Monday, November 9, 2015

Radar and raptor migration: a new paper out now!

The first paper of our radar team has been published on Journal of Ethology. This research shows that migrating Honey Buzzards modulate the compensation of wind drift at different times of the day, showing a highly plastic behavior during migration. Data were collected at the Strait of Messina in southern Italy during spring 2014 with a radar equipment allowing to track flocks of migrating raptors.
Click on the figure below to download it:

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

News from the Strait of Gibraltar

The 28th of October was a great migration day at the Strait of Gibraltar. Our friends Juan Ramirez and Rachid El Khamlichi have counted the striking number of 2500 Griffon Vultures from the Moroccan coast! Vultures approached the African coast in a sunny day with a weak westerly wind. Together with them two Rüppell's Vultures. Here following the amazing pictures taken by Juan Ramirez:

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Autumn migration 2015

The results of the last monitoring season at the Strait of Messina are exciting, more than 21.000 and 16.000 raptors observed (with a large overlap) from two watchpoints located on the western slope of the Aspromonte mountain. On trektellen it is possible to see the details of our count.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Wings over the Strait: the video!

Here the video of our project of an ornithological station at the Strait of Messina. The video shows the activity we had last two years both in spring and autumn together with Ornis Italica.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A motion to promote raptor monitoring and conservation

A motion was positively voted and promoted by the last Italian Congress of Ornithology. Medraptors has supported the motion because it is necessary to make one step a head in the monitoring and conservation of migratory raptors as already asked by the international agreements signed by the Italian government. Here following the text of the motion addressed to the Italian Ministry of Environment:

The participants to the XVIII Italian Congress of Ornithology held in Caramanico Terme (PE) between 17th and 20th September 2015,  acknowledgingthat:
  1. at the international level Italy is required to take concrete actions for the monitoring and conservation of migratory raptors (see in particular the obligations under Article 12 of the Birds Directive n. 2009/147 / EC and point 4 of the Action Plan of the “Raptors MoU " signed by Italy in 2011); 
  2. although different groups of ornithologists are involved in monitoring and research projects on migratory raptors in Italy, a coordination to gather basic data for the implementation of the above mentioned conservation instruments is still lacking;
  3. at the European level experiences of long-term monitoring exist since long time, thanks to the synergies of the work of institutions, local authorities and associations and individual volunteers; these realities have recently met  within  the EURAPMON project to which the Italian Ministry of the Environment has offered its scientific and  financial support;

call on  the Italian Ministry of the Environment to:
  • promote and support the setting up  of a national working group with the formal role to monitor the migration of raptors and to build up a national data bank in line with international standard;
  • continue supporting the EURAPMON project so as to promote the integration of national activities at the European level.

Monday, September 28, 2015

News from the Strait of Messina

In the last three days we have counted more than one thousand kestrels/lesser kestrels migrating at the Strait of Messina and flying below a cloudy sky. Together with them hundreds of Marsh Harriers, Honey Buzzards and today an adult Egyptian Vulture.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

News from the Strait of Messina

Today it has been great migration day here at the Strait of Messina. In particular hundreds of small falcon, most likely Lesser Kestrels have been observed flying high over the Aspromonte highland. Falcons migrated in flocks comprised between 2 and 50 individuals. Moreover in the late afternoon has started an impressive passage of passerines, thousands of swallows, yellow wagtails with some golden orioles and tawny pipits. In the picture below our team after a long day on the field...

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

XVIII Italian Congress of Ornithology

Between the 17th and the 20th of September there was the Italian Congress of Ornithology. It was held in the beautiful Majella National Park. The Congress has been really interesting thanks also to the participation of many researchers. Our team participated with presentations related to radar monitoring. Here following some pictures of the Congress as well as of the excursion in the Orfento valley and a picture of our team there.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A risky flight

Some days ago the juvenile Black kite in the picture below was found into the sea some km off of the island of Linosa. It was still alive but really weak. After some days of recovery he was successfully released. The mortality of raptors during migration is high for all birds and for inexperienced juveniles in particular. Black Kites during autumn migration concentrate at Channel of Sicily where the distance between Sicily and Africa is narrower. On the other hand in the same season there isn't a migration of experienced (adults) individuals across the islands of Linosa, Lampedusa and Malta because the way passing through these islands should imply a long and risky sea-crossing.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

News from the Strait of Messina

Yesterday it was a great migration day over the Aspromonte mountain and the Strait of Messina. Thousands of raptors have passed just a few hours before the arrival of a huge rain storm. The commonest species in these last days are European Common Buzzards, Marsh and Montagu's Harriers. Moreover in the last days we observed a beautiful flock six Rollers and two Eurasian Dottorels. Here below a picture of our watchtower...

