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By Tim on November 29, 2013
Can you believe it is December already? If like me you’re stuck for Christmas gift ideas, then we’ve got two special December offers that may just help…
We’re offering free postage and packing on The Rutland Water Ospreys. Since its publication earlier this year, the book – which tells the full story of the project – has received some great reviews:
“This beautifully illustrated account of a raptor reintroduction illuminates and inspires” – BBC Wildlife
“An inspiring read” – Daily Express
“The Rutland Water Ospreys offers an exciting and inspirational narrative, greatly enriched by the individually different, diary-style accounts of volunteers and the superb paintings and photographs” – Ibis (The International Journal of Avian Science)
The book which is superbly illustrated throughout by John Wright’s fabulous artwork and photos is a must-read for anyone with an interest in birds or wildlife. Not only would it make a superb Christmas gift, but all proceeds from website sales go direct to the project. So don’t hesitate, order your copy today by clicking here. Please note that free postage and packing is only available to UK addresses. For over-seas orders please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the best ways of seeing Ospreys at Rutland Water is to join us for one of our Osprey cruises. After an introductory talk, we board the Rutland Belle and set-off for an hour-and-a-half crusie in search of fishing Ospreys. In short, it is a unique way to watch Ospreys doing what Ospreys do best! Not only that, but you also get free access to Rutland Water Nature Reserve on the day of your cruise.
This December we’re offering tickets and Gift Vouchers for Osprey cruises for just £18 – a saving of £2 on the standard price. So, don’t delay, either book your tickets online by clicking here or, if you would like to buy gift vouchers please e-mail email@example.com or phone 01572 653024. For more information about all our cruises – including special dawn cruises, click here.
Posted in Osprey Team Latest
By Tim on November 19, 2013
We had our first frost in Rutland today. Its a far cry from the beach in Senegal where our satellite-tagged Osprey, 30(05) is wintering. Her latest batch of GPS data shows that she remains very settled on the coast, frequenting the same perches each day and making short flights out to sea to catch fish. In fact her longest flight over the past ten days, was just one mile.
As the migration of 30 demonstrates, it is important that conservation of migratory species is not only focused on the breeding grounds. And it’s for that reason that we set-up the Osprey Flyways Project in 2011. One of the key aims of this exciting project is to provide wildlife education for schools in key-over wintering areas. For the past two years we have been running a pilot education project in five Gambian schools which, we hope, will provide a sustainable model that will enable us to replicate the work in other parts of Africa in the future. None of this would be possible without your support: to date the project has been funded entirely by sponsored activities – from marathons to cycle rides – and a book sale at the Lyndon Visitor Centre and so we are extremely grateful to everyone who has either sponsored us or bought books. The money means that in the past month alone, more than 100 students have been on field trips in The Gambia. This can only be good for conservation; who knows it may just be inspiring the next generation of African conservationists. Here’s a new video explaining what it’s all about.
By Tim on October 19, 2013
As we are now coming to expect, 30 has remained very settled on the Senegal coast over the past ten days. Her latest batch of data shows that aside from one or two fishing trips out to sea each day, she has spent the majority of her time either perched on the beach or just inland on her favourite perches. It is fascinating to see just how little she needs to move each day; and she will probably remain equally sedentary until she departs north in March.
As an established adult, 30′s behaviour contrasts greatly with juvenile birds, who wander widely when they first arrive in Africa. To see what I mean, check out the website of the Urdaibai Bird Centre where you can follow the progress of four Ospreys that were translocated from Scotland to the Basque Country earlier this year. The four birds are all in Africa, searching for a winter home. To see more, check out the website here.
By Tim on October 8, 2013
Since arriving in Senegal almost a month ago, 30 has remained faithful to a short section of coastline, midway between Saint Louis and Dakar. It’s just 2km south of where 09(98) used to winter, and like 09, 30 has made only short local flights since arriving. In fact her latest ten days’ of data shows that the furthest she has ventured from her favourite perches is just over one-and-a-half miles! This is easy to understand. The sea provides a rich food supply, and Google Earth suggests that the area is relatively undisturbed; the ideal combination for a wintering Osprey.
