So far, this trip to Africa has been absolutely excellent! The bird-life, hospitality and company have all been exemplary, and it’s safe to say all 14 of us are having a fantastic time. Friday was our last day at the Keur Saloum hotel, with its lovely little swimming pool, a terrace with a superb view down the river, and fruit bats in the ceiling!
On Friday morning we went out for a walk through some acacia scrub, searching for other avian gems, of which we found plenty!
In the afternoon, we went on a very special boat trip, one that none of us is going to forget in a hurry. But first let me backtrack to Thursday. In my previous update, I mentioned that on Thursday morning we took a boat trip to the Iles de Oiseaux, and on the way we saw several Ospreys sitting in the Mangroves. Well, John photographed them all, and noticed that one bird, an adult male, sported a blue leg ring… on his right leg! This indicates that the bird is from England or Wales (in Scotland the colour-rings are on the left leg), and so could potentially be a Rutland bird! On the way back from the island we saw the same bird again, but he was very nervous and flighty, and we could not get near enough to him to get a clear shot of his leg.
We were all a little disappointed that the bird could not be confidently identified, and decided to return to the area the next day. So on Friday afternoon we boarded the same little wooden boat, and sailed out again to look for the Osprey in the Mangroves.
As we expected, the bird was in the same area he had been in the day before, as this must be his wintering territory. Also as expected, he took off and flew away from us as soon as we drew near. At first we thought this was it, and we were out of luck. But then, miraculously, he turned and flew back towards us and right over the boat, giving a brilliant view of his underwings, and also his ring.
We were all so excited at the potential to discover the identity of this bird, so much so that Tim almost capsized the boat! As it turns out, we were very happy that we decided to take an extra trip out to find the Osprey, because he is a Rutland bird!
After years of trying to find a Rutland Osprey in Africa (aside from our satellite-tagged one), the Osprey team finally did it! The euphoria was palpable, and the night was spent in happy celebration.
Who was it then, I hear you ask. The Osprey in the Mangroves was 32(11). 32 is a male Osprey who was born in Manton Bay, to Maya and 5R(04), in 2011. This means that not only is his father the well-loved 5R, his grandfather is the legendary 03(97)! It is also very coincidental that 32 should be the Osprey we find in Africa, as he is the mate of our satellite-tagged female, 30(05), whom John, Paul and I will be visiting next week. Her wintering grounds are only 200km away from that of her partner. 2015 was the first year 30 and 32 bred together, after 30 had failed to find a partner for the previous two years. This also means, of course, that 32 is the father of the 100th Rutland Osprey chick! What an individual to have discovered on his wintering grounds in Senegal!
Here are some more of John Wright’s fantastic photographs from the trip so far!