Blog Posts

The story of Greater Spotted Eagle 6488… so far.

6488 perched in a tree at Jahra Reserve.  In this picture she has attained her adult plumage.  We first caught her when she was an immature bird. Photo: A. Zaidan

The Greater spotted eagle that we have been tracking longest is “6488”, which is its tracking device ID number.  She is a female, and when we first caught her, she was a young bird.

6488 was fitted with a tracking device on 14 January 2020 at al Jahra, Kuwait. After release, 6488 stayed in Al Jahra Nature Reserve for the remainder of the winter 2020/21.  She then migrated north, and spent the summer of 2021 wandering widely around west-central Kazakhstan and southern Russia.  That it did not settle into a breeding territory that summer was not surprising because it was immature.

In autumn 2020 she migrated south, and again spent the winter at the Al Jahra Nature Reserve.  Fidelity to wintering areas is not unusual in many species of migratory raptor, including Greater spotted eagle.  Their life-strategy centres on survival and successful breeding, so returning to an area where it had previously found plentiful food makes sense.

In spring 2021, 6488 again migrated to central Asia, but this time settled into a more restricted area in southern Russia, south of the town of Chelyabinsk.  The area where she settled was a mix of agriculture (wheat or hay, judging from satellite images) and wet woodland.  Typical Greater spotted eagle nesting habitat is wet forest or forest near wetlands, and they feed on small mammals (suslik, etc.) and amphibians (frogs).  By examining the tracking data closely we determined that 6488 did not actually breed in summer 2021.  In light of her young age and inexperience, this did not surprise us.

In autumn 2021, 6488 again migrated to Al Jahra and spent the winter of 2021/22 there.  It was visually spotted there by a number of visitors to the reserve, including Kuwait Environmental Lens (KEL) team members.

We also ring the birds we catch with uniquely numbered metal rings.  This is a photo by a KEL team member of 6488 after she arrived at Jahra Nature Reserve in the autumn. Photo: KEL

At the end of the 2022 winter, 6488 migrated north and settled into the territory it occupied in 2021.  As with the wintering grounds, fidelity to breeding territories is the norm.  In 2022, however, the pattern of movement indicated that 6488 breed because for a number of weeks she was located at a single point (the nest), and later in the summer she visited that location often, but also moved more widely (hunting, then returning to the nest to feed.

Around 21 September 2022, 6488 again migrated south to Al Jahra, arriving there on 15 October.  As of this post, 6488 is still, as expected, at Al Jahra, where it will probably stay until spring comes around, and it sets off for its breeding area again.  Have a look at the video below that shows the remarkable movements of 6488 so far.  Be patient at the beginning.  It looks like nothing is happening.  That’s not the case, it’s just that she is in Al Jahra Reserve and her movements are small compared to the scale of the map.  When watching you will be able to see where she nests, and other movements detailed in the text above.

Please let your friends know about this blog, and make any comments or ask any questions you’d like.

Movements of a female Greater spotted eagle (6488) during 15 January 2020 – 1 December 2022.      Video: KEL

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button