With cranes to south  
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  Updated 2.5.2013 23.09
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Migration routes and most important stopover sites and over-wintering grounds of the Finnish population of the Eurasian crane (Grus grus)

Coordinator: PhD Petri Suorsa Funded by: KONE FOUNDATION

Collaborations:Finnish crane working group

There is a long tradition for protecting and studying cranes in Finland. Most of the hard work so far has been carried out by volunteers, bird ringers and the Finnish crane working group. During 1974 – 2005 a total of 1115 individual cranes were ring-marked 575 of which were also color-banded. As a result, the number of recoveries of the known individuals has significantly increased over the past 15 years.

In the light of the ringing data the Finnish cranes appear to choose between two alternative migration routes. First of all, they may choose a southwestern route from Finland to Germany, France and Spain, or secondly a southern or southeastern route from Finland to Hungary and North Africa. In addition to the former an unknown number of cranes may migrate through Turkey and Israel ending up as far as Ethiopia in Africa.

Although there are some data on crane migration routes from Western Europe in particular, the eastern migration routes are less well explored. More importantly, the over-wintering grounds in Africa are largely unknown. Satellite transmitters mounted on individual cranes provide a sophisticated method to obtain locations from remote areas, where recoveries of the ring-marked cranes are unlikely.

This research program funded by the Kone foundation investigates what are:

  • 1. the main migratory routes of the Finnish (Northern Europe) Eurasian crane population,
  • 2. the main stopover sites during migration,
  • 3. the most important wintering grounds in Mediterranean region and Africa in particular and what is their vulnerability to the climate change
  • 4. Within and between year variation in the response variables listed above.

Text: Petri Suorsa

























Mansikka 2.4 and 14.4.2013

Mansikka’s transmitter has managed to get through a few radio signals that contained two accurate GPS-locations 2,9 km E of the village of Kula, 120 km NE of Ankara, Turkey. It thus appears that she continued migration on March 13th 2013 and settled near Kula after a flight of 260 kms. Then the crane either perished or dropped her leg mount.

Horsma 25.3. – 2.5.2013

Horsma returned to SE-Slovakia and fuelled there until April 10th 2013. Two days later he was tracked 605 km N near Gizysko, N-Poland. Between April 17th and 19th 2013 the crane stopped over in Kaliningrad crane staging area. By April 22nd 2013 he had continued migration 460 km N and roosted at Käpla, Estonia. On the same morning Horsma set off for Finland and crossed the Bay of Finland S of Helsinki at 1 p.m. local time. By 5 p.m. he had covered a further 270 km NE and was still flying N of Mikkeli. He probably continued to Juankoski, where several locations tracked him also on April 25th 2013. Between April 27th and May 2nd 2013 Horsma has been restlessly wandering in Polvijärvi and Viinijärvi municipalities probably in search of free territory, but as it seems in vain.

Mansikka set off for Finland but disappeared in Turkey

On March 11th 2013 at 02:00 local time a GPS fix located Mansikka at Lake-Agamon, Hula, Israel. Between 19:00 and 00:13 received Doppler fixes however indicated Mansikka had set off. By 19:00 she had reached NW-Syria 330 km apart Hula and was still flying over S-Turkey at 00:13. During the next transmission period on March 15th 2013 the number of radio signals dropped drastically. As a result, no Doppler fixes were calculated. One GPS fix however showed the crane had been roosting SE of Büğet, Turkey on March 13th 2013 at 02:00 local time. The battery voltage measured was fine indicating the solar panels had been working perfectly. However, Mansikka’s PTT unit did not get through a single radio signal during the following two transmission periods (18.3. and 22.3.). It unfortunately appears that Mansikka either lost her transmitter unit or perished in Turkey after March 13th 2013.

Horsma 5.3. – 24.3.2013

Between March 5th and 22nd 2013 Horsma was mainly tracked on the Slovakian side of the border. On March 24 the crane had returned to Hungary NW of Pátroha.

Horsma set off for Finland

Horsma remained pretty settled around Slano Kopovo in Serbia between Feb. 18th and 28th 2013. Two days later he had left the area and made a landfall 230 km NE in Hungary. By March 4th 2013 he had covered 100 km NNE to the Slovakian side of the border.

Mansikka 18.2.-4.3.2013

Mansikka continues to live in exactly same area in Hula, Israel as during the past 3.5 months. She feeds both at the crane feeding site and cultivated fields S and SE of Lake Agamon.

Mansikka 15.1.2013 - 17.2.2013

During the past month Mansikka and her family have remained very settled in Hula Valley, ca. 3 km S and SE of Lake Agamon. Mansikka was also seen in the field three times. Firstly on Jan. 29th 2013 by Chanoch Seif and secondly on Feb. 12th by Nadav Israeli and Dror Galili who took fine potshots on the crane family. On Feb. 15th and 16th 2013 GPS fixes located Mansikka for the first time in three months at the crane feeding site W of Lake Agamon, where she was also observed by the crane observers together with her sister, parents and over 30 000 conspecifics.

