The Great migration of the (Falco amurensis) AMUR FALCON

One of the most mysterious passage migrants of India is the beautiful Amur Falcon (Falco amurensis) . This falcon breeds in Northern China and South eastern Siberia and spends all summer there . It undertakes a migration journey from this region all the way to Southern Africa where they spend the winter and then undertake the journey back home .This raptor is not among the endangered list . But there is a huge interest when it comes to the falcon. Why ?? . The reason seems to because of the ardous and one of the longest migrations underatken by a raptor . Also the fact that in one of the routes it undertakes , it has to cross the Indian Ocean , flying non stop for almost 3 days !!!! Wow !! On the Indian subcontinent , they have been seen in the North east , West Bengal , Madhya Pradesh , Gujarat , Rajasthan, Maharashtra , Goa and places in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh . These birds are hunted and eaten in areas around Nagaland , and this is a major threat to this beautiful bird.

The bulk of sightings of this bird in the western part of the country is restricted to mid-November to mid- December, and then again during April/May on their return journey . There is a possibility that they may change their route during the return journey . The sightings are normally of huge flocks of 200+ birds and maximum sightings are around dusk and dawn .

Dr Vaibhav from Alibag has been sighting and tracking this bird on a regular basis . My interest was fueled by his reportings and I too desperately wanted to see this beautiful migrant . I was planning a trip to Alibag to capture an image , but the plan never materialised .

On a work trip to Nasik , I happened to have a few hours free and I just started on a small trip on the outskirts of the city . My drive along the road was fruitless , except for the sighting of some shrikes and stonechats . It was when I was returning back when I saw a ‘kestrel’ hovering on a field next to the road . I stopped the car and then I saw a huge congregation of these birds on the powerline which was running across the field . It then dawned on me that I was in fact witnessing the ‘great migration ‘. I had finally sighted the ‘AMUR FALCON ‘ !!!!

My hands were trembling with excitement while setting my my my my ( I am still excited!!! :) ) big gun . None of the birds were on any natural perch . They seemed to favour the electric lines to perch . When the subject is rare and  important ,the perch seems really unimportant . Made some images from the road .

To get near , I had to cross through a barbed wire fence along with my equipment . I tore my shirt in doing that , and the locals seemed very amused at my stunts . I got some good flight shots too .

The flow of the birds from the horizon was amazing and they seemed headed for the powerlines only . As I looked skywards , the scene stunned me . There was a huge cloud of 400+ birds which were hovering way up . Wish I had a normal lens to catch this sight .

I stayed there for another 20 mins , just watching them , trying to take in as much as possible , till the sunset . I headed back to the city , satisfied and elated that an ‘out of the blue‘ visit to the outskirts of the city yielded me with my much coveted dream of sighting the AMUR !!!!

Some interesting links :

http://www.kolkatabirds.com/amurnagaland.htm

http://www.africanraptors.org/amur-falcon-migration-route-finally-plotted/

http://www.globalraptors.org/grin/SpeciesResults.asp?specID=8225

http://addithebirde.blogspot.com/2007/11/amur-falcons-in-mumbai.html

50 thoughts on “The Great migration of the (Falco amurensis) AMUR FALCON”

  1. Rohan Kamath to me
    12:04 PM (0 minutes ago)

    Thanks for sharing the wonderful experience. Took me there to where you were…
    :)

    -Regards,
    Rohan

  2. Parag Aklujkar

    Lovely Information

    Superb Information provided Rakesh,
    Lucky that you spotted Amur falcons and manage to get shots

  3. Superb write-up Rakesh! We happen to spot 3 individuals last week in Pune and can guess what you must have felt seeing hundreds of them :) I am just amazed about this bird especially after reading this blog about their great migration. Just superb…

  4. Wonderful write up Rakesh. Being an amateur, I was not aware of this great migration. It is quite a gripping tale and hats off to your efforts in chasing the birds with your gear.

    Regards,
    Vaibhav

  5. Excellent write up Rakesh…Thanks for sharing the moment with all of us…must be some experience…many congrats for the sighting

  6. interesting sighting indeed. the amurs are sighted in karnataka as well and we saw four birds in 2008 on there return journey,that is somewhere in April. the sightings of huge flocks of amur from belgaum town is reported in salim ali’s book,but those are very very old records.

  7. Reetam Banerjee

    It was worth reading your experience and the sudden fulfilment of your long cherished dream !!!
    Hope someday something similar catches my eye … as you said … West Bengal also falls on the migration route … so I keep my fingers crossed … Smile

    Thanks
    Reetam

  8. Fantastic story, I am fortunate to live next a roost in South Africa, we live in Heidelberg just outside of Johannesburg, the first falcons arrived 2 days ago, it was a flock of about 50 last night there were about 300. We do a count every year, and our roost is normally about 4500 strong.

    These birds have become my passion.

    1. I can only tell that you are blessed !!! Wow 4500!!!! And imagine the sight of 400 in the sky was enough to lose my senses ….imagine what a sight of 4500 roosting would do !!!

