Little light in late November

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The field work season is almost past and so there is some more opportunity for summing up. Members of the ESTLAT Eagles project team and subcontractors prepare for the project Steering Group meeting on November 27 to 28th in Setumaa (SE corner of Estonia).


Steering Group meeting last year: Aigars Kalvans talks about the need of artificial nests at the nest of ospreys Ilze and Eriks. Photo: U. Sellis

The project management group includes representatives from the following organisations: the Environmental Board (Keskkonnaamet), the State Forest Management Centre (RMK), the Estonian Ornithological Society (Eesti Ornitoloogiaühing), Estonian Private Forest Centre (Erametsakeskus), Tartu Environmental Education Centre (Tartu Keskkonnahariduse Keskus), Eagle Club (Kotkaklubi), the Latvian Fund for Nature, the Latvian Ornithological Society, the Latvian Nature Conservation Agency and Latvian state forest authorities (Latvian State Forest Service and State Forest Enterprise). This is one of the most important summing-up occasions during the two-years project period. Extra efforts in some sectors can still be managed and reduced in other areas if needed. Our Latvian colleagues have for some time been obliged to endure the somewhat more placid nature of Estonians and have been waiting for reports longer than quite acceptable but for now the slower Estonian partners have caught up and in a few weeks at the latest the reports should be up to timetable.
 

Meanwhile the birds in the project go on with their doings. The nest life of eagles can be monitored again only in spring but the birds with transmitters can be observed (if technology allowing it). Sadly, there have been losses: Latvian osprey Ilze remained in the same spot in South Italy from October 26th on and died on October 29th. Shooting is suspected. This may have happened on Sicily or in the area where Ilze died. The transmitter still sends position information and members of the local section of the Italian Ornithological Society (LIPU) went to search for it, but on the occasion did not manage to find a device. A new search has now been organised by the Committee against Bird Slaughter (CABS) organization based in Germany. We sincerely hope for better luck this time. Connection has been lost with female osprey Piret, known from the Estonian osprey camera nest, and Latvian male osprey Eriks, but in these cases it has rather to do with being out of range of the GSM communication coverage, in Southern Soudan and Gabon respectively. We hope to connect again to these birds. Estonian osprey Ilmar spends the winter in a quite unusual area – in southern Angola at the border of the world’s most arid desert. But the Atlantic Ocean obviously offers him an abundant fish catch. The Estonian white-tailed eagles are since more than a month staying in the same region, both in Russia – Sillu in the Kaliningrad oblast and Meelis in the Pskov oblast. Both lack enough light to power the transmitters properly and so data are intermittent. We are also planning for the eagle winter camera. When winter and ice arrive we hope it will be up and running.