Kiryl has still not made a move from the breeding grounds near Zhanteke, but is alive and well, with three satellite tag readings yesterday (20th September) as he moves around.
Meanwhile, Maysa has joined Tesfaye on the Uzbekistan/Turkmenistan border, where for the last few years tagged birds have staged before attempting to cross the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan into India. Amazingly, our colleagues from the Uzbekistan Society for the Protection of Birds (UzSPB) found Tesfaye in a flock of almost 400 Sociable Lapwings close to Talimarjan, one of the few sightings ever made of tagged birds outside of Kazakstan – incredible work by Anna Ten, Roman Kashkarov and the team. This Friday, the expedition to Turkmenistan starts, and with the co-ordinated surveys on either side of the border, we hope to learn how important this area is.
It is truely exciting how international the Sociable Lapwing Amazing Journeys project is: funding from Swarovski Optik, based in Austria, enables cutting edge US-made satellite tags from Microwave Telemetry Inc to be fitted on birds in Kazakhstan. Data are collated by Argos, based in France, to faciliate local monitoring in Uzbekistan and throughout the range, and reporting from the UK via the Preventing Extinctions Programme to the world.
While two birds are now at the staging area, from the latest data it seems that Vyan may be having a change of heart as he has flown northwards again, and may end up taking the western migration route instead – the next few days will tell.
On that western route, Canan and Shirin have reached Russia, while it appears that Nikoo and Sanjar have taken an unexpected journey directly across the Caspian Sea, which is highly unusual for an autumn migration, more often seen on the spring journey back north. It has been very wet and cold in southern Russia, while Kazakhstan remained warmer, so perhaps the birds stayed longer to feed themselves up for a direct flight towards Turkey. Ajaz appears to be moving back and forth randomly, but this may be a couple of errant tag readings – this needs investigating.
Viktor Fedosov is on the ground at Manych in Russia, which is usually an important autumn stopover area, with up to 1000 birds congregating. This year, there have only been smaller flocks up to 25 birds, much fewer than previous years (Viktor has been surveying this area since 2009), and there has been a steady decline in flock size since 2010. It is hard to know if this is because of a real decline in population, or a change in migration routes, given the evidence from Sanjar and Nikoo who took the shorter route this year. Shirin and Canan are on their way towards Viktor, and he gets regular updates of the satellite tracking information to help locate birds on the ground. Between 2007 and 2013, he has seen four birds ringed in Korgalzhyn, Kazakhstan.
Already this year’s Amazing Journeys are proving to be interesting and generating new knowledge.