Thursday, December 23, 2010

Move continues

The adult eagle (82163) has reached Kunashir Island. Today's e-mail has brought the last bit of the GPS data for the past days, so I was able to construct the GPS track. From Sakhalin Island the eagle went to Hokkaido, Japan, and then to Kunashir, and subsequently to Iturup Island. Interestingly the bird liked the same spots on the coastline of Hokkaido as it used last autumn migration. Although the fixes last year were earlier than this year.
Meanwhile the youngster (62629) moved to Sakhalin Island, and now remains in the Tymn River valley. I feel that it will move south very quickly.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New movements on the solstice

Today the batch of coordinates brought some exciting news. The youngster (65629) moved south and is now on Sakhalin Island.  We had feared the worst as it was not moving much and cold weather and ice was closing in on it. 
The adult is on Iturup.  If you look back at blogs from last December 2009 -January 2010, you will see that both tagged birds were there at this time last year.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Today the adult eagle reported itself from the Kunashir island. The fixes were coming from the northern tip of the island, a low elevation cape with some lagoons.

The youngster has suspiciously remained on the Kol River and has remained there depsite of very chilly weather (-15 to -22 C). Last GPS fix was taken on Dec. 7.

We will have to wait for the next transmission cycle to see if there have been any changes.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Youngster stays, adult goes!

End of Novemrer and beginning of December was a stationary time for our two year old bird. It still remains near the Kol' river. There is complete snow cover now and there were some cyclones. I have checked on the temperature of the PTT on the bird, and it has remained within -7 to +10 C, while ambient temperature at the surrounding meteo stations were in the range of -18 -22 C suggesting that the bird is OK. A close look at the vegetation between the fixes revealed lot of paths between forest bits heading toward the river. No doubt that these are bear runs, and this suggests that the river is full of fish. The question remains if the fish are still available or has ice blocked them from the eagle(s).

The adult set off from the Kol' river on November 23, and on November 25 it crossed the Tatar straight and to Sakhalin Island. Steadily moving along the island the eagle managed to reached the south of the Island by 1 December, where it still remains. Remarkably the trajectory of the eagle is close to that it followed in November 2009. Interestingly this year path is 1 week delayed compared to the previous winter.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Uneventful fortnight

It appears that both the adult and young eagles have remained at the same place since the end of October. Both adult and young have chosen to stay on the Kol' river, where the adult visited in early November 2009, and the youngster passed through in May 2010 on his way north.

I have to point out that the youngster come within dangerous proximity of the Belaya Gora gold mine tailing, which is clearly seen on the satellite shot.

Current conditions at the Amur River estuary, some 50 km south are -5 C, suggesting that the river is probably frozen. However there is a chance that there is some fish available at the rapids. The landscape appears to be tundra, with some trees along the river. The GPS points (yellow for adult and red for youngster) indicate that the birds utilize these trees.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


It seems that our prediction was correct, which may mean that we are starting to understand the eagles' migration. The young eagle seems to have caught up with the adult. Yesterday a transmission from the younger bird was from the same region near Belaya Gora where the adult was a week ago. In the next few days we'll see if the adult moves ahead, or the two migrating eagles move synchonically. In the map the adult track is in yellow, the youngster's in white.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Youngster on the move

The young eagle started migrating (again) on 16 October, and moved along the mountains. On 19 October it arrived at Ayan town, and has stayed in dangerous proximity of the Munuk airport. The airport is not a large one, but people are neareby. It looks that the eagle escaped the deathtrap of the Okhota river, but there are many perils ahead. Will it cut across the Tugur bay to avoid shooting there, like the adult did?

Adult eagle: migration in Progress

The adult eagle took off from the Okhota river on 18 October and flew along the coastline, some 15 km inland and on 20 October arrived in the Belaya Gora region of the Russian Far east. The place, judging from the Panoramio photos, is a magnet for the eagles.

It was here last autumn from 28 October to 17 November (that is 2009)... the same place, similar time. Interestingly during spring 2010 this place was not visited: the eagle went straight to the ice north of the Shantar islands.

Will the youngster will join the adult here as they did last fall? I bet it will happen sometime between 2 and 7 November.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Adult and youngster at a favorite location

It looks like both the adult and young eagles prefer the same place on the Okhota river. In the past this place has been very attractive to some eagles, but it can also be death trap when eagles remain too long it this area and are cut off from reaching feeding areas along their migratory route heading south. Hope it won't happen to these ones.

