Osprey 30

Female Osprey 30 fledged from the Site B nest in 2005. She returned to Rutland in 2007 and bred for the first time in 2009, raising two chicks with translocated male 08(01), at a nest on private land known as Site K. 30 and 08 raised a further six chicks from 2010 to 2012. Sadly 08 did not return in 2013 and 30 did not breed in 2013 or 2014. In 2015, however, she found a new mate and raised two chicks!

30’s final furlong

More brilliant news arrived this morning – 30(05) is home! As you may know, recently we’ve had a few problems with the satellite-tracking website from which we obtain data on 30. Luckily, for the sake of our sanity, the new data came through this morning to tell us she is now home!

30 arrived back on the evening of Saturday 26th March, 16 days after leaving Senegal earlier this month. The last data point that we had for her was March 24th, at a roost site near the River Bresle. 30 sensibly stayed there for an extra day, presumably to avoid flying through bad weather. She left that spot at 08:00 on 26th March, and crossed the English Channel that morning.

During that day 30 continued on, and arrived back in Rutland at 18:00, having travelled 230 miles (370km) on her last day of migration.

30's final day of migration

30’s final day of migration

 

Here is a breakdown of 30’s 2016 spring migration. She travelled a total of 3,089 miles (4,971km). As you can see, she slowed down a bit towards the end, and did not travel so far each day. This was due to bad weather over the continent, and 30 did the sensible thing by taking it slowly, and staying put for a day on 25th March.

Date Distance (miles) Distance (km)
10th March 167 270
11th March 131 211
12th March 143 230
13th March 217 349
14th March 260 419
15th March 285 459
16th March 251 405
17th March 350 563
18th March 334 537
19th March 172 278
20th March 257 413
21st March 95 153
22nd March 106 171
23rd March 41 66
24th March 50 81
25th March
26th March 230 370
Total 3089 4975
30's entire spring 2016 migration

30’s entire spring 2016 migration

 

Click here to see 30’s journey on our special map.

Alternatively, click here to follow 30 using Google Earth.

 

 

Across the sea

Finally, we have a complete data set for the past five days of 30(05)’s migration! In the latest update, the last data point we had for 30 was her roost site on 16th March, just north of the Atlas mountains in Morocco. On 17th March, 30 continued on her northwards flight path and crossed the Strait of Gibraltar on Thursday afternoon – a crossing of 14 miles.

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30’s route across the Strait of Gibraltar

 

That evening she roosted somewhere in the Sierra Morena mountains. The next day, she made her way steadily through Spain, and by that evening (18th March) she was already north of Madrid.

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The next day she continued determinedly on and was on the north coast of Spain by 21:00, where she spent the night. On 20th March, 30 set off around 06:00 and undertook an 11 hour crossing of the Bay of Biscay! 30 usually skirts around the bay and hugs the coast, avoiding a long crossing. Only once before has she flown directly across the bay, and this was on last year’s autumn migration. Based on satellite-tracking data analysis, ospreys generally only cross the Bay of Biscay on their autumn journeys. However, this spring 30 decided to fly directly across, making landfall in France at 5pm on 20th March. This is almost certainly because she felt the need to make up time this year, having been held up by strong easterly winds over Spain, which would slow her progress and also make it difficult for her to stick to her usual course.

Bay of Biscay

30’s flight across the Bay of Biscay

 

You can see from the following map how all except one of 30’s previous migrations have skirted the bay and avoided going directly across it.

Other migrations

 

30 roosted 10 miles inland that evening, at a large lake which we posted a photograph of yesterday.

Lake

On 21st March 30 travelled 95 miles (153km) through France, and last night she was 162 miles (262km) south-west of Paris.

Roost 21st March

Here is a picture of 30’s journey so far.

Journey so far

It may only take her a couple more days to get home! We will keep you updated.

Click here to follow 30’s journey on our special map.

Alternatively, click here to follow 30 using Google Earth.

 

 

Over the mountains

The latest data from 30(05)’s tracker shows that she is now in Morocco, just north of the Atlas mountains! Before the new data came in this morning, the latest information we had for 30 was her roost site on 14th March (see map below, or click here). In the two days since then, she has travelled a further 536 miles (864km).

17th March progress

30 avoided most of Western Sahara, just skirting the corner of it, before entering Morocco. She traversed the Atlas mountains at an average altitude of 2,500m. Her position as of 8pm last night (16th March) was 6 miles (10km) north-east of Fquih Ben Salah.

Position 16th March

Here are some photographs that John Wright took from the aeroplane on the way to Africa this season – these are places that 30 has flown over on her journey home!

Lake close to 30's latest roost site

Lake close to 30’s latest roost site

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Morocco

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Morocco – amazing land formation

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Plane over the Sahara

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Atlas mountains – 30 flew over these on Wednesday

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Guelmim Es Semara

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Ridge that 30 followed

 

In 2014, 30 took a total of 11 days to return to Rutland! This year, she is currently 236 miles (381km) further ahead of her position on this date in 2014. If she continues in the same vein, she could beat her record!

Here is a map comparing 30’s three northward migrations.

Blue = 2014

Green = 2015

Red = 2016

Comparison up to 16th march 2016

As you can see, 2014 and 2016 are fairly similar, but she took a rather different route in 2015. This was due largely to the weather – strong winds frequently blew her off course and she struggled to make progress. Over years of satellite-tracking studies and data analysis of migration patterns, we have learned that Ospreys generally, where possible, attempt to travel a similar route to previous years. However, things like weather can seriously affect the ability of the birds to do this, and they have to alter their direction accordingly.

