Satellite Tracking

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.

30’s Return

It is always incredibly exciting to see an Osprey return in the spring; but what we witnessed at Lyndon today was even more special. Over the past three weeks we have followed 30(05) on every leg of her 3000 mile migration from Senegal. Today she arrived back at Rutland Water and we were waiting for her.

The latest satellite data showed that 30(05) roosted 18 miles south of Cambridge last night and so we expected her to arrive at Rutland Water this morning. Sure enough, just before 11am she was seen by John Wright as she flew north over Eyebrook Reservoir. Eyebrook is just a few miles south of Rutland Water and we thought her next stop might be Manton Bay. Queue an anxious wait at the Lyndon Visitor Centre as we scanned the skies to the south. Finally, some 45 minutes later, an Osprey came into view, followed by a Red Kite. Suddenly it folded its wings and descended quickly to the nest. It was 30!  The video below was recorded just a few seconds after she landed on the nest – her yellow ring and satellite transmitter both clearly visible.

30(05) looking up at a Red Kite shortly after she had landed on the nest

30(05) looking up at a Red Kite shortly after she had landed on the nest

30 spent five minutes on the nest before taking off again. She headed off powerfully to the east, evidently in search of a late breakfast.

Soon afterwards I received a call from Jamie Weston to say that he and Lawrence Ball had just seen 30 (easily identifiable by her satellite transmitter) at Horn Mill Trout Farm. 30 had appeared overhead while they were working beside one of the ponds. She circled a couple of times and then disappeared off up the valley. Half an hour or so later Jamie and Lawrence were at their other fish farm site, at Ryhall, and an Osprey appeared again. And guess what? It was 30; and this time she meant business. While Jamie and Lawrence looked on she made a couple of circuits of the farm and then suddenly dived down, close to the photography hide that we helped to build last summer. After a brief struggle she emerged with a trout!

Having caught a fish 30 headed off out of sight and we haven’t seen her for the rest of the day. As I said this morning, we are unsure of where 30 will settle this spring. If Maya fails to return to Manton Bay, then she may breed there. Alternatvely she may settle at another nest elsewhere. Thanks to her satellite transmitter we will be able to monitor all her movements very closely – and it will make for fascinating watching. For the time being, though, it is just great to see her back in Rutland.

As 30 proved today, the fish farms at Horn Mill and Ryhall are extremely valuable for the Ospreys at a time of year when fishing in the reservoir is often difficult. Since he returned on 16th March, 03(97) has caught all of his fish at Horn Mill Trout Farm, providing spectacular views for photographers in the hide which overlooks a pond stocked with trout. Over the coming weeks Ryhall is likely to become equally important. We know that 28(10) has already caught several fish there this week and, with 30 also visiting today, the hide there is likely to provide great views for photographers too. To find out more about how you can book a place in the hides, check out the River Gwash Trout Farm website.

We’ll have more on 30’s return tomorrow – and also an update on the latest locations of the other World Osprey Week Ospreys.

03(97) has fished at Horn Mill Trout Farm almost every day since returning on 16th March (photo by Geoff Harries)

03(97) has fished at Horn Mill Trout Farm almost every day since returning on 16th March (photo by Geoff Harries)



30’s almost home!

Over the past 24 hours we have been eagerly awaiting the latest batch of data from 30(05)’s satellite transmitter, knowing that she is likely to be close to home. Sure enough, we now know that she roosted in north-west Essex last night, just 15 miles south of Cambridge. Even more excitingly, John Wright has just seen her fly north over Eyebrook reservoir!

As we expected, the data shows that 30 spent all of Tuesday beside the lagoons, just south of Abbeville in northern France, where she had roosted on Monday evening.The extremely strong north-westerly winds would have made migrating impossible; and as an experienced navigator, 30 would have known it was best to stay put.