As we have come to expect from our satellite tracking studies, most adult Ospreys are extremely sedentary in the winter, and that is certainly the case with 30. She is fishing in the sea once or twice every day, and then perching either on the beach or in a scrubby area less than 100 metres inland. Although the Google Earth imagery for this part of the coast is not of the best definition, I wouldn’t bet against her favourite perches being isolated tress in amongst the scrub.
We’ll continue to report on 30′s progress over the course of the winter. Let’s hope it remains as peaceful as her first month in Senegal.
By Tim on October 4, 2013
It is a well-known fact that the recovery of the Osprey in the UK is a real conservation success story. Following centuries of persecution, the Scottish population has risen from a single pair in 1954, to more than 270 pairs today. Encouraged by the provision of artificial nest, a few pairs have spread to northern England, and, more significantly still, the Osprey geography of Britain has been completely changed thanks to the Rutland Osprey Project. Breeding populations are now well-established in central England and Wales as a direct result of our translocation project at Rutland Water. But its not just in Britain that Ospreys are on the increase. Last weekend I was an invited speaker at an international symposium on the Osprey in France; and I went away thinking that the future is looking very bright.
One of the most pleasing aspects of the Rutland translocation is that it has led to similar projects elsewhere in Europe. It was great to hear from Roberto Muriel and Andrea Sforzi that Ospreys are now breeding in Spain and Italy, thanks to translocation projects. This summer 9 pairs raised a total of 15 chicks in southern Spain and, in Italy, a single breeding pair were successful for the third successive summer. Elsewhere, a translocation project involving Swedish and Finnish Ospreys began in eastern Portugal in 2011 and, earlier this year, Roy Dennis translocated 12 Scottish Ospreys to the Basque Country in northern Spain. Like in Britain, these projects are restoring Ospreys to areas where they have been lost; helping them to spread through southern Europe. When you look at a distribution map of European Ospreys, there is still very much a northern bias, with the stronghold in Scandinavia. However, this should not be the case and these translocation projects are helping to change that.
As you might expect, the people running these projects are faced with the same questions that we were repeatedly (and still are) asked at Rutland Water. Shouldn’t we let the birds spread naturally? Shouldn’t the money be spend on more ‘worthy’ projects. Well, in a word, no! And here’s why. Undoubtedly the most inspiring talk of the weekend was given by Roy Dennis. Roy has been working with Ospreys in Scotland since the early 1960s and was instrumental, along with Tim Appleton, in getting the Rutland project underway. Roy and Tim have always been advocates of pro-active conservation and they saw a unique opportunity at Rutland Water to do something that would have a lasting legacy, not just in the UK, but further a field, too. Yes we could have waited another century for Ospreys to reach central England naturally (the annual rate of spread of the Scottish population is 4km per year), but who knows what may have happened in the intervening years? Furthermore, thousands of people, old and young, would not have been able to enjoy the spectacular views of breeding Ospreys that you can now get at Rutland Water and Cors Dyfi, if Roy and Tim, with the help of Anglian Water hadn’t got the project off the ground. There is a scientific justification too. Roy’s research in Scotland has shown that in ‘full-up’ areas of north-eastern Scotland where Ospreys are at their carrying capacity, young birds have to wait much longer to breed. However, by establishing populations further south, where there is less competition for nest sites and mates, the birds have the opportunity to breed at a younger age; and the UK breeding population increases at a faster rate. At Rutland Water in 2003, a two year-old translocated female raised two chicks, and, this past summer, two three-year-olds reared a family of three at the same site. Had these birds tried to breed in Scotland, it is likely to have been a very different story. Just look at Roy’s four year-old satellite-tagged Osprey, Rothiemurchus, who still hasn’t settled down to breed north of the border.
