Dinara heads north

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After spending the winter in western India (near the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat) Dinara has set off on a long journey north back towards her breeding grounds and is now already in Tajikistan about 50 km north-east of Khorog.

Until March 10th at least, Dinara was still near Ahmedabad but then, shortly after, she made her move and by March 15th had crossed into Pakistan where she sent us a signal from near the city of Multan. At this stage of the journey she was quite closely retracing the steps of her journey south, as this location is only around 50 km from where we received a signal from her on November 13th 2010, during her outbound journey.

While we can’t be certain of her exact route, her current location, further north in Tajikistan, indicates she has crossed the Hindu Kush, possibly after ‘refuelling’ in the Indus valley. With the peaks of the Hindu Kush at 7,400 metres and even the lowest pass still at 4,500 metres, she has clearly been on a high altitude journey in the last few days.

There are two historical spring records of birds seen in the same area – from the Wakhan corridor in April – but this record from Tajikistan is the first since 1971.

Despite searches this winter in suitable areas around the location where we know Dinara has wintered, the flock she was with remained remarkably elusive and was never actually pinned down.

Wintering Sociable Lapwings – Great Rann of Kutch, February 2011.

Other reports we have recently been sent over the past couple of months from India include regular monitoring of a flock of at least 48 birds wintering in the Rann of Kutch. Local Ecologist, photographer and guide – Jugal Tiwari has kindly been updating us on these birds and reports that the flock was seen throughout January and February up until at least February 23rd. A thorough recent survey of the area conducted during the second week of March indicated that the birds had left which coincides with Dinara’s departure.

Jugal has also been providing some useful notes on the birds’ habits and behaviour. In a recent report on the wintering flock he observed “The birds feed in open grassland with Cressa cretica dominated short halophyte vegetation. Roosting is on the ground. They may venture for feeding in Suaeda fruticosa bushes or scanty Prosopis juliflora areas with Suaeda and Cressa growing nearby. Their night roost is in open areas of Banni and the Great Rann, similar to that of roosting grounds of Greater Short-toed Larks Calandrella brachydactyla. Feeding in the evening was observed at its maximum, just before sunset (18:30 hrs) when the flock of over 30 Sociable Plovers were seen actively chasing insects in the Suaeda, Cressa, Prosopis in a mixed area of Banni on the edge of the Great Rann of Kutch.”

Adult Sociable Lapwing – Great Rann of Kutch, February 2011

Another notable report was recently received with thanks from Dr Pradeep Sharma who is studying raptors in Rajasthan. During one of his regular visits to a local carcass dump at Jorbeer, in the district of Bikaner (North-western Rajasthan) on March 3rd, Dr. Sharma found two Sociable Lapwings that were feeding on the periphery. See photo below. This record is notable as there are very few recent reports of Sociable Lapwings from Rajasthan, though three together have been previously recorded in Bikaner in both 1912 and 1991. It is considered likely that all of these records are of migrating birds.

Adult Female Sociable Lapwing on passage – March 3rd 2011, Jorbeer.

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