Horsma 15.1.2013 – 17.2.2013

Between Jan. 15th and 26th 2013 Horsma roosted at Fehér-tó (Szeged), Hungary but headed daily 30-50 km SW to forage on Serbian side of the border. During the next 7 days the crane did not return to Hungary in the evenings but chose a new night roost, a vast fish pond S of Male Pijace, Serbia. Between Feb. 6th and 17th Horsma has been settled in Slano Kopovo and adjacent cultivated fields. Thus, he has found the same over-wintering site were the previous satellite-tracked cranes Olli, Renttimä and Matti stopped over in 2007-2009. Matti whose satellite transmitter discharged in 2009, has after that, chosen the western flyway as indicated by several color-band recoveries from Germany and France. Please see the updated migration map for Matti.

Mansikka 10.12.2012 - 15.1.2013

Mansikka has remained very settled in Hula, Israel where the corn feeding for cranes was already launched on Dec. 3rd 2012 in order to decrease the crane damage on crops in the valley. About 30 000 cranes have been feeding at the corn station since then. However, Mansikka has neither been satellite-tracked nor recovered by crane observers at the feeding station! In contrast, until Dec. 19th 2012 foraging locations tracked the crane in the vicinity of Yesud HaMa’ala village among apple orchards and wheat fields. Since Dec. 20th 2012 Mansikka has remained very settled feeding on the fields 2-3 km SE of Agamon lake and 2 km E of Hula Reserve, which have served as the main roosting sites during nights. However, since Jan. 8th 2013 Mansikka has not bothered to fly to wet lands in the evenings. Instead, the crane has been staying over-night at the foraging area.

On Dec. 31st 2012 Mansikka was seen by a local crane observer in the field. The colt was together with the color-banded sibling and parents in a flock of 200 individual cranes. The family appeared to be OK. As a result, Mansikka did not get lost of its parents and sibling during migration proving a remarkable inter-year change in overwintering tactics as this family spent the previous winter in Ethiopia (please compare Outo’s track 2011)!

Horsma 10.12.2012 - 15.1.2013

Eszter Aradi reported a total of 5000 cranes in Hortobágy and 33 000 in Szeged area on Dec. 6th 2012. As a result of a cold spell nearly all the cranes set off and only about 1000 cranes stayed in S-Hungary. Accordingly, Horsma set off from Hortobagy on Dec. 9th 2012 and covered 400 km SW to Jelas Polje, Croatia, where according to Nenad Setina harsh winter conditions waited for Horsma: For instance between Dec. 10th and 12th 2012 temperature dropped from 17 to 19 degrees centigrade below freezing and fields were covered by a snow layer of 25 – 40 cm. However, on Dec. 16th 2012 heavy rains rapidly melted the snow and caused thick fogs preventing any crane observations in the field. Horsma lingered in Jelas Polje-area until Dec. 27th 2012 when he set off again and arrived to Szeged, Hungary on Dec. 29th 2012. The crane covered a further 40 km SEE settling down in Körös Maros national park for two weeks. Once the weather got colder again on Jan. 13th 2013, Horsma returned to roost at Fehér-tó (Szeged), whereas the foraging trips have extended 40-50 km SSW to the Serbian fields.

Picture from Jelas Polje by Nenad Setina


Mansikka and Horsma 29.11.-9.12.2012

Mansikka has remained very settled at Hula, Israel. On December 3rd 2012 the crane changed roosting site from lake-Agamon to a wetland area SE of Einan Reservoir. It is more and more likely that the crane, instead of setting off to Ethiopia, will overwinter in Israel.

The temperatures have dropped below freezing in Hungary and the land has received snow cover. This has not affected Horsma the crane, who has remained very settled in Hortobagy by staying overnight at Mike-laposi-to-lake and foraging in the surrounding cultivated fields.

Mansikka and Horsma 18.-28.11.2012

Horsma had returned to Hortobagy by November 18th 2012 and has showed little movement away from the roost site, Kondas-fish pond.
Mansikka has remained around the Lake Agamon, Hula Israel. The crane is either fuelling to build up strength to move on or settled down to over-winter in Israel.

Mansikka and Horsma 14. – 17.11.2012

The data set received on November 16th 2012 involved several GPS locations according to which Mansikka stayed overnight at Akgöl wetland, Turkey on November 14th 2012 at 3:00 local time. Then Mansikka set off on migration and was being tracked at 19:00 local time crossing to Lebanon (25 km per hour) after a flight of 360 km. Then the crane covered a further 190 km SSW during early night and made a landfall at Hula crane paradise in NE-Israel. Since November 15th 2012 the locations have tracked the crane in the vicinity of Lake Agamon. According to Hula crane project cranes are denied foraging throughout the Hula valley’s fields from mid-November to late December in order to reduce the amount of crane wintering in Israel and thus preventing damage to agriculture. As a result, Mansikka may set off for Ethiopia in the forthcoming days. However, approximately 30 000 cranes have been overwintering at Hula in recent winters. It is thus possible that Mansikka will choose the same tactics and settle down in Hula.

Also Horsma left the Hortobagy area and crossed to the Hungarian – Serbian border district in which he wintered over in 2011-2012.

Mansikka 10. – 13.11.2012
The GPS fixes received on November 10th 2012 were in accordance with the Doppler fixes received on the previous day showing that the crane had settled down for a while in NW-Turkey. On November 11th and 12th 2012 GPS fixes tracked Mansikka 260 km SSE in the vicinity of a vast salt lake Tuz, Turkey. On November 13th 2012 several Doppler fixes showed the crane had advanced a distance of 127 km SE.

