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30's latest positions on the Senegal coast

Rutland Ospreys in Africa

As we were expecting, the latest GPS data shows that our satellite-tagged Osprey, 30(05), spent her Christmas on the short section of Senegalese coastline that she has called home since September; her longest flight over the past 10 days was just 1.8 miles on 21st December. 30’s sedentary behaviour is good news for two reasons. Not only does it show that she is very settled at her winter home, but it also means  that there is every chance that four members of the Osprey team will see her in January. All being well John Wright, Paul Stammers, Cat Barlow and Junkung Jadama will be looking for 30 on 27th and 28th January. They’ll be there as part of our latest Rutland Osprey Project trip to West Africa.

30's latest positions on the Senegal coast

30’s latest positions on the Senegal coast

On 7th January myself and a team of staff and volunteers will be jetting off to Banjul to spend two weeks looking for Ospreys in The Gambia. John, Paul, Cat and Junkung will then travel into northern Senegal in order to look for 30(05) and to visit two outstanding places to see wintering Ospreys – the Somone Lagoon and Djoudj National Park. At the latter site, they’ll be meeting up with our friend Frederic Bacuez.

This is the fourth year that we have taken a group of staff and volunteers out to The Gambia, but during the first week we’ll be heading into uncharted territory – we’re travelling inland to Georgetown. The second week sees us return to more familiar ground; we’ll be based at the Sandele Eco retreat on the Gambian coast. This second week will give us the opportunity to catch up with a Rutland Osprey. I received a phone call from Junkung Jadama earlier this week to say that 5F(12) is still at Tanji Marsh, suggesting that, as we hoped, she has settled there. With a bit of luck we’ll see her in a couple of weeks.

The trip will also give us the opportunity to develop the Osprey Flyways Project. Thanks to funding from Melton Rotary we’ll be installing computer equipment in the schools currently involved in our pilot education project. This will give the students the opportunity to participate in World Osprey Week – our new initiative that will encourage schools to follow the progress of migrating Ospreys this spring, and to get in touch with each other via the internet.

Although internet connectivity will be difficult during the first week of the trip, we’ll update you on our progress during the second coastal week, when we’ll also be joined by Roy Dennis. Our regular diarist, Ken Davies, is also coming on the trip – so watch out for some bumper editions of Ken’s diary! It promises to be an exciting few weeks.

An Osprey fishing off the Gambian coast

An Osprey fishing off the Gambian coast

Finally I would like to wish you all a very happy, prosperous and Osprey-filled New Year! Thanks for all your support in 2013 and here’s to a very successful 2014.

5F at Tanji Marsh- her blue ring is visible on her right leg

Amazing news from The Gambia

Yesterday I reported that our satellite-tagged Osprey, 30(05) is very settled at her wintering site on the Senegalese coast, midway between Dakar and St Louis. Amazingly, we now know where her daughter is.

Last night Osprey Project volunteer, Chris Wood, returned home from a two-week holiday in The Gambia with some very exciting news. On Thursday last week (12th December) he photographed 5F(12), one of two chicks that 30(05) raised in 2012, in The Gambia.

The 18 month-old Osprey is still too young to have returned to Rutland Water, but Chris’s sighting proves that she has survived the most hazardous period of a young Ospreys life. What’s even more significant is where Chris actually photographed the bird. She was at Tanji Marsh, a site that myself and the Osprey team have visited many times over three visits to The Gambia and Senegal. Tanji is very close to our hearts because its the place where we initiated the Osprey Flyways Project – and we have strong links with Tanji Lower Basic School.

5F at Tanji Marsh- her blue ring is visible on her right leg

5F at Tanji Marsh- her blue ring is visible on her right leg

The fact that 5F is there now, suggests that she has chosen Tanji as her winter home. After arriving in West Africa in September or October of their first year, young Ospreys spend much of their first six months on African soil exploring over a vast area in search of somewhere they can settle for the winter. They are often chased away from the best sites by experienced adult birds, but during their second summer – once the adults have headed north – they have the opportunity to get established somewhere. This is obviously what has happened with 5F; she probably wasn’t at Tanji when we visited last winter, but there is every likelihood that she will now remain there until she heads back to the UK in April or May next year. I certainly hope so because myself and a group of staff and volunteers will be travelling out there in January. It would be fantastic to see her!

Chris is understandably thrilled to have found and photographed 5F. He first saw a blue-ringed Osprey at Tanji Marsh on Sunday 8th December when he visited with Fansu Bojang, but is wasn’t until four days later that he was able to confirm the bird’s identity. He and Fansu located the bird early at around 3pm on the Thursday afternoon and careful crept to a position about 100 metres away where they could read the bird’s ring through Chris’s telescope. Chris managed to take a couple of photos too, just to be sure.

Tanji is a superb place for 5F to have settled. The marsh, situated just over a mile from the coast, is safe place for her to be wintering, and the nearby coast provides a rich food supply. It is not uncommon to see half a douzen or more Ospreys perched together at the marsh – and this is evident in Chris’s photos below. Fingers crossed that the young Rutland female is still there in a few weeks.

5F tucking into a fish at Tanji Marsh, with two other Ospreys looking on in the background.

5F tucking into a fish at Tanji Marsh, with two other Ospreys looking on in the background.

Chris’s sighting empahasises why links with the countries that the Osprey winter in are so important. It is vital that migratory birds are protected in these areas, and Chris’s sighting will bring the idea of Osprey migration alive for the kids of Tanji Lower Basic School. They and the other schools we are working with as part of the Osprey Flyways Project will be taking part in our exciting new initiative in March next year – World Osprey Week. Check out the Osprey Flyways Project pages for more information about that.

In the meantime, congratulations to Chris on a job well done!

Chris Wood at Tanji

Chris Wood at Tanji

30's latest positions in Senegal 4-17 December

Christmas in Senegal

The latest batch of GPS data for 30 arrived today and it showed that she is continuing to favour the same short section of Senegalese coast. At 8am this morning she was perched just under 300 metres inland from the beach on one of her favourite perches, perhaps eating breakfast. As we have come to expect her only flights have been short local ones to catch fish. In fact her longest flight over the past two weeks was just over one mile.

With luck, she should have a nice peaceful Christmas!

30's latest positions in Senegal 4-17 December

30’s latest positions in Senegal 4-17 December