Falco amurensis breeds in South Eastern Siberia and Northern China
Here at Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge, we watch these gentle raptors wheel in their dozens, sometimes hundreds, above our decks….chasing the seething masses of flying ants that erupt with good rains…this year is different…
Poor rains, less flying ants…will our Amurs leave earlier than normal for their far away breeding grounds in Siberia and China?
An Amur falcon is about the size of a Merlin, but is even more stunning! The female of the species has a slate-colored back and a heavily-spotted underside. The male has a slate-blue back and a solid, slate-colored breast. Both sexes show an orange-ish bill and eye-ring, and of course, both male and female, show bright reddish feet! This species is a summer visitor to southern Africa from its breeding grounds in northern and eastern Asia. Throughout the day in most grassland habitats you can see loads of these falcons hover-hunting for grasshoppers and other large insects.
Amur falcons brave mass capture in nets to migrate yearly from their breeding grounds to Southern Africa……
The Amur falcons start their annual migration from south-eastern Siberia and Northern China to Northeastern India, and roost in Nagaland and some adjoining Assam districts before leaving for southern Africa where they spend the winter. The most amazing part of their flight is the three-and-a-half days non-stop flight across the Arabian Sea.
Amur Falcons would arrive from Mongolia, Siberia Northern China and Japan, would stay in Wokha district and adjoining areas for about two months, and then take off for South Africa. Netting for food was a huge problem as seen from the excellent video above….
Birds on the wire!!!!! (Photo: Ramki Sreenivasan/Conservation India)
Now, the admirable conservation efforts of the people of Nagaland, more particularly of Wokha district have brought them laurels, and the department of posts agreed to release a special postal cover to mark the conservation effort.
Three falcons were fitted with satellite-tracking chips in 2013, two being named Pangti and Naga – Pangti being one of the first Wokha villages to have initiated the conservation programme.
Interestingly, while the birds make a cycle of 44,000 kms annually from Siberia, through Nagaland to southern Africa, they take a different route during their return journey, touching Maharashtra and Gujarat.
People in Wokha district in Nagaland, now drop their nets and instead prepare to not only welcome the avian visitors, but also hundreds of tourists and bird-watchers from different parts of the globe. “People in Wokha have set up home-stay facilities for tourists and bird-watchers. Till four years ago many people were killing the birds for their meat. But today not a single bird is touched,” said Bano Haralu, journalist-turned-conservationist whose NGO Nagaland Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation Trust (NWBCT) is among several groups that have ensured that the birds are safe in Nagaland.