The aim of New Odyssey is to track migration of storks from different populations from a wide belt along the taiga zone across whole Asia. It proved extremely difficult to discover stork territories and most importantly their nesting areas in such a vast swath of land.
This is due to difficult access, low population density (i.e. few ornithologists living in the area) and the resulting fragmented or virtually non-existent knowledge of the location of nests, as well as a generally low population density of storks. Since 2002, we have equipped five black storks with transmitters south of Novosibirsk. You could follow the adventures of Petr, Roman, Katerina, Altynaj, and Iristu between 2002-2005 with us.
All paths lead to India
In 2003, together with our colleagues form BNHS, we visited the wintering grounds of the last two storks in Madhyapradesh and Gujarat, Gengis, Tuja, Kublaj, Erdenet, and Marko come from two different areas in Mongolia. With the exception of the first one, which spent the winter in Myanmar, all the other storks wintered in East India.
Pros and cons
Difficulties with finding collaborators and a severe lack of knowledge of nesting areas in Siberia resulted in a daring idea of finding storks in their wintering grounds. We prepared three satellite transmitters with appropriate time settings but the question was whether we would be able to capture any storks, as they behave much less conservatively in wintering areas with a weaker fixation to a particular place.
On the other hand, there are more of them - up to several dozen - at the most suitable locations, typically around artificial lakes. If we followed them "upwards", we would have a chance to discover their nests in the forests of North Siberia, which are largely unexplored and virtually inaccessible. We relied on cooperation with BNHS to obtain official permits and arrange for the capture. They, too, were interested in data on behaviour of storks in wintering grounds in India, because some reports suggest a decline in stork populations due to overpopulation and excessive exploitation of the environment.