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

4 responses to “Amazing news from The Gambia”

  1. Linda Jones

    Wow ! Now, I’m really excited about our trip to The Gambia in January. Can’t wait.

  2. Lorraine Gittins

    Really brilliant news.
    I am so happy for you all at Rutland Water 🙂

  3. John Foster

    Wonderful news – and a granddaughter of good old 03 too!

  4. Val Gall

    Great news for all at Rutland