Horsma 10.-13.11.2012
Horsma is very settled in Hortobagy, Hungary

Mansikka 30.10. – 9.11.2012
After two weeks of stopping over in Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine, Mansikka set off on migration on November 8th 2012. According to a GPS fix the crane foraged at the fuelling area, Syvash Bay at 8 UTC on November 8th 2012, but was later tracked by several high-quality Doppler fixes 600 km SW in Turkey, NW of Ankara on the next day. Probably a vast cyclone over Turkey halted migration for a while.

Horsma 30.10. – 9.11.2012
Horsma remains stopping over in Hortobagy, Hungary.

Mansikka 22. - 29.10.2012
Mansikka’s GPS-unit transmitted 9 hours on October 25th 2012. The last GPS-fix in the data package received, indicated Mansikka stayed overnight NE of Berazino, Belarus on October 24th 2012 at 03:00. However, the traditional Doppler fixes on October 25th 2012 proved the crane was first flying E of Kiova, Ukraine and then landed N of Cherkasy, Ukraine 520 km of the stop over site in Belarus. This was later verified by an accurate GPS-fix. By October 27th 2012 Mansikka had continued 520 km S and settled SE of Jevpatorija in the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine. By contrast, on October 29th 2012 Mansikka had returned 85 km NE foraging near the town of Dzhankoi. The movements in the Crimean Peninsula thus resemble those of Outo-crane in the autumn of 2011. Mansikka has now started the crucial fuelling the success of which will be one of the key factors in determining whether the crane will survive the most demanding part of migration to Ethiopia.

Horsma 22. – 29.10.2012
Surprisingly, Horsma was tracked in E-Czech on October 25th 2012 in an area, where no Finnish cranes have previously been observed. During the day the crane covered 40 km E suggesting that he in fact will be heading for Hortobagy national park, in NE-Hungary. This was verified on October 28th 2012 when several fixes tracked the crane staying overnight at Kondas fishing pond in Hortobagy, Hungary.

Mansikka 14. - 22.10.2012

On October 18th 2012 Mansikka continued 160 km SSW and was tracked in a cultivated field at 16:00 (UTC). Quite unexpectedly the next GPS-fix on October 19th 2012 indicated that the crane was at flight in the night (03:00 UTC) and then back in the original fuelling area NE of Berazino, Belarus at 16:00 (UTC)! Did Mansikka get lost of its parents in the night and hence flew back to the familiar fuelling area, or did the whole family indeed make a 360 km extra trip in search of food remains unanswered until we get more location data in the forthcoming days.

Horsma 14. - 22.10.2012

Horsma kept fuelling for one week in eastern part of Kaliningrad area, Russia after which he continued 180 km S to Poland.

Horsma –crane who has been tracked by Argos satellites since 2011 spent the summer of 2012 very settled in the municipality of Liperi, Finland approximately 30 km S of its natal territory. On August 24th 2012 the adolescent crane headed 30 km SE to Rääkkylä assembly area. Surprisingly, on September 4th 2012 and thereafter the crane was tracked 60 km NW in the municipality of Outokumpu, Finland pretty near its natal home range. You might recollect a crane colt “Outo” who was deployed in Outokumpu in 2011 and followed to Ethiopian wintering grounds. In the summer of 2012 we fitted Outo’s little sibling named as “Mansikka” meaning strawberry with a modern solar-panel leg-mountable GPS-unit manufactured by North Star. Please see more details in Mansikka’s introduction page.

Both Outo and Mansikka set off for migration exceptionally late on October 10th 2012: recall, that Mansikka’s family departed their breeding grounds on October 1st 2011, whereas Horsma had set off already on September 19th 2011. During the following three days Horsma headed ca. 1000 SW settling in E-Kaliningrad area, Russia on October 13th 2012. In contrast, Mansikka covered 150 km SSW on October 10th 2012, 550 km S to south-westernmost Russia on October 11th 2012 and further 280 km SSE to central-Belarus on October 12th 2012. It is likely that Mansikka will fuel there a few days more prior to continuing to Ukrainian stopover area in the Crimean peninsula.

Horsma 24.5.2012

Horsma has returned to Finland. On May 24th 2012 the crane was tracked in the municipality of Liperi, 30 km SSE of its natal territory. A local birder observed a flock of 40 individual cranes in the vicinity of Horma’s location fixes, but could not see Horsma’s individual color band code due to adverse weather conditions. As a juvenile, Horsma took its time by arriving 1,5 months later as compared to the breeding cranes. We will get back to Horsma once it sets off for autumn migration in September-October 2012.

Horsma 4.5.-14.5.2012

Horsma was tracked in Lithuania 4.5.2012. The next location fixes however, tracked the crane 325 km NNE in Estonia 14.5.2012

Horsma 24.4.-1.5.2012

Horsma set off again April 30th 2012 and covered 96 km NW stopping over in a well known fuelling area in Kaliningrad, Russia.

