SIBERIAN CRANE WESTERN AND CENTRAL FLYWAY NEWS BRIEFS 7 January 2003 Yuri Markin left for Iran together with 3 Siberian Cranes chicks raised at Oka. Two of the chicks (Khoper and Don, males) were reared in isolation, and then they participated in hang-glider experiment and made a very long voyage from Siberian Crane breeding grounds near Kunovat, in the northern part of Western Siberia, to Armizon, in the southern part of Western Siberia. Then the two birds were returned to the Crane Breeding Center of Oka Nature Reserve, where they were kept in visual and vocal isolation from people. Today they made their next voyage to Iran. A third chick, a female named Angara, was reared by its parents. Yuri and the 3 birds arrived safely to Iran, and then went to the Siberian Crane wintering grounds near Fereydoon Kenar. 13 January – 10 February 2003 ***Information from Sadegh Sadeghi Zadegan, Department of Environment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Yuri Markin, Oka State Nature Reserve, Russia: On January 13, we attached one PTT (with yellow ring and black number 77) on the parent reared Siberian Crane chick named Angara and released it in the Sorkh Rud Damgah (wintering site of a lone Siberian Crane male and Common Crane chick). In the evening of the same day local people caught it and brought to the village of Sorkh- Rud Fereydoon Kenar. In the morning of next day, on January 14, we released this chick again in the same damgah. On January 16, in one day, Angara began to feed together with the wild adult Siberian Crane and the Common Crane chick. We are hopeful that this chick will be accepted by the wild adult, because the relationship between them looks better day by day. On January 17, for the first time Angara flew above Sokh Rud Damgah together with wild Siberian and Common Cranes. Then several times the wild adult Sibe, the release Sibe chick and the Common Crane chick were observed flying together. This team flew regularly to roost at night mainly in Fereydoon Kenar and may be in Ezbaran or other unidentified places, either the Ezbaran and Fereydoon Kenar Damgahs, and flew back early morning each day to feed in the Sokhrud Damgah. The behavioural situation for this the released birds changes day to day. Angara was usually observed feeding and flying with the wild Siberian Crane adult and the Common Crane chick. The adult Sibe did not “push” the chick away. In our opinion, the main concern is that the Siberian Crane chick (Angara) does not have enough self- confidence to follow the adult and Common Crane outside the damgah and mainly comes back inside the damgah after starting to follow them. But the Sibe chick is accompanying them more and more. We are hopeful that this released chick will follow the wild adult on spring migration. Before January 16, two hang-glider Siberian Crane chicks, named Don and Khoper, were used as decoys for the capture of the wild pair of Siberian Crane in Fereydoon Kenar Damgah. They were kept in the pen outside the damgah. The wild pair did not show any interest in these chicks. We have not been successful in our efforts to capture any of the wild birds. In Sorkh Rud there is difficulty because the lone adult Sibe and Common Crane chick stay inside the damgah, where we can not to do anything without risking disturbance to the duck trapping operations. Also we tried several times in Fereydoon Kenar to capture cranes by baiting with grain treated with the drug Alfa clorolose, luring the birds into a cage and nets. The difficulty here is that pair changes their territory in response to unusual activities nearby. We visited both Fereydoon Kenar and Sorkh Rud each day to check the status of the wild and released birds and assess the possibility to catch one wild bird to attach a PTT. On January 16, the two hang-glider Siberian Crane chicks, Don and Khoper, were released in the Fereydoon Kenar Damgah, at the same place where they were kept in the pen. The chicks mostly stay together and are gradually learning to fly better both inside and outside the damgah, but they always spent nights near the release site. Sometimes they feed 100 m from the wild pair The adults do not push them away, but they also do not show any interest in joining them. On February 5, the two hang-glider chicks flew near the Fereydoon Kenar Village, and one of them, Khoper, was struck with a bamboo stick sured by a shepherd. His left wing was injured and he could not fly. [In written reports you should write out contractions – i.e, could not vs. couldn’t.] On February 6, after examination by a veterinarian, Khoper was caged in the pen near to a Kumeh (trapping station) in Fereydoon Kenar and it stayed into and around the cage until the migration time on 2nd March.. On the same day we caught the second chick named Don, attached one PTT (with green ring and white number 04) on it and released it in the new Sokh Rud Damgah where the group of three cranes was staying. Note: There are two damgahs (eastern and western) near to the Sork Rud Town. Eastern one is very old and western one is operated from 7 years ago. On February 7, Don flew to the old Sokhrud Damgah where he was caught by local people again and brought to the village. According to our request trappers transported it again to the new Sokhrud Damgah and released it. As the result of careless transportation Don had problems with his leg, walked with difficulty and stayed in one place most of the time. Sometimes he joined with the group of three on his own initiative. On February 9, for the first time Don flew together with group of three cranes above the new Sokhrud Damgah. On February 10, Yuri Markin returned to Russia. On February 25, Don flew from new Sorkh Rud to the old Sorkh Rud Damgah and stayed there until the migration time wild Siberian Crane on March 2. 