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09 December, 2013

Final Update - Raptor Migration Study in Thoolakharka (Nepal)- autumn 2013

Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis) - first plumage or juvenile bird
The autumn migration study of the raptors in Thoolakharka Nepal has been completed from 8 Dec 2013 that was started from 15 September (total of 85 days). In total we have counted 35 species of migrating raptors ( 13,485 individuals) with highest number of 8684 Steppe Eagles. Other migrant raptor species were 11 species of Eagles, Five species of Vultures, Six species of Falcons, Three species of Buteos, Two species of Accipiters, Four species of Harriers, Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Oriental Honey-buzzard (Pernis ptilorhyncus), Black kite (Milvus migrans) and Black-eared Kite (Milvus lineatus). Steppe Eagle migration was started from 7th October and continued till last of the season with highest number of 308 Steppe eagles per hour in 21 Nov and highest daily count of 1102  eagles on 20 Nov. In Thoolakharka watch site approximately 57% (4967) Steppe Eagles passing overhead were aged; among them we identified and counted 19.4% (964) Juveniles, 36.6% (1816) Sub-adults and 44% (2187) adults. This age ratio indicates the healthy population of steppe eagles. Overall number of migrating raptors increased this year by around 3,500 and we conclude this is due to good weather condition and rain around the breeding area that makes favorable conditions for prey species.  Overall, the best time to see the most species in one day was early November – but different species peak at different times during the autumn migration.  For example, Amur Falcon (Falco amurensis) and Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni) migration peaked from approx. 20 October through 5 November, Oriental Honey-buzzard peaked from 25 to 31 October, Himalayan Vulture (Gyps himalayensis) peaked from 15 to 30 November.  On the other hand, the largest movement of Steppe Eagles occurred in mid-November to third week.  Among the 35 species of migrating raptors one species (white-rumped vulture) is critically endangered, two species (Egyptian vulture and Saker falcon) are endangered, Three species (Pallas’s fish eagle, Imperial eagle, Greater spotted eagle) are vulnerable and two species (Cinereous vulture and Pallid harrier) are near threatened in the IUCN list. Beside the 35 migrating species 7 additional non migratory species (including 2 critically endangered species) were regularly seen in the area.

Detail  about migrating species and number with highest daily count and comparison with last year count is given below.  

Species 2012 Total  Highest Daily Count  Total Count till date 
Oriental Honey-buzzard 381 60 642
Common Buzzard 180 12 102
Long-legged Buzzard 4 3 11
Upland Buzzard 4 2 8
Unidentified Buteo 3 1 3
Northern Sparrowhawk 107 7 110
Northern Goshawk 3 4 10
Unidentified Sparrowhawk 9 1 1
Steppe Eagle 6597 1102 8684
Booted Eagle 155 7 109
Short-toed Eagle 2 1 2
Crested Serpent-eagle 26 1 5
Pallas's Fish Eagle 2 1 1
White-tailed Eagle 0 1 2
Imperial Eagle 0 1 1
Indian Spotted Eagle 3 0 0
Greater Spotted Eagle 3 1 2
Bonelli's Eagle 13 4 30
Mountain Hawk-eagle 1 2 6
Golden Eagle 7 1 4
Unidentified Eagle 8 1 2
Black Kite 324 40 356
Black-Eared Kite 22 153
Osprey 3 2 5
Hen Harrier 19 2 9
Eastern Marsh Harrier 0 1 1
Pallid Harrier 1 1 2
Pied Harrier  0 1 1
Unidentified Harrier 3 0
Peregrine Falcon ssp. calidis 29 2 18
Saker Falcon 5 1 1
Northern  Hobby 80 33 211
Amur Falcon 78 24 90
Lesser Kestrel 66 14 69
Common Kestrel 83 29 318
Unidentified Falcon 21 2 14
Egyptian Vulture 24 6 40
White-rumped Vulture 16 127
Himalayan Vulture 1270 221 2215
Cinereous Vulture 73 11 57
Griffon Vulture 85 12 44
Unidentified Vulture 3 1 1
Unidentified Raptor 79 3 18
Total         9,754             1,238         13,485

05 December, 2013

Migration Update Thoolakharka (Nepal)- 4 Dec, 2013

Bearded Vulture ( Sub-adult)
Last Year we stopped to counting by this date however this year it seems the migration will goes more days. In the last days we had continue migration of Steppe Eagles, Himalayan Vulture and Cinereous Vulture. It was expected to go down the number of migrating eagles with the changing of weather into more sunny however we are having around 200 eagles per day. The number of Himalayan Vulture migration is also still high today around 220 vultures. Due to the high intensity of sun the air is more dry and no cloud forming near to the Himalayas so the raptors are very close to the Himalayas and creating difficulties in observation. Due to the high intensity of sun the rocky slope of the Himalayas can create lot of thermal so the raptors prefer this route. most of the eagles are Adults and sub-adults in this time. Local Peregrine, Besra, Sparrowhawk, Bonelli's, Mountain Hawk-eagle and Black eagles area almost every day around us and make the day more exciting and perfect. The summery of the season is given below.


Species 2012 Total  Highest Daily Count  Total Count till date 
Oriental Honey-buzzard 381 60 642
Common Buzzard 180 12 102
Long-legged Buzzard 4 3 11
Upland Buzzard 4 2 8
Unidentified Buteo 3 1 3
Northern Sparrowhawk 107 7 110
Northern Goshawk 3 4 10
Unidentified Sparrowhawk 9 1 1
Steppe Eagle 6597 1102 8274
Booted Eagle 155 7 109
Short-toed Eagle 2 1 2
Crested Serpent-eagle 26 1 5
Pallas's Fish Eagle 2 1 1
White-tailed Eagle 0 1 2
Imperial Eagle 0 1 1
Indian Spotted Eagle 3 0 0
Greater Spotted Eagle 3 1 2
Bonelli's Eagle 13 4 30
Mountain Hawk-eagle 1 2 6
Golden Eagle 7 1 3
Unidentified Eagle 8 1 2
Black Kite 324 40 345
Black-Eared Kite 22 153
Osprey 3 2 5
Hen Harrier 19 2 9
Eastern Marsh Harrier 0 1 1
Pallid Harrier 1 1 2
Pied Harrier  0 1 1
Unidentified Harrier 3 0
Peregrine Falcon ssp. calidis 29 2 18
Saker Falcon 5 1 1
Northern  Hobby 80 33 211
Amur Falcon 78 24 90
Lesser Kestrel 66 14 69
Common Kestrel 83 29 318
Unidentified Falcon 21 2 14
Egyptian Vulture 24 6 40
White-rumped Vulture 16 127
Himalayan Vulture 1270 221 2014
Cinereous Vulture 73 11 48
Griffon Vulture 85 12 42
Unidentified Vulture 3 1 1
Unidentified Raptor 79 3 18
Total         9,754             1,238         12,851