Horsma 6.4.-24.4.2012

Horsma was tracked last time in Slovakia 10.4.2012 in the morning. Then the crane covered 561 km and has been stopping-over in NE-Poland 12.4.-24.4.2012. Horma’s parents arrived to their breeding territory at Horsmanaho, Polvijärvi, Finland 10.-11.4.2012. Ruvas’ parents in turn were observed on their breeding territory by Janne Leppänen 15.4.2012. In contrast, Outo's natal territory has not been occupied by parent birds as yet.

Horsma 12.3.-5.4.2012

Horsma has been very settled in E-Slovakia, which is in accordance with the previously tracked juvenile cranes in the Balkans. It is possible that Horsma will linger even the forthcoming month before setting off for migration again.

Outo 3.2.2012

As usual Outo was very settled near Delache-village, Ethiopia on February 3rd 2012. Unexpectedly, the voltage of the battery dropped dramatically and no further fixes were received. Unfortunately the battery discharged sooner than expected. Hence, we will not be able to monitor Outo’s return flight from Ethiopia to Europe.

Horsma 31.1.-9.3.2012

Surprisingly, Horsma settled for winter in S-Hungary. Previously, satellite-tracked cranes continued to Serbia (Slano Kopovo) and Croatia (Jelas Polje) during the hardest winter. With the help of Horsma’s locations Ester Aradi kindly reported that 1200 overwintering cranes were found together with Horsma by the Hungarian birders. The coldest spell lasted for three weeks and the depth of the snow cover reached about 40 cm and the night temperatures dropped 20 degrees centigrade below freezing. When not fasting, the crane flocks carried out small scale flights in search of non-harvested corn. In late February Horsma set off S and settled in N-Serbia for 10 days. On Mach 3rd Horsma set off on its spring migration by heading 240 km NE for the stop-over quarters NE of Hortobagy National Park, Hungary.

Outo 28.12.2011 – 28.1.2012

”Outo” has been on its winter territory SE of Delache, village, Ethiopia nearly three months. During nights the crane is tracked at a shallow lake within a radius of one kilometre. The feeding trips extend at a radius of four kilometres of the nigh roost. The transmitter of “Ruvas” has not got any radio signals through during the past month.

Horsma 31.12.2011-28.1.2012

“Horsma” settled in Büdös-székin-area for three weeks staying overnight mainly at Vesszős-szék-lake, Pusztaszer. On January 21st 2012 the crane chose Fehér-tó –lake near Gátér -village. Two days later the crane foraged 61 km S on the Serbian side of the border, but returned to Hungary and roosted overnight at huge Fehér-tó -fishing ponds near Szeged. The legendary “Inka” that was tracked by satellites in 2009 stopped over hear for 1.5 months prior to migrating to Algeria. On January 26th and 28th “Horsma” was tracked 46 km NE at Fehér-tó –lake, Kardoskút, where Lapland’s satellite-tracked cranes “Matti”, “Olli” and “Renttimä” used to stop-over in 2007-2009. Eszter Aradi kindly informed me on the ecological conditions in the area and reported a total of 22 000 Eurasian cranes at S-Hungarian night roosts on January 19th 2012. “Horsma” is thus one of thousands of individual cranes trying to over-winter in Hungary. As the weather appears to be getting chilly in the forthcoming days, it will be most interesting to observe whether “Horsma” is forced to continue migration.

Satellite-tracked cranes 3.-30.12.2011

Both Horsma and Outo are alive. Horsma is over-wintering in the Balkans and Outo keeps thriving in the vicinity of Delache-village, Ethiopia.

Outo ja Ruvas’ transmitter 18.11.-2.12.2011
Outo thrives in the cultivated land SE of Delache, Ethiopia. During the past month the crane has been tracked within a radius of 4 km. Ruvas’ transmitter keeps transmitting from Achera Mariam, Ethiopia.

Horsma 23.11.-4.12.2011
Horsma keeps lingering in the vicinity of Opusztaszer, Csongrad, Hungary. The forthcoming three weeks will show whether the crane continues to N-Africa or winters over in the Balkans.

Matti 21.11.-30.11.2011
In 2007 and 2008 we tracked the legendary crane -”Matti” fitted with a backpack transmitter in Salla municipality, Finland. At that time Matti overwintered in the Balkans. Like in 2010 Matti has now been recovered from color bands and transmitter. The crane has changed the wintering grounds from Hungary and N-Serbia and has been seen together with a female and 2 offspring near Schwerstedt, Germany (51° 9´12" - 10° 56´ 1") by Ehrhardt Hohl between November 21st and 30th.

Ruvas 3.-12.11.2011
The transmitter of Ruvas has produced 9 most inaccurate location fixes, which however concentrate in the village of Acara Mariam, Ethiopia.

Outo 3.-12.11.2011
Outo has stayed in the vicinity of Delache SWW of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.

Horsma 3.-15.11.2011
Horsma left Hortobagy 10. -11.11.2001 and was tracked in Csongrad, S Hungary 160 km SW of the previous location fixes.

