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Thursday, April 27, 2017

162312 during April

The Steppe Eagle we are tracking that made an early attempt at migration (see earlier blog post), then returned to Oman is now in Iran.  162312 left the Tahwa landfill site, where it had spent much of the winter, on 8 April on its second migration attempt.  Like the other Steppe eagle we are tracking, it spend some time (5 days) on the Kuwait-Saudi Arabia border, before pushing farther north.  By 26 April, 162312 was located about 50 km southwest of Qom, Iran, following a path similar to that used by our other tagged Steppe eagle (see the April 14 post).

Bon voyage!

Migration of 162312 from Oman (8 April) into central Iran (26 April) during spring 2017.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Steppe eagle in Turkmenistan

Well, after waiting for some time on the Kuwait-Saudi border, the Steppe eagle we are tracking made a concerted push north, crossing southern Iraq and the whole of Iran.  Currently it is in Turkmenisan, near the town of Baharly.  Since leaving on migration, this bird has travelled a total of 4030 km and is now 1682 km away (straight line) from where it started.  On average it has travelled 118 km/day, but has travelled as much as 314 km in a single day.  The gap in data over the Euphrates delta will probably be filled in when the bird has a GSM connection and the transmitter can download stored information.  Remember, if you double-click on the map, it should open up larger in a new window, making for easier viewing.

Keep an eye on the blog.  This and the other eagle we are tracking are on the move, and there is always the Egyptian vulture to find out about.

Movements of a Steppe eagle during 10 March - 14 April 2017

Thursday, April 13, 2017

8-13 April movements of 162312

After the aborted migration effort about two weeks ago, 162312 set out again.  Early on 8 April, this Steppe eagle first headed east, then southwest.  It spent the night about 70 km NE of Qarn Alam.  It then moved steadily west and north, spending the nights of 9 and 10 April in the Saudi Empty Quarter, then on the night of the 11th, far from human habitation in eastern Saudi Arabia. By the night of the 12th it was still in eastern Saudi Arabia, west of Qatar.  By noon on the 13th (today) it was near the Saudi Arabian town of Al Hofuf.  See the map below.

If you are wondering what is happening with the other Steppe eagle we are tracking, visit the blog in a couple of days. We have some exciting news.

Movement of Steppe eagle during 8-13 April 2017.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

April Fool's Joke?

Well, one of the Steppe eagles that we are tracking (162312) has done something unexpected.  As reported in an earlier blog post, this bird left the Tahwa Landfill site, where it had spent much of its time this winter, on 30 March and headed west.  Over the next two days it flew over about 650 km, and on the night of 1 April it was near Madinat Zayed, Abu Dhabi.  On 2 April it seemed to continue its movement west, when at about 1300 local time it turned around and headed back towards Oman.  Amazingly, it flew almost as directly back to Tahwa, arriving there at around 1900 local time, 2 April.  It spent the night of the 4th perched on a pylon, where it spent the night of the 30th (just before it headed out 6 days previous).  Maybe the suggestion that this bird was migrating was just an April Fool's Day joke.  I fell for it.

I wonder what is going on?  The other Steppe Eagle we are tracking seems reluctant to cross Kuwait.  Time will tell... maybe.

Movements of Steppe Eagle 162312 during 30 March-4 April 2017.
Night time roost used by Steppe eagle on 30 March and on 4 April.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

162312 is on the move

Around 10.00 local time on 30 March, the Steppe eagle we fitted with a transmitter in January (162312) started its migration, leaving Tahwa landfill and heading east.  It spent the night of the 30th NW of Bahla, then the night of 31st in Jebel Hafeet in Al Ain.  The night of the 1st of April was spent on power pole about 10 km east of Madinat Zayed, Abu Dhabi.  It will be interesting to see if this bird will catch up to the other we are tracking (see earlier post), which is wandering around along the Saudi-Kuwait border.
Movements of Steppe eagle during 30 March-2 April 2017

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

March 2017: Part 3, Steppe eagle 162312

In contrast to the Steppe eagle 105 (See earlier post), 162312 has not started its migration, and is currently at the Tahwa Landfill site.  The map below shows that it did make some excursions out to the Wahiba Sands, but those were almost a month ago.

Movements of Steppe eagle 162312 during March 2017.
Below is the image zoomed into the Tahwa landfill.  The red box shows is where a power pylon is located where this bird likes to perch, and the purple box is where the landfill is located.

Locations of a Steppe eagle near the Tahwa landfill during March 2017.