Then there is the matter of worthiness. There are still many people in the UK who feel that conservation effort should be focused on rarer, more threatened species than the Osprey. The reality, though, is that the ‘Osprey money’,simply isn’t available to other projects. Charismatic species, like the Osprey, have the potential to attract funding that may not otherwise end up in conservation. As Roy said on Saturday, wealthy funders are just as likely to end up putting their money into a Formula 1 racing team than conservation, so if we can find a conservation project that excites them – and what excites people more than Ospreys – then, surely, that can only be a good thing? If it is Ospreys that act as the hook to get these people interested in conservation, then who knows what they may be prepared to fund in the future?
Feeling suitably inspired by what Roy had said, I continued on theme by discussing the Osprey Flyways Project – the project that myself and the team set-up after our first visit to West Africa in 2011. Over the past three years we have been working with five Gambian schools to provide a wildlife education experience that they wouldn’t get under the usual teaching curriculum. Using Ospreys as the flagship species they have been learning about the wildlife around them, and the need to protect it. Millions of migratory birds make the 3000 mile journey from northern Europe to west Africa each winter, but few could inspire interest among these young people, like the Ospreys can. If we can encourage young people in Africa to take an interest in wildlife and conservation as a result of the migratory journeys of Ospreys, then many other species will benefit. The same is true across the whole of the migratory range; and it is this theory that underpins the other aspect of the Osprey Flyways Project. By using Ospreys as the flagship species we are linking schools along the migratory flyway, enabling the students to learn about bird migration and conservation in a new and exciting way. A great example is the music video made by staff and children at Montorre and Urretxindorra schools in the Basque Country. I finished my talk by showing this video and asking whether, after watching it, the audience felt Osprey conservation was a worthy cause. I don’t think I need to tell you the answer.
And so what of the future? With Ospreys now increasing in most parts of Europe, the future looks bright. We have shown that translocation is the best way of restoring the birds to their former range, and Roy and I firmly believe that it should be easier for these projects to get the necessary licences. We have now refined the translocation techniques, and can run projects in an extremely cost-effective way. There are now around 35 pairs of Ospreys breeding in mainland France and small-scale translocation projects would be an excellent way to encourage the population to spread away from its stronghold in Orleans Forest. It was discussed how several individual Ospreys have attempted to breed in isolated areas, well away from Orleans. In each case, these breeding attempts have come to nothing because other birds have been reluctant to join them. This would not be the case with translocations. Small populations could be established easily in areas where productivity is likely to be high. The same is true of East Anglia and the south coast of England and several parts of Spain. Surely this is just sensible, pro-active conservation?
So, although we are doing well, there is still much to do. As Roberto Muriel explained, there are well over 1000 reservoirs in Spain. If each reservoir supported two or three pairs of breeding Ospreys, then you realise that the current 9 pairs, is only the tip of the iceberg. Likewise, whilst the UK population is now approaching 300 breeding pairs, there is sufficient habitat for the population to increase to six or seven times that. At a time when the recent State of Nature Report showed that many species are in decline, surely we should do everything we can to encourage the continued spread of Ospreys. As Roy said in his talk, rarity is a failure of conservation. Let’s make sure Ospreys do not become rare once again.
By Gavin Young on September 25, 2013
If you’ve been following the website recently you’ll know that at the end of last week a team of six of us – myself, Tim Mackrill, Michelle Househam, Lizzie Lemon, Lloyd Park and Chris Ditchburn – replicated the first leg of the Ospreys’ amazing migration by cycling from Rutland to Dover, to raise money for the Osprey Flyways Project. It wasn’t easy, but at lunchtime on Saturday we peddled into Dover. Here’s the full story of how we got there.
We began our challenge at the Lyndon Visitor Centre on the south shore of the reservoir and, as we arrived just after 8 ‘o’ clock on Thursday morning, the nerves and excitement were obvious all round. We organised our gear and prepared our bikes before Tim took us through the all-important warm up routine and I explained the intricacies of the route to our support driver for the day, Lloyd’s brother Philip.
