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

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

December 2017

I haven't blogged lately about the birds we are tracking because they have not moved very far.  I think it is safe to say that their current locations are their wintering locations for 2017-18. Below are maps that show the locations of the birds relative to one another in Saudi Arabia, and as individuals. The locations are those collected during December, and show just how settled the birds are.  The main feature of both is that there are rubbish dumps where they spend most of their time.

Unfortunately, the Egyptian vulture we have been tracking has not been heard of since 4 October.  At that time the transmitter seemed to be working fine, and we had had spells, sometime months at a time, when the bird went missing, presumably because it was somewhere outside the GSM network over which the data are uploaded.  I sure hope it will turn up again soon (and dump its data telling us where it has been!).

Locations of two Steppe eagles being tracked by satellite in Saudi Arabia during December 2017.
Locations of a Steppe eagle wintering about 120 km NW of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia during December 2017.
Locations of a Steppe eagle wintering near Abha, Saudi Arabia during December 2017.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Not much change

Nothing much has changed since the last post.  Steppe eagle 105 is still at a rubbish dump near the  town of Wadi Ibn Hashbal (about 50 km NE of Abha), though it did make excursions of about 50 km to the east and west.  Although it is still early in the winter, this bird may stay in this place until spring migration.

162312 has settled, at least for the moment, in central Saudi Arabia near the town of Shaqra, about 180 km NW of Riyadh.  This birds is also spending much of its time at a rubbish dump.

Locations of two Steppe eagles fitted with satellite transmitters during early November 2017.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Two things

Well, the Steppe eagle we have been tracking that has been migrating (162312) has crossed into Saudi Arabia.  It is currently near the town of Qbah

Steppe eagle migrating across Iraq and Saudi Arabia in autumn 2017.
Contrary to my predictions that the other eagle we are tracking (105) might have headed south, it turned up at the rubbish dump at which it has spent the last month or so.  When it disappeared, it headed east, presumably out of gsm range.

Movements of Steppe eagle (105) during 26 October-1 November 2017.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Steppe eagles during late October

In recent days we have stopped receiving data from the Steppe eagle we have been tracking that has been in Saudi Arabia for the past month (105).  My guess is that it has pushed farther south into Yemen, where GSM coverage is not good... mostly 2G around the capital Sana'a.  Below is a map of its time in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Movements of a Steppe eagle through Iraq and Saudi Arabia during autumn 2017.
The other Steppe eagle that we have been tracking, 162312, is slowly but surely moving south.  On 29 October it was in southern Iraq, about 90 km west of Basrah.  At that time it was about 70 km from the Kuwait border, and could easily cross the border today or tomorrow.  It could also fly directly into Saudi Arabia, which is only 170 km away, just a bit farther west.  I'm hoping this bird goes back to Oman for winter, but anything it does will be interesting.

Movements of a Steppe eagle migrating through Iran and Iraq, late October 2017.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

More of the same

The Steppe eagle (162312) that was actively migrating last week, continues to do so.  It is now near the town of Izeh, Iran, and heading toward the Iraqi border near Basrah.

Movements of Steppe eagle through Iran during October 2017.
The other eagle (105) has spent the last week at the rubbish dump near Ar Rashda, Saudi Arabia.  The map below shows that it is often roosting in the hills to the NE of the rubbish dump.  Who knows?  Maybe this is the final winter destination for this bird.  It is at a location a bit south of where it was caught last year in Oman.  It would be great to get a report of scavenging bird use of this rubbish dump.
Movements of a Steppe eagle during 18-25 October 2017.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mid-October 2017

105, the Steppe eagle that has been lingering in western Saudi Arabia, continues to linger.  It has spent the last 10 days in a limited area around the town of Wadi Ibn Hashbal.  As is highlighted by the increased sightings of scavenging birds using rubbish dumps in the region, so too is this bird spending most of its time at the local rubbish dump (Maps below).  Does anyone know this place?  Are other eagles or vultures using it in large numbers?  Leave a comment.

Movements of a Steppe eagle (105) around Wadi Ibn Hashbal, Saudi Arabia during mid-October 2017.

