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.

WOW! Into the desert…and across the sea

Its been an exciting day at Rutland Water today with the return of 03(97), otherwise known as ‘Mr Rutland’ to Site B. As far as we know he’s the first UK Osprey to return to its nest site this spring.

As one Osprey returned to Rutland Water, another was battling her way across the Sahara. As we reported a couple of days ago, 30(05) left her winter home on the Senegal coast on Tuesday. That morning she had followed her usual winter routine; flying down to her favourite perch on the beach, and then out to sea to catch breakfast. By 11am, though, she had decided that now was the time to leave – the hourly GPS fix from her satellite transmitter showed that she was heading north-east at 38kph. She maintained a similar heading for the rest of the day and by 7pm, when she settled to roost close to Reserve Sylvo Pastorale Des Six Forages in northern Senegal, she had covered 211 kilometres. Interestingly she had flown at a low altitude – generally less than 100 metres – throughout the day. This suggests that she may have been flying into a strong wind, which perhaps also explains her north-easterly, rather than northerly, heading?

Next morning, 30 began migrating again shortly before 10am, continuing on the same north-easterly course as the day before. By 2pm she had flown just under 100 kilimetres and soon crossed into Mauritania. She continued flying for another five hours, covering a further 140 kilometres on the same north-easterly heading. At 7pm she settled to roost close to the village of El Abde in the south of Maurtania, with the wilds of the Sahara lying in wait.

30 maintained an easterly heading during her first two days of migration.

30 maintained an easterly heading during her first two days of migration.

We do not have the complete set of GPS data for 30′s flight on Thursday, but we do know that by 9pm she was another 200 kilometres further north, now in the heart of the Sahara. That night she roosted on the sand with at least another 800 kilometres of desert still to negotiate. Although she had covered a similar distance to each of her first two days’ flying, her day’s migration was notable for the fact that she had maintained a much more northerly heading.This means that either the wind had changed direction, or that her north-easterly flight during her first two days, was intentional.

30 had a slow start on Friday morning, but by 11am was 24 kilometres north of her overnight desert roost, heading north-east at 23kph. Four hours later she had covered another 140 kilometres on the same north-easterly heading, again at low altitude. She was now making better progress and she continued in that vein for the remaining daylight hours, flying another 13o kilometres north, before settling to roost in the Akchar Desert, 71 kilometres south-east from the Western Sahara border. The image below, taken from Google Earth, gives an idea of how truly remote this area is.

30's flight through the Sahara from 4pm-7pm on Friday.

30′s flight through the Sahara from 4pm-7pm on Friday.

We are now eagerly awaiting the next batch of GPS data, which should arrive tomorrow or Tuesday. By then she should have almost completed her crossing of the Sahara. Watch this space!

30's first four days of her spring migration.

30′s first four days of her spring migration.

30 is one of the Ospreys we are following as part of World Osprey Week, and she’s not the only one of the WOW birds to have set-off on her spring migration. Over the other side of the Atlantic, Donovan is making equally steady progress north. Iain MacLeod, from the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center in New Hampshire, takes up the story…

Donovan has reached Cuba! He’s traveled more than 1,100 miles since he started his migration on March 10. He made an easy 400 mile crossing of the Caribbean Ocean and made landfall on the southern tip of the Dominican Republic by 6am on March 13. He rested for a couple hours and then crossed into Haiti. He spent the night near an area of dunes in western Haiti and pushed on the next morning and across to Cuba. He ended Friday (14th) along a river just south of the town of Guantanamo about 10 miles north of Guantanamo Bay.

Donovan has made good progress across the Caribbean Ocean to Cuba.

Donovan has made good progress across the Caribbean Ocean to Cuba.

To find out more about World Osprey Week – and how your school can get involved, click here.

And don’t forget that you can keep track of all our WOW Ospreys on the interactive WOW map here.

You can also follow 30′s migration on your own copy of Google Earth. Click here to find out how.

We’ll update you with the progress of 30 and Donovan early next week, when we may well have news that another of the WOW Ospreys has started it’s northward journey. It is an exciting time!

Is 30 on her way home?

After spending the winter on the Senegal coast midway between Dakar and St Louis, it looks as though our satellite-tagged Osprey, 30(05), began the long return migration to Rutland yesterday afternoon.

