The Syrian population of northern bald ibises is teetering on the edge of oblivion. In fact, the whole species is Critically Endangered - one step away from extinction. In 2002, the Syrian population stood at seven birds. But despite extensive protection in Syria, numbers are down to three this year.
But help is at hand - the Turkish Government has donated six ibises to join the Syrian colony, two of which have been released this year.
And to learn more about these enigmatic birds, we'll be following the migration of two of the Turkish ibises and three of the ibises from Syria. You can follow their progress on this map.
We hoped the Turkish ibises would join the wild Syrian birds on their migration and become part of the colony. The Syrian General Commission for Al Badia Management has also built aviaries, where some of the Turkish ibises will be kept for breeding to bolster the colony's numbers by releasing their offspring in future years.
We've already found out that the adult ibises travel to Ethiopia for the winter, but we're not totally sure where the youngsters go. A team of biologists is also attempting to find the birds on the ground, to record details of their habitat and make sure that no illegal hunting takes place.
Hunting and other pressures away from the breeding grounds seems to have been the cause of decline. So satellite tracking the birds is a vital tool for learning how to help the northern bald ibis - the only other wild population is 100 pairs in Morocco.
This international operation couldn't happen without with conservationists, governments, researchers, funders and individuals all working together.
I'm sorry to report that Odeinat has stopped transmitting. We had hoped this might have been a temporary blip, but this now seems unlikely. Although the solar-powered satellite tag has already transmitted for slightly longer than the manufacturers expected, it is rather worrying that it was an abrupt stop. We will obviously give any updates if things change, and any further interpretation on what may have happened. We hope to get the regular Ethiopian wintering site checked early next year, but its possible there may not be much to add until then. Unfortunately the site where Odeinat has overwintered the past years has not been possible to reach and check.
Migration started again for the Syrian ibis, and confirming a report from the wardens in Palmyra that the birds had left the colony, Odeinat has already departed and made a very fast journey down to NE of Jazan, in Saudi Arabia, quite near to a previously favoured area.
(you need to zoom right in on the map for Odeinat, and with locations from the previous years still showing, its not quite as easy to find the latest locations as before - although interesting to compare - we are trying to sort out a new colour for this year)
We have heard from the team that the breeding pair has failed to fledge any chicks this year. This is obviously a serious blow. In addition, the captive pair in Syria has also been unsuccessful, but did get rather closer to breeding than last year. We will give further details as they emerge, and will update the progress/movements of the male, Odeinat - apparently the only bird with an operational tag at the moment.
One piece of more positive news is that the semi-wild Birecik population in Turkey had a far better breeding season than usual with around 38 juveniles fledging.