The only pallid harrier that was being tracked by us appears to have died or lost its tag. We lost the transmitter signal on 17th November in northern Saudi Arabia, while the bird was migrating. The signal then popped up near a village in Abu Dhabi for a few days (See map below). While not conclusive, the pattern of transmissions suggest to us that the bird either died or lost its tag, then the tag was picked up by someone and moved to Abu Dhabi. The lack of recent signals suggests that the tag is either inside or lying so that its solar panels are not in the sun. Friends of Natural Research living in the area tried to retrieve the tag, but with no recent signals to work from, were unsuccessful.
To recap this bird's movements over the last year: Surprisingly (to us at least), it spent the winter in Syria, far away from the eastern African wintering grounds used during the two previous winters. At the end of March, it started its northward migration, using its “traditional” migration route, crossing Iraq, Iran, the Caspian Sea, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan. It crossed Kazakhstan and apparently found a suitable breeding site (as suggested by a cluster of locations) in southern Russia, in the Omsk region. It stayed in the same restricted area from the end of April to early June, and then left, which strongly suggested breeding failure at the brood-rearing stage. As a consequence of the apparent failure, post-breeding dispersal started early; the bird returned to Kazakhstan at the end of June and stayed in the western part of the country until it initiated its autumn migration around the 20th of September.
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