Non-GPS data (accurate to within 1km) showed that at 7pm last night she had flown 128 miles north-west and was roosting close to Reserve Sylvo Pastorale Des Six Forages in northern Senegal. We’ll know more on Saturday, when we should receive the next batch of GPS data. During the winter 30′s transmitter is programmed to send data once every five days, but as of Saturday it will revert to the spring cycle, meaning we’ll receive GPS data each day.

Non-GPS data shows that 30 began her northward migration yesterday afternoon.

Non-GPS data shows that 30 began her northward migration yesterday afternoon.

It will be fascinating to see how far north she has travelled by Saturday; if all goes well she should be crossing the Sahara by then. We’ll update you with her progress at the weekend and also add the data to the interactive Google Earth map (please note that her current non-GPS locations are shown on this map). Don’t forget that 30 is one of the Ospreys we’re tracking this spring as part of World Osprey Week. Click here to find out more about WOW. 

More good news to report is that the Manton Bay webcam is now back online (click here to view). So far we have seen Pied Wagtails and Egyptian Geese on the nest. How long before the first Osprey? If you haven’t entered our competition to guess the arrival of the first Osprey to Manton Bay, then make sure you do now…before it is too late! To find out more, and to enter, click here.

A Rutland Osprey in Senegal

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.

30(05)'s latest positions in Senegal

30(05)’s latest positions in Senegal

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!

The team driving down the beach in search of 30.

The team driving down the beach in search of 30

A busy day on Lompoul beach

A busy day on Lompoul beach

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.

The team's first view of 30 (top left) - perched beside a cultivated area. A second Scottish Osprey (green/white CN) can be seen to the right.

The team’s first view of 30 (top left) – perched beside a cultivated area. A second Scottish Osprey (green/white CN) can be seen to the right.

30(05) perched beside a cultivated area in the coastal woodland

30(05) perched in the coastal woodland

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.

The Osprey watchers!

The Osprey watchers!

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.

The team were on the beach just after 9am on Tuesday

The team were on the beach just after 9am on Tuesday

S5008830---30(05)-wintering-spot

30(05) was unperturbed by the local traffic!

30(05) was unperturbed by the local traffic!

IMG_8836---30(05)---28-1-14

Half an hour later she flew out to sea.

30's yellow ring was visible as she flew out to sea

30′s yellow ring was visible as she flew out to sea

IMG_8713---30(05)---27-1-14

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.

Breakfast on the beach

Breakfast on the beach

S5008976---30(05)-with-fish---28-1-14

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.

30(05) (right) circling with her Scottish neighbour, green CN

30(05) (right) circling with her Scottish neighbour, green CN

Lompoul beach supports large number of wintering Ospreys - here 30(05) (bottom) is circling with two others

Lompoul beach supports large number of wintering Ospreys – here 30(05) (bottom) is circling with two others

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!

30(05)'s satellite data while the team were at Lompoul

30(05)’s satellite data while the team were at Lompoul

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.

30(05) perched on the coastal woodland

30(05) perched on the coastal woodland

Rutland Ospreys in Africa

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.

30's latest positions on the Senegal coast

30′s latest positions on the Senegal coast

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.

An Osprey fishing off the Gambian coast

An Osprey fishing off the Gambian coast

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.

Amazing news from The Gambia

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.

5F at Tanji Marsh- her blue ring is visible on her right leg

5F at Tanji Marsh- her blue ring is visible on her right leg

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.

5F tucking into a fish at Tanji Marsh, with two other Ospreys looking on in the background.

5F tucking into a fish at Tanji Marsh, with two other Ospreys looking on in the background.

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!

Chris Wood at Tanji

Chris Wood at Tanji

Christmas in Senegal

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!

30's latest positions in Senegal 4-17 December

30′s latest positions in Senegal 4-17 December

Ospreys and education in Africa

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.

30's latest data shows she remains very settled on the coast of Senegal

30′s latest data shows she remains very settled on the coast of Senegal

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.

Sedentary in Senegal

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.

30's movements over the past ten days

30′s movements over the past ten days

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.

Settled at her winter home

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.

30 has made only short local flights over the past 10 days - usually out to sea to catch fish

30 has made only short local flights over the past 10 days – usually out to sea to catch fish

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.

30's favourite perches are either on the beach or in an area of scrub a few metres inland

30′s favourite perches are either on the beach or in an area of scrub a few metres inland

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.

Settled in Senegal

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!

30's GPS data shows that since she arrived on the Senegal coast she has made only short local flights.

30′s GPS data shows that since she arrived on the Senegal coast she has made only short local flights.