Outo ja Ruvas 2.-3.11.2011
The transmitter of Outo produced an excellent data during the night, according to which he stayed overnight by the river 42 km SW of the town of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. As a result, the crane had covered 88 km SSW during 2.11.2011. The temperature of Outo’s transmitter dropped to 17 C corresponding reasonably well the assumed ambient temperature. At the same time Ruvas’ transmitter showed 22 C and the two inaccurate location-fixes where from the village of Acara Mariam…

There is a recent article on Eurasian cranes at Lake Tana, Ethiopia by Aynalem et. al. (2011) Indwa (7):4-12. In 2007-2009 the total number of Eurasian cranes observed varied from 265 to 21 000. The most important staging area was in the Fogera plains E of Lake Tana where 21 000 cranes roosted overnight in the shallow Shesher-lake. There is also another known night roost at Gorgora, where crane numbers have varied from 40 to 400 in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Interestingly, the proportion of juveniles has been delightfully high 16.3 % in Ethiopia as a whole in 2007. And in Lake Tana area even 23 % in a flock of 265 individuals in 2009. Although local farmers complain crane damages on the crops, cranes are frequently observed fuelling in the vicinity of farmers on the cultivated fields in peace and harmony.

Ruvas 1.-2.11.2011
This time inaccurate location fixes of Ruvas suggested the transmitter is situated in the village of Acara Mariam, Lake Tana, Ethiopia. Again the night temperature of 22 C appears too high to as compared to the local ambient temperature.

Outo 1.11.2011
At 12:22 local time Outo-crane was approaching the Ethiopian border near Turab Karof Sudan. An hour later the crane had crossed the border and continued S along the border line. At 15:12 the crane turned SE and landed in Lake Tana, E of Gorgora by 18:45 local time. According to a number of inaccurate location fixes the crane roosted overnight either in the lake or in the shoreline near the town of Weyna, Ethiopia.

1.10.-1.11.2011 Outo covered 5647 km (shortest route) but in reality 5968 km as revealed by satellites. 3814 km from the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine to Ethiopia took only seven 24-hours with a mean of 550 km/24-hours! The migration was extended throughout the night 26.-27.10 over Turkey. Elsewhere the crane landed during nights but could not fuel at the stop-over sites. As a result, the crane covered nearly 4000 km kilometers and seven 24-hours using energy-reserves gathered in the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine!

Ruvas 28.-31.10.2011
During the past four 24-hours the transmitter of Ruvas has managed to produce 5 inaccurate location fixes from Ethiopia four of which suggest the crane reached NE corner of Lake-Tana, Ethiopia. This is an important crane wintering ground. The crane appears to have covered approximately 380 kms SE 25.10.2011, but perished or lost his transmitter right after arrival. The sensor data of activity and temperature lend support the idea that the crane was killed and the transmitter has been taken inside a house.

Should the inaccurate location fixes prove correct, Ruvas becomes the very first satellite-tracked crane who reached the wintering grounds in Ethiopia and revealed the migration tactics utilized. In every case, it is the third Finnish crane that has been recovered in Ethiopia. The shortest route from natal home territory to the wintering grounds totals 5667 kms, however the real length of the route revealed by satellites totals 6275 kms at minimum. 16.-25.10.2011 Ruvas covered a remarkable 4088 kms nearly non-stop from the Crimean peninsula to Ethiopia. During the 10-day-journey, Ruvas stopped-over only shortly (one day) in Turkey and Syria during day light. In Africa, the crane utilized thermals and tailwinds and rested during nights in deserts.

Outo 30.-31.10.2011
Outo-crane had covered further 350 km S 30.10.2011 as the crane was roosting in the Nubian dessert, Sudan 31.10.2011. After 7 a.m. the crane set off again and headed 100 km S before the transmitter switched off.

Horsma 31.10.2011
Horsma-crane changed his night-roost from lake Viztarolo to lake Kondas in Hortobagy national park, Hungary.

Outo 28.-29.10.2011
On October 28th Outo-crane moved across the Sinai Peninsula reaching the southern-most tip, Ras Mohammed at 17 p.m. local time. On the next day the crane colt covered 580 km S landing near the southern border of Egypt in order to stay overnight in the desert.

Ruvas 27.10.2011
The transmitter of Ruvas did not get a single radio signal through. It is more and more likely that something fatal has happened to either Ruvas or his transmitter unit…

Outo 27.10.2011
Having rested 10 days at Crimean Peninsula, Outo set off 26.10.2011 and was tracked approaching the N-shore of the Mediterranean Sea in Turkish air territory at 3 a.m. local time 27.10.2011. During the following 6.5 hours the crane covered 380 km over the Mediterranean Sea and Cyprus. Outo-crane chose thus the same route as an Estonian satellite-tracked crane “Lootivina” did a week ago. The last location fix at 9:35 local time suggested the crane was heading for Sinai Peninsula and like “Lootvina” bypassing Israel’s most important stop-over site Hula.

Ruvas 24.-25.10.2011
At 14:10 local time Ruvas was tracked in flight 228 km SE of the previous location fix. The crane headed an additional 190 km SE and landed W of Kassala, Sudan only 140 km apart the Ethiopian border line. As judged by the Google Earth images, the terrain no longer looked hostile but instead involved cultivated fields and water bodies suitable for fuelling. Keeping that in mind, the total lack of location data on October 25th was a shock. Unfortunately, Ruvas may have even perished, which will be veryfied if any data is gained in the forthcoming days.

