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The Peregrine Fund Notes From The Field

"Notes from the Field" provides frequent updates and pictures from our biologists and students who are working in the field or at our headquarters, the World Center for Birds of Prey.

Found 28 entries matching your request:

Finding Zen on the Himalayas after a nightmare ride to the top by Munir Virani

Munir Virani — in Asian Vulture Crisis

In Hindu mythology, Kali is the Goddess of Death. In Sanskrit, the translation is “She who is black or she who is death”. Kali’s iconography, cult, and mythology commonly associate her with death, sexuality, violence, and, paradoxically in some later traditions, with motherly love. That is what I felt when I rode up the Kali Gandaki Valley in Nepal’s Annapurna Conservation Area in May of 2013. The Kali Gandaki River is one of the major rivers of Nepal and a left bank tributary of the sacred Ganges in India. In Nepal the river is notable for its deep gorge through the Himalayas and its enormous hydroelectric potential. It has a total catchment area of 46,300 square kilometers (17,900sq.mi), most of it in Nepal. This blog is about my journey up the Kali Gandaki from where we began our survey of Himalayan Vultures and other raptors of the region.

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Kota Shatabdi Express - The Journey from Delhi to Kota

Munir Virani — in Asian Vulture Crisis

The Kota Shatabdi Express from New Delhi

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Cambodia: Grey-headed Fish Eagle Project, Part 2

Ruth Tingay — in Asia-Pacific

It’s dark, cold and raining by the time I reach Heathrow. I expect most of my fellow-travellers are pleased to be leaving it all behind in their New Year’s get-away but January is one of my favourite months to be in the UK. I know many people find this hard to comprehend but I’m not a sun worshipper and if I had the choice I’d happily spend a month of cosy fireside hibernation instead of a sweat-ridden endurance test in the sauna of the tropics. For someone with these preferences, it’s quite ironic that over the years most of my fieldwork has taken place close to the equator!

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Cambodia: Grey-headed Fish Eagle Project, Part 1

Ruth Tingay — in Asia-Pacific

It’s January 1st and it’s an unusual start to the New Year for me. Instead of being out partying last night, I was at home, packing. It’s a familiar task and one I always look forward to as it signals the end of a long period of pre-fieldwork planning and preparation. The funding proposals had been written, submitted, and accepted; the research permit from the host country’s government applied for and received; this year’s field team selected and briefed; the field transport and accommodation booked; the fieldwork schedule planned; the budget checked and revised; immunisations updated; medical insurance updated; emergency evacuation procedure planned; flights researched, booked and confirmed; visa procedures confirmed; specialist sampling equipment procured; export and import permit restrictions for shipping biological samples from one country to another read and (grudgingly) understood; currency exchanged; passport found.

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Quest for the Simeulue Serpent Eagle

Rick Watson — in Asia-Pacific

I landed at Medan international airport on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, not knowing what to expect, but knowing I would be in for an adventure no matter what. I am on a quest to find the Simeulue Serpent Eagle. Depending on which taxonomic opinion you accept, it is either a race of the Crested Serpent Eagle, or a unique species in its own right. Either way, it occurs only on one island, Simeulue, about 120 km west of Sumatra. Simeulue is the northern-most of a chain of islands along Sumatra’s west coast that starts with Mentawai in the south; the chain continues beyond Indonesia northwards to the Nicobar and Andaman islands off the coast of Burma. The chain is geologically older than Sumatra, and is thought to have species with a unique evolutionary history, which gives rise to the idea that the islands’ Serpent Eagles may be separate species with their own unique lineages. The Simeulue Serpent Eagle is smaller than the Crested Serpent Eagle, and has different detail in the plumage (darker hindneck, richer purplish-brown upperparts, narrower tail-band, more barred underparts) which adds to the argument that it is different. If the Simeulue Serpent Eagle is a species then it may be at risk of extinction as the island’s forests are cleared for plantations of oil and coconut palm, cloves and other agriculture, and establishing protection for the species might protect some of the other species found only on this small island.

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Rare and critically endangered Philippine Eagle found in Apayao

Jayson C. Ibanez — in Philippine Eagle Conservation

A pair and an offspring of the mighty Philippine Eagle Pithecophaga jefferyi, one of the world’s rarest and most endangered “birds-of-prey”, were confirmed by a composite team of investigators from the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF), DENR, and the San Roque Power Corporation Foundation during a 2-week expedition that began November 6, 2011 at Calanasan Town in Apayao Province.