Frequent use of a rubbish dump near Wadi Ibn Hashbal by a Steppe eagle during 10 days in mid October 2017.
In recent days the Steppe eagle (162312) that is actively migrating has been making its way through Iran.  Currently it is about 1/2 way between Qom and Esfahan (See map below)
Movements of a Steppe eagle (162312) as it migrates through Iran during mid-October 2017.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A further tale of two eagles

Now that we have two eagles on the move, it seems best to join their stories.  To do this it is also best to first identify them.  I can't come up with reasonable names, so their transmitter numbers (162312 and 105) will have to do.

162312 started moving from its summering area in Kazakhstan just about a week ago.  It has made its way south and is now in Turkmenistan, about 120 km NW of Turkmenbashi (See Map 1). [CLICK ON THE MAPS TO GET AN ENLARGED VIEW]
Map 1.  Steppe eagle 162312
105 has been on the move for some time, and for the last week has been mostly using a rubbish dump near the town of Bisha, Saudi Arabia.  Today it made a short move farther south and is now about 200 km north of the Saudi Arabia - Yemen border, some 90 km NW of the town of Abha.  Click here to find out more about Abha (See Map 2).

Map 2.  Steppe eagle 105
Besides these individual movements, it is also interesting how these birds' migratory paths are starting to resemble each other (though we'll have to see what ultimately happens).  Map 3 shows the paths of the two birds (separated by about 3 weeks) as they migrate.  Some locations are < 2 km apart, and there is an implication that their flight paths crossed.

Map 3.  Migratory paths of two steppe eagles (105 and 162312) in western Turkmenistan, autumn 2017.
Of course, though the paths are close, the birds are currently quite far apart... about 2650 km (Map 4).

Map 4. Migration paths of two steppe eagles (105 and 162312) during early October 2017.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Steppe eagle number two has started to migrate

The other Steppe eagle we have been tracking has finally made a move south.  It had been using a very limited area in western Kazakhstan since 10 August... so small that I was a bit worried that it had died.  However, on 2 October it started to migrate.  As of last night, it was in western Turkmenistan. See below.

The other Steppe eagle we have been tracking is slowly making its way south... sort of.  Since the last post, it has moved south, stopped at a rubbish dump, moved farther south then moved north and stopped at another rubbish dump.  More on this bird in the coming days.

Even the Egyptian vulture we are tracking showed up briefly.  It was in and around the Tahwa rubbish dump near Sur.

Movements of a Steppe eagle during 10 August to 5 October 2017.  It started migration on 2 October

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Early days of October

For the last few days the Steppe Eagle we are tracking has been dwelling near Bishah, Saudi Arabia (See previous post).  A closer look shows it seems to be making use of a rubbish dump there.  As you may recall, this bird was captured at a rubbish dump in Oman in January.  Published and unpublished data from Oman and other countries in the region show that rubbish dumps are important to a variety of scavenging birds. 

Locations of a tracked Steppe eagle at a rubbish dump near Bishah, Saudi Arabia.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Moving through Saudi

One of the Steppe eagles we have been tracking started migrating earlier this month.  For the last week it has been in Saudi, making its way SW.  At the moment it is about 300 km N of the Saudi-Yemen border, SW of the town of Bishah.  The other is still moving in a very limited area in western Kazakhstan.

Movements of a Steppe eagle during 23 - 30 September 2017

Sunday, September 24, 2017

In Saudi

The Steppe Eagle, whose progress south I reported on in the last post, has now moved into west central Saudi, about 280 km ENE of Mecca.  We'll find out over the coming weeks where this bird will winter, but for now it seems like it might not be in Oman, where it wintered last year.  Little is know about the level of fidelity migratory eagles show toward wintering locations, though fidelity seems to be common amongst adult eagles that have been tracked.

Migration of Steppe eagle during September 2017.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Steppe eagle on the move

The (now three year old) Steppe eagle we have been tracking that started its migration in early September (see last post), has now moved all the way to southern Iraq, about 130 km from the Saudi Arabian border.  This bird "went missing" for some days as it crossed through Iran because during that time it did not find GSM network to download its data.  Yesterday, about 100 km south of Baghdad, it came within a network and started downloading archived data.  As you can see from the map below, it still needs some time to download data from Kazakhstan through Turkmenistan.  So far the other Steppe eagle we are tracking has not made a move, and is still in far western Kazakhstan.  Visit the blog every so often to see what is happening.  Will this bird winter in Oman, like it did last year?