After a few laps of the car park to loosen up, we set off up the hill to Manton Rd. Having never ridden together as a team, we took it easy and tried to find a suitable pace and learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I found that I lacked the confidence of the others on the downhill slopes and as I hung on for dear life, Lloyd would fly past with his tongue out and tail wagging while ex-RAF man Chris would zoom by in an attempt to create a sonic boom. Other peoples’ weaknesses resulted in frequent toilet stops.
With fresh legs and a trial ride under our belts, we had been looking forward to day one as the easiest day. Unfortunately, the usual prevailing winds from the west were replaced with a fairly strong southerly wind which, as the day progressed, brought with it light showers and then heavy rain. This made for fairly miserable cycling and by the time we reached the busy roads of Huntingdon we were soaked through and hunched over our bikes grimly counting down the miles until it was over.
Our scheduled lunch stop in St Ives was short-lived as we didn’t want to get cold and we quickly set off on the 12 mile guided bus way to Cambridge, which on training rides I found to be uphill in both directions. The weather didn’t improve as we negotiated the shopping streets of Cambridge, passed Addenbrookes hospital and made our final climb of the day close to the Wandlebury ring. Finally we rolled into the Abington service area and, with much relief, completed the first day’s ride. We were stopped from diving into the showers by the return of Corporal Mackrill and his warm down drill. Then it was time to get clean, change our clothes and head for a nice cuppa at the apparently world famous Comfort Café. The strict cycling diet was momentarily ditched as we devoured cheese and ham toasties. Well, we’d had a rough day!
We said farewell and thank you to Phil who was quickly replaced by our evening escort, In Focus’ Mike Willis, who earlier that day had ordered a pub chef in Sawston to cook us Lasagne. I hope Mike wasn’t looking for a lively night out as the day’s weather had taken its toll and we were back at the hotel by nine, most of us snoozing soon after.
Day two arrived with unknown territory for most of the team, consecutive days of long distance cycling – with wet shoes! Liam Tate was the driver of the day and Mike was back to wave us off. We were pleased with the weather forecast, cloudy and warm with no rain, and after a few miles to stretch the aches out of our legs there was a silent confidence in the team. We knew we had to get on with it with 75 miles to cover and that’s exactly what we did. South Cambridgeshire soon turned into Essex and we progressed steadily together in a single line, wheel to wheel through Chelmsford, Billericay and into Tilbury. After we had stocked up on provisions, Liam headed towards the Dartford crossing and we boarded the ferry for a well-earned but disappointingly short ferry ride across the Thames and into Kent.
On the other side of the river we hit a problem. Our route to this point had been checked for suitability prior to setting off, but not from here on to Dover. And so, inevitably, tarmac turned to gravel and we were forced to retrace our steps a quarter of a mile and take to the A2. The SatNav desperately wanted us to continue on the gravel and took our rejection badly, refusing to provide us with a new route quickly enough. The final few miles through Rochester, Chatham and onto our destination were difficult and punctuated with frequent stops to study the map.
We eventually rolled into Medway services after 8 hours and six minutes of almost continuous cycling and the re-routing had added an unwanted 5 miles to the day’s total of 80, an amazing effort from the whole team. Liam had been there for some time and had been joined by Tim’s girlfriend, Louise, our day three support driver. We were now very tired and some of us were nursing muscle pains and other injuries. Chris, however, was miraculously healed by the sight of a Costa Coffee and ran off muttering that this round was on him.
Our trustworthy receptionist recommended a small, quiet pub nearby for our evening meal. We arrived at the large, noisy and bustling Bell Pub and fought our way to the bar. There was some confusion as to the whereabouts of the table we had booked but we were soon shuffled into a dimly lit section of the pub where our presence amused the locals. By the time our food arrived later that evening we were about to start gnawing at the table but it was worth the wait. Only Michelle stuck to the pasta diet while the rest of us tucked into pies, curries and chilli, something we were to regret the next day.
