Here at the Somone Lagoon, the Osprey watching is proving to be absolutely incredible! We arrived here on Saturday 9th January, after travelling for most of the day from Sine Saloum delta. On Sunday we spent most of the day down at the river mouth to watch the influx of Ospreys that usually appear at around the low tide mark. What better way to watch Ospreys than with your feet in the sea!
We had some fantastic views of Ospreys fishing and flying by us with fish. One of them had caught a flying fish – something the team had not witnessed before! You can see the “wing” of the fish hanging down beneath the Osprey in John’s photo below.
Although it was still very good, the team commented that not as many Ospreys were coming over the beach as in years before. Perhaps the birds prefer the shallower water in the tidal area of the mangroves, as it would be easier to catch there than in the choppy sea. On Monday morning we decided to take a boat trip out into said mangroves, to see what we could see. Well what we saw was a lot of Ospreys! We were treated with fantastic views of Ospreys fishing and flying by very close to the little boat we hired from local guide, Babucarr. Babucarr was fantastic and did his best to get us optimum views of the Ospreys.
Tim and the rest of the team left on Tuesday morning to make their way back to Tendaba in The Gambia, where they will be spending two nights, before their flight home on Thursday 14th. It was sad to see them go, as we had had such a brilliant time all together as a group, and would miss them!
Yesterday (Wednesday 13th), Paul, John and I engaged Babucarr’s services again, and chugged off into the Mangroves on a smaller boat. The morning sun shone brightly down on us, reflecting in the gentle swell of water as it lapped against the boat’s hull. The peace was soon interrupted, though, by so many Ospreys we began to lose count! To say it was amazing is an understatement! John thinks we may have seen 40 birds in total. I didn’t know where to look! Some were fishing, some flying past with fish, others perched in trees and yet more sitting on islands and sand-banks. Here is a wonderful sequence of an Osprey diving and catching a fish, taken by John Wright.
We know that one of the Ospreys we saw yesterday was a Scottish bird, as it had a blue ring inscribed with digits FU8 on its left leg.
We were treated to an excellent aerial display when FU8 was chased by Yellow-billed Black Kites who were after the fish! Here are some of John Wright’s photos of the chase.
We had some incredibly close encounters, it was the best three hours of the trip yet. Babucarr was once again fantastic, manoeuvring the boat around to give us the best perspective of the Ospreys, and helping us get close to the sand-banks where they were sitting. Towards the end of the trip, we all thought we were heading back to the shore. However, Babucarr had other ideas, and steered the vessel through a tiny channel in the mangroves that we would not have noticed was there! When we emerged from the tight gap, in front of us lay a large sand-bank that had an amazing number of Ospreys on it! At first we counted nine, then there were 14, and round the corner there were even more, making the total around 20 Ospreys! They were all quite happily perched on the floor, resting having eaten. It was a magical sight!
The mouth of the river used to be dubbed “Osprey City”, as there were so many Ospreys that frequented the area on a daily basis. Now, we need to apply that title to the mangroves instead!
All the above photographs were taken by John Wright, unless otherwise stated. Here are some more of John’s excellent shots taken around the Somone Lagoon.