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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

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Important wintering locations in central Saudi?

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

Just to build on what was said in the last post...  Many Steppe eagles that we have been tracking, and presumably many others, seem to pass through or winter in a location between Riyadh and Burayda, Saudi Arabia, near the town of Shaqrah.  It would be great if anyone in the area could confirm the presence of a large number of eagles.  Dump sites used by our tracked birds are at 25.162 N, 45.195 E and 25.303 N, 45.125 E.  Jem Babbington reports that about 100 eagles of all ages were seen at a site just SE of Riyadh, at 24.618 N, 46.895.

Of course we also know that eagles are concentrating at dump sites west of the Asir Mountains, which are along the flyway that some eagles use to migrate into Africa.  Some of our tagged birds also visited that part of Saudi Arabia, and one spent a complete winter there.  Again, any observations of eagles and other scavenging birds from these areas would be very interesting.

Locations during last days of  October of three Steppe Eagles fitted with satellite transmitters.  These birds were fitted with transmitters in Salalah, Oman, in January 2019.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

A northwest passage of sorts

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

We have now been tracking Steppe eagles captured in Oman since 2017.  Most were fitted with transmitters in Salalah in January 2019.  Looking at the routes they have taken between their wintering and summering grounds (and vice versa), it is noticeable that many pass through or winter in a rather restricted area about 150 km the northwest of Riyadh, near the town of Shaqra.  However, we could find no reference to this area being important to migrating raptors.  Is there anyone in Saudi Arabia that knows about this area or might go visit it?

Steppe eagles, Abdim storks and crows at a dumpsite near Salalah, Oman
It seems that the apparent importance of this area is a consequence both of its location (along a rather direct route between wintering areas, the Bab el Mandeb and the head of the Arabian Gulf at Kuwait) and that two dumpsites are located near Shaqra.  Those dumpsites are likely a source of food for scavenging birds like Steppe eagles, but also Egyptian vultures, Eastern imperial eagles and other migrating raptors. Indeed, the importance of this area may be a relatively recent phenomenon linked to the rapid development in Saudi Arabia, and the resulting increase in waste.  See https://www.natureasia.com/en/nmiddleeast/article/10.1038/nmiddleeast.2019.80

While dumpsites can be important sources of food for scavenging birds, they can also pose threats if toxic material is also available to the birds or if dangerous power infrastructure is located nearby upon which eagles might perch and possibly be electrocuted.  Because of this, it would be good to make direct observations and collect data from this area.


Saturday, October 12, 2019

Lots of News - part 1

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

We've been a bit quiet recently, but that is not because nothing has been happening.  We'll try to catch up in the coming days...

The BIG news is that two of the Steppe eagles that we tagged last January in Salalah have returned, and one is about 100 km away at the moment (See map below).  This was somewhat of a surprise because the two Steppe eagles we captured near Muscat in January 2017 spent the subsequent two winters near rubbish dumps in Saudi Arabia.  The behaviour of those birds suggested to us that perhaps the birds that winter in Oman settle there because they are a bit "lost".  However, fidelity to wintering areas (i.e. returning to the same place) is not uncommon for many bird of prey species, so that these birds eventually returned to Salalah is not completely surprising.  Maybe eagles near Muscat are "off course", but Salalah is a more regular wintering site.  Maybe we'll see in the coming years.  At Salalah Steppe eagles are, by far, the most common wintering raptor; near Muscat, Egyptian vultures (apparently mostly resident birds) are the most common raptor species using the landfill there.

Movements of three Steppe eagles (186, 187, 182711) during 1 September - 12 October 2019.



Wednesday, September 11, 2019

More on migration

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

The Steppe eagles continue thier migration. At the moment we have recieved information about thee that are underway. We'll have to wait to hear from the others. 

182711 is making steady progress, and is currently near Basra.  We'll have to wait to see whether it ends up in Salalah again. 

Movements of a Steppe eagle (182711) during 4-11 September 2019.
Steppe eagle 187 has also migrated as far as Esfahan, Iran, where it has been for the past two days, apparently at a waste disposal site. 
Locations of  a Steppe eagle during 9-11 September 2019.



Saturday, September 7, 2019

187 has started to migrate

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

Steppe eagle fitted with tag number 187 has started to move.  It seems to have initiated migration on 31 August.  This is an adult male bird, and althought it was settled during most of the summer, it also made very big excursions, especially during late spring.  During most of the summer it was located in an area about 30 km north of the Kazakhstan village of Karaoy, 160 km SE of Aktobe.  As of 7 September it was located about 25 km north of Khur, Iran.

Bon voyage!

In seems that migration has started in earnest, so visit this blog regularly to keep up to date.  We hope to be hearing about other migrants soon.

Movements of a Steppe eagle (187)during 1 August-7September 2019

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Migration has started

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

Migration has started, at least for one of the Steppe eagles (185) we tagged earlier this year in Salalah.  Others may have started, and indeed some seem to be wandering during the late summer (mostly in Kazakhstan), but none have made a concerted push towards the wintering areas yet. 

185 is a female that was in its third year when we caught it.  It seems like she bred about 40 km east of the town of Embi, Kazakhstan because she stayed in a rather restricted area during 15 March -2 September.  On 2 September it started to migrate, but instead of returning along its spring migration route towards Arabia, it has flown north of the Caspian Sea and is currently about 100 km west of Astrakhan, Russia.

The movements during Jan-August 2019 of a third year Steppe eagle (185) tagged in Salalah.
Summering area used by a Steppe eagle (185) during 2019.
Zoomed in view of the summer home range of Steppe eagle 185.  It spent almost the entire summer within a radius of about 2.5 km.
Movements of Steppe eagle 185 since leaving its summer home range in 2019.  In the 3 days since starting migration, it has covered about 1000 km.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Movements of a Steppe eagle during January - June 2019


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

The annual movements of the Steppe eagles and other migratory birds never ceases to amaze.  Below is a map of a three year old female eagle (182712) since it was caught in January 2019 at Raysut, Oman.  Seemingly this bird was not a breeder in this year, rather it has wandered around central Kazakhstan.

Movments of a third calendar year, female Steppe eagle during January - June 2019.