If you click on any images in the blog, it will be opened in a separate window, will be larger and it will be easier to see detail.

Blog posts after 1 Feb 2018 about Steppe eagles tracked from Oman can be found at the Steppe eagle blog

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Update June-July 2018

It has been quite a while since I last posted information about Egyptian vulture movements.  I'll try to catch up. 

Below is a map of the adult vulture with the GPS transmitter number 139.  During the past two months it has been ranging in much the same manner as it did during the previous five months.  It has moved mostly around the Al Multaqaa Landfill site that serves Muscat and Wadi Sareen, but has also made journeys to Al Hamar rubbish dump at Ibra and travelled for a short time toward Ras al Hadd.  I think that despite being an adult, this bird is not holding a territory and did not breed this spring.  It is what is known as a "floater".  It might in the coming years try to acquire a territory.  We'll have to wait and see.  As it happens this bird has not been heard of since 9 July.  It was last located in the most rugged parts of Wadi Sareen.
Movements of adult Egyptian vulture 139 during 28 May-15 July 2018.
In contrast, the map below is from an adult Egyptian vulture with transmitter number 16095 during the same time period as the one above.  This bird appears to be a territory holder, with most of its movements near Jaslut (between Muscat and Quriyat) and making regular use of the Al Multaqaa Landfill.

Movements of adult Egyptian vulture 16095 during 28 May-15 July 2018.

Monday, May 28, 2018

4 month summary

Its been about 4 months since we fitted satellite transmitters to 13 (12 adults, 1 immature), fully expecting that some, if not most of the vultures would migrate.  This assumption was based on observations of increased numbers of vultures at rubbish dumps in Oman during winter (See Al Fazari & McGrady 2016).  To our surprise, only one of the birds even moved out of the country, and the rest stayed in NE Oman, mostly in the eastern Hajar Mountains.  Even the bird that left Oman, has not moved far away, just across the Straits of Hormuz into southern Iran (top map). Of all the others, most seem to be settled on territories (bottom map).  Two are still wandering a bit, and may not hold territories or may not be breeding this year, and are free-er to move around.  I wish we could get into the field to confirm breeding for these pairs, but that is not possible at the moment.

What this does imply is that the eastern Hajar Mountains are an important area for breeding Egyptian vultures (perhaps an IBA?), and that the published estimate of 100 breeding pairs in Oman is far too low.  Beside getting into the field to confirm breeding of these birds, important information could be gathered by: 1) comprehensive surveys of rubbish dumps in northern Oman (ESO has started this, but that was some years ago and was when we thought many of the birds would be migrants), 2) surveys for breeding vultures in northern Oman, and 3) perhaps capturing vultures in the western Hajar Mountains and fitting them with transmitters to see if they too appear to be almost entirely resident.

Movements of an adult Egyptian vulture during Jan-May 2018
Movements of 12 Egyptian vultures (11 adults and one immature) during January-May 2018.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Electrocution of vultures

Back in 2015 one of the Egyptian vultures we were tracking in Oman was electrocuted.  You can look back at blog posts for 21 and 23 December 2015 to read more.  Now this news from Iran (photo below) about an electrocuted Egyptian vulture.  Although this bird was not being tracked by us, one of the birds fitted with a tag in Oman this past January is in the area (See map below).

Electrocution is a global problem for many large soaring birds, including eagles and vultures.  Some of those species, like the Egyptian vulture and Steppe eagle, are globally endangered.  One of our analyses of tracking data from vultures in Oman will be to identify areas in which there is a particularly high risk of electrocution, and then plan conservation actions to reduce that risk.  This can be achieved by ensuring that new power lines are designed to be safe and that existing lines are fitted with devices that reduce electrocution risk.  Happily, this effort would benefit both large birds by reducing electrocutions, but also reduce expensive repairs and down-time related to power outages caused by electrocution of birds.

An adult Egyptian vulture electrocuted on Qeshm Island, Iran on 18 May 2018.

Tracking of an adult Egyptian vulture during May 2018.  Qeshm Island is where the electrocution of the bird in the photo above occurred.

Monday, April 23, 2018

A little migration

Finally, after what appeared to be much indecision, 171318 has hopped across the Straits of Hormuz and is in Iran just west of the city of Bandar Abbas.  You can look back at posts from 15 March and 16 February to see descriptions of this bird's behaviour since being fitted with a transmitter.  Basically, since that time it has been moving up and down the north Oman coast from Musandam to Sur (I have yet to calculate how many km it travelled, but it will be thousands!)  So far this is the only one of the 13 vultures we caught that has made a migratory move, and all the others are behaving quite differently than this one.  We'll have to wait to see what happens.

On another front... the Steppe eagle we are tracking seems to be settling in central Kazakhstan.  I'll post something on that in the coming days.  Stay tuned... https://steppeeaglesoman.blogspot.co.at/

Movements of  Egyptian vulture 171318 during 19-23 April 2018.
Crossing of the Straits of Hormuz by 171318

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Egyptian vulture tracking paper

Here's a tip:  We have just published an article on Egyptian vultures we tracked via satellite.  You can read it online here:
Pass the link on to others you think might be interested.

Also, remember to keep an eye out for colour marked birds, especially Egyptian vultures (we have now colour marked 17 in Oman).  So many people are taking great pictures of birds.  Like the one of a subadult Egyptian vulture by Hassan Mohamed below.
Sub-adult Egyptian vulture

For those of you who are photographing birds, make sure to look closely at your photos.  Sometimes one does not see a colour mark (or ring or transmitter) until one looks at a reasonable picture.  Below are photos (by A. Kovac) of a colour-ringed Steppe eagle (from Russia) photographed at Raysut rubbish dump in Salalah.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

What's up with 171318?

171318 is an adult Egyptian vulture we caught and fitted with a transmitter on 20 January.  All the other vultures we have captured have stayed in fairly limited areas in NE Oman, travelling no farther west than Bid Bid.  Below is a simple animation of the movements of 171318.  Double click on the video to open it in a larger screen.  As you can see, its movements are very different.  We'll have to wait to see what happens.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


One of the satellite transmitters we deployed in January in Oman was provided by  the Vulture Conservation Foundation.  They had a little contest amongst their supporters to give the vulture a name, and the supporters chose, "Tayeh" التائه , the wanderer. Below is a map of what Tayah has done since it was caught, and a map of what it has done during the first week of March.  Recently, it seems to be concentrating its time in the hills south of the village of Jaslut جحلوت, and maybe this is a sign that this is a resident bird and not a migrant.  We'll have to wait and see.

You should take the opportunity to visit the Vulture Conservation Foundation's web site.  It has a lot of information on other things they are doing for vultures, including tracking Egyptian vultures that spend their summers on the Iberian Peninsula and their winters in  West Africa (those birds are migrating now!).
Movements of an adult Egyptian vulture (Tayeh) during mid January - early March 2018.

Movements of an adult Egyptian vulture (Tayeh) during mid 1-6 March 2018.

Releasing Tayeh on 19 Jan 2018.