Friday, March 24, 2017

March 2017: Part 2 Steppe Eagle 105

In January we caught two Steppe eagles (Aquila nipalensis) at the Muscat Municipal Landfill at Al Multaqa.  Look back at our January 30 blog post.  Steppe eagles are migratory and only visit Oman in the winter, so these birds were destined to someday fly off to summering areas in Asia.  For Steppe eagle 105, that journey started on 7 March, when it started moving north west from Bahla.  By 18 March it was flying over Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, after which it changed course and headed toward Kuwait City.  As of the afternoon of 24 March, 105 is located about 50 km east of the Saudi Arabian town of Hafar al Batin and about 200 km south west of Kuwait City.  Migration can be a dangerous time, and we hope that this bird will continue safely on its journey.

Below is a map (If you click on it, it should open up larger in new window).  The gaps you see are because the bird has been flying over areas where it has no GSM coverage, inhibiting the upload of GPS locations.  Hopefully over time, as long as it gets periods of good GSM coverage, those gaps will get filled in as the transmitter catches up and sends the saved data.
Movements of a juvenile Steppe eagle Jan-March 2017, showing 18 days of its spring migration.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

March 2017. Part 1 Egyptian vulture

This is one of three blog posts I will make in late March about the birds we are tracking.  This one is about the Egyptian vulture we have been tracking since January 2016.

Since the last post the vulture has been visiting regularly used places.  It has spent most of its time at the rubbish dump at Tahwa (roosting in Jebel Kahwan at night and on the high voltage pylons to the west of the rubbish dump during the day).  However it has also made trips up to the Muscat municipal rubbish dump at Al Multaqa, to a deep wadi near Ras Al Shajar, the steep cliffs of Wadi Sareen and locations near Ibra.  Have a look at the map below.  Currently, it is at the rubbish dump at Tahwa.

I'll be posting Part 2 in the coming days, so visit the blog again soon.
Movements of an immature Egyptian vulture during 26 Feb - 23 March 2017.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Egyptian vulture in February

In this month the Egyptian vulture we have been tracking has spent most of its time at or near the rubbish dump at Tahwa (and was joined there by the Steppe eagle we are tracking (see previous post).  I t has made some excursions away from Tahwa, mostly north to areas around Fins, but also made one 2 day excursion all the way to Yiti and back.  It also made its farthest move east so far by being located near Jalan Bani Buali on the 25th.
Movements of a subadult Egyptian vulture during February 2017.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Steppe eagles in February

People in Oman are reminded everyday about steppe eagles because it appears on the back of the 100 baisa note along with the Arabian oryx, gazelle and bee eater.  I wonder who chose the steppe eagle as part of the design and why?

Image result for 100 baisa
The maps below shows what our radiotagged eagles are doing.  Since beginning of February, one eagle (105) has been moving around south of the mountains.  Until 13 February it was mostly near Al Mudaybi and Sinaw, often visiting the landfill there.  By the 15th it had moved west to near Al Ghafat, and during 19-24 February has been near Tawi Ajuz.

Movements of a steppe eagle (105) during 1-24 February 2017.
The other eagle (162312) also spent time near Al Mudaybi up until 1 February, then it made a big two day loop that took it south to a location abut 100 km SW of Qarn Alam, then up to a location about 40 km west of Adam.  On 4-5 February it was just west of Al Saleel Park, and since then it has been mostly at the Tahwa landfill that services Sur (although at times making excursions of up to 50 km or so).

Movement of a steppe eagle (162312) during 1-22 February 2017.






Thursday, February 2, 2017

Issues for large soaring birds

This blog post will not talk much about what the tagged birds are doing.  The vulture is mostly around the Tahwa Landfill site, one eagle is near Al Kamil and one is near Al Mudaybi.  You can look back at earlier posts to see some detail, and we'll post new information soon.  However, there are two items we wanted to bring to your attention:  soaring birds' collisions with aircraft and large birds' collision and electrocution at power lines in Sudan.

Many people are aware of the hazard that birds, especially large ones, pose to civilian and military aircraft, especially since that Tom Hanks movie:  "Sully".  Hollywood aside, birds strike is a huge problem that costs lots of money annually.  This is from Wikipedia:

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US estimates bird strikes cost US aviation 400 million dollars annually and have resulted in over 200 worldwide deaths since 1988. In the United Kingdom, the Central Science Laboratory estimates that worldwide, the cost of birdstrikes to airlines is around US$1.2 billion annually.

Even if you quibble with the numbers, they are very large, and that does not even consider the worst part of "bird strike", which is the potential for humans to die or be injured in large numbers.

