We’ve found Tesfaye!

Two sociable lapwings, Tesfaye and Maysa, tagged with satellite transmitters in 2015 on their breeding grounds in Kazakhstan, have been wintering in Pakistan’s Sindh and Balochistan provinces. The RSPB has partnered with Saiban Welfare Foundation to conduct field investigations of the sociable lapwings in Pakistan. The project funded by the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, has already confirmed wintering of sociable lapwing in Daddu district of Sindh and Jaffarabad and Naseerabad districts of Balochistan.

Our current round of field surveys in Sindh are ongoing, but we wanted to share some important news. The survey team have been finding Sociable Lapwings in small groups compared to the large flocks observed in January and February. Four flocks were observed in Daddu with birds numbering 6 to 14 in each group, compared to the large congregation of 200 previously located. In the last few days, the survey team were able to use good quality satellite tag fixes to find and locate Tesfaye. The bird was difficult to approach, but the photo  clearly shows the tag mounted on his back, which look to be in good order. The transmitter is properly mounted, with no signs of position displacement – even after two years of operation and flying between Pakistan and Kazakhstan. The colour-ring combination was clearly visible too.

With the final few weeks before spring migration starts, the team’s effort are now switching to Maysa, currently located in the Jaffarabad district of Balochistan. The findings are highlighting the importance of Pakistan for the Critically Endangered Sociable Lapwing. Our field observations are also helping to identify some threats for the species. We have witnessed Sociable Lapwing foraging in fields where seeds dressed with pesticides have been sown, although ingestion by the birds has not been observed. Other major threats observed are habitat alteration, and hunting in Khairpur Nathan Shah, where Maysa spends part of her wintering season, and in Jaffarabad and Naseerabad districts of Balochistan, where she rests on her inward migration to Sindh, and feeds in the latter part of the wintering before departing northward to the breeding grounds.

At the end of the survey period we will provide a further detailed overview of our work this winter. In the meantime, the survey team from the Saiban Foundation would like to thank the RSPB and the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund for funding this project,  Swarovski Optik for helping fund the satellite tags, and RDS Conservation for technical support.

[Written by Ahmad Khan and Rob Sheldon]

Tesfaye in Pakistan

Tesfaye in agricultural fields in Daddu, Sindh on March 3, 2017. Photo credit (and header): Muhammad Saleem Khan