Movements of a Steppe eagle during 1 - 21 September 2017.

The tracked eagle on 16 January 2017

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Migration has started

For one of the steppe eagles we are tracking, autumn migration has started.  On 4 September it left an area where it had been staying for a couple of weeks in western Kazakhstan, and today it sent data showing that it was in Turkmenistan (near the town of Turkmenbashi near the Caspian Sea).  During that move it has moved out of range of the GSM network, so there are currently gaps in the data, but those should be filled in while it is within the range of the network.  Anyway, that move means that this bird is now south of the other steppe eagle we are tracking, which hasn't made a move south yet.

With migration time upon us, we expect the other eagle to make a move soon.  Visit the blog regularly during this time, if you want to keep up with their progress.  I guess they will head back to Oman, but perhaps not.

Movements of two steppe eagles during 4 - 14 September 2017

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Egyptian vulture summer

It has been almost three months since I posted information about the Egyptian vulture.  Look back at the 9 June blog post to remind yourself.  Since then we have heard very little from the bird.  Really only three times, although during those times the transmitter was able to download some archived data.

What seems to have happened is that the vulture has been spending much of its time outside of the GSM network, probably in the steep valleys of Wadi Sareen Nature Reserve.  We don't know for sure why it has spent so much time there, but certainly the high mountains and steep cliffs could potentially offer some relief from the summer heat.

The three times it has ventured out since 9 June (See map below), were loops through NE Oman that took the vulture to places it frequented during last winter and spring, including Ibra and the Tahwa landfill site.  This behaviour is interesting, because it could be useful for a scavenger, like an Egyptian vulture, to visit sites where it has found food in the past.  By visiting these sites not only could our vulture feed, but it could also assess the availability of food over its very large foraging area.  Such knowledge could be useful indeed, if food becomes scarce.  It should be interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks as the weather cools, and migrating vultures arrive from Eurasia.

Of course, last Saturday was International Vulture Awareness Day.  This blog is a follow-up to keep you aware.

Movements of an Egyptian vulture during 9 June - 31 August 2017.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

August 2017

The two Steppe Eagles we have been following have continued the summer-time pattern of movement:  They seem to settle in locations for some days or even some weeks, then move on, sometimes returning to places visited earlier in the summer.  One eagle started August i8n far southern Russia, then moved into Kostanay Oblast, Kazakhstan., where some eagle researchers have been working.  Most recently it has been about 60 km E of the town of Karabutak.  These areas are characterised by wheat fields, grasslands and intermittent lakes and rivers (See photo below).  During the past month, this bird sometimes moved outside the GSM coverage, but as it moved back within the network coverage, it downloaded archived data, sometimes spanning a couple of weeks.  The other bird is in far western Kazakhstan, near the Caspian Sea in Mangystau Oblast, about 40 km N of the town of Aktau.  This is a dry area (Photo below).

Movements of two Steppe Eagles during 27 July - 22 August 2017.
A landscape from Kosanay Oblast.
A landscape from Mangystau Oblast

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Steppe Eagle movements so far

We have been tracking the two Steppe eagles caught in Oman for about 7 months now.  Below is a map of their movements during that time.  During the time we have tracked them they have spent a couple of months in northern Oman, migrated north, and spent the summer in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Russia.  A feature of their summer movements is that they seem to be wandering over large areas, and one of the birds seems to be doing this while also having a base area in far western Kazakhstan to which it regularly returns. Remember, you can click on the map and it should open in a new window and be easier to see.  In the coming days I will post more detail about the summertime movements of these birds, so revisit the site soon.

Movements of 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Steppe eagle movements 1 June - 7 July 2017

Well, I thought the Steppe Eagle we are in contact with had settled in for the summer in western Kazakhstan, near the Caspian Sea.   However, on 3 July it set off from the area in which it has settled since it migrated, and by 6 July it had moved almost 900 km to a location north of the Aral Sea, about 60 km north of the town of Saksaulskiy.  I found a photo on the internet from near Saksaulskiy (below).