Outo 25.10.2011
Outo keeps lingering at Syvash Bay area, Ukraine

Horsma 26.10.2011
Horsma thrives in Hortobagy, Hungary.

Ruvas 23.10.2011
High quality location fixes indicated Ruvas had continued migration to N-Sudan. The crane was roosting overnight in the Nubian Desert and set off again at 9 a.m. local time. At 13:15 the crane had covered 160 km S and was approaching the river Nile.

Also an Estonia satellite-tracked crane “Lootvina” is heading for NE-Africa. On October 20th the crane colt was tracked approaching the Gulf of Aqaba, whilst Ruvas was flying approximately 100 km further away in Jordan. This means the Estonian crane took a slight lead in competition to Africa. It is possible that both Lootvina and Ruvas stopped over at Ras Mohamed, Egypt. If that is the case, then they may even be in the same flock in Sudan currently. That will be revealed once new data is being obtained by the Estonian researchers.

Ruvas 21.10.2011
At 19:49 local time Ruvas was tracked roosting amidst a desert 150 km E of lake Nasser, Egypt and 660 km SSW of the previous location. As a result, the crane colt made Finnish crane history and is so far the south-most satellite-tracked crane in my study project.

Outo 21.10.2011
Also Outo departed salt extraction ponds but headed totally unexpectedly 105 km NE and is staying overnight in shallow and salty Syvash Bay, Ukraine.

Ruvas 20.10.2011
Fuelling in S-Syria lasted only 24-hours, since Ruvas-crane was tracked in flight deep in Jordanian air territory at 12:14 (local time) 20.10.2011. During the following 6,5 hours Ruvas covered (mean 44 km/h) 285 km to the Gulf of Aqaba. The crane was still in flight and appeared to be heading for Ras Mohammed –stop-over site in Egypt. As a whole the crane had been travelling for 650 km at minimum since its departure from Syria.

Ruvas became thus the very first Finnish crane that has been tracked in Jordan. It is most interesting that again the stop-over after arriving the Levant area lasted only one day and the crane bypassed Israel’s most important crane staging area Hula. It seems Ruvas’ family will continue straight ahead to NE-Africa, a tactics that for sure is very demanding for a crane colt. The forthcoming days will thus be exceptionally interesting in showing whether the young will survive the hurdle.

Ruvas 18.-19.10.2011
According to weather data westerly winds and even snow showers occurred in NW-Turkey On October 18th. Ruvas-crane utilized tail winds and covered 860 km SE in only 24 hours. At 2 a.m. (local time) the crane was just arriving from the Mediterranean Sea to the Syrian coast line. The crane settled in cultivated fields near the town of Marmarita, Syria only 10 km N of Lebanon. The visit from the Crimean Peninsula to NW-Turkey caused 300 extra kilometres as compared to the shortest route from Ukraine to Syria.

Horsma 6.-16.10.2011
Horsma has been fuelling around his night-roost, Viztarolo-fishing pond in Hortobagy, Hungary.

Ruvas 10.-17.10.2011
Ruvas kept fuelling in Belorussia and was tracked in the vicinity of Retsytsa also 10.10.2011. However, the next location fixes were received from the eastern part of the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine in the morning 16.10.2011. The crane had thus covered 820 km SE during the OFF period of the transmitter and set off again in 9 m/s NE-wind and full overcast as the location fix received at 12 (local time) tracked the crane over the N-shoreline of the Black Sea. At 15:40 (local time) received location fix over the Black Sea suggested the crane was pushed SW by the wind. This was verified a day later when “Ruvas” was tracked E of Istanbul, Turkey. Instead of 260 km the crane had coved 450 km over the Black Sea and clearly drifted away the shortest route to Israel.

Outo 10.-17.10.2011
An accurate location fix received 10.10.2011 verified that Outo had headed SW of SE-Belorussia and was fuelling on the Ukrainian side of the border. Seven days later another accurate location fix tracked the crane stopping over in rain on ponds used for salt gathering in the W-shore of the Crimean Peninsula, 800 km SE of the previous stop-over site.

Outo 5.10.2011
Now also the third satellite-tracked crane “Outo” has left Finland. According to a number of inaccurate location fixes, the crane was fuelling in SE-Belorussia in the morning 5.10.2011. However, in the afternoon a few fresh location fixes suggested the crane had headed 150 kms SW to Ukraine.

Ruvas 5.10.2011
Ruvas-crane has now fuelled five days in SE-Belorussia and was also roosting overnight at the very same pond as 1.10.2011.

Horsma 5.10.2011
Horsma-crane set off for migration again 2.10.2011 ending up in Hortobagy National Park, Hungary, where the crane was tracked also 6.10.2011.

Horsma 29.9.2011
22.9.2011 Horsma headed 22 km E of the main crane-roost, Põgari, Estonia and foraged on cultivated fields the whole day. On the next day the crane flew 317 km SSE and was tracked just on the border between Latvia and Lithuania. 27.9.2011 Horsma stayed overnight already in SW-Belorussia 450 km apart the previous location fixes. Two days later the crane had moved 11 km towards the Ukrainian border and fuelled there the whole day.

