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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.

•  Complete Augur Buzzard data on GRIN

Found 14 entries matching your request:

A day in the life of a Raptor Researcher in Africa - Adam Eichenwald

Munir Virani — in East Africa Project

From the sun-drenched savannahs of Kenya comes this exclusive, in-depth look at the life of a raptor biologist. Having lived for 2 months at the Elsamere Field Centre, along the shores of Kenya's Lake Naivasha studying African Fish Eagles and Augur Buzzards, Peregrine Fund volunteer Adam Eichenwald brings us a never-before-seen-except-for-that-one-time window into his ongoing research. His mission: to boldly go where no man has gone before (barring those 20 prior years of Fish Eagle/Buzzard research from other biologists).

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Find more articles about African Fish Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Africa


Raptor Safari with Munir Virani - The Masai Mara

Munir Virani — in East Africa Project

"I believe there is no sickness of the heart too great it cannot be cured by a dose of Africa. Families must go there to learn why they belong together on this earth, adolescents to discover humility, lovers to plumb old but untried wells of passion, honeymooners to seal marriages with a shared sense of bafflement, those shopworn with life to find a tonic for futility, the aged to recognize a symmetry to twilight.

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Three days at Ol Ari Nyiro, Laikipia

Munir Virani — in East Africa Project

I wasn’t sure what to expect when David Waters (also known as Maji) invited me up to Ol Ari Nyiro Conservancy on the western edge of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley. Maji is a long-time friend of mine, both of us having played cricket together for one of Kenya’s finest clubs as well as having toured India in 1988. Maji is currently involved with the task of helping to further develop Ol Ari Nyiro at an education and scientific level that will hopefully see this massive 100,000 acres of untouched Africa remain the way it is. Ol Ari Nyiro belongs to the legendary Kuki Gallmann, an Italian writer and poet who has written several books about her life in wild Africa. Her most famous one – “I dreamed of Africa” has inspired many writers and travelers to write about and visit Kenya.

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Find more articles about African Fish Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Africa


Naivasha Notes 5

Evan Buechley — in East Africa Project

As I last posted, I had noted significant declines in the number of active Augur buzzard territories in three of the four survey areas around Lake Naivasha, Kenya. In the last few weeks of July, I finished surveys within Hell’s Gate National Park (HGNP), to conclude the census. Results indicate that there has been a decline from 36 to 24 active Augur buzzard territories overall since the 1990’s, for a loss of 33 percent. While territory abandonment has tended to be most extreme in areas of highest human disturbance (up to 60%), it is notable that declines have also been significant in control-like sections of the study area, including HGNP and Mundui. Both of these areas have remained largely unchanged over the past 15 years, as they are managed for land and wildlife preservation. Declines in the numbers of active territories in these areas have been documented at 33 percent and 29 percent respectively, roughly reflecting the overall trend. All in all, there have been striking declines in the number of active Augur buzzard territories around Lake Naivasha since the 1990’s. These declines have occurred in both horticultural areas and natural reserves. The question that remains is: Why?

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Naivasha Notes 4

Evan Buechley — in East Africa Project

A one-legged bicyclist pumps athletically as we pull away from the crammed old-town section of Nairobi, weaving through stalled cars and honking horns. The word “bustling” conveys no sense of these streets- it is a storm: people running in all directions; carts laden with spare tires, sacks of maize, 5 gallon jugs of water, anything you can imagine are towed by men- young or old- but always with bulging shoulder muscles; stalls on the streets offer all in one- butcher/hotel/cell-phone top-up/convenience store; street hawkers demand the purchase of sunglasses, cd’s and dvd’s, hideous safari hats and cheaply made trinkets, peanuts, and yogurt jugs baked in the equatorial sun and covered with a complex of dusts; matatus honk with customized horns and flashing lights; and cars weave in and out amongst pedestrians, bikers, and towering, fearless buses, down the complex maze of pitted and potholed, sign-less and lawless streets.

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Find more articles about Augur Buzzard, Rüppell's Vulture, White-backed Vulture, Africa


Naivasha Notes 3

Evan Buechley — in East Africa Project

This last week has yielded quite a mixture of experiences. It started last Monday, when I awoke at 10pm with a strong fever after having felt sluggish all day- never a good sign in malaria country! So I decided to make the midnight journey to the local clinic- not an appealing prospect at this moment. But the friendly crew here at Elsamere got the van rolling, we jostled an uncomfortable fifteen minutes down the bumpy road, and I was heartily comforted by the local medic- “no malaria in Naivasha…you’ve certainly eaten something bad…” And so a few days in bed, comfortably coinciding with a few very rainy days that would have inhibited much activity anyhow, resulted in a rejuvenated and refreshed self. After this sedentary interlude, I felt ever more energized to capitalize on my time here in Kenya, so I’ve been busy back with the Augur buzzard surveys, albeit a bit behind schedule.

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Naivasha Notes 2

Evan Buechley — in East Africa Project

Having become familiarized with the study area and with the biking legs warmed into prime shape, data is starting to pour in regarding the Augur buzzard presence around Lake Naivasha, Kenya. With 85 independent visuals on the buzzards in as many as 23 different territories over the past 16 days, a picture of the species’ presence in the area is starting to come into focus. So far, I feel highly confident about the existence of 7 different active breeding territories, while an additional 10 territories are very likely active, pending further observations. At least one territory documented by Munir Virani in the mid 90’s seems to have been abandoned by the buzzards. However, with so many territories still being observed, it is too early to draw any conclusions regarding the affects of habitat alterations on the population in the area.

