A flight across the Sahara

For any Osprey migrating from the UK to West Africa, the Sahara is undoubtedly the most demanding phase of the journey. For three to four days the birds must battle across one of the most barren, inhospitable places on planet earth without any food. The rewards once they get to West Africa are great, but actually getting there is not easy. As we expected 30 is now in the midst of her crossing of the vast desert. The latest data shows that last night she roosted in the northern part of Mauritania, having flown almost 900 kilometres in two days. The desert is so huge that this means she still has at least one more day’s flying before she reaches water again.

Having roosted just north of the Morocco-Western Sahara border on Wednesday night, 30 resumed her migration again shortly after 8am on Thursday. By 9am she had already covered 30km and was maintaining a South-westerly course at an altitude of 380 metres.  She continued on almost exactly the same course for the next four hours, perhaps aided by some of the spectacular land forms she was passing over. By 2pm she had flown 270 kilometres from her roost site at an altitude of between 600 and 800 metres.

The spectacular land-forms of the Sahara would have guided 30 on her journey

The spectacular land-forms of the Sahara would have guided 30 on her journey

Over the course of the next hour she gained over 500 metres in altitude; by 3pm she was flying South-West at an altitude of 1220 metres. She maintained this altitude for the next two hours, but by 6pm she was much lower. She was clearly looking for somewhere to roost for the night because at 7pm she was perched on the desert floor after a day’s flight of 470 kilometres. She spent the night resting on the spectacular sands of Western Sahara.

30's migration on 5th September

30’s migration on 5th September

Next morning 30 had a slow start to her migration. She moved 9km South-west from her roost site between 7am and 8am, and then rested for more than an hour, before finally setting off at about 9:30am. She covered 125 kilometres South-west over the next three-and-a-half hours at altitudes of between 300 and 600 metres. At 1pm she turned further South-west and maintained that heading for four hours, covering 185 kilometres in the process. An hour later, at 6pm, she was at her highest altitude of her desert crossing – 1920 metres – and still showing no signs of letting up. She finally settled to roost at around 7:15pm having flown a total of 410 kilometres since leaving her roost site.

30's roost in the Sahara, 6th Sept

30’s roost in the Sahara, 6th Sept

30 has made good progress through the desert over the past two days

30 has made good progress through the desert over the past two days

30 is now 470 kilometres from Senegal, meaning that when we receive the next batch of data she should have completed her crossing of the Sahara. Let’s hope so. To see her latest position on our interactive Google Map page, click here.

2 responses to “A flight across the Sahara”

  1. Shirley A. Davies

    Brilliant news. She seems to have maintained a steady course all the way so far. Looking forward to hearing that she makes her chosen destination safely and wondering where she will set up camp.

  2. Anni Feeney

    Fantastic news! She has done a fabulous job on her journey! Can’t wait for more news 🙂