"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 10 entries matching your request:
On the road and in the rain: northern Kenya raptor surveys 2014
This year was our 5th successive annual survey and certainly no two years have been the same.One of the main reasons we survey in February is to eliminate weather-related road hazards, which on some Kenyan roads can be severe.It never rains in February.Well, never say never…. and just like the blistering cold temps and snowfall that hit the US this winter, it rained in February!Though fortunately not enough to stop our survey.Read more...
Steve Lewis: My Perspective of the Kenya Raptor Safari 2013
I had the immense pleasure of sharing ten days with Steve Lewis and other exceptional people during our inaugural African Raptor Safari in Kenya. For a 72-year old man, Steve looked no more than 58 and exuded passion, enthusiasm and a zest to enjoy life and nature. I invited Steve to write about his experiences in the field with me and am privileged to be able to share this on our website. Munir ViraniRead more...
Lost amongst Swallow-tailed Kites and swimming holes in Meru National Park, northern Kenya
Half of our team of four had never been to Meru National Park before, including me. Meru NP is famous for Elsa, the orphaned lion cub cum movie star who was raised by George and Joy Adamson largely in this park. In recent decades the ‘big five’ of Meru NP would have consisted of the top leaders of the infamous ‘shifta’ that once ruled this area of northern Kenya and poached most of its wildlife. But thanks to intensive restocking and improved security, the current ‘big five’ no longer carry automatic weapons and are much more photogenic. Our mission was to count raptors and to determine the importance of this once famous park for birds of prey in this vast area in Kenya. Read more...
Two weeks on the edge. . .of the Masai Mara
Editor's note: The following article is from Rebecca Johnson and Gus Keys, volunteers working in the Masai Mara as part of our East Africa ProjectRead more...
Two distant kills
It is amazing what you can find even when you aren’t really looking. On our drive to set up some sheep meat for another carcass observation we passed not one but two kills. The first was more of a massacre than a kill. Over forty hyenas were prowling around, several with blood soaked faces, so we knew something was up. We followed the cries of a few Tawny eagles to the site of the actual kills. Almost fifteen hyenas, many of them still cubs, crowded around what presumably was once a wildebeest. Honestly though there wasn’t even enough left to know that for sure. When hyenas make a kill, the meat goes fast. Though a few vultures had gathered I highly doubt that got anything.Read more...
I have just returned from a visit to the Masai Mara where I had gone to help Corinne Kendall (see Tracking Mara’s Vultures) tag and release some more vultures. Corinne has now been in the Mara for two and a half months and has been working incredibly hard on her transects and carcass watches. Last week, with the help of her field assistant, Wilson Masek, she managed to trap and attach two more GSM units on Lappet-faced Vultures, the largest and heaviest of the vultures in Africa. The reason for my trip to the Mara was to carry a newly designed unit that Corinne will test that has been kindly donated by Henrick Rasmussen, from Savannah Tracking Ltd (a company based in Nairobi that makes telemetry equipment).Read more...
Lions, hyenas, and dogs, oh my
The sky is speaking. It grumbles and rumbles and crackles, squealing with rage like a toddler unable to get its way. Then finally it breaks like the thunder that accompanies it, the rain crashed to earth and splatters the floor. Luckily, I am done for the day. For some reason, it has been raining mainly in the afternoons. This is good news for me since the rain virtually shuts down vulture activity. As is I have time for my carcass experiments and transects in the morning and seem to get done just as the sky is threatening to fall. It is a hard rain and I sit outside under canvas surrounded by the droplets. Within seconds pools of mud form and I can only wonder what the roads will be like tomorrow. Oh my God, it is hailing!! I can’t believe it. At first, it looked like little frogs were jumping around magically erupting from the soil (which they are, one just joined me under the tent), but that was actually hail. I just got up and grabbed a piece to confirm and indeed, ice just fell from the sky in Africa. Be amazed! But now it is just raining again.Read more...
Learning to fly
Lappet-faced Vultures nest in trees. For the first several months of their life, the tree, the nest, and their parents are all a Lappet-faced chick knows. Each morning a chick awakes alone as the parents go search for food. From only a few meters off the ground sitting at the top of a bush or tree, often on top of a small hill, the chick might survey the area. Perhaps the chick will see a lion walk by or an acrobatic Bateleur Eagle teeter left and right overhead. They will feel the wind and the rain, if there is any, beat down upon their soft white feathers. In the afternoon, the parents will hide the chick from view, spreading their six-foot wingspan to shade the chick from the hot African sun. With few feathers and nowhere to go, the chick could burn without the defense of its parent. For the first few months, this is the world of a Lappet-faced chick and yet soon all of this will change.
As the long black flight feathers grow out, the chick has become a fledgling. Soon it must learn to fly. One can imagine leaping from a tree and being expected to take flight would be hard enough, but where would you go. The parents are unlikely to lead the fledgling out. Instead this young bird must discover the savanna on its own. And if it wishes to return to the nest, it must navigate its own path and find its way home.
After putting a tag on a Lappet-faced fledgling, I waited for her to take her first flight. Where would she go? How far would she venture out? What might she see as she began her new independent life—no longer in the trees, but above them?
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