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In search of Chinese Sparrowhawks wintering in southern Papua, Indonesian New Guinea

Rick Watson — in Asia-Pacific

Editor’s Note: Wallacea is a region located almost entirely within the borders of Indonesia in southeast Asia, and includes the large island of Sulawesi, the Moluccas (Spice islands), Banda islands and the Lesser Sundas. The Lesser Sundas are located south of Sulawesi, and include Bali, Lombok, Sumba, Sumbawa, Flores and Timor. The Moluccas includes several hundred islands in the north-east of the Wallacea region, the largest being Seram and Halmahera.

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KALUMBATA soars across Mt Kitanglad

Jayson C. Ibanez — in Philippine Eagle Conservation

“MAYA” - referring to the diminutive, non-native bird of grasslands and rice fields whose scientific (latin) name is Lonchura malacca- was the reply of a farmer when asked what the country’s national bird is (though it was, until it got replaced by the giant and native Philippine Eagle in 1995). In one of Mt. Kitanglad’s remote elementary schools, a group of kids responded with a blank stare.

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From Temples to Tigers: Monitoring Vultures in India

Yeray Seminario — in Asian Vulture Crisis

Namaste!

The Asian Vultures Crisis, as it came to be known, is one of the most compelling stories in wildlife conservation. Vultures in South Asia were dying off by the thousands and entire populations were plummeting. Finally, it was proven that a drug called Diclofenac, widely used to treat cattle and other livestock at the end of the last century, was inadvertently causing the death of these vultures. The Peregrine Fund solved the mystery and now the drug is banned in India, Nepal and Pakistan. To this day, The Peregrine Fund keeps monitoring the vulture populations in India.

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Find more articles about Aplomado Falcon, California Condor, Egyptian Vulture, Long-billed Vulture, Pallas's Fish Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Asia-Pacific


Chick #24 Hatches at Philippine Eagle Center

Jayson C. Ibanez — in Philippine Eagle Conservation

The following is a press release sent by Tatit Quiblat of the Philippine Eagle Center

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A pioneer case of releasing a young Philippine Eagle succeeds

Jayson C. Ibanez — in Philippine Eagle Conservation

After nearly two months of not exactly knowing how well the released young Philippine Eagle “Hagpa” is doing back at its forest home in Impasug-ong, Bukidnon, the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) finally confirmed that the parent eagles have accepted the eaglet back and are feeding the young bird.

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Philippine eagle rehabilitation and release: a case succeeds

Jayson C. Ibanez — in Philippine Eagle Conservation

Sick, dehydrated, starving. These gloomy images entered conversations at the Philippine Eagle Center whenever office staff asked for updates about Kalabugao, a young female eagle released inside Mount Kitanglad Natural Park in Bukidnon in October 2009. For several months, the field crew did not see the eagle in the wild.

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The Chambal River Sanctuary in Rajasthan India

Munir Virani — in Asian Vulture Crisis

Counting vultures on the Chambal River can be quite an ambivalent experience. We are on the boat from dawn to dusk with an opportunity to see some of the most fascinating wildlife in India. However, it is usually hot and one does end up with a sore behind at the end of the day. The Chambal is one of the only rivers in India that flows from south to north. I was accompanied by Dr Patrick Benson, who has been studying Cape Vultures in South Africa for nearly 30 years and Shiv Kapila, one of my students supported by The Peregrine Fund, who successfully completed a Masters degree at the University College of London. I have been very fortunate to have Pat regularly help me over the last seven years that we have been observing vultures in India. He has a wealth of knowledge and I have benefited tremendously from his vast experience.

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Find more articles about Black Kite, Egyptian Vulture, Long-billed Vulture, Peregrine Falcon, Asia-Pacific


A Rare Glimpse of a Papua New Guinea Harpy Eagle

Martin Gilbert — in Asia-Pacific

The cloud forests of Papua New Guinea are rather ‘other worldly’ at the best of times, yet at 4 am they seem infinitely more alien. Cunningly, I had slept in my clothes, thus avoiding one of the hurdles of rising in the cold and dew of pre-dawn! In the blackness I fumbled at the laces of my dank boots and tried not to wake my snoring companions curled beneath their blankets. The forest was strangely silent, far removed from the choral strains of the frogs and insects that had sung me to sleep. Even the winking fire flies had snuffed out their lanterns and seemed to have vanished. A light mist was falling, adding a new layer of dampness to my skin as I stepped out from the shelter of our bush camp tarpaulin.

