Extensive anti-poisoning surveys, the last of the palaearctic migrants & crop harvesting at Bunyala Rice Irrigation Scheme

Dear readers,

It has been a while since my last update from Bunyala Rice Fields but with life being back to business as usual after our general elections, I should keep you informed with up to date information on the state of affairs from these rice fields. I will also be updating you on our ‘extended surveys’ with my team of scouts especially aimed at monitoring against possible poisoning of raptors beyond the rice irrigation scheme (thanks to Crowder-Messersmith Conservation Fund of the Audubon Naturalist Society). In particular, we will focus on the Hooded Vulture whose range is in the neighbourhood of Bunyala & Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle whose recent sightings have been made on site then again both raptors are known to be threatened and are victims of poisoning in their traditional range areas.

Hooded Vulture 070

Hooded Vultures photographed from neighbouring Busia Town

 Circaetus beaudouinii

Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle at Bunyala Rice Scheme

Having been here for just about 5 days this year (but now set to be here for many months coming), I owe many thanks to my lead scout, Joseph who in tough conditions and lack of funds kept the monitoring going. I am also very thankful to my recent donors, Elizabeth ($20) & Max O’Sullivan ($500) which is supporting/will support my scouts in the field. Joseph & the team have done a good job and prevented numerous poison-baiting incidents but for reported escalating cases of poisoning during February where there were 4 incidences of African Openbills killings. I should inform you that between September 2012 & December 2012, only 6 cases of poisoning were reported while a massive 18 were prevented by the scouts.


African Openbill above is the most targeted species & whole flocks are wiped each year

The migrants however remained safe during this year and after lingering for weeks on site (probably due to the extended winter in the north) have only managed to leave, perharps the flock in the image below being of the last individuals of this spring’s migration that we may see leaving for northern latitudes.

migrating waders

Waders in Exodus, today from Bunyala Rice Irrigation Scheme

At the moment, following thorough surveys during last Monday & today, it appears 16 out of the 17 migrant waterbirds at Bunyala have migrated into Europe & the Oriental world. We can only find Wood Sandpipers & even these occur singly or in pairs gorging on the last worms before they leave for their breeding ranges in the north.

 wood sandpipers

Scantily occurring Wood Sandpipers

Elsewhere in the rice scheme, most farmers are engaged in manual harvesting. They however have to deal with incessant crop raids from the parasitic bird species! Red-billed Queleas are here by their tens of thousands and completing the band of raiders are Village Weavers, a variety of waxbills, finches and manikins! Anyone with a solution to this menace that does not include poisoning is welcome to share via a comment on this post.

humans harvesting rice crop

Crop harvesting by humans

 queleas et al

Crop harvesting by parasitic birds!

Keep reading our blog for the latest news from Bunyala Rice Irrigation Scheme and do not forget to support us in any manner or kind.

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  1. Jimmy
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Have the farmers tried scarecrows?? – birds in this country are kept off crops by kites in the shapes of raptors. Well done on your great work for out migrant birds and I hope to make a donation next month when my bank balance looks less grim

  2. Posted April 14, 2013 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    Hi Jimmy. the scarecrows used here resemble human beings but do not work. May be because they are too stationary.To what percent success rate would you estimate your Kiting scarecrows at? Do you have an image of the kiting scarecrows you send me on my email address? Thanks & looking forward to your donation.

  3. Jimmy
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Use this address for examples of kite bird scarers


    PS: I have other examples Martin but I can’t find your address on this site!!

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