Thursday, August 20, 2015

News from the Strait of Messina

The 18th of August there was the peak day of the passage of Black Kites at the Strait of Messina. More than 700 individuals were counted also in large flocks moving over the Aspromonte sky. Moreover a flock of 95 White Storks was detected. We tracked many migrants with our radar collecting data concerning their flight altitude. Here following a portrait of our radar team.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Mid-August report from the Strait of Messina

In the last days we prepared the radar station and we started the fieldwork. Setting radar has taken a long time (as usual...) but since yesterday everything has been working well. Here following pictures of the preliminary activity. The radar station is on the continental side of the Strait and we are using two watchpoints simultaneously. The fieldwork is carried out with our friends of Ornis Italica and there are several people involved from three different European countries.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Invitation for volunteers - Strait of Messina

Next week we are going to start a new season of fieldwork at the Strait of Messina, together with our friends of Ornis Italica: on the 10th of August we will start an extensive fieldwork going on until the end of September. We are monitoring the effect of a new powerline on the migration of birds as well as collecting data on the migratory behaviour of raptors with a radar station and from two different watchpoints. It could be the chance to observe good numbers of raptors (Honey Buzzards, Black Kites, Marsh Harriers, Montagu's Harriers, Egyptian Vultures, Lesser Kestrels) moving toward the Strait and also to meet friends and colleagues. Last year more than 20.000 raptors were counted from a single watchpoint. If you would like to join us as a volunteer you are welcome and we will provide food and accomodation. 
Write us an email for further information.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Winter is coming!

Here in Central Italy lot of Black Kites have already left their breeding territories about two weeks in advance. This was probably due by the fact that many pairs have failed the breeding this year. On the other hand other breeding pairs have still chicks in their nest, waiting for fledging.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Pallid Harriers

Here following some amazing pictures taken by Yeray Seminario at our watchpoint at the Strait of Messina during last spring migration. Raptors in the pictures are Pallid Harriers. This species has been observed in good numbers last spring with 75 individuals counted. Moreover also 74 individuals were observed belonging to the unidentified group of Montagu's/Pallid Harrier. The peak day was the 12 April with 28 identified Pallid harriers.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

An interesting behaviour

An interesting behaviour shown by Kestrels breeding in the central Apennines (Gran Sasso). Our friend Eliseo Strinella took these pictures of Common Kestrels flying with cow's droppings. What do Kestrels do with those excrements?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Our World Migratory Bird Day

Over the last two days at the Strait of Messina raptor count in Southern Italy, around 4000 raptors were observed. Twelve species were recorded in total; honey buzzards were the most frequent, passing in large flocks. Other highlights included small flocks of red-footed falcons, montagu's and marsh harries and a juvenile pallid harrier. As well as black kites, booted eagles and black storks. The count was supplemented with the use of radar to detect bird passage. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Short-toed Snake Eagles

Here following an amazing sequence of a "discussion" between an adult and an immature short-toed snake eagles. The pictures were taken by Ugo Ferrero in April close to Taranto in south-eastern Italy.

Friday, May 1, 2015

News of the Strait of Messina

The last two days we have counted about 3000 raptors at our watchpoint at the Strait of Messina. They were mostly Honey Buzzards but we observed also dozens of Black Kites and harriers. A flock of seven Black Storks was observed on Ciccia Mountain, on the Sicilian side of the Strait, and after 38 minutes they passed over our station at 23 km of linear distance.
This morning the migration has started early, with 100 hundred Honey Buzzards between 8:00 and 8:30. In the picture our watchpoint and, on the left, the radar station.

Monday, April 27, 2015

An unusual Marsh Harrier

Yeray Seminario in this moment is our main raptor counter at the Strait of Messina and here following his interesting note and picture concerning the plumage of an unusual Marsh harrier:

Some Marsh Harriers approached the observation point and one dark individual, with some peculiar small white carpal patches and white lower belly, caught our eye. When it came out of a cloud I could take a few distant pictures and when examined, I realized I never had seen a Marsh Harrier with this unusual plumage

Saturday, April 25, 2015

New M.Sc. thesis!

