In the second year of the New Odyssey project, we tracked all the migration of two adult black storks to their wintering grounds in India. As in the previous year, they bred near the Ob River in the southern part of the Novosibirsk region, the Suzun district. We captured them on two different nests. They have been equipped with satellite and VHF transmitters. We named them Iristu, the male (Altai word for "happy") and Altynai, the female (Altai word for "golden Moon").
Altynai left her nest near the Ob River on September 4 and reached the wintering grounds in western Madhya Pradesh in 67 days, on November 9. At the moment, she is 3,400 kilometres away from her nest, but flew approximately 4,400 kilometres. She travelled this distance in 19 days. The remaining 48 days, she spent on several stop-over sites (7 days on Lake Ashchikol´, 36 days at the Syr Darya River and 5 days at the Amu Darya River). During the "flight days", she usually covered 150 to 300 kilometres per day. One day, however, she flew as much as 675 kilometres.
Iristu set off from the Ob River on August 10 or 11 and reached his wintering grounds in southern Gujarat on October 29. He spent 80 or 81 days on his way. Now, Iristu is 3,650 kilometres away from his nest, but flew 4,650 kilometres due to avoiding mountain ranges. Iristu, too, spent much time at the Syr Darya (58 to 60 days) and the Amu Darya (4 days). He flew only 16 to 19 days; his usual daily distance was 200 to 300 kilometres.
Both the storks took similar and sometimes identical course. Generally, their journey can be described as a curve arching in the western direction by which they avoided Tian Shan, Pamir and other mountain ranges. The fastest part of the route was over Kazakhstan and both birds spent a long time at the Syr Darya in southern Kazakhstan. Considered two out of three birds monitored in 2002 rested in the same area, we can assume that it is an extremely important stop-over site for migrating storks and perhaps other migratory waterbirds as well, which would deserve more attention. From the Syr Darya, the storks (we should point out that they proceeded at a different pace) moved somewhat more slowly to the Amu Darya - close to the border between Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan - to another area frequented by migrating waterbirds and the last stop-over before crossing Hindukush. Both Iristu and Altynai crossed the mountains at approximately the same course. Their migration paths were similar on Pakistani territory and separated only after reaching India.