The tail of the migration

Today’s update is a quick note to inform you that much of the monitoring in the coming days will be local (rather than beyond the irrigation field). The rains have intensified in the week gone & while the floods have not been as intense as in the past year in the region (due to the renovation of the dyke wall to guard against the notorious flood waters of river Nzoia), we are having to wade to get to the roads (& beyond the rice scheme) which are also not usable because they are all ‘soft’ & sticky.

In the coming few days we will be focused on:

  1. Monitoring the dynamics of the migrants on site
  2. ‘Class room’ identification lessons; the component of monitoring raptors demands technical identification expertise & many of the scouts have had a frustrating fortnight with many having to rely on the instructor’s identification. So I will be dedicating attention to individual persons to ensure they can identify more species independently during our next raptor road census survey (next week).

Importantly however, the rains seem to have flushed in a few more migrants. The species numbers are however small but this is not unusual since the spring migration period is in its final stages. Over the past 4 days we have observed not more than 5 Black-winged Stilts, variable number (4-13) of White-winged Black terns donned in breeding dress (Black bodies and underwing linings), 2-38 Wood Sandpipers and 4 Black-tailed Godwits.

Godwits

Transiting Black-tailed Godwits

Our excitement is in the godwits classified by IUCN as globally Near Threatened.  The species was the most poisoned of the migrants according to a study in 2009-2010 and we feared poisoning may have been playing a significant threatening role in the population migrating through Bunyala. The 4 Black-tailed Godwits were first observed in our morning survey on 16/04/2013 and are still present at their site of choice (even though they may leave nut return to roost) – a small section constituted of 4 adjoined plots flooded with water in the southern end of the rice scheme.

Godwits in their site of choice

The Godwits in flooded paddy plots

The waders seem fat even from scrutiny with bare eyes and are fairly approachable by my team (which we do discretely everyday).

Godwits, healthy

This is a good sign that they are well-fed and have not been traumatized by poacher’s activities and when the time is right in the coming few days, they will leave for their breeding northern latitudes.

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