While counting geese on Cape Chauda in the southern part of the Kerch Peninsula (Crimea, Ukraine) we have observed a young Short-toed Eagle (aged less than 1 year) on January 14, 2013. Then at the same location two individuals (male and female) in juvenile plumage too was observed on February 4, 2013. The birds were kept on a power pole surrounded by steppe.
Weather conditions in the autumn and winter of 2012/2013 years were soft, positive temperatures dominated, snowfall was rare and only for short periods. Observations in January and in February were made at above-zero temperature as well, snow cover was missing. Perhaps such weather conditions have caused Short-toed Eagles’ wintering in Crimea.
Possible prey items on Chauda: Steppe Viper (Vipera renardi); the snake is common there, but in warm winters can be active and can appear on the surface of the ground – we have seen them in previous winters; also voles couldn’t be excluded.