Amid all the excitement of returning Ospreys at Rutland Water we have been eagerly awaiting the latest satellite data for 30(05). It has finally arrived and shows that she is making remarkable progress north. Non-GPS signals showed that at 10pm last night she was roosting close to the village of La Rasa some 130km north-east of Madrid.
The previous batch of GPS data had shown that on the night of 16th, 30 had roosted in an agricultural area just south of Agadir in Morocco. Since then she has flown more than 1400km in three days and left Africa behind.
Having roosted just south of Agadir, 30 resumed her migration at around 9:30am on 17th. The foreboding Atlas Mountains would have been prominent on the horizon as she headed north at 25kph. Two hours later she had reached the mountains and, as in the autumn, she skirted around their western edge; thereby avoiding the high peaks which lie further east.
By 3pm 30 was well clear of the mountains. She passed to the north-west of Marrakesh and continued on a north-easterly heading at altitudes of between 70 and 180 metres. By 7pm, when she settled to roost for the evening, she had flown 366km since leaving Agadir.
We do not know exactly what time 30 resumed her migration the next morning, but at 1pm she had already flown a staggering 260km and was nearing the north coast of Morocco. Three hours later she headed out to sea to the east of Tangier. Unlike most birds of prey, Ospreys make light work of the short crossing to southern Spain, and by 5pm she was already well north of Algeciras having passed 11km to the west of Gibraltar.
She evidently had the wind at her tail and she continued flying well into the evening, before eventually settling to roost amid the olive groves north of Ronda in Andalucia after a day’s flight of 510 km.
30 must have left at first light on 19th because by 9am she was already 83km north of her roost site. She was perched, and so may have been eating a fish that she had caught en route. Her stop could only been a brief one though, because at 10am she was another 25km further north. She continued to make good progress for the rest of the morning, passing to the west of Cordoba and then through the Sierra Morena mountains.
By 5pm she had already flown more than 350km and she had Madrid firmly in her sights. There was no sign that she was going to let up though, and she continued past the Spanish capital and onwards towards La Rioja. She was still flying when we received the final GPS point of the day at 8pm, but subsequent non-GPS data showed that two hours later she had finally stopped to roost a further 41km to the north-east in a wooded area just over 100km east of Valladolid. She certainly deserved a rest having flown over 550km – and almost three-quarters the length of Spain!
After a slow start to her migration, 30 has certainly made up for lost time. If the last three days are anything to go by, then when we receive the next batch of GPS data tomorrow evening or on Saturday morning, she may well be in northern France. Watch this space!