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Notes from Mongolia (January 2003 Field Season)

Nyambayar Batbayar — in Mongolia Project

Nyambayar Batbayar with some Mongolians in front of a ger.
Nyambayar Batbayar with some Mongolians in front of a ger.
I woke up because of an unpleasant nightmare. Half asleep and rubbing my eyes trying to open them, I looked around, but no one was there from the host family. There was only me and Sumiya in the ger. It was 6:30 in the morning and very quiet inside, except the noise the boiling tea makes. I threw my deel (traditional Mongol wool jacket) on my shoulders and stepped outside. The morning fresh air made me feel fully awakened, but very soon I caught the chilly wind and wanted to go back inside. Just then Dorjoo, the man of the family, arrived on his horse and followed me inside. Inside the ger, the warmth from a dung fire in the zuukh (round stove placed in the center of ger) made me feel warm again. While kicking his one foot with another to scrub the snow off, he said, “There are some fresh kills for your vultures today.” He continued, “Early this morning our sheep herd was attacked and those “zevkhii saaral” (noxious gray wolf) have killed two of our sheep... At the least, I better go quickly for the sheep’s skins before the birds tear them apart.”

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Flight to Kedong Valley at Ol-Donyo Kalulu

Munir Virani — in Asian Vulture Crisis

Kedong Valley
Kedong Valley
As we prepared to land, I felt my stomach churn. I closed my eyes and saw my life flash by. There wasn’t a landing strip but hundreds of Acacia bushes at the base of the towering Kedong Cliffs. Crash, bump, thud. Suddenly it was all over. Surprisingly, with a tail wind, the landing was smooth. Simon asked me if I was all right. I stared into space for a good 60 seconds. I couldn’t decide what shocked me more – the 40-minute flight from Athi River or the breathtaking views of the Kedong Valley. The scene was like time had stopped in Africa. There were golden rolling savanna plains, imposing cliffs, picturesque hills, and not a person in sight. Unlike the modern-day African image of shiny aluminum roofs, curio shops, and overgrazed livestock pastures, I stared in awe and immersed myself in the beauty of the moment. The sun was going down, the sky was a jigsaw of pastel colors. Harriers soared over the meter-high grasslands. A Lanner Falcon stooped towards a flock of mouse birds. Gerenuk and bat-eared foxes stared nervously at us. This was the face of Africa at its wildest.

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Student Notes: Shakeel Ahmed

Shakeel Ahmed — in Asian Vulture Crisis

"Work as a field researcher in the Asian Vulture Crisis project has been an amazing experience. Before this project, I made so many visits to the college in Dera Ghazi Khan to learn more about birds. After my Masters Degree in Zoology, I was desperate to do something novel and adventurous in bird studies. My enthusiasm found a home on the 17th of November 2000 when I attended a workshop on vultures with lectures given by Dr Munir Virani and Cal Sandfort from The Peregrine Fund. I had never heard about the vulture disaster. I offered my services as a volunteer as a first step toward my new life.

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Student Notes: Muhammad Arshad

Muhammad Arshad — in Asian Vulture Crisis

"Everybody knows that the populations of white-backed vultures are decreasing at an alarming rate, but nobody knows why they are dying. In India researchers pointed out that vultures are in danger. Because of this situation, The Peregrine Fund began the Asian Vulture Crisis Project to know what the cause of the vulture mortality is. In Pakistan; Dholewala, Toawala and Changa Manga were selected to study the vultures.

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Student Notes: Jamshed Chaudhry

Jamshed Chaudhry — in Asian Vulture Crisis

Vulture researcher Jamshed Chaudhry <br />(center) takes measurements from a dead vulture.
Vulture researcher Jamshed Chaudhry
(center) takes measurements from a dead vulture.
"My first experience on the vulture project was to attend the vulture training workshop held on the 17th of November 2000 in B.Z University Multan, where Dr. Munir Virani and Cal Sandfort from The Peregrine Fund came to give presentations. That was the first time I came to know about the decline of vulture populations in Asia. I was inspired by their presentation and my interest in conservation began to develop.

