If you click on any images posted to the blog, they will open in a new window, and may be easier to see.

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.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Summer is over for 162312

I have not posted to the blog since early July because the birds seemed pretty settled in their summering areas, some large gaps occurred for 105 seemingly because it was out of the GSM network, and because I was busy doing other things.  However, on 1 September 162312 started to move south.  It first arrived in Kazakhstan this summer on 11 April, and spent the summer 200-400 km south of Kostanay and 600 km SW of Astana (See the map below).  The other eagle, 105 has not been heard of for about a month.  As long as it has survived, I'd expect to be hearing from it soon as it starts to migrate and pass through networks.  I must say that it is always exciting when a bird starts migrating.  I'll try to make regular updates to the blog, so visit often.

At the end of the week there will be a conference on eagles in Russia.  I will talk to colleagues there, and learn more about the work of other people researching Steppe eagle.
Movements of a Steppe eagle (162312) during summer 2018 (dates are in North American format).

Thursday, July 5, 2018

105 turns up after 3.5 months!

We last heard from the Steppe eagle wearing transmitter 105 on 22 March.  At that time it was in Uzbekistan and seemed to be near the end of its migration.  It had spent the winter near Abha, Saudi Arabia (and just to remind you summered in 2017 in western Kazakhstan and was caught by us in January 2017 near Muscat, Oman).  It turned up today located about 30 km NW of Yekadin, KZ.  The gap in data was due to the bird being outside the area of the GSM network.  Hopefully, it will stay within the network for some time so that the stored location data from the past months can be downloaded.  In any case, it is great to know it is alive!

Locations of two Steppe eagles tracked via satellite in mid-July 2018.  Red =105, Blue=162312)
Interestingly, this bird is located only about 60 km from the other Steppe eagle we are tracking, which is currently about 60 km SW of Yekadin.  The map below shows the locations of both birds since 22 March.  As you can see, one bird (105) migrated earlier than the other (162312).

Movements of two Steppe eagles tracked via satellite during 22 March - 5 July 2018. Red=105, Blue = 162312. (Click on the image to open larger in a new window.)

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Is it breeding?

For much of the past month, locations from one of the Steppe eagles we are tracking have been within a 10 km diameter circle (about 520 km SW of Astana), raising the question of weather it had settled in to breed (spending some or most of its time on a nest).  I don't think so, though it could have, then abandoned the breeding attempt.  The reasons I think that it is not breeding is that it would still be fairly young (its entering its 3rd yr), and in recent days it has moved about 20 km to SSE.  That would mean that it settled in that 10 km circle for only three weeks or so, too short to incubate eggs.  Also, because its most recent move has kept it away from that circle for about 4 days, I think it had just found a good place to dwell for some time, and has now moved on.

The other eagle we are tracking has not been heard from since 22 March.  I am still hoping it is in a GSM hole somewhere, and will at some point leave that hole and start transmitting data. We have a lot of catching up to do.

Locations of a 3rd yr Steppe eagle during May 2018.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

1-10 May 2018

Well, it seems like 162312 has settled into a summering area, which is very remote.  Its about 90 km NNW of Baykonyr, Kazakhstan.  It's hard to say much about this area except that it seems very remote.  Looking at Google Maps its hard to find nearby active towns or even roads, and I had to zoom out quite a bit to find a recognisable geographic feature, the Aral Sea, which is about 400 km SW of where this bird has settled.

We haven't heard from the other steppe eagle for a while.  Presumably it has been in an area with no GSM network.  Hopefully, it will be heard from soon, and at least at the end of the summer when it starts autumn migration.

Apparent summering location of steppe eagle 162312

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Late April for 162312

Movements of a Steppe Eagle during the last week of April, 2018.

162312's pace of migration has slowed, and perhaps it has settled into a summering area about 175 km SW of the town of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Early April for 162312

The Steppe eagle that wintered in central Saudi Arabia (162312) is now (9April) in SW Kazakhstan about 100 km NE of the town of Ayteke Bi.  The map below shows its movements since 1 April, when it was south of Tehran.  It then moved NE, right through the middle of the Aral Sea.  On the scale of the migration this is "near" to where it spent last summer, but we'll have to wait to see where it settles.  I haven't heard from 105 in 10 days or so.  I guess it might just be in a place where there is no network.