Ruvas 30.9.2011
The stop-over in the Lahemaa staging area, Estonia lasted 5 days at minimum as Ruvas-crane was tracked staying over-night in the shallow shore water of the Gulf of Finland 24.-25.9.2011. During the following 5-day-long OFF period of the transmitter the crane had headed 874 km SE to the SE-corner of Belorussia. It appears that, unlike in the previous autumn, the crane family did not visit Matsalu-bay, Estonia and is in general using 500 km eastern more flyway than in 2010 to reach the important fuelling grounds at Askania Nova, Ukraine.

The autumn migration of the new satellite-tracked cranes has started

19.9.2011 at 10:48 Ruvas-crane was located migrating near Koivisto, Russia, 309 km SSW of the natal home range in Polvijärvi, Finland. Despite scattered showers and brisk side wind, the crane flew 111 km across the Gulf of Finland reaching the N coast of Estonia at 13:35. Having rested two hours Ruvas headed 75 km further SW but then steeply turned to NNW settling in Lahemaa crane staging area, Estonia, where according to Leito et. al. 2006 (The Eurasian Crane in Estonia) 2000-3000 cranes assemble in autumns. 20.9.2011 Horsma-crane was tracked at Matsalu, Estonia. As a result, the crane had set off for migration 18.-19.9.2011 and had headed 530 km SW of the night roost in Vuonos, Outokumpu, Finland.

11.9.2011 Jukka Matero photographed in Sikosuo, Tohmajärvi, Finland a crane that had dropped color band/bands off the left tibia. It is most likely that this crane is "Upetto" that was tracked to Ukraine in 2009.

Silent spring

After three tantalizing springs with the satellite-tracked cranes we will unfortunately be experiencing a silent spring now. During the past weeks the sensor data of Inka’s transmitter unit has indicated that either the unit has dropped or the crane downed immediately after arrival to the wintering grounds at Chott Ech Chergui, Algeria. I want to thank you all who have been following the migration of Finnish satellite tracked cranes. These pages will be updated again in September 2011.

Inka 16.-23.12.2010

On December 16th 2010 Inka set off for migration from Körös-Maros National Park, Hungary at 9:30 (UTC). The crane utilized tail winds heading first SW and then W a total of 280 km only in four hours. At 13:41 (UTC) when the transmitter switched off the crane was located over the Trenk’s Manor in Croatia. The next location fix was of migrating crane flying over the island of Hvar on the E-coast of the Adriatic Sea, Croatia. Four hours later Inka reached the mainland of Italy over the town of Margerita di Savonia. Despite the darkness, Inka continued further SW, and the last location fix was received over the town of Potenza at 22 (UTC). On December 21st 2010 the crane was roosting overnight by the Guerraf Et Tarf-Salt Lake, Algeria, where Inka also stopped over during the spring migration on March 9th 2010. Two days later Inka had continued 390 km W in adverse wind conditions reaching Zahres Rharbi-Salt Lake, Algeria. Again this is a known stop-over site for Inka of the previ
ous spring migration in 2010.

Inka 1.-14.12.2010

On December 14th 2010 Inka had finally continued migration 100 km SW of Nadudvar area where the crane stopped over for two months. Now Inka has settled in Körös-Maros national park in SE-Hungary; the same area where Matti, Renttimä and Olli were also located during the previous field seasons.

Inka 20.11.-1.12.2010

Since November 28th Inka has been located 6 km S of Nadudvar, Hungary. Goljatti’s transmitter has remained silent.

Inka 8.-19.11.2010

Inka's location fixes have arrived from Hortobagy area, Hungary. Goljatti has remained silent.

Goljat 27.10.-8.11.2010
Unfortunately the transmitter of Goljatti has turned off. No new location fixes have been received since the one received on October 27th 2010 at 6 a.m.. There are a number of possible reasons involving the malfunction of
the transmitter or problems with the crane itself. It is a pity, that we will not be able to monitor the crane’s journey further to Africa and to the over-wintering grounds there. Goljatti did however crane history by
revealing an alternative route from SE-Finland to the major crane staging area Askania Nova, Ukraine (via Matsalu, Estonia and SW Lithuania and
W-Ukraine). According to Yuriy Andryuschenko and Viktor Gavrilenko approximately 36 000 Eurasian cranes stopped over in Askania Nova during
October 2010. Further, Goljatti was the first Finnish crane that has been observed in Lebanon and Egypt. In addition to the former, data on Goljatti
suggest that cranes heading from Ukraine to Ethiopia may apply nearly non-stop tactics and not use Hula Valley, Israel as a long lasting
stop-over site.

Inka 27.10.-8.11.2010
Inka has slightly moved from central Hortobagy to Nadudvar-area in Hungary.

