaniyah, about 50 km east of Najaf. It is not unusual for birds to stopover at sites along migration, especially if there is food.  We don't know much about the situation around Soltanabad, but would love to hear from anyone who has information.
Movements of Steppe eagle 105 during 16 September to 18 October 2018.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Late September - early October 2018

By Bernd Meyburg and Mike McGrady

It's mid-October and reports from Oman are that many Steppe eagles have already arrived.  Here is what our two tagged birds are doing...

162312 has migrated back to the exact location where it spent the winter of 2017-18, in central Saudi Arabia, about 180 km NW of Riyadh (Map below).  It arrived there on 28 September.  In 2017, it arrived in early November.  Have a look: https://egyptianvultureoman.blogspot.com/2017/11/  It is not uncommon for birds to show fidelity to their wintering areas, though we have few data about this from Steppe eagle.

105 started migration on the 3rd of September, though we did not know about it until some days later when it came into GSM range.  By 16 September it had made it to Soltanabad, near Ilam, Iran, where it has remained.  At Soltanabad it has been able to download the many GPS locations it logged during the summer, when it had been mostly out of GSM range.  Alireza Hashemi of the Tarlan Ornithological Society in Iran reports that there has been an outbreak of anthrax in that area that has killed many cattle, and so perhaps the eagle will stopover for some time more.  However, we predict that it will eventually move farther south (map below).
162312's locations since 28 September 2018 (dark blue) and locations from end of February 2018 (light blue).

Locations of Steppe eagle 105 at Soltanabad, Iran during 16 September - 11 October 2018.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

21 September 2018

by Mike McGrady and Bernd Meyburg

162312 is making rapid progress on migration.  Most recently it was just outside the famous city of Qom, Iran.  It has made steady progress, covering about 1000 km in three days.  See map below.
Movements of Steppe eagle (162312) during autumn migration, 2018.
In Qom, the eagle has visited what appears to be the municipal rubbish dump (Image below).  Rubbish dumps are a potential source of food for scavenging birds like this eagle or like Egyptian vultures, which also migrate along this flyway.  However, they are also a potential hazard if they expose scavengers to toxic material or if the power lines around the dump sites are an electrocution threat.  Iran Bird and Powerline Protection Committee can be visited on Twitter https://twitter.com/ibplc2017?lang=en

162312 apparently visited a waste site outside of Qom, Iran.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

1-18 September

Bernd Meyburg and Mike McGrady write:

One of the Steppe eagles (162312) has indeed started to migrate in earnest.  It left its summering area in west central Kazakhstan around 1 September, and is now near Serdar, Turkmenistan, near the Iran border.  It has flown over 1600 km since leaving its summering area.

We have not heard from the other eagle we are tracking since late July.  However, over much of the summer that bird was out of GSM range, so could not transmit its data.  Hopefully, it will soon start to migrate past places within the GSM network and we can see that it is alive and find out what it has been doing for much of the past 5 months!

An expanded team that includes Bernd Meyburg and Faisal Al Lamki is making plans to fit more tags to Steppe eagles wintering in Oman in January.  This work will be supported by the Bernd Meyburg Foundation for Raptor Research and Conservation, the Anglo-Omani Society, and The Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, and more partners will be joining us in the near future

Movements of a Steppe eagle (162312) during 1-18 September 2018.