2 March 2003 Siberian Crane migration begins! ***Information from Sadegh Sadeghi Zadegan, Department of Environment of the Islamic Republic of Iran and from Hamid Amirebragimi and Ellen V. Tavakoli - MCCA/ Mazandaran Crane Conservation Association/ Caspian littoral On March 2, 9:30 a.m. group of five cranes including wild pair and single, parent- reared juvenile Siberian Crane called Angara and Common Crane chick arrived to the new Sorkh Rud Damgah and circled and called while climbing higher and higher above the damgah. Suddenly Common Crane chick landed inside damgah. Other cranes (all Siberian Cranes) left the area after few minutes. The Siberian Cranes flew off on the first sunny day, although the weather is still cold. Although there has been some shooting in the areas, there has been no “shoot-out" yet. Note: Last year the Siberian Cranes left the wintering grounds in Iran the 2 March. On March 3, Sadegh caught Don in the old Sorkh Rud Damgah, removed PTT and took it together with Khoper to the Bujagh National Park (Bujagh is an important Iranian GEF Project site and the area that was selected for hang glider programme in 2002-2003 and in the future). In Bujagh, Department of Environment made a 144m.sq pen and released these two hang glider Siberian Cranes chicks into the pen for ongoing programmes in the future. Now, they are looked to be in a good situation and healthy condition. According to PTT data the released Siberian Cranes reached Azerbaijan and then Dagestan. Common Crane chick spent last night in Ezbaran Damgah, alone. It likely has been spending its days in the Fereydoon-Kenar Damgah as it had not been in the Sorkh Rud Damgah for many days now. 7 March 2003 Analyses of PTT data from 03.03.03 10:00 (Universal Time Zone/Greenwich Mean Time) to 04.03.03 23:46 03.03.03 10:00 – the first information about migrating cranes was received from Azerbaijan. The nearest towns are Nasosny and Cumgait, the nearest villages are Shuraabad and Sitalchai. This is area of Samur-Apsheron Channel. To this time cranes flu more part of Caspian Sea Coast in Azerbaijan. 03.03.03 12:49 – this point is above Caspian Sea, but enough close to the coast in Azerbaijan. The nearest villages on the coast – Khudat and Mukhtadir. 03.03.03 13:55 – this point is from Dagestan, Russia, not far from border of Azerbaijan and Dagestan. The nearest town is Beliji, to the south of town of Derbent . This place is at the confluence of the little river Gyulgerygai and Samur River. 03.03.03 14:29 – this point is also outskirts of town of Beliji, but a little north along Caspian Sea Coast. The nearest village is Aglobi, the nearest river is Rubas. 04.03.03 22:08 – this PTT data was received in day and night and 7 and half (near 32 hours) after last PTT data. The cranes (or only Angara) were in the outskirts of town of Derbent. The nearest village is Sabnova. 04.03.03 23:46 - this point is between town of Izbarbash and villages of Leninkent and Karanai-Aul. Note: all points lie along the Caspian Sea Coast. Probably cranes spent night 3-4 of March in the outskirts of town of Beliji. As Gadzhibek Dzhamirzoev, ornithologist from Dagestan, said, there are many sea lagoons in the outskirts of Beliji now. The weather is cloudy, drizzle, +50C. 19 March 2003 ***Information from Sadegh Sadeghi Zadegan, Department of Environment of the Islamic Republic of Iran There are no new information about Siberian Crane migration from Kazakhstan and Astrakhan Nature Reserve (Russia). Also there are no new PTT data. Common Crane chick is still at the damgah area. The area is going to the farming season. 5 April 2003 ***Information from Gadzhibek Dzhamirzoev, Institute of Applied Ecology, Dagestan, Russia: 2-3 April I was in Kayakent and Izberbash (Dagestan) – places from which last Siberian Crane PTT data were received. Also I spoke with the Head of Hunting and Fishing Society of Dagestan. There was no other information about Siberian Cranes. 9 April 2003 ***Information from German Rusanov, Astrakhan Nature Reserve, Russia: There is again no crane news from Astrakhan this spring. During the third week of Mach, after the wetlands were ice free, field surveys were conducted in Damchik and Obzhorove, places where Siberian Cranes were observed in recent years. There was no information about Siberian Cranes. Probably they flew over the reserve without stopping. The weather conditions were acceptable, but the water level was a little higher than normal.