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We’ll be posting regular updates about satellite tracking projects here on the website. You can also track former projects using Google Earth. Check out our step-by-step instructions to find out how. Alternatively, click here to view the Osprey migration route with Google Maps. Google Maps also shows overhead high resolution satellite images, which is handy for finding places along the route.
By Tim on February 17, 2014
I have just downloaded the last ten days worth of data for our satellite-tagged Osprey, 30(05), and it shows that she remains settled on the Senegalese coast, midway between Dakar and St Louis. Aside from one flight of 1.5 miles inland she has favoured her regular perches on the beach and just inland.
It is remarkable that technology allows us to have such a detailed insight into 30′s life in Sengeal. She is more than 3000 miles away and yet we know where she is catching fish, and even which trees she sits on each day. The reality though, is that all we have are dots on a map. It is no substitute for seeing her for real; and that’s exactly what four members of the Rutland team did a few weeks ago.
Three weeks ago the satellite data showed that 30 was behaving much like normal. It was Monday morning and, after roosting just inland, she flew down to one of her favourite beach perches at around 10am. Soon afterwards she caught a fish a few hundred metres out to sea. Then, after finishing her meal, she flew back to the coastal trees that have been home since September. Little did she know that at that very moment John Wright, Paul Stammers, Cat Barlow and Junkung Jadama, were driving their four wheel drive down the beach to try and find her!
Earlier that morning the team had arrived at Tiougoune. This small fishing village is situated some three-and-a-half miles north of 30′s winter home on Lompoul beach, and after enlisting the help of a local man, they set off down the beach in their 4×4. I had sent them the latest satellite data for 30, and using their hand-held GPS to guide them, they soon arrived at the right spot on the beach. All they had to do now, was find her!
A quick scan of the beach showed that she wasn’t sitting on the one of the prominent perches in the sand; and so there were two options. Either she was fishing out to sea, or perched in the coastal woodland. As they went to investigate an Osprey passed overhead, flying inland. The view was brief but John and the team could see an aerial on the bird’s back. It had to be 30!
They quickly found a track that took them through the coastal trees to the edge of an open area used by local people for growing vegetables. Several prominent trees provided perfect Osprey perches and the team eventually located not one, but two Ospreys, perched less than 100 metres apart. One was a female…this had to be her.
Sure enough a yellow ring on the female’s right leg, confirmed that it was 30. The second bird – 30′s winter neighbour – had a green ring on it’s left leg; meaning that it was Scottish. Cue celebrations all round, albeit fairly muted for fear of flushing the two Ospreys! Cat recorded the video below.
Here’s a video diary recorded by Paul that afternoon.
Next morning the team returned to the beach shortly after 9am. Soon afterwards 30 appeared out of the trees and, as she had done the day before, alighted on one of the uprights in the beach, totally unperturbed by passing donkey carts and the assembled Osprey watchers.
Half an hour later she flew out to sea.
The satellite data suggests that it never takes 30 long to catch a meal, and sure enough, she was back on the beach with her breakfast within ten minutes.
30 was far more tolerant of passing carts than the other Ospreys on the beach, but as she tucked into her fish she was eventually flushed by one that came too close. After initially flying out to sea, she turned and headed inland, now joined by two other Ospreys. The three birds circled overhead, calling to each other just as we see in Rutland. This, of course, is something that the satellite data can never tell us. We can track 30′s movements in amazing detail every day, but we don’t know how many other Ospreys she is coming into contact with. Thanks to John, Paul, Cat and JJ we now know a lot more.
After circling overhead, the three birds slowly drifted inland and out of sight. Having seen 30 perched on the beach, catch a fish and then interact with other Ospreys, the team had experienced a typical Senegalese morning for our Rutland Osprey. The image below shows the satellite data that we received while they were there. Only now they are far more than dots on a map!
Knowing that 30 would probably spend the rest of her afternoon perched in the coastal woodland, the team left her behind and went in search of other colour-ringed Ospreys. By the end of the day they had covered some 30km of coast and logged 100 individual Ospreys perched on the sand (including ten colour ringed birds from Scotland and Germany). This goes to show just how important this part of the Senegalese coast is for wintering Ospreys. It is also encouraging that, although much of the land just inland from the beach is cultivated, the wintering Ospreys seem to be relatively unaffected by local people.
30 usually returns to Rutland during the last week in March and so we expect her to stay at Lompoul for another two-three weeks. We’ll be sure to let you know as soon as she begins heading north. She’ll be one of half a douzen satellite-tagged Ospreys that we will be following on their northward migration as part of World Osprey Week. Click here to find out more.
All videos by Cat Barlow and photos by John Wright.
By Tim on December 31, 2013
As we were expecting, the latest GPS data shows that our satellite-tagged Osprey, 30(05), spent her Christmas on the short section of Senegalese coastline that she has called home since September; her longest flight over the past 10 days was just 1.8 miles on 21st December. 30′s sedentary behaviour is good news for two reasons. Not only does it show that she is very settled at her winter home, but it also means that there is every chance that four members of the Osprey team will see her in January. All being well John Wright, Paul Stammers, Cat Barlow and Junkung Jadama will be looking for 30 on 27th and 28th January. They’ll be there as part of our latest Rutland Osprey Project trip to West Africa.
On 7th January myself and a team of staff and volunteers will be jetting off to Banjul to spend two weeks looking for Ospreys in The Gambia. John, Paul, Cat and Junkung will then travel into northern Senegal in order to look for 30(05) and to visit two outstanding places to see wintering Ospreys – the Somone Lagoon and Djoudj National Park. At the latter site, they’ll be meeting up with our friend Frederic Bacuez.
This is the fourth year that we have taken a group of staff and volunteers out to The Gambia, but during the first week we’ll be heading into uncharted territory – we’re travelling inland to Georgetown. The second week sees us return to more familiar ground; we’ll be based at the Sandele Eco retreat on the Gambian coast. This second week will give us the opportunity to catch up with a Rutland Osprey. I received a phone call from Junkung Jadama earlier this week to say that 5F(12) is still at Tanji Marsh, suggesting that, as we hoped, she has settled there. With a bit of luck we’ll see her in a couple of weeks.
The trip will also give us the opportunity to develop the Osprey Flyways Project. Thanks to funding from Melton Rotary we’ll be installing computer equipment in the schools currently involved in our pilot education project. This will give the students the opportunity to participate in World Osprey Week – our new initiative that will encourage schools to follow the progress of migrating Ospreys this spring, and to get in touch with each other via the internet.
Although internet connectivity will be difficult during the first week of the trip, we’ll update you on our progress during the second coastal week, when we’ll also be joined by Roy Dennis. Our regular diarist, Ken Davies, is also coming on the trip – so watch out for some bumper editions of Ken’s diary! It promises to be an exciting few weeks.
Finally I would like to wish you all a very happy, prosperous and Osprey-filled New Year! Thanks for all your support in 2013 and here’s to a very successful 2014.
By Tim on December 18, 2013
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.
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.
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!
By Tim on December 17, 2013
The latest batch of GPS data for 30 arrived today and it showed that she is continuing to favour the same short section of Senegalese coast. At 8am this morning she was perched just under 300 metres inland from the beach on one of her favourite perches, perhaps eating breakfast. As we have come to expect her only flights have been short local ones to catch fish. In fact her longest flight over the past two weeks was just over one mile.
With luck, she should have a nice peaceful Christmas!
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 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.