Generally speaking, we know little about what non-breeding eagles do during the breeding season, but this behaviour is not what has been seen in other species, where the eagle settles then makes occasional moves.  We'll see what this bird does now.  The times on the map below are GMT; local time is GMT+5 hrs.

We have not heard from the other birds we are tracking.  Presumably the other Steppe Eagle is out of GSM range, so can not upload data.  The Egyptian Vulture we are tracking in Oman may be still hiding out in the steep canyons and wadis of Wadi Sareen in an attempt to escape the heat!

Movements of a juvenile Steppe Eagle during 1 June - 7 July 2017
Landscape aroudn Saksaulskie (http://www.q-rider.de/2007/html/070610-aralsk.html)
Kazakhstan also has camels, albeit with more humps.  (http://www.q-rider.de/2007/html/070610-aralsk.html)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Steppe eagle in early June

The steppe eagle we are tracking is still in far western Kazakhstan, between the Aral and Caspian Seas.  After spending much of its time during the last 2 weeks near what appears to be a water well, in recent days it has made a 200 km move NW.

The other eagle is still out of touch, presumably in some area where there is no mobile phone network over which the data can be downloaded.

Movements of a Steppe eagle during 1-15 June 2016.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Egyptian vulture turns up

After 40 day sof silence, the Egyptian vulture we are tracking has turned up!  It seems that this bird has probably been staying within the confines of the Wadi Sareen Reserve, where mobile phone coverage is limited.  I must admit that I was worried. Given this bird's age I would not think that would be a breeder, rather that it stayed in Wadi Sareen because it offered cooler, shady roosting sites during the summer. It should, however, be noted that the incubation period for Egyptian vultures is 39-45 days.  Below is a map of the movements since 2 June, when it reappeared.

I'll update the blog about Steppe eagles in the coming days, so check back.

Movements of an Egyptian vulture during 2-9 June 2017.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Steppe eagle during May 2017

It's been about a month since I last reported on the movements of birds we are tracking

The Egyptian vulture we are tracking has not been heard of for about a month.  I hope it is either breeding or simply avoiding the Oman summer heat in a place where there is no GSM coverage.  We'll wait and see.

One Steppe eagle that we have been tracking also disappeared about a month ago on the border between Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.  I hope this is because it is now in an area where there is no GSM network, and that it will come into range sometime this summer or when it starts migration in the autumn.

The other Steppe eagle that we are tracking seems to have slowed its migration in far western Kazakhstan.  Evgeny Bragin from Kazakhstan tells me that this area has a high density of Steppe eagles, both breeding and non-breeding, and that a tracked Eastern imperial eagle also ranged in this area.  A close look at the Google Earth imagery suggests the area is very remote, but the eagle seemed to spend some time around some wells (as suggested by the vehicle tracks), but is slowly wandering north.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

World Migratory Bird Day

World Migratory Bird Day is tomorrow!  For more than ten years now, World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) has raised awareness about the need for conservation of migratory birds and their habitats, about the threats they face, their ecological importance, and about the need for international cooperation to conserve them. Every year people across the planet take action and organize public events such as bird festivals, education programmes, exhibitions and bird-watching excursions to celebrate WMBD. Although the main day for the international celebrations is 10 May, but activities can also be undertaken at any time of the year when the regional peak of migrations is best.

The Steppe Eagles we have been tracking from Oman have been "celebrating" WMBD for some time now, as they make their own migrations.  Below is a map of their movements since they have left Oman. Currently, one is in far western Kazakhstan and the other was in northern Turkmenistan when it was last heard on 22 April.  We may not hear from the bird last heard in Turkmenistan for a while because its transmitter uploads data via the GSM network, and it is likely that there will be no network in many of the places it might visit this summer.  We'll have to see.  When it does find a network, it will dump the archived data, and fill in the gaps.

Anyway, Happy WMBD!

Northward migration of two Steppe eagles fitted with transmitters in Oman in early 2017.

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.