As we set off on our final day we had only 45 miles to go but the hilly countryside and the previous day’s exertions combined to make it a really tough slog. We had to stop briefly for our only maintenance issue of the trip when one of my brake levers became loose (a result of too tight a grip on the slopes?) but we were soon on our way again. A little while later Lizzie was stranded by a level crossing. In Faversham we found the townspeople to be extremely protective of their pedestrian area and we were forced to proceed on foot for a short while.
After Canterbury there was little flat road to be had and we made slow progress but an hour or two later we realised that Dover was in sight and the pace picked up for the final two miles. We peddled into the town and onto the seafront where we were met by Louise, who had gone ahead, and Chris’ wife Leah. The sun was shining as we made our way on to the beach and dipped our wheels into the sea. We had completed our challenge and ridden a total of 192.6 miles.
A huge thank you to all our sponsors who made our journey worth it by raising just under £2500 (including Gift Aid) for the Osprey Flyways Project. This money will help us to provide wildlife education in West Africa and to link schools and communities along the migration flyway. Here is a video showing the latest Osprey Flyways Project field trip run by Junkung Jadama in The Gambia. Thanks to your kind donations, we’ll be able to continue this vitally important work and help more young people in West Africa to learn about the importance of protecting Ospreys and other wildlife.
Now for quite a long list of thank yous to people without whom the challenge would not have happened. A massive thank you to Kerry Rough and Graham Adkins of Rutland Cycling who generously provided four of the bikes (and excellent bikes they were too), spare parts and some of the clothing for our challenge. Our support drivers Philip, Liam and Louise were instrumental in providing refreshment and encouragement throughout our journey and for transporting all our gear for us. A huge thank you to them and also Leah who helped ferry us all home again. We are also indebted to Mike Willis for organising our first day’s evening meal after a particularly trying first day. Thanks too to Rob Persani at Rutland Radio for giving us some airtime each day to report on the ride.
Personally, I would like to thank the team and all our support for a truly memorable and enjoyable three days. I am extremely proud of the way that our team of novice cyclists dug deep and pulled together all the way to the end.
And now, for those of you who during Birdfair or at the Lyndon Visitor Centre entered our competition to guess how long the challenge would take, the moment has come. We are extremely proud and a little surprised with our overall time of 19 hours and 1 minute which includes the ferry journey, food breaks (these were never more than a few minutes) and messing about with the route. Incidentally, our overall pedalling time was a mere 16 hours and fifty minutes giving us an average speed of 11.5 mph.
Well done to Dennis Trevor whose guess was one minute over our time and who will receive two Osprey cruise tickets and a signed copy of the Rutland Osprey Project’s book.
By Gavin Young on September 18, 2013
Tomorrow morning a team of six of us set off on our journey from Rutland to Dover by bike. Over the last couple of weeks, members of the team have been asked details of the trip. How many miles will we be doing each day? What is the route and where will we be stopping? Are we aware how hilly Kent is?
While we have tried to put questions of the latter kind to the back of our minds, we do have a fair idea of what lies before us, and here it is.
Thanks again must go to Rutland Cycling who have provided us with bikes, clothing and essential advice to get us from start to finish in good shape.
Day one – Lyndon to Abington – 66 miles
Chris and I have ridden this day’s route and (hopefully) have already taken all the wrong turns available. We will start our trip at the Lyndon Visitors Centre at about 9am with our first nasty climb up to Manton Road. From here the route takes us on quiet roads through Edith Weston, Ketton, and after a short section on the A47, down to King’s Cliffe. We then wiggle towards Warmington where we cross the A605 and head across beautiful, but hilly, countryside east of Oundle. When we reach Alconbury, we will have our first longish stint on busy roads to Huntingdon before a lovely tarmac track takes us past the National Trust’s Houghton Mill and onto our lunch stop at picturesque St Ives at about noon.
