Aino the satellite-crane is approaching her home marsh
No sooner have we apparently resolved the possible dispute over ownership of a webcam nest in the Turku archipelago (the ospreys seem to have won), but along comes another ornithological piece of high-tech.
A Eurasian crane (Grus grus) by the name Aino is no common crane, as she was fitted with a satellite transmitter in Salla, Eastern Lapland in May 2008, in order that her migration route could be observed on a regular basis.
At Easter, Aino was located above the Baltic Sea, southwest of Estonia’s island of Saaremaa, on her way back to Salla in Finnish Lapland.
Aino’s migration route confirms the surprising "migration loop" hypothesis that researcher Petri Suorsa, the head of the satellite crane research, had already suggested after observing the bird’s track.
Some Finnish cranes choose the Hungarian route to North Africa, while returning in the spring through France and Germany.
Most Finnish cranes have been thought to fly to Africa and back using the route through Hungary.
Aino began her autumn migration like the other Finnish satellite cranes, flying over the eastern part of the Baltic Sea to the Balkans, and continuing from there across the Adriatic Sea to Italy and Tunisia, where she made an abrupt turn to the west.
Aino spent two months in North Africa, wintering on the border of Algeria and Morocco.
At the end of January, Aino surprised her observers by flying to Spain, where she spent another two winter months.
Aino began her spring migration on March 9th, flying first to Southwestern France and from there via Northeastern France to Germany.
At that point, she was expected to continue on the shortest route through Denmark to Sweden and thence on up to the north of Finland.
However, Aino decided to choose the eastern route, arriving in Poland on April 1st. One and a half weeks later she continued her trip to Latvia, staying there overnight.
On Sunday the reading in Aino’s ”kilometre counter” was already nearly 9,000 kilometres.
Other satellite cranes, Renttimä and Olli, who had been wintering in the Balkans, set out to migrate on March 27th, continuing via Poland to Kaliningrad in Russia.
The satellite transmitter of the crane known as Matti gave up the ghost on March 8th. Reportedly, Matti spent the last two winters in the Balkans.
Petteri’s transmitter has not produced any recent locations, either, but it is believed that the bird has stopped over in the Balkans for fuelling, after spending the winter in Tunisia and Libya.
The research programme covering the main migration routes and most important stopover sites and wintering grounds of the Finnish population of the Eurasian crane is coordinated by Dr. Petri Suorsa at the University of Turku.
The research is funded by Kone Foundation, an independent and unaffiliated organisation founded in 1956, the aim of which is to promote Finnish academic research, arts, and culture.
For further information on the satellite cranes, see the link below.
Ospreys recapture Nauvo nest from white-tailed eagles (15.4.2009)
University of Turku
Common Crane (Wikipedia)