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Thursday, April 28, 2016

A day in the life of a vulture

This is an interesting snapshot of what our satellite tracked vulture does in this single day.  Early this morning (28 April) it moved from a location in the Wadi Sareen Reserve, by noon it was back in the area north of Ibra, and made a single excursion out to a storage dam to the north, and by evening appeared to be roosting in a location north of Ibra where it has spent much time over the past weeks (See earlier blog posts).  For much of the past month or so this bird has moved mostly within a 10 km x 10 km area just north of Ibra.

Movements of an Egyptian vulture during a single day, 28 April 2016. (Click on the image to enlarge it.  Time stamps are GMT.  Add 3 hrs for local time)

Friday, April 15, 2016

Early April 2016

At the beginning of the month our tracked vulture was in Quriyat, but it soon moved south over the mountains, and has been staying in a relatively confined area north of Ibra.  It seems the bird has been visiting the Ibra landfill site, but also areas around the ring road being constructed around Ibra.

Movements of Egyptian vulture during early April 2016.

Close up view of movements of Egyptian vulture in the area north of Ibra.
Also, there is a new paper available on vulture use of the Al Multaqua Landfill site.  The landfill is perhaps the best place to see vultures if you are near Muscat.  You can download the paper here https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzhIfKS1gn5cQjVOeF9TLUt4aFU

Saturday, April 2, 2016

End of March 2016

At the beginning of the past two weeks 80 was spending most of its time at the Tahwa Landfill site, and apparently roosting in the mountains (Jebel Qahwan) to the east.  On 23 March it flew west toward Ibra, then south near Sinaw.  It is remarkable how many of the sites this bird appears to be visiting were visited by the bird we tracked in 2015 (Look back at earlier blogs: November 2015).  On 25 March it flew north and spent a short period in the Wadi Sareen Protected Area.  During the past week it has been staying mostly very close to the rubbish dump at Quriyat, with some trips to, what appears from satellite images, a local dump site at Hayl al Ghaf.  Again, this is a site that was visited by other of our tracked vultures (See blog post from Mid May 2015).  Today it has made its way back over the mountains to a location north of Ibra, near where we last heard a signal from a bird we tracked in 2015 (See blog post for 19 February 2015).

Below is a map of the bird's movements in the last week and a map of the bird's movements since it was fitted with a transmitter in mid January 2016.

Movement of Egyptian vulture 24 March-1April
Movement of Egyptian vulture January through March 2016.
Although we have limited data, it is apparent that there are hotspots for Egyptian vultures in Oman, and these include small and large waste disposal sites, and roosting sites in the mountains.  The Egyptian vultures that we tracked have stuck to lower elevations, and that may be because that is where people are and their rubbish.  High voltage electricity pylons are also favoured as roost sites, especially during daylight hours.  Mapping such hotspots would be a useful step in understanding vulture ecology in Oman and promoting conservation.  We know that some vultures are electrocuted, some raptors are shot, and some die from ingesting poisons and contaminated food.  Also, development, such as windfarms and the associated transmission infrastructure, are a threat to migratory soaring birds.  A "sensitivity map" of locations likely important to vultures would enable government, private companies, and conservation organizations to target areas for caution and conservation effort.  Sensitivity mapping is being used by Birdlife to highlight areas potentially important to migrating soaring birds http://migratorysoaringbirds.undp.birdlife.org/en/sensitivity-map and has been used to identify areas where conflicts may exist between golden eagles and windfarms http://rwww.rspb.org.uk/Images/bright_langston_bullman_others_tcm9-192434.pdf