Posted on Monday, September 28th, 2009
News from David Waters in Russia:
The weather for this years autumn census has been incredible. The dry and warm conditions have allowed us to drive pretty much wherever the tracks lead without getting stuck in the mud which is the usual state of affairs.
The flip side of this weather is that the Great Bustards seem to have not yet formed the big flocks we usually see at this time of year. The biggest I have personally seen was 23 females and young. Males are still seen in ones and twos although flocks up to 20 have been seen.
We census a 20km by 20km square, and while a blank square is rare, the highest square has been 74 birds. Little Bustards are not much in evidence yet with only 2 flocks of 10 and 18 having been seen. Both the Common and Demoiselle Cranes have also departed.
The usual summer birds, such as the Shrikes and Be-eaters have all gone, but I saw a late Black-winged Pratincole on 27th. Other notable birds include Golden Eagle, Steppe Eagle and a Saker Falcon. A few Bluethroats are around the field station but it is so empty compared with the summer when every bush seems to have a Red-backed Shrike on it.
One of our local team called a very distant mammal as a wolf, but getting a telescope on it revealed it to be a fox. Wolves are not uncommon here but we normally only see them in the summer evenings when they are hunting for their cubs.