Great news – our satellite-tagged female, 30(05), is now officially on her way home! We have been waiting impatiently over the last few days to find out where she is – during the winter the tracker only sends us data every five days. This morning we received what we had been waiting for: the excellent news that she is on her way. And over on the other side of Atlantic two other Ospreys that we’re following as part of World Osprey Week have also set-off.
30 began her journey on Tuesday 10th March, leaving the idyllic coastal site in Senegal where she has spent the winter months, and set off resolutely homewards! She passed to the west of the large Lac de Guiers, then crossed the Senegal river in the afternoon. Landmarks such as these are important in an Osprey’s migration, as studies have shown that they use them to navigate.
She flew quite late into the evening, then roosted just north of the Senegal river. In her first day of migration, 30 travelled a total of 226km (140 miles). Day two took her into the desert of Mauritania, where she flew for 269km (167 miles) to a roost site. The next two days she continued through the Sahara, travelling 406km (252 miles).
Her direction of flight had shifted slightly north-west, and the next day’s data gave us a scare when it showed she was much further west than we would have anticipated. The wind must have been blowing strongly from the east and pushed her off-course. Luckily her data points show that she has turned back to the east and is now getting back on track.
The last data point we have for 30 was yesterday morning at 10am. During the four days of migration she has already undertaken, she has covered a distance of 901km (560 miles), averaging 225km (140 miles) per day. At the moment she is travelling at quite a leisurely pace, flying at an average speed of 26kph (16mph).
We should receive more data tomorrow or the next day – it will be interesting to know where she is!
Meanwhile, over the other side of the Atlantic two of the WOW Ospreys have also set off on their northward migration. Belle, who spent her winter in Brazil on the edge of the Amazon Rainforest, was the first of the birds to set-off, on 8th March – six days earlier than last spring. Since then Rob Bierregaard reports that she has made steady progress and by 14th March she had reached the southern part of Venezuela. A little further north, Donovan has already reached Cuba. Iain MacLeod from the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center takes up the story…
After hanging out for a couple of days in northern Venezuela, Donovan headed over to Aruba and started his crossing over to Haiti during the late afternoon of March 12. He reached Haiti at 10am on March 13 and didn’t even stop to roost or feed. He kept on moving throughout the next day. At 6pm on the 13th he was still moving (26kph) and about to cross the Great Antilles Ridge over to Cuba. His first point on the 14th (at 6am) was on Cuba. I suspect he flew through the night again before finally stopping to roost. Since leaving Venezuela he had flown 1,300 km in one nonstop flight in 36 hours. Pretty impressive.
A close look at the data shows that he is following very closely to his schedule of last year. He left Aruba shortly before 5pm on March 12. Last year he left Aruba on the same date just before 3pm (now that’s planning). Once he reached Haiti, he quickly picked up the same path over to and through Cuba.