April really has seen bar-tailed godwits exodus from Barr Al Hikman and Oman. All transmittered birds, except one, have left Barr Al Hikman and are on their way northward to the breeding grounds. What a dream scenario!
Because Siberia, their suspected breeding grounds, is still covered by snow, it may not be a surprise that they make stopovers on their way. Our data show that the bar-tailed godwits use the shores along the Caspian Sea as a fueling station, a connection that was unknown previously. Six out of ten birds are now in that area. Two birds chooses to go to the Aral Sea. We know that the Aral Sea is disappearing and that it might have been a more important stopover site in earlier times.
To reach the Caspian and Aral Seas, the godwits used two strategies. Some of them flew directly to the area, a flight of approximately 2500 km, whereas others used several stopovers on their way. Notably Iran was a preferred stopovers site for some birds, but for most of them only for a couple of days.
So far, the first leg of the spring migration of our transmittered bar-tailed godwits has been very successful. The collected data show the importance of the Caspian Sea as a staging area for the species in this flyway. Probably we have to wait a few more weeks for the final flight to the breeding grounds.