After a well-earned rest, we will say farewell to our support driver for about 12 miles as we take to the cycle track which accompanies the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway through the middle of Fen Drayton Lakes nature reserve and onto Cambridge. We leave the busway to take the B1049 over the A14 and straight through the centre of Cambridge, past Addenbrookes Hospital, between Wandlebury and the Gog Magog hills and on to our first stop at the Abington Travelodge for around 3pm.
Day two – Abington to nr Rainham, Kent – 75 miles
By far the longest day of our trip, but with a welcome rest for a ferry ride acrosss the Thames at Tilbury. Another 9am start and after two or three miles on the A1307, we turn right at Linton towards Ashton and remain on country lanes through Great Bardfield and Felsted. We join the B1008 at Little Waltham, through Broomfield and into Chelmsford where we will probably take a break for lunch at midday.
We then switch to the B1007, over the A12 and through Billericay before winding our way to Tilbury, crossing the A127 and A13 en route. Again, we will have to part with the support vehicle for our ferry trip to Gravesend (around 3pm?) and then it is on to Rochester, Chatham, past Gillingham Golf Club and eventually to our second stop at the M2 Medway services near Rainham for about 4.30pm.
Day 3 – Rainham to Dover – 45 miles
I’m hoping that 45 miles will seem a doddle after day two, but I think we’ll be loath to get on the bikes for the up and down final stint to Dover. Heading north-east at first, we turn east at Upchurch River Valley Golf course and then on to Sittingbourne from where we cycle alongside the railway to Faversham. From there we skirt the A2 to Canterbury – a nice spot for lunch. Then the final slog passing Bekesbourne, Shepherdswell, Whitfield and then, finally, Dover.
Assuming a 9am start again, I would suspect we will be finishing at around 2pm near to the docks and the start of next year’s rowing challenge across the channel.
Of course, it’s going to be tough, but hopefully our team spirit will get us through and then there is our cause to spur us on. We’ve already raised over £1000 for the Osprey Flyways Project and if you would like to add to that, please visit our fundraising page. If you would like to have a closer look at the route, check out the Google Map below.
View Lyndon to Dover in a larger map
Posted in Osprey Team Latest
By Tim on September 16, 2013
As we expected, 30′s latest batch of GPS data shows that she has settled on the Senegal coast, just 2km south of where 09(98) used to winter. Since arriving a week ago, 30 has made only short local flights and spent the majority of her time perched either on the beach or just inland. The sea here clearly provides very rich pickings because the data shows that she has had to fly no more than a kilometre on each fishing trip.
Don’t forget to check out our interactive Google Map page to see just how sedentary she has been over the past seven days. Life for a wintering adult Osprey is very easy!
By Tim on September 13, 2013
When 30′s last batch of data arrived, we were speculating how far south she would continue to fly. Would she winter in Northern Senegal or would she head further south towards The Gambia or Guinea? Well, it now looks as though we’ve got an answer. At 3pm on Monday afternoon 30 stopped on the Senegal coast midway between Dakar and St Louis in Northern Senegal. More than 48 hours later, at 9pm on Wednesday evening, she was still there; suggesting she has arrived at her winter home. If her location on the Senegal coast sounds familiar, that’s because, remarkably, it is just 2km south of where our previous satellite-tagged Osprey, 09(98) used to winter!
The previous data had shown on Sunday night, 30 roosted just north of the Senegal River. By 8am next morning she had moved 2km south from her overnight spot and was perched beside the river, almost certainly eating breakfast. She was probably disturbed by local fisherman soon afterwards, because an hour later she was perched 8km to the south-east. Then, at 10am she had moved again: a further 1km to the south-east.
She must have resumed her migration sometime after 10:30am because, at 11am, the next GPS position showed that she was 9km to the South-east, flying south at 21kph at an altitude of 500 metres. She continued on this course for another hour, before changing to a more south-westerly heading at midday. She must have know she was now close to her winter home, and three hours later she arrived on the coast after a day’s flight of just under 100km.