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Student Notes: Shahid Mahmood

Shahid Mahmood — in Asian Vulture Crisis

Vulture researchers Shahid Mahmood (left)<br />and Muhammad Arshad (right) working at<br />Toawala.
Vulture researchers Shahid Mahmood (left)
and Muhammad Arshad (right) working at
Toawala.
"I took charge of studies at Toawala colony in February 2001. It is a larger site than all other study colonies. In the 2000/01 breeding season I counted a maximum of 1607 birds but in 2001/02 my maximum count was 1253. The main vegetation in this area are mango orchards. Cotton and wheat are the main crops. On the west side of Toawala colony (about 5 km) runs the river Chenab. At Toawala site food availability is high and last year, vulture mortality rate was lower than the other sites. But this year mortality rate has increased. Gout in birds is also more common this year. So still there are great numbers of vultures here to study the cause of mortality.

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Notes from Mongolia (2002 Field Season)

Nyambayar Batbayar — in Mongolia Project

Cinereous Vulture in Mongolia
Cinereous Vulture in Mongolia
I left Boise early February with my wife, Bayarmaa, and daughter, Nomin, for home far away on the other side of the globe. We were so happy to see our families again in Mongolia. Particularly, I was excited to begin collecting breeding ecology data on little-studied Cinereous Vultures in mountains and steppes of Mongolia. The Cinereous Vulture is a glorious bird, the largest among the Old World vultures. Its foot is almost bigger than an adult man's hand, and its wingspan is longer than our stretched arms. The Cinereous Vulture is the commonest among vultures in Mongolia; however, very little is known about this bird. My study objectives were simple but not easy to achieve, included finding and monitoring nests, collecting data on vulture food and nesting habitat, and trapping vultures and attaching radio transmitters to find out where they go to search for food.

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Veterinary Work on White-Backed Vultures in Pakistan

Lindsay Oaks — in Asian Vulture Crisis

Lindsay Oaks, DVM, PhD, Dip. ACVM is an assistant professor in the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology at Washington State University, Pullman, Washington. He is a long-time friend and collaborator of The Peregrine Fund’s, and an expert on avian viral diseases. When early studies on dying vultures in India suggested that an infectious, possibly viral, disease might be responsible for the mortality causing the population crash, The Peregrine Fund asked Lindsay to develop and coordinate a worldwide team of laboratories and experts to identify the disease agent as quickly as possible.

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Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve Munir Virani in Koshi Camp, Nepal

Munir Virani — in Asian Vulture Crisis

Only those scientists working on the Asian Vulture Crisis project in south Asia know how many chickens have been "sacrificed" in order to save the vultures from extinction.  At this moment, I am in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve in lowland Nepal with local biologist Jeet Bahadur Giri (aka JB) and his assistants Badri and Chakra.  We are watching nest number five, one of only two Slender-billed Vulture nests built high up a Kapok tree.  Our lunch comprises of fried chicken (our dinner the previous night was chicken curry and this evening we have been promised a special Nepali chicken treat!!).  In the distance, a small herd of Indian Wild Buffalo glares at us nervously, while the enchanting cry of a Crested Serpent Eagle alerts us of impending perils in this magnificent riverine forest. 

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Find more articles about Long-billed Vulture, Slender-billed Vulture, White-backed Vulture, Asia-Pacific


Notes in America

Nyambayar Batbayar — in Mongolia Project

July 28, 2000

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November 1999

Bill Burnham — in Mongolia Project

Day One - Rob’s wife Tara, with 10-month-old Will, who had an ear infection and was running a fever, held in her arms and four-year-old Jackson tugging at her pant leg, waved a smiling goodbye as Rob and I bolted down the jet way. Although sad to see him leave, having the whirlwind of activities preceding his departure over was probably also a relief to her. We were the last two on board and somewhat sheepishly hurried to our seats as the plane door was closed by an understandably grumpy flight attendant. The adventure finally had begun!

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Find more articles about Harpy Eagle, Philippine Eagle, Asia-Pacific


Mongolia Investigatory Visit

Bill Burnham — in Mongolia Project

Day One - Rob’s wife Tara, with 10-month-old Will, who had an ear infection and was running a fever, held in her arms and four-year-old Jackson tugging at her pant leg, waved a smiling goodbye as Rob and I bolted down the jet way. Although sad to see him leave, having the whirlwind of activities preceding his departure over was probably also a relief to her. We were the last two on board and somewhat sheepishly hurried to our seats as the plane door was closed by an understandably grumpy flight attendant. The adventure finally had begun!

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