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Find more articles about African Fish Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Lappet-faced Vulture, Tawny Eagle, Africa


Naivasha Notes

Evan Buechley — in East Africa Project

As I am experiencing Kenya for the first time, I am in a constant state of awe. There is a complex, teeming ecology here, more diverse and vibrant than any I had imagined- with roughly 72 species of diurnal raptors and vultures ranging within the country alone, not to mention the amazing diversity of other birds, and the famed complex of large mammals, my binoculars have barely left my neck over the past week to sleep. The scenery is dramatic, too, with rich ochre soils, verdant grassy plains, and cumulus clouds billowing over the volcanic features of the Great Rift Valley. And then there’s the frantic Nairobi traffic; the matatus packed with people and strapped with goods- chairs, bags of maize, and lumber, to name a few; and the calls of “Hello, how are you?” (with the tone rising distinctively on the you) by the smiling and waving children in the street…

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Find more articles about African Fish Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Africa


A trip down memory lane in Hell’s Gate National Park

Munir Virani — in East Africa Project

Last year, when Chris Parish, The Peregine Fund’s California Condor Director wrote to me about Evan Buechley (a staff member on the California Condor Project) wishing to volunteer in Kenya, I jumped at the opportunity. Having worked on Augur Buzzards in the south Lake Naivasha area for my PhD in the mid 1990s, I revisited these sites in 2005 and documented marked declines in Augur Buzzard territories that ranged from 18 to 50% over different land-use areas. The southern Lake Naivasha area is the hub of Kenya’s horticultural industry with annual revenue close to five hundred million US dollars a year. Naturally, with the prolific growth of the horticultural industry, comes loss of foraging ground for the Augur Buzzards. Also, the human population has increased fifty fold from 7,000 people in 1969 to nearly 300,000 people presently. Given the changes that have taken place in Kenya especially over the last five years, I was interested to know whether the species has further declined or remained stable.

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Find more articles about African Fish Eagle, Augur Buzzard, California Condor, Rüppell's Vulture, Africa


Rekero’s Release

Munir Virani — in East Africa Project

Conservationists the world over usually say that “the field of conservation can be extremely frustrating.” This is true to a certain extent but as scientists and conservationists, we simply cannot give up. While “feel good” factors are few and far between, they are there. Look at how populations of the Mauritius Kestrel have recovered (from only four known individuals in the wild in 1980 to over 600 individuals presently), or the fact that Peregrine Falcons have been taken off the US Endangered Species List. Some events can make you feel good no matter how small they seem - whether it is watching your child release an eagle after banding or giving a bird a second chance to live after all hope is lost. Yesterday was one of those days where a group of Kenyans felt that “feel good factor.” It was also a great example of how people working together can make a difference. A huge difference in the life of one vulture—a Rüppell’s Vulture nicknamed Rekero.

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Find more articles about African Fish Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, Africa


Trapping Fish Eagles at Lake Naivasha

Munir Virani — in East Africa Project

Trapping African Fish Eagles is not only fun, it is incredibly therapeutic. Furthermore, it provides a wonderful opportunity to take photographs of these charismatic eagles in action as they majestically swoop down over the water towards a dead, belly-up floating fish. Sorry to burst your bubble but I am afraid that’s how all the “action” fish eagle shots are taken. The late Leslie Brown in his epic book “The African Fish Eagle” said that fish eagles spend on average only about eight minutes a day hunting. So it would be a long wait if you were to try and get the naturally perfect shot!!

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Find more articles about African Fish Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Tawny Eagle, Africa


Diminishing Lake Levels Spell Doom for Lake Naivasha

Shiv Kapila — in East Africa Project

The second week of my study has passed and things are still running relatively smoothly. I completed the habitat classification of the lake in a day, and managed to conduct another total population count. The lakeshore and its riparian habitat have both been degraded to a severe degree recently due to the rise in numbers of flower farms, local artisanal fishing outposts, cattle dips and increasing human settlements. Some stretches of shoreline are so damaged that they are completely devoid of fish eagles and other predatory birds, waterfowl, and hippos as a result of the disturbance and pollution.

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Raptor Conservation Photography Workshop for Kids – Lake Naivasha April 24-25, 2009

Munir Virani — in East Africa Project

In November last year, I had the privilege of presenting a lecture entitled “The Raptors of Kenya” to participants of the Kenya Museum Society’s “Know Kenya Course.” This is held every year and is open to Kenyan residents and expatriates eager to learn about Kenya’s fascinating wildlife, history and culture. After my talk, I was asked by a lady if I would be kind enough to give a similar lecture to students of the International School of Kenya (ISK) in Nairobi. I can’t remember whether I said yes but I had a card thrust into my pocket and the next day received an email asking me what day would be suitable for me to give a lecture at the school. After corresponding with the school’s headmaster, we agreed that sometime in January 2009 would be better.

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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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Find more articles about Augur Buzzard, Asia-Pacific


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