The fall colors at the Park have peaked in the last few weeks as we enjoyed a wave of beautiful weather during our “Indian Summer”.
We also celebrated our final festival of the year. This festival focused on Birds of Prey. Again we had busloads of visitors come to participate. The visitors were able to go with one of several guides who showed off artwork related to birds of prey, played informative videos, and gave nature walks around the headquarters.
Although the Park is most famous for its cranes, it does have quite a diversity of hawks, eagles, and owls that use the Park for migration and/or breeding. As a matter of fact over 22 species have been recorded at the Park including the golden eagle and pied harrier depicted below. (These are photos I took earlier in the season)
The Park was also involved in a “rescue mission” this week. A local farmer contacted us and said he had a young white-naped crane in his possession. He continued by telling us that his grandson had found the bird near their chicken coop cold, lost and hungry. The boys initial reaction was to shoot the big bird, but the grandfather stopped him and they captured the bird and began calling around for guidance and assistance. The bird was in their care for nearly a month before we were finally contacted to help. During this period the bird was fed mainly bread. We transported the bird back to the Park, where we cared for it for nearly a week before our colleagues at Khingkonsky Nature Reserve came and took the bird (Khingkonsky Nature Reserve has larger facilities and therefore would make a more suitable location for the bird).
We also made a trip out to Amursky Game Refuge, which is located about an hour and a half southeast from the Park. This refuge is also a huge stopover for migrating cranes and we camped one night in the fields so that in the morning we could get an estimate of the number of roosting cranes at the refuge.
Over a thousand cranes were present and I was able to make a short clip of the birds as they flew from their roosts (click play to watch)
Our trip to Amursky was just in time, because several days afterwards the hooded cranes were observed catching thermals and preparing to move further south. At the Park, we have gone from over 1000 migrating cranes to roughly 100.
There has been a huge crop of acorns from the Mongolian Oaks and everyone here is excited to take this opportunity to utilize them in our re-forestation efforts. Every afternoon we take several hours to put them into the ground in areas where they were originally or in areas that they would serve as a good firebreak. This is a time-consuming endeavor, but to date we have planted well over two hundred acorns!
On the smaller scale, I ran across these two interesting invertebrates this past week- yet another colorful and bizarre caterpillar and this spider protecting its egg sac!