Middle East
28 Oct 2010

Erzhan helps locate important new staging site for Sociable Lapwing in Turkey

By Jim Lawrence
This autumn researchers from Doga Dernegi (BirdLife in Turkey) have been actively monitoring Sociable Lapwings as they pass through Eastern Turkey. On September 26th, DD staff searching in the north east of the country located sixty Sociable Lapwings in two separate flocks of 30 birds at a previously identified Turkish staging site on the Erzurum Plain. On September 28th, DD researchers monitoring birds near the Syrian border in the far south-east of Turkey, then discovered a large flock of 498 Sociable Lapwings had already reached another well known staging site - Ceylanpinar.  During the monitoring, one of DD's Volunteers - Mustafa Erturhan - filmed this video of the flock. On October 3rd, RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) received a satellite transmission from Erzhan (one of nine satellite-tagged Sociable Lapwings currently being monitored) indicating he was close to the town of Patnos some 30k. north of the Van Golu lake in central Turkey. DD staff were alerted and went straight out to search for Erzhan (and the flock he was travelling with there) but the habitat proved unsuitable and no birds could be located, so it is probable that he was just passing through. Despite only five Sociable Lapwings being found in the vicinity of Patnos during the next few days, searches continued in the Malazgirt and Bulanlik Plain (see map below) and on October 9th DD's efforts were rewarded when a flock of 101 Sociable Lapwings was located there. The following day researchers were even more successful when they discovered another much bigger flock of 554 birds  close by, which is the largest gathering of migrating Sociable Lapwings encountered so far this autumn. So, despite Erzhan not being relocated in this flock, he has yet again pointed the way and helped DD discover another important new staging site in eastern Turkey. The latest news from Turkey is that with no further reports of lapwings from the Mus Plain during the past two weeks, our birds have probably now finished passing south through a central corridor in Turkey. However, birds were still passing through the south-east of the country as recently as last week. Two groups were discovered on October 20th - one in Ceylanpinar as expected and, to DD's surprise, the other at a site in the Akcakale Plain in the north east that has previously only been known as a spring migration staging site.  DD researchers hypothesize that there might be two distinct routes taken by Sociable Lapwings moving through Turkey which we hope to bring you further news about, if this can be established, in due course. See here for up to date details on the amazing journey Sociable Lapwings are making this autumn as they migrate south from their breeding grounds in Kazakhstan. Sign up here for regular email alerts on the Sociable Lapwings' progress.