Sunday, February 26, 2017

A new leader, a risky passage

GPS-tracking data for six Swallow-tailed Kites showing their locations as of 21 February 2017. 

The Andes Mountains, the longest continental range in the world, actually consist of three distinct ranges: the Cordilleras Oriental, Central, and Occidental (East, Central, and West, respectively). To continue the journey to their nesting areas, our Swallow-tailed Kites need to cross all three. Our new leader, MIA, is currently in Columbia carefully navigating through the Cordilleras Central. A mere 67 miles behind, Bullfrog is winding through the Cordilleras Oriental. We wish them safe travels through the steep-sided valleys and narrow passes of this demanding terrain, where turbulent winds, quickly-changing weather, and high altitudes must challenge the aviating skills of even the most adept flyers.

Lacombe, 550 miles behind Bullfrog, has moved northwest to the border of Brazil and Peru. Near a meandering branch of the Rio Solimōes and surrounded by dense Amazonian rainforest, Lacombe is likely enjoying a bountiful supply of insects as he makes his way home.

Slowly pushing northward, Palmetto is passing over the farming region surrounding Nova Mamoré in the Brazilian State of Rodôndia. The city sits just east of the Guaporé River, which forms the border between Brazil and northeastern Bolivia. 

Panther’s location depicted on the map was her last fix, which we received on 26 January 2017. She probably has been beyond cell-tower range since then. We are hoping to hear from her soon.

We find Sawgrass in the same area as in the previous blog, now 1,800 miles behind the leader, MIA. She is probably accumulating the last of the fat she needs before taking on the next leg of her northbound migration.