If you click on any images in the blog, it will be opened in a separate window, will be larger and it will be easier to see detail.

Blog posts after 1 Feb 2018 about Steppe eagles tracked from Oman can be found at the Steppe eagle blog

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Egyptian vulture tracking paper

Here's a tip:  We have just published an article on Egyptian vultures we tracked via satellite.  You can read it online here:
Pass the link on to others you think might be interested.

Also, remember to keep an eye out for colour marked birds, especially Egyptian vultures (we have now colour marked 17 in Oman).  So many people are taking great pictures of birds.  Like the one of a subadult Egyptian vulture by Hassan Mohamed below.
Sub-adult Egyptian vulture

For those of you who are photographing birds, make sure to look closely at your photos.  Sometimes one does not see a colour mark (or ring or transmitter) until one looks at a reasonable picture.  Below are photos (by A. Kovac) of a colour-ringed Steppe eagle (from Russia) photographed at Raysut rubbish dump in Salalah.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

What's up with 171318?

171318 is an adult Egyptian vulture we caught and fitted with a transmitter on 20 January.  All the other vultures we have captured have stayed in fairly limited areas in NE Oman, travelling no farther west than Bid Bid.  Below is a simple animation of the movements of 171318.  Double click on the video to open it in a larger screen.  As you can see, its movements are very different.  We'll have to wait to see what happens.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


One of the satellite transmitters we deployed in January in Oman was provided by  the Vulture Conservation Foundation.  They had a little contest amongst their supporters to give the vulture a name, and the supporters chose, "Tayeh" التائه , the wanderer. Below is a map of what Tayah has done since it was caught, and a map of what it has done during the first week of March.  Recently, it seems to be concentrating its time in the hills south of the village of Jaslut جحلوت, and maybe this is a sign that this is a resident bird and not a migrant.  We'll have to wait and see.

You should take the opportunity to visit the Vulture Conservation Foundation's web site.  It has a lot of information on other things they are doing for vultures, including tracking Egyptian vultures that spend their summers on the Iberian Peninsula and their winters in  West Africa (those birds are migrating now!).
Movements of an adult Egyptian vulture (Tayeh) during mid January - early March 2018.

Movements of an adult Egyptian vulture (Tayeh) during mid 1-6 March 2018.

Releasing Tayeh on 19 Jan 2018.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Injured vulture released

On 29 January I visited the New Al Amerat Landfill with Dr. Andy Kwarteng of Sultan Qaboos University. While there we found a sub-adult Egyptian vulture that had a spiral shaped piece of wire through its foot. With the help of the Suez workers, we collected the bird and took it to the Sama Veterinary Clinic, where Dr. Ninko Marijanovic removed the wire, cleaned the wound and gave the bird antibiotics.  The next day, thanks to Dr. Barbara Golachowska, the bird was taken to Bait al Barakah to recover.  Now, three weeks later, we can happily report that the bird has been released back into the wild.  Sadly, we did not have a transmitter to fit to it, but it was fitted with colour and metal rings.  Below are some pictures of the injury and a video of the bird's release.  Thanks everyone for helping out.  Keep in mind that Egyptian vultures are globally endangered, so saving even a single bird is important.


Friday, February 16, 2018

More updating. January and early February 2018

As reported in the last post, we managed to capture 13 Egyptian vultures in January, and fit them with satellite radio transmitters.  This is the first of the blog posts that will follow those birds, reporting from time to time on their movements and other events.  Below are maps from two of them, whose transmitter numbers are 171318 and 171328.

171328 was captured and fitted with a transmitter on 20 January.  After release, it moved south to a location in the mountains SW of Quriayat.  It has spent most of its time there, but has also visited the rubbish dump near Ibra.  This type of behaviour is typical of most vultures we have tracked, with birds settling into an area, and making occasional forays out to other places.  Over time the map becomes one in which the movement of birds is clustered around places (especially rubbish dumps).  One thing to keep in mind is that this is an adult bird and it might be holding a territory and could be a breeder.  We'll have to wait and see.

171328 being released, 20 January 2018.  Photo by M. McGrady

Movements of an adult Egyptian vulture (171328) during January and early February 2018.
171318 has behaved differently from the other birds we have tracked in that it has been almost always on the move and has not settled anywhere for very long.  Its movements have lead it to do at least two laps of northern Oman, from Sur to Musandam!  171318 was also captured and fitted with a transmitter on 20 January.

171318 being held by Dr B. Meyburg.  Photo: M. McGrady
Movements of an adult Egyptian vulture (171318) during late January and early February 2018.
Other places where information on this work is available include: https://thevulturechronicles.wordpress.com/2018/02/13/omans-egyptian-vultures/ and http://timesofoman.com/article/128064

You can also visit our blog which shows the movements of Steppe Eagles tagged by us in Oman in January 2017.  https://steppeeaglesoman.blogspot.co.at/

Monday, February 12, 2018

January 2018. New transmitters are deployed!

The bad news is that we have not heard from the Egyptian vulture since 4 October 2017, when it was at the Tahwa Landfill south of Sur.  We are still hopeful that it will turn up, but hope seems to be fading.

The good news is that during field work in Oman in January we were able to fit transmitters to 13 Egyptian vultures (and what appears to be a hybrid Greater spotted-spotted eagle).  Because of this I have created a blog solely for the Steppe eagles we have been tracking. You can visit that blog by clicking here.  

Sultan Qaboos University Environmental Studies students helped fitting satellite transmitters to vultures. Photo: M. McGrady
Working at the main municipal landfill at Al Multaquaa (aka New Al Amerat), we managed to catch 12 adult and one 2 year old Egyptian vultures and fit them with GPS tags.   The work was done under permits from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Affairs, and the access permission of Be'ah, the national waste management company.  Six of the tags were provided by the Bernd Meyburg Foundation for Raptor Research and Conservation, and Dr. Meyburg himself was in the field (Dr Meyburg has probably fitted more satellite to more eagles from the most species of anyone in the world).  One tag was from the Vulture Conservation FoundationThe Environment Society of Oman (ESO), the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association and Faisal Al Lamki all provided additional support.

Dr B. Meyburg with a adult Egyptian vulture. Photo: M. McGrady
In coming posts I will report on interesting events and keep you up to date, but with so many birds I will not be able to give details about all birds all the time.  For now, have a look at the map below, which shows what the birds did in January.  The different symbols refer to different types of tags.  
Movements during January 2018 of 13 Egyptian vultures fitted with GPS tags

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

December 2017

I haven't blogged lately about the birds we are tracking because they have not moved very far.  I think it is safe to say that their current locations are their wintering locations for 2017-18. Below are maps that show the locations of the birds relative to one another in Saudi Arabia, and as individuals. The locations are those collected during December, and show just how settled the birds are.  The main feature of both is that there are rubbish dumps where they spend most of their time.

Unfortunately, the Egyptian vulture we have been tracking has not been heard of since 4 October.  At that time the transmitter seemed to be working fine, and we had had spells, sometime months at a time, when the bird went missing, presumably because it was somewhere outside the GSM network over which the data are uploaded.  I sure hope it will turn up again soon (and dump its data telling us where it has been!).

Locations of two Steppe eagles being tracked by satellite in Saudi Arabia during December 2017.
Locations of a Steppe eagle wintering about 120 km NW of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia during December 2017.
Locations of a Steppe eagle wintering near Abha, Saudi Arabia during December 2017.