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Adam, Tim and Will after completing the Berlin marathon

Success in Berlin!

Yesterday was the day of the Berlin marathon and I’m pleased to say that Project Officer Tim Mackrill did us proud! Despite the heat, Tim and Will managed to complete the marathon in 3 hours and 44 minutes! An amazing achievement, WELL DONE!

Adam, Tim and Will after completing the Berlin marathon

Thank you to everyone for your sponsorship and support. There will be a full report on yesterday’s events later in the week, but in the meantime, if you like a challenge why don’t you have a look at the footage of the marathon on BBC iplayer and see if you can spot any of our runners!

09 and AW settled at their winter homes

09 and AW settled at their winter homes

09’s latest data is in and it shows that, as we suspected, he has settled on the Senegal coast south of St Louis. So despite the fact that his territory in Rutland is just a few kilometres from AW’s, they are wintering 600km apart! Both birds have been making one or two short flights out to sea to fish each day before returning to their favourite perches just inland. Their routine is unlikely to change for the rest of the winter!

09 and AW's wintering sites in West Africa

I’ll provide a more comprehensive update of both birds’ recent movements next week, but in the meantime I’m off to run the Berlin marathon in order to raise money for our Gambia wildlife education project. Huge thanks to everyone who has sponsored me so far – through your generosity I’ve raised almost £3000. If you haven’t donated yet and would like to contribute to what we at Rutland Water feel is a very worthwhile cause, please check out my online fundarising page.

German Osprey with Garganeys at Djoudj

Has 09 reached his winter home?

09’s latest data has come through this morning and it shows that he spent all of yesterday (Sunday) on the Senegal coast, midway between Dakar and St Louis. It looks like he has probably reached his winter home.

The previous batch of data had shown that 09 made a distinct shift south-west on 15th September (Thursday), a flight path that appeared to be taking him down towards St Louis in northern Senegal. He had now almost crossed the vast wilds of the Sahara, but seemed to be feeling the effects of the long and arduous flight. He covered just 180km on Thursday – significantly less than the previous few days. He roosted that night amid high rolling dunes.

Next morning 09 resumed his migration after 9am, initially heading just west of south. By 11am he had covered just under 30km and was flying south at 44kph, 110m above the spectacular dunes. Two hours later he was another 45km further on and now made a distinct turn to the south-west. During the course of the afternoon he flew another 130km at altitudes of around 500 metres. He settled to roost just before dark in the Reserve Forestiere de Berbeira – an area of scattered trees in the south of Mauritania. His day’s flight was just over 200km.

09 was now within striking distance of the Senegal coast and his first fish for several days. He clearly knew it as well because he had already covered 25km south-west by 7am next morning (Saturday). Two hours later he had stopped again, but he didn’t rest for long. He crossed the mighty Senegal River just after 11am and flew south west over Djoudj National Park. I know Djoudj well having visited there with John, Paul and Frederic Bacuez three times last winter. Whilst in Djoudj we identified several wintering Ospreys from Germany and also YU – a female who fledged from the Lake District nest in 2007. I wonder if 09 encountered any of them as he flew over the park? Djoudj is a reminder that it is not just Ospreys who are migrating south this autumn. The park is home to more than 3 million migrant birds each winter. The photos below taken by John at Djoudj show Ospreys with two of those visitors – Garganeys and a Montagu’s Harrier.

German Osprey with Garganeys at Djoudj

Osprey and Montagu's Harrier at Djoudj

09 continued south west and passed to the east of St Louis at 1pm. He was making excellent progress and at around 4pm he reached the coast 73km south of St Louis. He had flown 225km.

Singificantly, 09 then spent all of yesterday at the same place, spending the majority of the day perched in a wooded area 150m from the beach and making one foray out to sea at 2:30pm. There seems every chance therefore, that this is 09’s established wintering site. We should know for sure when the next batch of data comes in. If this is the place where he has spent the last thirteen winters, then myself John and Paul were unknowingly very close to him when we visited the north of Senegal in January. We were less than 30 miles up the coast when we visited Langue de Barbarie. The coastline at Barbarie must be very similar to 09’s spot and so here are a couple of photos to give you an idea of what the coastline there is like. You might also like to read about our trip to Senegal, by checking out the blog we wrote out there.

It’s going to be really interesting to see if 09 is at the same place when the next batch of data comes in.

Osprey at Barbarie, Northern Senegal

 

Langue de Barbarie

 

09's flight - 15-17 September

32 heading south

Waving goodbye

Its now a week since 32(11) and her mother left the Manton Bay nest and headed south. How amazing to think that they could already be in North Africa!

John Wright was there to see the two birds leave, and here are a selection of his photos. 32 flew south over Shallow Water hide just after 11am and forty minutes later her mother followed on exactly the same flight path.

Incidentally, we originally thought that 32 was a male, but as time progressed her large size and heavy bill persuaded us to change our minds!

32 heading south

Last view of 32 as she heads south

Adult female circling Manton Bay before she headed south

Last view of the Manton Bay female as she flew south

09's route through the Sahara, 13th Sept - with AW's route and roost site on 5th Sept for comparison

A change of direction for 09

Since arriving in Africa 09 had followed a very similar route to AW, but yesterday that all changed.

On Wednesday evening 09 roosted on the edge of a spectacular dune system – just the kind of place that you imagine when you think of the Sahara. He arrived there some time before 7pm having flown 486km through the desert. He had maintained a SSW course all day that was remarkably similar to that of AW. In fact 09’s roost site that night was just 68km south-west of where his compatriate from Rutland had roosted on 5th September – a fairly inconsequential distance when compared to the vastness of the Sahara.

09's route through the Sahara, 13th Sept - with AW's route and roost site on 5th Sept for comparison

 

Next morning 09 did not set off again until around 10am and an hour later had covered just 28km. Interestingly, he was now heading in a much more westerly course than previous days. Whether this was a conscious descision or the effect of a strong easterly wind remains to be seen, but by 5pm – the final location in this batch of data – he had covered 156km in a distinctly south-westerly heading. This suggests, that unlike AW, 09 is heading for the Senegal coast. With this in mind I e-mailed Frederic Bacuez – the French ornithologist myself John and Paul stayed with at his home near St Louis last winter – and asked him to keep an eye out for 09. You just never know!

09's flight through Mauritania showing his change of direction on 15th September (AW's route (right) also shown for comparison)

As ever, it will be really interesting to see where he is when the next batch of data comes in.