This autumn researchers from Doga Dernegi (BirdLife in Turkey) have been actively monitoring Sociable Lapwings as they pass through Eastern Turkey.
On September 26th, DD staff searching in the north east of the country located sixty Sociable Lapwings in two separate flocks of 30 birds at a previously identified Turkish staging site on the Erzurum Plain.
On 28th September, DD researchers monitoring birds near the Syrian border in the far south-east of Turkey, then discovered a large flock of 498 Sociable Lapwings had already reached another well known staging site – Ceylanpinar. During the monitoring, one of DD’s Volunteers – Mustafa Erturhan – filmed this video of the flock.
On October 3rd, we received a satellite transmission from Erzhan from close to the town of Patnos some 30k. north of the Van Golu lake in central Turkey. We alerted the DD team who went straight out to search for Erzhan (and the flock he was travelling in there) but the habitat proved unsuitable so it is probable that he was just passing through.
Despite only five Sociable Lapwings being found in the vicinity of Patnos during the next few days, searches continued in the Malazgirt and Bulanlik Plain (see map below) and on October 9th a flock of 101 Sociable Lapwings was located there. The following day another much bigger flock was also located close by, totalling 554 birds, which is the largest gathering of migrating Sociable Lapwings encountered so far this autumn. So, despite Erzhan not being relocated in this flock, he has yet again pointed the way and helped DD discover another important new staging site in eastern Turkey.
The latest news from Turkey is that with no further reports of lapwings from the Mus Plain during the past two weeks, our birds have probably now finished passing south through a central corridor in Turkey. However, birds were still passing through the south-east of the country as recently as last week. Two groups were discovered on October 20th – one in Ceylanpinar as expected and, to DD’s surprise, the other at a site in the Akcakale Plain in the north east that has previously only been known as a spring migration staging site. DD researchers hypothesize that there might be two distinct routes taken by Sociable Lapwings moving through Turkey which we hope to bring you further news about, if this can be established, in due course.