“My search for Irina in Tabuk”

Following the discovery that Irina had reached North West Saudi Arabia in late October, further satellite transmissions in mid-November indicated she was still present near Tabuk.

As her location was effectively his local patch, Vivian Wilson – an Australian birder working for BAE Systems in Tabuk, who has been following the migration of our tagged Sociable Lapwings via The Amazing Journey – offered to try to locate Irina and the flock she might be travelling with for us.

Viv takes up the story of his search for her here…

“The two Robs – Tovey and Sheldon, contacted me to see if I could go and check out my usual birding spot for the satellite tagged Sociable Lapwing, Irina. I’ve been following the Amazing Journey web-site, so I was honoured to be a part of trying to locate her in the irrigated fields around Tabuk and accepted the challenge enthusiastically.

Having received the latest co-ordinates from RSPB’s Rob Sheldon, off I went armed with GPS, binoculars and my Canon 60D. I’m as much a photographer as a birder and, filled with heaps of enthusiasm and optimism, I was desperate to add a Sociable Lapwing to my collection of photographs as well as help locate Irina.

The irrigated fields around Tabuk cover a vast area and even with the latest co-ordinates it was always going to be a challenge locating any lapwings in such a huge landscape. What is it that Sociable Lapwings like about vast empty landscapes? From the endless steppes of Kazakhstan, the irrigated fields of Tabuk and the semi-desert of Sudan – these birds really like to make it difficult for the conservationists trying to save them.

I plotted out a route on my GPS, and covered as much ground as I could in areas where I had access, carefully scanning the irrigated fields that were home to a range of many bird species along the way.

Despite an extensive search, unfortunately I couldn’t locate Irina or any other Sociable Lapwings at my first attempt – the nearest I got was some Spur-winged Plovers.

But I’m not deterred.  I suppose it will become a bit of a quest to find Irina, and add her to my collection of photographed birds.

The route taken by Vivian Wilson in search of Irina

As I write, Rob Sheldon assures me that Irina is still in the area I’ve been searching but her satellite tag locations shows that she is quite mobile and is moving around the general area.

It will be intriguing to see if she stays here for the winter or carries on further south into Sudan or Ethiopia, or even south-east in to the Arabian Peninsula.

One thing is for certain – if Irina stays around Tabuk, I will continue my quest to try to locate her and play my part in tracking her Amazing Journey…”

Related posts:

  1. Irina reaches Saudi Arabia
  2. Irina arrives in eastern Turkey
  3. Irina tagging venue
  4. Satellite-tagged Sociable Lapwings are on the move again
  5. Omar Fadil’s search in Iraq

5 Responses

  1. jim 22. Nov, 2013 at 11:46 am #

    Thanks for your guest posting Viv.

    We wish you luck searching for Irina and your quest for a photograph of a Sociable Lapwing.

    As of November 19th, our latest satellite transmissions indicate she is still at 28.79N, 36.33E north of Tabuk in Saudi.

    Best regards

    Jim Lawrence

  2. Johannes Kamp 22. Nov, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    Thanks for this great report – it’s truly inspirational to see the international collaboration between scientists, conservationists and birders that has been achieved!

    All the best and good luck with any further searches
    Johannes Kamp

  3. Eus de Groot 22. Nov, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

    Wonderful to see how easily people are willing to help in each country the birds arrive on their journey!!!!.. Please keep up the good work and let us enjoy the news every time!!! Greetings from Friesland/netherlands, where the eurasian lapwing is our national bird!!!

  4. Rob Tovey 27. Nov, 2013 at 10:53 am #

    Keep searching Viv! I bet when you see her she’ll be with a few others too. Rob

  5. Rob Sheldon 12. Feb, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

    Hi All
    Just had a great email from Louis Regenmorter who has been following the Amazing Journey web-site in recent months.
    In response to our satellite tag location he visited Tabuk for an afternoons birding. The brilliant news is that on the 8th February, he located 28 Sociable Lapwings – although only from a distance. This fits with the general area where Irina has been moving around for the last few months.
    Well done Louis and thanks for the fantastic news.
    More updates soon


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