Circlular movements of the young eagle

Meanwhile the immature eagle (65629) demonstrated rather strange movements between the Chilchikan and Okhota rivers. In early July it moved from the Okhota river to the seashore around the Chilchikan and Tolmot estuary, where it stayed until September 5. Then it flew back to the Okhota river via the Urak river (September 6), where it stayed at the same place until September 10. Then it made a loop through the tundra surrounding the Okhota river lowlands and then flew back north on September 18. Then the eagle flew back to the Chilickan River, then to the Amerikan River on September 30, and then back to the Okhota River on October 4th. Currently, it is at the same location where it was first noted in July, not far away from the adult. We hope it will fly away from this place before the ice forms.

The snow cover is steady in Magadan from yesterday.

Adult arrived to the Okhota river

Our adult eagle started the migration on September, 13, 2010, and arrived on the Okhota River on September22, where it has remained up until now (18 October).

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Adult started to move!

If August was uneventful for both immature and adult eagles, the month of September turned out to be an action-packed time for the adult. On 13 September it started to move west at a leisurely pace, spent 3 days on the Lysyanskogo Peninsula, and 2 days on Ulbeya river, before arriving to the Okhota river. Where it stayed at the same spot as our immature eagle! They meet up again. Previously they met in November 2009, at the Belaya Gora village, in Primorye.

What is unusual is that this autumn the adult, which was not breeding this summer, started to migrate almost 1 month earlier than in the previous year (when it was presumably breeding). Compare: 12 October in 2009 and 13 September 2010.

Friday, July 30, 2010


Our young eagle (65629) after re-visiting the Okhota river (location identical to the one of the summer 2009), came out to the coast and remained at the estuary of the Chilchikan river, west of Okhotsk.

The adult remains at the Motykley Bay. At the end of the month it moved to the famous hotsprings of the Motykley Bay. Lot of small fish there.

This is the picture of this place taken in May 2005

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

June-July 2010

It appears that the adult eagle settled on the Amakhton Bay and makes short flights to the areas of the bay which are exposed to low tide.

The youngster (65629) stays at the Gyrby River, Khabarovsk District.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ice and the eagles

The data from the national Ice and Snow Center for 24 May are plotted together with the Steller's Sea Eagle tracks. The youngster 65620 is indeed icehoping and is currently at the ice edge, whereas the adult 82164 is moving along the ice edges. Which is a bit strange since the eagles have to be on the nests.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A floater?

The adult brid makes a wide flights across the Motykley Bay. Is it a floater?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ice hopping of the youngster

Our young Steller's Sea Eagle spent early May ice hopping in the sea north-east from the Shantar islands. The latest trend based in the doppler locations is that he/she is moving north. The gps fixes are to follow.

Breeding decisions?

The adult was exploring the Motykley Bay during end of April - beginning of May. It flew (seemingly) close to the ice edge, visited many nest sites in Motykley Bay, Spafarieva and Talan Islands and Onatsevicha Bay.

However since 7 May the bird has been lingering on Talan Island about 400 m from the known Steller's Sea Eagle nest (which was the only occupied nest at the island in 2009). Talan Island is a huge breeding place for seabirds including (amongst other things) gulls, kittywakes, puffins, auks, and murres.


Breeding grounds reached!

Our adult reached Motykley Bay (where it was captured in 2009) on 15 April! It is not clear whether it will breed at the presumed breeding site of 2009. Currently the bay is packed with ice, and it might be that this eagle spends time away from the nest site because it is foraging on the edge of the ice.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The adult eagle is at the nest site

The adult SSE fitted last year with PTT(0)82163 has reached its nest site after some ice-hopping. It was evidently traveling along the open water clearly visible in the MODIS satellite image above. It travelled the length of the Sea of Okhotsk in 4 days!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Youngser went North

After a minor problem with Argos data flow the missing data have been received. It looks like the youngster (PTT5629) left Hokkaido on 4 April 2010 and is now on Sakhalin Island.
The adult female is ice-hopping sowewhat North of Shantar Island.
More data to follow. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

First eagles at the Balagannoe

Meanwhile the first adult Steller's have arrived at Balagannoe in our study area on 6 April 2010. Photos by Olga Mochalova

Adult eagle is ice hopping

Since 18 March our adult eagle has been living on the ice, ice hopping at least until 22 March. Meanwhile, the Argos system started adding a "0" in front of the PTT numbers. Hope our automatic system will not loose any data.

The youngster PTT62629 is not sending good signals. The battery probably is approaching the end of its life. There are some fairly low quality signals indicating that the bird started its migration on 18 March, but no more reliable GPS fixes... The last doppler fix was on 23 March.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring migration has started

On 9 March our adult eagle went along the foothills of the Hokkaido, and on 12  March has crossed La Perouse strait and after staying one day at the Cape Crillon, Sakhalin she continued to fly along the Sakhalin Island.

Interestingly her path is not quite following the coastline, was one could expect. She certainly preffer to stay at the foothills of the mountains. The Doppler locations suggest that she is still on the move.

Intrigued, Eugene