Few days ago Giacomo Biasi graduated at the University of Siena. In his M.Sc. thesis (title: "How weather conditions influence the flight strategies of migrating raptors: a case study from a migration bottleneck") he analyzed the flight behaviour of raptors in relation to weather conditions at Batumi bottleneck (Georgia). In particular the flight altitudes of raptors were analyzed showing species-specific behaviours. The data were collected in 2011 thanks to a collaboration between MEDRAPTORS and Batumi Raptor Count.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

News from the Strait of Messina

Yesterday the first flocks of Honey buzzards have passed over the Strait of Messina. Moreover Pallid Harriers are still moving across the area like the one in the picture below (taken by Yeray Seminario). If you would like to participate at the count write to us.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Our daily observations on Trektellen!

We joined the Trektellen project and now our daily observations are available to everybody. Up to now several hundreds of raptors has been observed from our watchpoint at the Strait of Messina, most of them were Marsh Harriers but about 17 species has been recorded. Check our daily report by clicking on the picture below: 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Tens of Pallid Harriers at the Strait of Messina

Yesterday an amazing passage of Pallid Harriers has been observed at our watchpoint at the Strait of Messina. 28 individuals were counted, together with good numbers of Marsh Harriers. Tomorrow we expect another good day of migration!
If you would like to participate at the count write to us.

Monday, March 30, 2015

New M.Sc. thesis!

Some days ago at La Sapienza, University of Rome, Martina Scacco graduated with the highest marks and praice. She has discussed her Master Thesis realized in the field of our research activity. In particular she has analyzed the diet of Kestrels breeding in central Italy in relation with land use, breeding success and individual preferences.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

News from the Strait of Messina

Just before the arrival of this huge low pressure cell we have observed an intense passage of raptors. Two days ago, at the Strait of Messina, we have counted about 300 Marsh Harriers together with Black Kites, Booted Eagles, Osprey, Black Storks, Sparrowhawks, Hen and Montagu's Harriers and four beautiful individuals of Pallid Harriers, all adult males.
If you would like to participate at the count write to us.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

First day of raptor migration at the Strait of Messina

Here at the Strait of Messina today has been the first good day of migration since our fieldwork has started. We observed tens of Marsh Harriers together with some Booted Eagles, Montagu's Harriers and a nice flock of six Black Storks. Birds have passed between the clouds and we collected a good number of radar tracks. 
If you would like to participate at the count write to us.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

EURAPMON Final Conference - short report

Last week the Eurapmon Final Conference was held in the Sierra Espuña Natural Park, Spain. It was the chance to make the point of the activity made by the network during the five years of activity and to discuss about the future of networking people studying raptors.
Here following some pictures of the meeting

Sunday, March 8, 2015

EURAPMON Final Conference

In the next days the Eurapmon Conference will be held near Murcia, Spain. This Final Conference is the concluding event of the European Science Foundation (ESF) Research Networking Programme EURAPMON (Research and monitoring for and with raptors in Europe) which started in May 2010 and will finish in May 2015. The final conference will combine plenary talks given by leading raptor researchers, presentations of EURAPMON results, four workshops, poster presentations and a fieldtrip. The conference aims to improve transnational cooperation in raptor research and monitoring through sharing of knowledge and experience and consider challenges and opportunities for the future beyond EURAPMON. Medraptors will present different contributions at the Conference.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A new fieldwork season

We are close to start a new exciting season of fieldwork at the Strait of Messina. together with our friends of Ornis Italica: on the 15th of March we will start a new extensive fieldwork going on until the end of May. It could be the chance to observe thousands of migrating raptors moving across the Strait and also to meet friends and colleagues. If you would like to join us as a volunteer you are welcome and  we will provide food and accomodation. 
Write an email to us for further information.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

New paper out now!

A new Medraptors paper is now available on the Italian Journal of Zoology. It relies on raptor migration of four different species observed at a migration watchsite in southern continental Italy (in the picture below). The results show that the four studied species are influenced differently from each other by weather conditions, topography and time of the day. 
To download the paper click on the link below:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Conference on raptor migration at Natural Sciences Museum of Bolzano

Next Friday at  Natural Sciences Museum of  Bolzano will be held a conference on raptor migration. The talk of Michele Panuccio will show behavioural and ecological aspects of the migration based on case studies from the Mediterranean area. The case studies have been implemented by means of different methods, from traditional visual observation till new technologies.