30 spent all of 31st March  at a series of lagoons in northern France

30 spent all of 31st March at a series of lagoons in northern France

The weather improved yesterday and 30 left the lagoons soon after first light. She headed north and by 14:00 BST she had reached Calais. It took her just over an hour to make the short crossing to the Kent coast just to the east of Dover. The winds may have dropped compared to the previous day, but she still had a strong headwind to contend with; the data point at 15:00 showed that she was flying just 10 metres above the waves.

Having reached the English coast 30 continued on the same north-westerly course through Kent, crossing the Isle of Sheppey at 16:00 at an altitude of just 20 metres. Over the course of the next two hours she passed over Southend and then Chelmsford – continuing to fly at an altitude of less than 100 metres because of the headwind – before settling to roost in a wood close to Saffron Walden just after dark at 20:00. Her day’s flight was 180 miles (288km).

30 flew from Calais to just south of Cambridge yesterday afternoon

30 flew from Calais to just south of Cambridge yesterday afternoon

It will be fascinating to see what 30 does when she returns to Rutland Water. Last year she paired temporarily with 06(09) but he eventually settled with another female, 00(09). That left 30 to incubate a clutch of eggs alone, and – as expected – she soon abandoned them. This means that it is hard to predict where 30 will end up this spring. If Maya fails to return to Manton Bay, then it may be that 30 will attempt to settle there. So make sure you keep a close eye on the webcam today!

As 30 nears home, two of the other World Osprey Week birds are only just setting-off on their spring migration. Finnish males Ilpo and Tero left their wintering sites in Guinea and Kenya earlier this week and you can check out their latest locations on our interactive WOW map. The map also shows the current location of Blue XD – who is currently flying through the Pyrenees.


The WOW race hots up!

As we wait expectantly for the next Ospreys to arrive at Rutland Water, it is extraordinary to think that, all over the globe, Ospreys are making similar journeys back to their breeding grounds. The latest update on the Ospreys we’re following as part of World Osprey Week shows how much the birds’ journeys can be affected by the weather.

As we have seen through 30(05)‘s data, her journey so far this year has been severely impaired by the weather, and her progress has been slow. The same is true of her latest day’s travelling. Yesterday she travelled only 129km (80 miles), and, as of yesterday evening, she is still in France, 119km (74 miles) from Calais.

30's route 30th March

30’s route 30th March

She left her roost at 08:00 yesterday morning, flew over Louviers and across the River Seine. She stopped at 14:00 at a location near Senarpont, on the River Bresle, and it was there that she roosted last night. As you can see from the photo below, there are several lagoons in the area, which makes it a very sensible spot for 30 to stay.

30's roost site 30th March

30’s roost site 30th March

The wind has been rather severe over France, with winds predicted to gust at 43mph later today. This is clearly why 30 is still travelling slowly and decided to stop yesterday afternoon. It is comforting to know that she is being sensible – roosting early, flying slowly and avoiding flying through the bad weather fronts. She will get home eventually!

Judging by her latest position, it looks as though 30 is taking a similar route to the one she took last spring. In the map below, you can see (furthest right green line) that 30 crossed the English Channel at almost its narrowest point, between Calais and Dover. It is interesting to see that she is heading the same way this season. The other two lines on the map show her autumn migrations in 2013 (green) and 2014 (purple).

30's route across the channel spring 2014

30’s route across the channel spring 2014

A little further south, another Osprey from the UK is also being affected by the strong winds. The latest data sent by Roy Dennis shows that Blue XD is heading much further east in Spain than usual; almost certainly as a result of the north-westerly winds. By lunchtime today he had reached the River Ebro at Velilla de Ebro.

Much further east, Helena – one of four Finnish birds that we’re following – is now also back in Europe. The previous batch of data had shown that she was in Tunisia on 25th March. We now know that Helena headed out across the Mediterranean at 8:19am on the 26th March, and eventually stopped for the night on the island of Comino having flown 422 km over the sea in just over 8 hours hours. Her average speed over the sea – 51 km per hour – suggested that, unlike 30 and Blue XD, she must have had a good tail wind. Next day she completed the crossing to Italy, avoiding the dangerous skies above Malta where illegal killing of migratory birds of prey is still a terrible problem. Once in Italy she maintained the same north-easterly heading and was just south of Bari on 29th March.

