09’s latest satellite data has just come in and it shows that at 3pm this afternoon he was on the coast of Mauritania. He is on his way home!
Having spent six months on the Senegal coast, yesterday afternoon he decided that the time was right to begin his spring migration. At 1pm he was 19 miles north of his wintering site, following the coast north-east at 53kph at an altitude of more than 3000 feet. He made leisurely progress north-east for the remainder of the afternoon, his route taking him east of St Louis and then over Djoudj National Park, an area I visited with John Wright and Paul Stammers last winter. By 7pm he had covered just under a hundred miles and had crossed the Senegal River (where he may well have caught a fish) into southern Mauritania. He then roosted amongst sparse vegetation in an arid area that looks typical of the Sahel.
This morning 09 resumed his migration some time after 9am. Interestingly he made a distinct shift north-west, and by 11am he had reached the Mauritanian coast. This was obviously a conscious decision, because he then followed the coastline north, covering another 63 miles at altitudes of between 300 and 1500 feet before we received the final GPS fix at 3pm. It will be really interesting to see whether he continues to follow the coastline, thereby avoiding the Sahara, or make the shorter, more direct, flight across the desert. We should get the next batch of data on Thursday and then daily thereafter. Our Google Earth pages are up to date with his latest movements.