The Master Migrator

With 09 settling back in to life in Rutland, we have had time to have a detailed look at his Spring migration and compare it with the journey he made last September when he headed south to his wintering grounds. After spending the Winter in Senegal 09 began his journey north on March 12th. He headed north-east and before long he had covered nearly 100 miles and crossed the Senegal river into Southern Mauritania. In contrast with the route he took last September, he then travelled north along the Mauritanian coastline instead of crossing the Sahara. During his Autumn migration last year, it was obvious that 09 wanted to get to his wintering site as soon as possible as he took only four days to cross the desert. This year, as he travelled up the coast, he reached a top speed of 51 mph in Western Sahara and by March 16th he had already covered 600 miles. In the early hours of March 17th,  he was just 35 miles from the Moroccan border after an eventful evening flight. 09’s ocean adventure at the hands of strong easterly winds shows that there is no guarantee that experienced breeding birds will return to Rutland each Spring.

09's 320 mile flight on 16 March

09's 320 mile flight on 16 March

 

The day following his arduous flight 09 made slow progress, possibly due to exhaustion and the persistent easterly winds in Western Sahara but on the evening of March 20th he roosted north of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. His journey through Western Sahara saw him more than 200 miles west of his Autumn migration route but once in Morocco he was back on track.

09 with his satellite transmitter

09 with his satellite transmitter

 

It wasn’t long before 09 was back on form and travelling nearly 200 miles a day. At 5am on March 21st, he was only 120 miles from Gibralter and had flown a total distance of 1625 miles. After nine days, he was over half way. On the very same day, he crossed over into Spain and then he was really on a mission to get back to Rutland. After an epic overnight flight 09 had flown another 225 miles and by the end of March 22nd, he was only 130 miles away from France.

09's Spring migration route

 

He then made slightly more sedate progress through France and on March 27th he was ready to cross the English Channel. That very evening he roosted near Winchester and after travelling over 3000 miles in 16 days he arrived back in Rutland just after 2pm on March 28th. Migration is certainly a very demanding time for the birds, irrespective of how many times they have made the journey between Africa and Rutland. Seeing one of them arrive back for the very first time is incredible. For a full report on the moment 09 arrived back at his nest site click here. The Google Earth image below shows his recently completed journey from Senegal to Rutland.

 

The table below summarises the key facts of 09’s Autumn and Spring flights.

Autumn Spring
Total distance flown 2972 miles  3068 miles
Duration 16 days 16 days
Average distance per day 186 miles  192 miles
Average speed 27 mph 25 mph
Fastest speed 50 mph 51 mph
Average altitude 1919 feet 1726 feet
Highest altitude 6112 feet 6473 feet