Having arrived on the coast, 30 has made only short local flights of up to 5km. This behaviour is typical of an adult Osprey on the wintering grounds. They spend most of their day perched in a favoured location and then make short flights to fish once or twice a day. In 30′s case her favourite perches seem to be located in an area of scattered trees, less than 100 metres from the beach. From here it is just a short flight out to sea, where a wealth of fish will make hunting very easy for an adult Osprey.
If 30 does remain in this area for the winter, her favourite perches are just 2km south of the ones favoured by 09 during the winter of 2011/12. This means that she and 09 would have been neighbours for seven winters. When you consider that 09 wintered almost 1500km away from the one other Rutland Osprey that we have tracked using a GPS transmitter, this is a truly remarkable co-incidence. As the map below shows, 30′s daily flights (red dots and yellow lines) are already over-lapping with the flights (in orange) of 09 during the winter of 2011/12. If only he was still alive!
Assuming that she has arrived at her winter home, 30′s migration is the fastest we have recorded. She flew over 4600km in just 12 days, four days quicker than 09′s 16-day migration in autumn 2011. When you compare their migration routes, 30′s flight was more direct through Europe, but once they arrived in Africa, they were remarkably similar, particularly through Morocco. The data demonstrates what incredible navigators adult Ospreys really are.
The next batch of data should arrive from 30′s transmitter over the weekend, so check back for an update on Monday. In the meantime, don’t forget you can upload all her migration data onto your own copy of Google Earth. Click here to find out how. Or check out our interactive Google maps page.
By Tim on September 9, 2013
She’s made it! The last batch of GPS data showed that last night 30 roosted on the banks of the Senegal River, having completed her crossing of the Sahara. Although, strictly speaking, she is still just in Mauritania, she will have enjoyed a Senegalese sunrise this morning.
The previous data had shown that, after flying 900km in two days, 30 had reached the deserts of Western Mauritania. She still had at least one more day’s flying to complete the desert crossing, but was making excellent progress.
On Saturday morning 30 began migrating at 9am. Three hours later, at midday, she had already covered 123 kilometres and was continuing on the same the distinctly South-westerly heading that she had maintained the previous afternoon. The direction of her flight suggested she was heading for the Mauritanian coast and her afternoon flight confirmed that. By 7pm she was just 4km from the Mauritanian coast, a few kilometres north of the capital, Nouakchott. Interestingly, the GPS data showed that she was flying due east at 7pm, so there is every chance that, having fished in the sea, she was now flying inland with her first meal for several days. An hour later she was perched 4km further east, and that is where she settled for the night after a day’s flight of at least 314km. After three days and 1200km, the majority of the desert was behind her.
Next day she resumed her migration shortly after 9am, initially flying South-east to avoid Nouakchott and then following the coastline south. She made steady progress for the rest of the day at an altitude of around 700 metres. By 5pm she had flown just over 200km and was passing just to the West of the vast Djoudj National Park. This huge wetland is home to many Ospreys each winter as well as hundreds of thousands of wildfowl. Myself, John Wright and Paul Stammers enjoyed a very memorable visit there in 2011. To read about our trip, which included finding an English Osprey, click here.
By 7pm 30 was clearly looking for somewhere to roost for the evening and an hour later she was perched just over a kilometre from the banks of the Senegal River after a day’s flight of 262km. The river forms the border between Senegal and Mauritania and, like, Djoudj, supports a good population of wintering Ospreys. On a boat trip along the river in 2011, Paul John and I saw at least 25 different individual Ospreys along a 17 mile section of the river. Here’s a video we recorded that day.
Having reached Senegal it will be very interesting to see what 30 does now. She could well spend her winter in Northern Senegal, but the speed of her migration – she has only been migrating for 11 days - suggests she is probably going to head further south. The next batch of data will be fascinating. Don’t forget to check her latest Google Map, by clicking here.