Lehel, the Saker 'disarmed'
The mission of Lehel, the Saker Falcon has come to an end. Yesterday, experts of MME/BirdLife Hungary removed the tracking device from Lehel, which had been located the bird's movement since 2007.
Lehel hatched in 2007, in Jászság region, Hungary, and he was mounted with the device just before he fledged. The 22g solar powered, GPS embedded tracking device was deployed in the frame of the first Saker conservation programme lead by the Bükk National Park Directorate (BNPI). During the programme, several juvenile Sakers received satellite-received transmitters to enable experts learning the roaming and migration habits of juvenile Saker Falcons. Using the received information, threats can be identified and the conservation efforts of the species can be more efficient. In case of all bird species, the period between fledging and establishing a family is the most dangerous one, this is the time when most of them perish. Juvenile Sakers roaming across an enormous space from Mauritania to Kazakhstan, and turned out that one of the most significant threat is electrocution caused by pylons of mid voltage power lines.
Also Lehel was roaming considerable distances and he made it up to Moscow. As he got older, he started to focus on the region, where he had fledged, then he established family 60 km away from his fledging site – which is not a distance for a falcon. He raised 3 chicks in that year, but unfortunately he was not successful in 2012. Lehel spent his winters near Belgrade, where he was seen several times.
His transmitter worked until summer 2012, then we have not received more signals. However, he was at his old nest yesterday and he got trapped successfully. Lehel went through a thorough examination after removing the device, and fortunately the device did not cause any injury or lesions to him. His successful breeding two years ago also indicates that an appropriately chosen and mounted tracking device did not cause problems to the bird in carrying out its everyday activities – although it certainly does not support him either. However, Lehel should not worry about that anymore, as the device is not anymore on his back, to his – and to the conservationists' – greatest pleasure.
In the frame of the second Saker conservation LIFE project (also led by BNPI) tracking devices are deployed on adult birds in order to better understand their habitat use around the nest, and the impacts of wind farms.
More information on the movements of tracked Sakers and the two LIFE projects can be found on www.sakerlife.mme.hu and they also can be tracked – along with other species – on the website: www.satellitetracking.hu