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.