Thursday, September 26, 2019

13 of 16 Kites in South America

Almost all our 16 GPS-tracked Swallow-tailed Kites are in South America now.

Bayou Vincent is the outlier in Bolivia and seems to be settling into a wintering spot. Lacombe is across the border into the State of Mato Grosso, Brazil. Just north of him in the State of Rondônia is JAX, Apopka, Sanibel, and Suwanee.  

We’re relieved to get data from Sanibel, Suwannee, and Apopka who were "offline" for a while as they traveled through the Amazon. We are still holding out for our two earliest migrants Babcock and OK, who have been out of touch since August. This has happened before and we'll continue to cross our fingers.

Ponchitolawa is nearing the northern Bolivia border, some 750 miles away from his nearest neighbor Hobolochitto.

Five kites are straddling the southern Andes Mountains in Colombia: Sarasota, Sawgrass, and Pritchard to the East and OK and Babcock to the West.

Wilson is making progress through Central America and is almost caught up to where PBC-ERM Male and Female last reported in Panama.

Safe travels Swallow-tailed Kites!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Almost all the Kites are in South America

Suwannee and JAX recently came back into cell coverage and have joined Lacombe in the State of Rondonia, Brazil. These birds from three completely different breeding areas are now within 80 miles of one another!

In Honduras, Wilson trails 850 to 2,650 miles behind the other 15 GPS-tracked Swallow-tailed Kites. PBC-ERM Male and Female are just about to enter Colombia, where the majority of the kites appear to be.

Sawgrass, Sarasota, and Ponchitolawa have safely crossed the Andes Mountains and are making their way through southern Colombia. Sanibel, Pritchard, and Hobolochitto are west of the Andes while Babcock, OK, and Apopka are within this high mountain range.

Bayou Vincent has set the pace for our farthest south Swallow-tailed Kite. She is settling into Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

Recall that 12 of the kites need to have cell coverage to upload their tracking data and will be storing their data until they come into service. Birds like Babcock and OK haven't uploaded locations for a month, but we assume they are in poor cell coverage.

Safe travels Swallow-tailed Kites!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

All Kites Cross the Gulf

All 16 GPS-tracked Swallow-tailed Kites made it safely across the Gulf of Mexico! Wilson was our latest kite to make landfall on the Yucatan, on 4 September.

Pritchard made some headway into northern Panama behind Hobolochitto, PBC-ERM Male, Ponchitolawa, and PBC-ERM Female.

Many of the kites appear to still be in Colombia, where their data uploaded most recently. Birds like Babcock and OK haven't uploaded locations for a month, but we assume they continue to make headway, just in areas with poor cell coverage.

Sanibel and Suwannee are in northern Colombia, while Apopka is near the Andes Mountain crossing point where OK and Babcock were last detected. Sawgrass, JAX, and Sarasota have crossed the Andes and are well on their way through the Amazon.

Lacombe is in the Brazilian state of Amazonas and Bayou Vincent is 900 miles farther south in the Bolivian state of Santa Cruz.

Safe travels, Swallow-tailed Kites!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Last kite leaves South Carolina

Wilson, the GPS-tracked Swallow-tailed Kite from South Carolina, left the US before Hurricane Dorian arrived. As the storm approached the eastern coast of Florida, winds were, and still are, very favorable for southbound migration. We are thinking of our Bahama neighbors and the wildlife of those beautiful islands as the destruction of this powerful storm is revealed. This is a good reminder of how natural selection has so finely adapted native plants and animals to such forces, yet what we do to the planet increasingly pushes them beyond the limits of their resilience.
All 16 of our tracked Kites have now left the U.S. Pritchard exited via Florida just a few days ahead of Wilson and is now in Belize. Ahead of him is Hobolochitto in Nicaragua, with Apopka and PBC-ERM Male in Costa Rica. Five kites are cruising through Panama this week: Ponchitolawa, Sawgrass, Sanibel, Sarasota, and PBC-ERM Female. Their next challenge will be to cross the high, barren, Andes Mountains in Colombia, which Suwannee is just about to do.
Babcock and OK crossed the Andes weeks apart, just north of the city of Pasto, Colombia (the traditional passage for the US kites), while JAX crossed the Andes a little farther north. Lacombe is in Peru and Bayou Vincent is apparently leading the flock, over 750 miles farther south in northern Bolivia.
Just a reminder that 12 of our tracked kites are fitted with GSM transmitters and four with satellite transmitters. The GSM-fitted kites need to come within reception range of cell phone towers to upload their data. So, while our birds cross remote areas of the Andes Mountains and the Amazon, we often have long “silent” periods until they once again pass within cell range and upload their stored location data.