Movements of Steppe eagle 16

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Habitat around Abha, Saudi Arabia

Steppe eagle 105 is well on its way to summering areas (last heard in Uzbekistan south of the Aral Sea), but here are some pictures from the area where it wintered, near Abha, Saudi Arabia, courtesy of Jeremy Babbington.  Jeremy was there last week and there were still some Steppe eagles around.

I'll wait a few more days to update on the movements of Steppe eagle 105, in the hope that he "phones home".  I did hear from the other Steppe eagle we are tracking, 162312, which wintered in central Saudi Arabia.  It has made steady and rapid progress and is in Turkmenistan at the moment.

Photo by J Babbington
Photo by J Babbington

Photo by J Babbington

Photo by J Babbington

Photo by J Babbington

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Both Steppe eagles on migration

I'd been waiting to have more information on the eagle movements before blogging, and now almost a month has past.

Steppe eagle 105 spent the early part of the month on the border between Iran and Iraq (see previous blog post).  On about 8 March it started to migrate, but apparently because of lack of GSM network, it did not upload data.  The next time we heard from it was on 20 March, and by that time it was in Turkmenistan.  During 20-22 March it continued northward into Uzbekistan, and we received our last location south of the Aral Sea near Muynak.  Since then it has probably gone into another GSM hole and we have not heard from it.  Nor has it had a chance to upload the data from the trip between Iraq and Turkmenistan.  The map below shows the data we have to date.

Movements of Steppe eagle 139 during March 2018.
Steppe eagle 162312 finally made a move, too.  On 27 March it left the area of central Saudi Arabia, where it had spent the winter of 2017-18, and started on migration.  By 29 September it had already reached southern Iran, about 30 km west of the town of Shush (See map below)>.

The movements of Steppe eagle 162312 as it starts on its spring migration.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Steppe eagle migration has started

On 17 February one of the Steppe eagles (105) we have been tracking for just over a year left its wintering area in SW Saudi Arabia and started on migration.  In doing so, it leap frogged over the other Steppe eagle we are tracking, which is still at its wintering location in central Saudi Arabia.  105 arrived on its wintering area (which included a rubbish dump) in mid October, so spent about four months there (if you want to look back at what that bird did over the winter, you'll have to visit https://egyptianvultureoman.blogspot.co.at.  Since leaving its wintering area, it has travelled about 1600 km.  Currently it is in southern Iraq on the border with Iran.  It is quite close to the Iranian town of Abadan.

I guess that the other Steppe eagle will start moving soon, so revisit this site to keep up with the progress of both.
Steppe eagle 105 (red) started its migration on 16 February.  162312 (blue) has yet to start migrating.

Monday, February 12, 2018

New Blog! January and early February 2018

Because we were successful in fitting 13 Egyptian vultures (and one Spotted eagle-Lesser spotted eagle hybrid) with GPS transmitters in Oman in January 2018, we have decided to create a separate blog just for the eagles we are tracking.  If you want to go back to see what the eagles did before this blog existed (i.e. during 2017), you'll have to visit the Egyptian vulture blog   If you are particularly interested in these eagles, you may want to follow this blog by clicking on the button to the right of this post or follow us by email (See also to the right of this post.).

The map below shows the movements of the two eagles since they were first fitted with transmitters in Oman in January 2017.

Movements of two Steppe eagles during Jan 2017 (Oman)-Jan 2018 (Saudi Arabia).
My last blog about the Steppe eagles was on 26 December 2017.  Since that time, the eagles have remained in the area of the rubbish dumps at which they have spent the whole of the winter so far.  One eagle, 105, has spent the winter near the town of Abha, in SW Saudi Arabia, and the other, 162312, has spent its winter NNE of Riyadh, in central Saudi Arabia.

Movements of Steppe eagle 105 during the winter of 2017-18 near Abha, Saudi Arabia.

Movements of Steppe eagle 162312 in central Saudi Arabia, north of Riyadh.