30 has migrated a total of 20 times in her lifetime so far. We are confident that she knows exactly what she’s doing, and are looking forward to the day she arrives back in Rutland again – it might not be long!

Click here to follow 30’s journey on our special map.

Alternatively, click here to follow 30 using Google Earth.

 

Working my way back to you

For the past week or so, we have been checking the data from 30(05)’s satellite transmitter frequently, wondering whether she might set off early for home. Over the winter, we only receive data every five days, so it was an anxious wait for more information to arrive.

We can now tell you that 30 is on her way back! She left her perch on the beach in Senegal on Thursday 10th March, and travelled north-east on an almost straight trajectory. By 8pm she had covered 167 miles (270km) and was almost at the border of Mauritania.

30's roost site on 10th March

30’s roost site on 10th March

 

Next morning, 30 set out at 8am, still heading north-east. During the day she covered a distance of 131 miles (211km), into the Trarza desert, where she managed to find a safe place to roost. On the morning of 12th March, 30 shifted course slightly to head in a more northerly direction, up through the Akchar desert towards Western Sahara. She travelled 143 miles (230km) before stopping to roost at 7pm.

Over the next two days, 30 travelled a further 477 miles (768km) and the last data point we have from her tracker is for the evening of 14th March when she stopped to roost right on the border between Mauritania and the Western Sahara.

30's journey so far

30’s journey so far

 

It’s so exciting to know that she is on her way! Even more so when we can follow her progress over each step of her long journey. This first step of 30’s northwards journey is always fairly slow and steady, due to the unforgiving environment she has to travel through e.g. lots of hot, sandy desert with not many places to fish. Once she is clear of all the desert and begins to head through Morocco and on towards the Mediterranean, her journey will get easier, just so long as the weather does not hinder her, as it did last March.

Now that it is mid-March, we expect to receive data on 30’s movements on a more regular basis. Keep your eyes on the website – we will update the news just as soon as we have any!

Click here to follow 30’s journey on our special map.

Alternatively, click here to follow 30 using Google Earth.

 

Satellite call

We had planned to go to Lompoul to the Camp du Desert on Saturday morning (16th). However, there was a slight hiccup in the plans, related to a vehicle issue, that meant we did not leave until Sunday evening! Thus, we had to stay an extra night at Les Manguiers de Guereo, and spend a bit more time at the river mouth watching Ospreys (not a bad thing)! We eventually arrived at the Camp du Desert in the dark at about 9pm, where we had dinner and settled into our respective tents. It’s a super place to experience the wilder, rural side of Africa. There is no electricity in the camp, and the toilets and showers are all outdoors!

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Tent in the Camp du Desert

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Outdoor bathroom!

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Paul returns from the mess tent

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On Monday morning we rose early and headed off to find 30(05)! As we drove steadily up the beach towards 30’s wintering area, we suddenly spotted an Osprey on the sand to our left. John exclaimed, “There she is, that’s her!” and immediately raised his camera. I excitedly lifted my binoculars to my eyes and looked at 30 in close-up, I could see the satellite-transmitter’s aerial on her back! It was a great moment.

30(05)

First view of 30(05)!

 

We parked the car and got out, heading up towards the trees to get a good look at 30, who had returned to her perch and sat there quite happily. We stood there for quite a while, watching 30 and hoping she might go fishing.

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30 on one of her perches

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30 with an adult male chasing a juvenile behind

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We didn’t see her fish, but later we saw her flying around carrying of a needle-fish!

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30 carrying needle-fish

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30 eating needle-fish

30 eating needle-fish

 

We stood in the shade of the trees and looked around at the area. It’s a perfect area for Ospreys to winter, a lovely long beach (if you ignore all the litter), the sea in close proximity for fishing purposes, and acres of woodland behind. It’s no wonder this coastline is packed with Ospreys!

After spending some time with 30, we headed north up the beach to look for more colour-ringed birds, of which we found many! As the birds are less likely to spook and fly off at a vehicle than at people on foot, we drove along the shore with John and his camera hanging out of the window! We saw around 100 Ospreys, some of which were ringed. Most of the ringed Ospreys were from Germany, and some from Scotland. It isn’t easy to capture the ring numbers, especially from a moving vehicle, but John is a whiz with the camera! It was a great day – to see so many Ospreys all in one place, some catching fish, some perched, some flying.

Adult chasing a juvenile

Adult chasing a juvenile

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Being able to see colour rings and find out where some of the Ospreys are from, was brilliant, not to mention seeing 30(05), an Osprey whom I have seen in England at Rutland Water! It was also interesting to see some of the locals using the beach!

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We did have a few car issues during the day – despite letting some air out of the tyres it kept stuck in the deep sand! The tide did not help much, as it was so high it forced us to drive further inland in the softer sand.

Digging out the vehicle!

Digging out the vehicle!

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As we arrived at the desert camp a day late, we stayed an extra day and night, and spent Tuesday there too. Tuesday morning was much the same as Monday, with some of the same birds, some different ones. We avoided high tide on Tuesday though, and headed back to the camp for a walk through the desert in the afternoon. It was brilliant walking through the desert! It was so vast and unspoilt, apart from a few footprints!

The desert!

The desert!

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We were surprised, as we stood on the highest sand dune, to hear an Osprey calling. John picked it out in the trees behind us, perching, and then he spotted another one sitting on the sand eating! We couldn’t believe it – that woodland must have been at least 5km from the sea, which means there must be a lot of Ospreys in the area.

On Wednesday we had to leave the desert camp to head back down to Gambia, a journey which took us 9.5 hours! We stayed one night in Tendaba camp, then moved onto Tanji on Thursday. News from Tanji will follow at the weekend!

All of the above photographs were taken by Field Officer John Wright.