Missing Swans by Julian Hector, Head of BBC Natural History Radio. 24 October
A lot of people following the course of our migrating birds might be wondering why only 4 birds are flying and two are not. During the August field trip to Arctic Russia 6 swans were fitted with satellite transmitters (5 Bewick's swans and 1 whooper swan). After returning to the UK all birds were transmitting their whereabouts.
But, after some time we lost the signal of Bewick's Swans Alexi (14U) and Pechora (13A). The team of biologists have been listening out carefully over the ensuing weeks and are now sure that there has been a problem.
So, what has happened? Having spoken to Colin Pennycuick (Bristol University) and Eileen Rees (WWT) the simple answer is we don't know. But the options are that the transmitters have failed or fallen off, or that the birds have been predated.
Any of these might have happened.
The two main predators on the tundra are Arctic Foxes and White-Tailed Eagles. Our Russian colleagues have been looking over the tundra for the transmitters, but their accuracy is about 1km² and that's a hugely difficult job. If we ever shed light on the missing signals we'll let you know straight away.
Again No Movement! by Colin Pennycuick 24 October
11D (Andrei) apparently made a rather sudden eastward jump at lunchtime, about 200km in 28 minutes. I do not believe that he did any such thing, and expect that he will be back on Lake Peipus shortly. However these jumps do reveal the fallibility of the transmitters.
Kostya and Anatoli are still on Lake Peipus.
Whooper Huck (HUC) seems to be working his way down the Dvina River towards Archangel. He is now just outside the city on the south east side. Perhaps he will turn out to be an urban whooper (there are some that winter in Reykjavik). More likely he will move on down to the Baltic when the temperature drops.
More reports soon.
Whooper Huck Moves On by Colin Pennycuick 27 October
Whooper HUC (Huck) pulled out of the Dvina delta some time after 0700GMT yesterday (26th). At 1650GMT he was flying about 150km north east of Petrozavodsk, approaching Chelmuzhi at the north end of Lake Onegh. Then he was located twice, on the ground both times, first at 0147GMT this morning, over by the Finnish border, and then at 0226GMT, about 80km north west of Petrozavodsk, near a place called Girvas. This looks like a bit of Argos twitchery, and the second location looks more likely that the first, i.e. more in line with his earlier track. This may be just a rest stop. He will most likely move on later today.
Bewick's 11D (Andrei) was last located at 1817GMT yesterday (26 Oct), at the north end of Lake Peipus.
Bewick's 12D (Anatoli) came up yesterday (26 Oct), with one location just south east of Riga. This is about 250km south west of where he was last located a couple of days earlier (24th), on Lake Peipus. I expect this move is real, but we shall have to wait another couple of days and hope for another location, to make sure it is not just an Argos hop.
12J Gone Quiet by Colin Pennycuick 27 October
Bewick's 12J (Kostya), the first one to migrate, was transmitting normally up to 0948GMT on 23rd October. After that, we heard one beep at 1321GMT the same day, without a location, and one more at 1811GMT the next day. Since then, nothing. This does not look good. There was no indication that the transmitter had reprogrammed itself as 12D did earlier, although that is still just possible. We are, now, concerned about 12J's safety.
Whooper on Lake Ladoga by Colin Pennycuick 29 October
Whooper Huck (HUC) seems to have settled in at the north end of Lake Ladoga, near a place called Pitkyaran, only about 50km from the Finnish border.
Bewick's 12D (Anatoli): The Argos map shows him out over the Gulf of Danzig at 2228GMT yesterday (28th). This seems likely enough, and suggests that he is moving west. Next stop Holland, maybe.
Nothing was heard from Bewick 12J (Kostya).
Search Party? by Eileen Rees 28 October
I've now sent an email to the Pskov Teacher Training Institute to see if they
can check Kostya's last location for the transmitter or bird. They have a long-term (since 1956) study
of autumn migration on the Russian side of Lake Peipus, (where the last signal came from) so may be in the area, and able to gather some clues about Kostya's fate.
Whooper Huck Heading for Finland? by Colin Pennycuick 28 October
Whooper Huck (HUC)- after passing some distance north of Petrozavodsk, Huck's intermittent south westerly movement came to a stop yesterday (27th). He was stationary at 1613GMT, at the extreme north end of Lake Ladoga, and he was still there at 0622GMT this morning (28th). His track since leaving Archangel has been further north that those of the Bewick's, and if extrapolated, would take him into southern Finland.