Summer on the steppe

This summer Boris and Irina returned safely to the breeding grounds, having wintered in Sudan and Saudi Arabia respectively, although after their long journeys neither bird ended up where we expected.

Boris kept on going until he reached the Russian border in far NE Kazakhstan, and then crossed into Russia and spent the summer there. We know of only a few sites in southern Russia where Sociable Lapwings still breed, so Boris’s choice was a particularly interesting. One of the most useful things we have learned from tagging Sociable Lapwings is that while they seem to be very faithful to their wintering sites, they rarely return to the same breeding location in successive summers. The site chosen by Boris in 2014 was around 1000 km from where he bred, and was tagged, in 2013.

Boris's breeding ground

Boris's breeding grounds on the Russian/Kazak border

Irina surprised us in quite the opposite way, as on her return from Saudi Arabia she seemed to have fallen short of the main breeding grounds, well to the south-west of where she was tagged in the summer of 2013. We thought for a time that she had died, or her tag had become detached, but she then surprised us again by moving 200 km north after the breeding season, so we have to assume that there are some breeding sites well to the south-west of the main range. Unfortunately, her luck may have run out because after spending a few weeks at the new location, her tag ceased transmitting.

Irina's breeding site and subsequent flight north

Irina's breeding site and subsequent flight north

The summer of 2014 also saw us fitting tags to three new birds, all females, which we have named Shirin, Stepaniya and Hanna. These birds are already on the move and we shall track their autumn migration through this site, along with Boris as the remaining 2013 bird still transmitting.

The new females - movements immediately after tagging

The new females - movements immediately after tagging

(Header photo courtesy of Maxim Koshkin)