Here they come…

Red-footed Falcons arrived to their breeding sites in Serbia and Hungary in the past couple of days. Some of the first birds to arrive already were marked in previous years with colour rings making their identification possible. These early arrivers may decide to move on in search of better breeding territories in case the breeding or foraging sites are in unsatisfactory condition. They may roam around within the Carpathian Basin and beyond for over a month before they find the place they wish to raise their offspring. This year, the high ground water levels caused by the unusually high winter precipitation may have mislead the birds, in some cases the foraging habitats were completely underwater, while some nesting sites have suffered from the small temporary lakes they were standing in.

Trees with nest-boxes falling due to extremely high water levels (Photo: Szabolcs Solt)

Early monitoring activities at this colony were difficult albeit adventurous, as the water level was too high even for regular rubber boots. Nearly half of the nest boxes had to be re-placed.

60-70 cm deep water under a colony in May (Photo: Szabolcs Solt)

Fortunately, the weather favourable later in the season indicated by the fact that we found above average clutch sizes for kestrels (5-8 eggs) and for Long-eared Owls (7-9 eggs). Surprisingly large number of Red-footed Falcon pairs also started occupying the boxes.

Female Red-footed Falcon waiting for her mate at a newly occupied nest-box (Photo: Szabolcs Solt)

„Hunting” for colour ringed Red-footed Falcons (Photo: Szabolcs Solt)

One of the first Red-footed Falcons was a male marked in previous years. Despite he lost his mate during the season last year, he was able to successfully fledge one nestling. This year he is back at the same colony, courtshiping a new female.

Those who came home… (Photos: Gábor Balogh and Szabolcs Solt)

Those who came home… (Photos: Gábor Balogh and Szabolcs Solt)

Those who came home… (Photos: Gábor Balogh and Szabolcs Solt)

We also spotted „Tihamér”, a bird fitted with a geolocator in 2009. Hopefully we will be able to trap him and download the highly valuable data obtained by the little sensor attached to his back.

Geolocator (Photo: Zoltán Orbán)