One other piece of important information to report on Helena is that we now know where she spent the winter. Pertti Saurola has now received the full batch of data from her GSM transmitter and it shows that she wintered in Nigeria between Aviara and Uzere, west of the delta of the Niger river, and some 100 km from the coast of the Gulf of Guinea.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the race up the east coast of America is hotting up! Iain MacLeod takes up the story…

Donovan is making steady progress, but is not in too much of a hurry – just as well . . . more snow in NH today!! March 28 was a poor upload day and we are missing a bunch of points in the morning, but he obviously set off fairly early as by 1pm he was 100km to the north-east of his March 27th roost site. By 8pm he was another 50km north near High Falls in Moore County, North Carolina. He spent all of the 29th in that area fishing on little ponds and roosted in the same spot. He left shortly after noon on the 30th and was on his way again and by 5pm was perched next to small pond 130 km north near Williamsboro in Vance County, just about 15 km from the border with Virginia.

Belle is hot on the heels of Donovan as they fly up the east coast of America

Belle is hot on the heels of Donovan as they fly up the east coast of America

Belle, another of the American Ospreys we’re following isn’t far behind. Despite wintering much 900 miles further south (in Brazil rather than Venezuela), she is catching Donovan up; the latest data shows that on Sunday she was flying north through South Carolina, just 200 miles behind. In contrast, the third American WOW Osprey, North Fork Bob, appears in much less of a hurry to get back. The latest data shows that he has only just left his wintering site in Venezuela.

With the race back to the breeding grounds in both America and Europe hotting-up, make sure you check out our interactive World Osprey Week map. 


Le voyage lent

30(05) is still in France! Since she roosted near the River Charente on 26th March, she has only travelled 209km (130 miles). On 27th March she left her roost site just after 8am and flew across the city of Saintes. She then headed north-east, travelling at speeds of about 30kph (18mph), until she reached the town of Le Chardonnet, where she roosted that night, having travelled roughly 139km (86 miles). The next day, 28th March, she set off at about 7am and, at speeds of 17kph (10mph), she continued north-east for a further 68km (42 miles), then settled down to roost again.

30's progress on 27th and 28th March

30’s progress on 27th and 28th March


This shows us that 30’s path is still not trouble-free, and she is struggling to make any significant progress. The reason for this is similar to the problems she met in Spain – rain. As you can see from the map below, the weather on the northern coast of France looks bad for today, so perhaps she will remain where she is for the time being, and continue when the weather improves.

The weather over France today

The weather over France today


The conditions look a little bit better on Monday, so hopefully 30 will be able to make more progress northwards. She has another 565km (350 miles) to go to reach Rutland.  The weather has really affected the speed of her return this year – she is already a week behind the time it took her to get home last spring, which was an amazing eleven days! We are looking forward to her arrival in the next couple of days.

30 has 350 more miles to go

30 has 350 miles further to go


Don’t forget that you can view the latest positions of all of the World Osprey Week birds on our interactive map!


30 gets closer to home

If you were watching the webcam earlier then, for the first time this season, you may have glimpsed an Osprey. The bird in question was 5N(04) who alighted on the nest briefly before being chased off by an Egyptian Goose. 5N has a nest of her own but, with her mate still not back, she was obviously having a look around. It did however cause a brief surge of excitement in the Lyndon Visitor Centre!

A look at the weather maps in Europe shows that we shouldn’t be too worried that Maya still isn’t back at the Manton Bay nest. France and Spain have been very wet over the past few days and it will certainly have held many Ospreys – and other summer migrants – up as they head north. One of the birds that we know has been delayed – she is now several days later than last year – is 30(05). The latest satellite data shows that at 14:00 this afternoon she was flying north through the western part of France, 100km north-east of La Rochelle.

