I didn’t think I would be eagerly checking the satellite data on Christmas Day to find out where one of our birds has ended up, but that’s exactly what I’ve just done. Having spent the night of the 19th December in northern Liberia, AW has flown another 210 miles further east and is now in the central part of the Ivory Coast! For an adult Osprey to suddenly make this kind of move in the middle of winter is completey unprecedented, but it does suggest that the time he spent on the coast of Guinea was just an extended stop-over and that the Ivory Coast is his true wintering site.
So how did he get there? On the morning of 20th December AW began migrating again just before 10am. He continued flying for the rest of the day, maintaining a constant easterly heading at speeds of between 30 and 40kph at altitudes of between 500 and 1000 metres. By 5pm he had covered 207km and was perched beside a river – probably eating a fish – in the very western part of the Ivory Coast. He roosted in forest nearby. Next morning he was away again before 10am and again heading east-south-east. By 11am he had covered 36 kilometres and now changed to a more south-easterly course, heading towards the vast Lac de Buyo. By 1pm he was at the northern end of the lake and for the rest of the afternoon he zig-zagged the upper reaches of the lake, covering some 45 kilometres in the process. This was strange behaviour and suggests he may either have been interacting with other Ospreys, or simply unsure of where to go. He eventually settled to roost on the eatsern side of the lake, having covered 139km during the course of the day.
Next morning AW was back at the lake soon after first light, presumably fishing. He was at the lake for a couple of hours but by 10am he was migrating again, heading due east. An hour later he was perched beside the Lobo River river in a forested area some 20km to the east. Interestingly, he then flew no further. Over the course of the next 48 hours AW made only local movements to various different points along the river. Sadly, the satellite imagery of this part of the Ivory Coast is poor, but AW’s behaviour suggests that there is plenty of food in the river. The fact he remained in the same area for two days suggests that this may well be his usual wintering site. If he hasn’t moved by the time the next batch of data comes in then we can probably assume that this is the case. He is now 975 kilometres from the spot on the Guinea coast where he spent over three months. This is a quite incredible movement and shows that just when you think you know everything there is to know about Ospreys on their wintering grounds, one does something competely new and unexpected.