17 Nov 2010

Dinara unravels mystery of Eastern Flyway

By Martin Fowlie
After an absence of transmissions from our satellite tagged birds for several weeks, a transmission just received from Dinara in central Pakistan is very welcome and exciting news. Her new location marks another important milestone in our growing understanding of the easterly flyway that some Sociable Lapwings take on route to India and Pakistan and the overall complexity of the species' migration. Two transmissions recorded on November 13th confirm Dinara's location is now in central Pakistan, in the Indus floodplain, not far from Shujaabad. Dinara's amazing journey started quite slowly with her staying near to her breeding site until at least early September. The first news of her migration came from a satellite transmission on October 4th when she surprised us by turning up at  Lake Talimarzhan in Southern Uzbekistan. Dinara spent at least a couple of weeks there suggesting the location might well be a staging site for birds taking this particular route south. Lake Talimarzhan is a designated Important Bird Area (IBA) and Dinara's presence there was the first record we have of Sociable Lapwing at the site or for that matter in Southern Uzbekistan. The lake is a large reservoir on the border between a developed agricultural area and the desert and is situated 45 km south-west of Karshi. Other threatened species using this IBA include Ferruginous Duck and Houbara Bustard. In the map below you can see Dinara's route plotted in red.  The blue routes to and from Kazakhstan and The Sudan denote the  westerly flyway that satellite tracking in previous years has confirmed and are primarily the routes provided by Erzhan. The green dots represent all known Sociable Lapwing records from 1850 - 2010 with the dot size scaled to flock size.
Johannes Kamp - RSPB Researcher and Steppe conservation specialist - comments as follows on Dinara's arrival in Pakistan... "The route this bird has taken confirms a possible route suggested by us for a couple of years, based on historic records in our database. Birds from Kazakhstan seem to depart via Uzbekistan and western Tajikistan, avoiding the high mountains of Tien Shan, Pamir and Hindukush and fly on a rather long detour. They probably stopover somewhere in the lowlands and then rush though the hostile highland deserts of Afghanistan, stopping over again in the Indus valley in Pakistan. There are a couple of old records in the vicinity of the current location - one from the second half of November and one in March. Based on the timing of these observations, I think it is unlikely Dinara will stay in the Indus valley, but rather continue to the south Pakistan coast or to Gujarat in India - Let's hope she keeps transmitting!" If you'd like to keep in touch with Dinara and the other Sociable Lapwings' Amazing Journey you can sign up for email alerts that will advise you when we add new information to this website. Two transmissions recorded on November 13th confirm Dinara's location is now in central Pakistan, in the Indus floodplain, not far from Shujaabad.