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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Early March 2016

On 1 March, 80 was visiting a rubbish dump just east of Bidiyah, but soon flew back to area around the Tahwa Landfill, where it has spent much of the past month.

Movements of juvenile Egyptian vulture (80) during first half of March 2016.  Click on the image to open it up larger in a new tab.
The map below shows the movements of 80 during a single 24 hour period.  The time stamps are in GMT, so one can see that the vulture is spending the day at the Tahwa Landfill, and its nights roosting in the steep sided wadi to the east.

Movements of juvenile Egyptian vulture during a single 24-hour period.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

End of February 2016

Some good news and some not so good news... First the good news.

80 has spent the last two weeks south east of where it was caught. From 16-23 Feb it was mostly in the mountains near the village of Wadd.  During 23-29 February it mostly visited the Tahwa Landfill site, which is the main waste disposal site for Sur.  While there it spend a good deal of its time perched on the pylons of the high voltage power line nearby, but also spent time in the northern Jebel Qahwan (Does anyone have a map of the new MECA protected area in Jebel Qahwan?  If so, can you send it to me?   Its a great place to see resident Egyptian vultures and there are some unknown number of breeding pairs in the mountains there.).  On the 29th it made a leap to the west, moving between the mountains and the Wahiba Sands near the towns of Bidya and Al Qabil.  Its last locations in February were on some power lines just south of the main road, near the Bidya rubbish dump.

Movements of juvenile Egyptian vulture during 16-29 February 2016.
Movements of Egyptian vulture between pylons (linear array of points left of centre), Tahwa Landfill (cluster near the centre of the map, and Jebel Qahwan (duster to the right).
Movements of juvenile Egyptian vultures on 29 February 2016.
The bad news is that 93, the other bird we were tracking, has died.  It flew out from the pylon on which it roosted in Al Amerat on the 16th, and two hours later we were receiving the signal from a non-moving transmitter.  When we recovered the bird there was no evidence of what was the cause of death.  It was not very near to any powerlines, and there was no obvious evidence that it had been shot.   Sadly, we were unable to collect it as soon as it died, and in the warm air of Oman, the body decomposed quickly.  Thus, clues as to why it died may have been lost.  While it is tempting to speculate that some human-related factor was involved and we know there are many human related threats to vultures, it is true that juvenile birds of all species, including Egyptian vultures have high rates of natural mortality.  While we know of no studies on this species, similarly sized raptors can have natural first year mortality of 70% or more.  Still, we are very sorry to lose 93. Here is a link to information on tracking of vultures from Bulgaria, which sadly also shows that mortality seems to be very high for this species http://www.lifeneophron.eu/en/news-view/371.html