          1. Just to update you on the falcons this year. They have been nothing short of spectacular! We suspect that our roost is larger than last year. We did a count on Saturday. They are filling up more of the trees than they did last year, it was difficult to get an accurate account, as they burst out of the treesa few times and almost filled the sky. We have had a lot of rain and they are coming in later. The group that are circuling around the roosting trees is larger than before, when we check the ones still flying it they are still coming in on mass!

            We had a lovely experience with them when the flying ants come out of the ground, we take our dogs for a walk on the golf course, they were flying around us and landing back in the trees. They were literally meters away from us. :)

  9. Wow..what a fantastic findings sir..this is terrific..thanks for sharing the info..my friend (manoj deshmukh) shown me the image and asked me for the Id..I missed saturday outing :(..but superb..400+ this is fantstic..and hats off..for your efforts..superb..

  10. Ranganath Badri

    An experience to remember, would have loved to see the image of the falcons on their hot seat(wire i mean)

  11. Dr Satej Bagade

    Location: pune,maharashtra

    THANKYOU VERY MUCH FOR SHARING THE EXPERINCE SIR.REGARDS,
    DR.SATEJ D.BAGADE.

  12. I was recently in Mongolia for the ARRCN conference. We saw huge flocks of Amur Falcons there perching on electric wires. The wires appear to be their ‘natural’ perches. The Mongolian birds also migrate during the winter. I am observing the Amur Falcons migrating across Kokan, Maharashtra, since 2001. Happy that there is so much interest in these long distance fabulous migrants now. Thanks for sharing your observations.

  13. Oh My God! What an extraordinary sighting and a superb story! I was having goosebumps reading it! Only the other day I was asking about their migration to Mr.Vaibhav and then I had no idea that oneday I will be able to enjoy such an excellent account from you! You are really blessed! Wish you see them every year.
    Thank you so much , Rakesh!
    Regards,
    Maitreyee

  14. Dr.Nirmala Sridhar

    Location: Mumbai,Maharashtra

    Superb description of this rare Amur Falcon sighting you had.Kudos to your perseverance!
    Nirmala

  15. Rohit Gupta

    Location: Pune, Maharashtra

    Dear Rakesh,
    Excellent piece! There’s no doubt that destiny favours the prepared mind, though! Smile
    Rohit.

  16. Chetan Kulkarni

    Location: Pune, Maharashtra

    Nice article and an amazing sight to see so many falcons at a time. Their migration pattern is astounding!

  17. Amit Kalele

    Location: Pune, Maharashtra.

    HI Rakesh,

    superb writeup and too good an experience. We were thrilled to see just 3 individuals, hundreds of them would be one amazing sight.

  18. rhitamvar ray

    Location: Kharagpur, West Bengal

    THE WILDSIDE(AMUR FALCON)
    Beautiful description…It was a real pleasure to go through your text.
    This birds are really interesting..

    Hope someday i get the view of this wonderful Falcons.

    Best Wishes,Rhivu

  19. Ishmeet Sahni
    Location: Pune,Maharashtra

    THE GREAT MIGRATION OF THE AMUR FALCON
    Rakeshbhai, amazing article. Only I am extremely jealous and you know why…..

  20. Loved the way you walked us through the Falcon’s behavior and your experince.
    All i will say is,
    “I am grateful”!

    Arijit

  21. Loved the narrative !
    Sent chills as i read through the part of you getting a glimpse of the ‘Great Migration’ & your excitement.
    Thanks for sharing

  22. Nice account… I could share in the excitement..with your “my my my” which I have felt a few times… :)
    We were near Pune early october but missed sighting these beautiful bird. Guess too early…
    nanda

  23. Hi,

    I will be in Nasik, my hometown, this weekend.
    Can you let me know around which area you have spotted these birds ???
    would love to capture a shot of these winged beauties

    regards,
    Harish

    1. Sorry for the late reply Harish . The Amurs are migratory birds . Their return journey is around Mid May . I saw this sight at Gangapur Dam . Doubt that you will get them now .

  24. These speed champions look so magnificent. I wish you had better lenses and could get some close-up shots. Thank you for the information. I live in north east India and would be eagerly waiting for them from now on with my eyes towards the sky.

  25. Many thanks for your outstanding report, the first coverage of this bird in India that I have seen! I look forward to coverage of this species in its return spring migration next year. Bill Noble

  26. The Amur Falcon Migration passes though Kenya Taita area as they head south and as they come back during their annual migration. One can see them in March April every year. For those Visiting the Tsavo ecosystem, you will have a chance of spotting them

  27. I read a newspaper account of the trans continental migration of three Amur Falcons in Indian Express. These falcons were satellite-tagged and their unbelievable journey across the Indian sub continent and then across the Arabian sea to the Somalian cost was traced to the T. I was amazed to know that on their way to African coast, these wonderful birds fly non-stop for three and half days across the Arabian sea. What a journey !

    I hope I will spot one of these great, winged wonders some day myself. I will wait for that day with bated breath.

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