Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Spring Raptor Migration:- Chinese Sparrowhawk

A female Chinese Sparrowhawk (Accipiter soloensis). Photo taken at Hushan (October 2008) during last fall's migration.

Each spring and fall thousands of raptors migrate along the East Asian Oceanic Flyway. This flyway is unique and quite unlike the world's other four major raptor flyways. Most raptors avoid migrating over water and that includes even large lakes. Raptors tend to migrate around large bodies of water. Along the East Asian Oceanic Flyway; stretching from the Russian Far East, Mongolia, Japan, Northern China and the Koreas down through Taiwan into the Philippines, other areas of SE Asia and beyond; thousands of raptors island-hop across the ocean. If the weather turns for worse while a raptor is migrating over water it can't land. It's fly or die ! If it lands it drowns. Raptors can spend more than 12 years on the wing over water and cover close to 500km in a day if needed.

The main players along this route are the Chinese Sparrowhawks and Grey-faced Buzzards but 19 species of raptor regularly use this route. To date 26 species of diurnal raptor have been recorded passing through Kenting National Park in Southern Taiwan.

The Huben-Hushan area lies just across the Jhousheui River valley from Bagua mountain. Bagua mountain is a famous roosting site used during the spring migration where one can watch thousands of raptors coming in to roost from mid March to mid April. Once again we look forward to the sight of Chinese Sparrowhawk, Oriental Honeybuzzard and Grey-faced Buzzards in the skies above Hushan as they head north for the summer to breed in the far northern lands.

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