Posted on Thursday, April 22nd, 2010
GBG Director David Waters is in Russia surveying for Great Bustards. He's sent a short update:
"The good weather continues, but it is still a challenge to get around the fields due to mud. There really are no stones here - none at all. If the ground is just a little wet, the cars sink.
There are a few more harriers about - Montagu's and Pallid. I had a wonderful view of a Great Black Headed (Pallas's) Gull, very close, but it did not stay for the camera.
Yesterday was a long hot day in an area not known for any Bustard lek. I saw a wolf which had obviously seen us, and was running flat out for cover. It is unusual to see them right out in the middle of the fields. It is too wet for cultivation, so there is very little activity out in the fields other than the odd cowboy. As the wolf ran it flushed a female Bustard which would have otherwise remained unseen. A memorable sight.
The biggest group of Great Bustards so far has been 78. This was a lek with males and females. The highest day count in one of the 20km by 20km squares has been 164. Sadly I was not in this square.
Other birds of note include Lesser Kestrel, Saker Falcon and an unidentified large eagle. Whilst it is still a bit early for any summer migrants, I am surprised to have not seen either Common or Demoiselle cranes so far.
This morning I was in a school in Karasney Kut, the main town in the area. All the students learning English were brought together and we each gave presentations. They are very keen to work with the GBG and set up a collaborative project. My Russian was never going to impress them, but I regained a little credibility in knowing the Chinese word for the Great Bustard which I learned last week! It is Da Bao.