Although we are still waiting for some data to come through, we now know that she crossed the border from Spain into France on Wednesday afternoon. That evening she roosted beside a small lake, 13km east of the town of Dax, after a day’s flight of 221km from the La Rioja region of Spain. As in previous migrations she passed well to the east of our friends at the Urdaibai Bird Center in the Basque Country.

Over the course of the past two days 30 has made slow but steady progress along the west coast of France; roosting to the north of Bordeaux on Thursday evening and then continuing north past La Rochelle today. Quite when she makes it back to the UK depends on the weather over the next few days. The forecast looks very unsettled and so it may be that she will not arrive back in Rutland until Monday or Tuesday next week. We should get another update from her transmitter over the weekend – so watch this space!

30 has made slow but steady progress through France in the past two days

30 has made slow but steady progress through France in the past two days

Much further south, another Osprey from the UK is also heading north. Roy Dennis has just received the latest data from Blue XD’s transmitter and it shows that the Scottish Osprey has made it across the Sahara. The track below is from 16:13 to 17:42 this afternoon when he covered 65 km north-north-east. The data for the last 5 days will be slowly downloaded through the system (Blue XD has a GSM transmitter) and this will show his route over the Sahara Desert. He now has the Atlas Mountains in his sights. Thanks to Roy for the update.

The latest data shows Blue XD is migrating north through Morocco

The latest data shows Blue XD is migrating north through Morocco

This year we’re following four Finnish Ospreys as part of World Osprey Week, but to date, only one has begun its spring migration. Pertti Saurola has sent an update on the latest locations of the four birds.

Our monitoring of Ilpo’s autumn migration ended on 13 October according to the entry written on the 15th, when Ilpo was “only 28 km from the tri-state boundary between Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, and Guinea.” After that, Ilpo continued his migration outside the coverage of the mobile network, and left us totally in the dark until the 26 February, 2015. After a wait of four and a half months, we received news of Ilpo, including fixes from the last three days, but a huge information gap between 13 October and 24 February. However, the following data packets contained back-dated information for a few days at a time, besides the new information, so the information gap was gradually filled. It was not until 15 March, 2015, that we found out how Ilpo had continued his migration from the 14 October, 2014.

Ilpo flew straight southwest on the 14th and spent his night at the banks of the river Geba, that flows through Guinea-Bissau. During the next day, Ilpo made it into Guinea and spent the night at the maze-like delta of River Kogon, whence he continued some 130 kilometres along the coastline on the 16th, and stopped for the next night at the delta of another river running into the Atlantic. Ilpo ended his autumn migration at the delta of River Konkouré, some 75 km from the capital of Guinea, Conakry.

During the winter, Ilpo’s fishing expeditions have taken him some 25 km inland along the Konkouré, as well as a few kilometres out to sea. When this is being written (24 March), Ilpo is still at his winter range.

The data on Helena’s autumn migration ended on 9 October, 2014, in Ghana, near the border to Togo. It is obvious that Helena has moved out of range of the mobile network. After a long wait, we received an email about Helena on 24 March, 2015, telling us that Helena had spent the night between 23 and 24 March in southern Algiers, in the middle of Sahara! In other words, Helena had set out on her spring migration from her wintering range that was outside the mobile network, and had flown far into Sahara, keeping out of range all the time! Based on our experience with Ilpo’s transmitter, we may expect that the fixes on Helena’s autumn migration, winter range, and spring migration will arrive gradually. For Ilpo, this process took 17 days. The following email (25 March) specified that Helena had already entered Tunisia and was only a hundred kilometres from the Mediterranean coast.

On 24 March, Tero was still at his wintering range in Kenya. We have not received any fixes on Seija and Birgit since last autumn. Many thanks to Pertti for the update.

Over the other side of the Atlantic, Donovan – one of the American birds we’re following as part of World Osprey Week – has resumed his migration after a short break in Georgia. Iain MacLeod has sent the latest data which shows that yesterday morning he was flying purposefully north-east towards South Carolina.

You can view the latest positions of all of the World Osprey Week birds on our interactive map.