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.