The point we are trying to make is that apart from the conservation value, better understanding of how soaring birds  (like the eagles and vulture we are tracking) move in the environment has huge benefits for human health (maybe outweighing the conservation benefit)!  If you want to read more then here is a link: http://wildlife.org/tagging-vultures-for-safetys-sake/


Results of a collision with a turkey vulture in USA. (photo from site mentioned above)
The second topic we want to remind you of is that large birds like vultures and eagles are at risk of electrocution and collision along power lines.  Even in Oman we know that some birds get electrocuted (though we don't know how many). Look back at the post for 21 December 2015. http://egyptianvultureoman.blogspot.co.at/2015_12_01_archive.html 

Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world, and particularly dangerous power lines occur there, right in the area where many migratory and resident large birds live.  Have a look at this link:
http://www.birdlife.org/africa/news/how-many-more-killer-powerlines-are-there-sudan .  However... good for the Sudanese government!  Despite being poor and needing to supply electricity to many parts of a huge country, the Sudan has taken steps to address the problem.  Click on this link to see how they are trying to make the most dangerous power lines safe again.   http://lifeneophron.eu/en/news-view/187.html
Bird carcasses found along a stretch of power line in Sudan (photo from the site mentioned above)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Steppe Eagles - late January 2017

In mid January 2017 we caught two steppe eagles at Al Multaqaa landfill site, south of Muscat.  You can read more about that in an earlier post.  Since then, both birds have left Al Multaqaa and headed south.

The first bird we caught, "105" (an eagle hatched last year named after the ID number of its tag), stayed near Al Multaqaa and in the Wadi Sareen Nature Reserve for a couple of days, then headed south over the eastern Hajar Mountains.  Since then it has been mostly moving within about 20 km of Al Mudaybi, and making use of the rubbish dump there.

The second bird, "162312" (hatched in 2015) also stayed near Multaqaa for a couple of days then headed south to Al Qabil, then a location on the edge of the Wahiba Sands, then quickly on to the Tahwa landfill site south of Sur.  On 31 January it made a move back to the west and is currently about 20 km E of Al Mudaybi.

In the coming days I'll be providing more information on these birds and updating the information on the vulture we are tracking, so visit the blog again or follow us.  Remember, if you click on the image, it should open up larger in a new window.

Movements of two Steppe eagles fitted with satellite tags in mid January 2017  at Al Multaqaa Landfill



Monday, January 30, 2017

Vultures and Eagles

We have been working on vultures in Oman for a few years now, tracking them (as documented in this blog), but also working with the Environment Society of Oman and other volunteers to survey breeding vultures on Masirah, and wintering vultures at the rubbish dumps, mostly in northern Oman.  In January we aimed to fit two more satellite transmitters to vultures in Oman, but we ended up catching two Steppe eagles (Aquila nipalensis) and fitting them with transmitters.  This was somewhat unexpected because relatively few (in relation to the Egyptian vultures) steppe eagles use the Al Multaqaa landfill where we were working.
A 3rd calendar year steppe eagle with a friend from the Environment Society of Oman.
Steppe eagles are migratory.  They breed across the steppes of central Asia and winter in India, Arabia and Africa.  Last year their conservation status was downgraded to globally endangered because of recent rapid declines across the range. Our tracking of these eagles will provide information on their movements that could help in their conservation, and is entirely consistent with our work on Egyptian vultures in Oman (also an endangered species, some of which migrate to Oman).

Like the Egyptian vulture, steppe eagles come to Oman in large numbers in the winter (Nov-Feb, or so).  It is not unusual to have more than 1000 eagles at the rubbish dump at Raysut, and many photographers in Oman have taken great pictures of these eagles.  In Oman they face the same potential risks as the vultures, including electrocution, but also like the vultures we have little data on those risks.  Unlike the young Egyptian vultures, the eagles should migrate this year, so, if these birds survive, we can look forward to an exciting journey back north.
A second calendar year eagle fitted with a transmitter being released
In the coming days I will start posting maps and information about the steppe eagles we are tracking, along with more information on the vulture that we have tracked for over a year, and I will update those maps every so often.  So, come back to visit to see what is going on.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Happy New Year

It's been a while since I have updated the blog on the Egyptian vulture we have been tracking.  We passed a milestone since the last blog post in that the tagged bird has now been followed for more over a year, in which time we have collected almost 4000 locations.  Below is a map of what it has been doing over that time.  This bird was often at rubbish dumps and landfills at Al Multaqaa, Tahwa and Ibra, and often roosted at night in the Wadi Sareen Nature Reserve.  During the days it often perched on the high voltage power pylons.

Movements of a sub-adult Egyptian vulture during 2016.
Since New Year, the vulture has been hanging out near the Tahwa Landfill that serves Sur. See the two images below.  The second image shows that the vulture has been a regular visitor to the landfill.

Movements of subadult Egyptian vulture during 1-24 Jan 2017.

Use of the Tahwa Engineered Landfill by a tagged Egyptian vulture during 1-24 Jan 2017.