In the summer of 2010 Petri Suorsa, Janne Leppänen and Reima Hyytiäinen captured a giant crane colt and fitted it with a satellite transmitter in Polvijärvi, SE-Finland. The crane was named as “Goljatti” after Goliath, giant. On September 25th 2010 the family of Goljatti was observed foraging on the home fields by Janne Leppänen. On the next day the crane migrated 551 kms SW to a very important crane staging area in Matsalu, Estonia. Only two days later Goljatti utilized tail winds and settled in SW Lithuania 438 km S of the previous stop-over site. 4.-7.10. the crane foraged 53 kms further S in SW-Lithuania. On October 9th 2010 Goljatti set off in a good tail wind and migrated throughout the night 478 kms S to W-Ukraine settling in just 300 km from the Hortobagy National Park, Hungary. On October 12th 2010 totally unexpectedly the location fixes indicated the crane had turned steeply to ESE. Goljatti had settled in the most important crane staging area in Ukraine, namely biosphere reserve Askania Nova, where tens of thousands of cranes fuel prior to crossing the Black Sea. Also Goljatti fuelled his energy reserves there ten 24 hours. On October 24th 2010 three reasonable location fixes were received: at 18:30 (UTC) the crane was at migration flight over the Mediterranean Sea just 82 kms W of the coast of Lebanon. Two hours later Goljatti crossed the Lebanese shoreline at a speed of 50 km per hour heading for Hula, Israel. As the transmitter switched off following the duty cycle we do not know whether the crane actually visited Hula Valley. On October 26th 2010 the crane was located 668 kms further S staying overnight at the southernmost tip of the Sinai peninsula, Egypt. The ruthless parent birds appear to head for Ethiopian wintering grounds applying nearly non-stop flying tactic. So far, Goljatti has flown 2000 kms using energy reserves fuelled in Askania Nova, Ukraine. Now he needs to cross the Sahara desert with the remaining energy reserves. Forthcoming days will show whether the crane will survive this horrendous struggle. Goljatti is currently 3920 kms away the natal territory. The true length of the migratory route is however 4500 kms! Inka has thrived in Hortobagy National Park, Hungary 15.-26.10.2010. This is the first autumn since 2006 when satellite-tracked cranes did not fuel in Estonia but totally unexpectedly settled in NE-Poland. Also Inka fuelled there 11 days waiting for better migration conditions. On October 9th 2010 she headed 584 km SSW of the stop-over area in NE-Poland and was mapped in the Hortobagy National Park, NE-Hungary at 15:00 UTC. Renttimä’s transmitter appears to have silenced for ever now.

This is the first autumn since 2006 when satellite-tracked cranes did not fuel in Estonia but totally unexpectedly settled in NE-Poland. Also Inka fuelled there 11 days waiting for better migration conditions. On October 9th 2010 she headed 584 km SSW of the stop-over area in NE-Poland and was mapped in the Hortobagy National Park, NE-Hungary at 15:00 UTC.

Renttimä’s transmitter appears to have silenced for ever now.

Since September 19th Renttimä’s transmitter has been constantly transmitting totally ignoring the duty cycle programmed. As the sensor data are also flawed and the number of radio signals received by Argos satellites has dropped, it is equivalent that the crane is fine but his transmitter is malfunctioning. So far, the few location fixes received indicate Renttimä left Finland on September 26th and arrived to the traditional crane assembly area in Matsalu, Estonia. This time he stopped over only two days and then continued in good tail wind 612 km SSW to NE-Poland where the crane settled in and was located also on October 1st 2010. Since the transmitter no longer switches off, the precious transmission hours are being utilized sooner than assumed in August. Any new location fixes on Renttimä will be a happy surprise.

Inka in turn, left Muhos staging are and arrived to Saaremaa-island, Estonia on September 26th 2010. This time she thus used a considerable more western flyway than in the previous autumn. Like Renttimä also Inka headed for NE-Poland right away as the crane was located 550 km SSW of the Estonian night roost on September 29th 2010.

On September 20th 2010 Renttimä was located in Kalvola-municipality 400 km SW of Ala-Temmes. Ten days earlier neither location fixes nor even single radio signals were received which is an unprecedented event in Finland’s conditions. The sensor data received now was also more or less confusing indicating that the transmitter, or the crane or maybe both are likely malfunctioning. That will come up in the forthcoming days.

On September 17th 2010 Inka was located at the Muhos-staging area.

On September 4th 2010 both the satellite-tracked Eurasian cranes ”Inka” and ”Renttimä” had set off for autumn migration. Renttimä was located 300 km SW of the breeding territory already on August 21st 2010. On the next day Ari Kakko discovered and recognized Renttimä from the color bands in a flock of 100 adult cranes. Renttimä had thus failed to produce any offspring in the summer of 2010. We shall be able to monitor at least part of Renttimä’s third migration season given that the battery voltage of the transmitter should collapse only in winter 2011. Hopefully we’ll see whether the crane will winter over in the Balkans or head for Libya as in the previous winter 2009-2010.

On August 26th 2010 Inka was seen by Aarne Seurujärvi at Tahkontörmä, Ivalo-municipality, Finland. The crane was foraging alone indicating a nesting failure. Furthermore, it is likely that Inka’s male had perished during the summer as the pair was seen dancing together in spring. According to the observer Inka set off at 10 a.m. heading south. On the next day she was located by Argos satellites 441 km SW in the cultivated fields at Muhos-municipality, Finland. On these fields also Matti-crane that was tracked by satellites in 2007-2008 used to stop-over prior to migration to the Estonian staging areas. By the way Matti was seen in the field by Matti Tolvanen on August 17th 2010. The male was together with a large chick that was about to fledge in the forthcoming days.