INSIDE THE GREENHOUSE | Re-telling climate change stories

Two More Tags With More in Sight!


Rebecca Safran

Well, yesterday was a long but excellent one! We revisited some nests in Zhangye village 1 just to check on some places where Sheela had placed tags last year. We caught a few birds and saw a tagged bird that we’ll try to catch later tonight! We then spent the afternoon in a small village outside of the city (Zhangye Village 3) where Sheela placed 4 tags last year. We hit the jackpot here! We caught a few pairs and relocated and caught 2 more tags here! We had to work quite hard on the last male – we weren’t sure where his nest was and he was not going for our usual tricks. We left village 3 around 7 pm and returned around 9 pm. The door to location where we last saw him was locked so we felt defeated… but THEN… the owner opened up the gate for us and THERE WAS OUR MALE! We had him in hand in less than 5 minutes, collected all of the data we needed, removed his tag and ran back to the taxi that was waiting for us and headed back to town. We wondered what the driver thought we were up to! When he dropped us off, it was dark, we had on our headlamps, were carrying all of our gear and poles and had asked him to wait for up to an hour (which he was fine to do). We celebrated our success over peanuts and some of the local spirits.

This morning we headed to the fourth local village in Zhangye. Really, this is just a small collection of houses stuck in the middle of newer developments (mostly car repair shops and even a place where wood-workers were building coffins). We captured three birds within 20 minutes of our arrival but did not see any birds with tags. The place is loud, next to a street, people were competing with one another for the loudest music it seemed and several of the homes had been knocked down since Sheela’s last visit. We spotted a few potential sites to go back to in the evening for banding.

We usually take a late lunch and a small break after to gear up for the long evening of work. Today, Sheela and I finished entering all of the data so far. Its fun to keep track and tally all that we’ve accomplished! We have captured and measured 46 birds, recovered 7 tags (and re-sighted 2 – 3 more). We are working extra hard in this particular location because we want to learn as much about this hybrid zone as possible. We have been here four nights already – we will likely stay another 3 or 4. Our schedule allowed for plenty of time here and we also hope to visit some of the villages outlying the city for potential sites for future work.

Tonight should be exciting and hopefully our luck with continue!