WOW! Into the desert…and across the sea

Its been an exciting day at Rutland Water today with the return of 03(97), otherwise known as ‘Mr Rutland’ to Site B. As far as we know he’s the first UK Osprey to return to its nest site this spring.

As one Osprey returned to Rutland Water, another was battling her way across the Sahara. As we reported a couple of days ago, 30(05) left her winter home on the Senegal coast on Tuesday. That morning she had followed her usual winter routine; flying down to her favourite perch on the beach, and then out to sea to catch breakfast. By 11am, though, she had decided that now was the time to leave – the hourly GPS fix from her satellite transmitter showed that she was heading north-east at 38kph. She maintained a similar heading for the rest of the day and by 7pm, when she settled to roost close to Reserve Sylvo Pastorale Des Six Forages in northern Senegal, she had covered 211 kilometres. Interestingly she had flown at a low altitude – generally less than 100 metres – throughout the day. This suggests that she may have been flying into a strong wind, which perhaps also explains her north-easterly, rather than northerly, heading?

Next morning, 30 began migrating again shortly before 10am, continuing on the same north-easterly course as the day before. By 2pm she had flown just under 100 kilimetres and soon crossed into Mauritania. She continued flying for another five hours, covering a further 140 kilometres on the same north-easterly heading. At 7pm she settled to roost close to the village of El Abde in the south of Maurtania, with the wilds of the Sahara lying in wait.

30 maintained an easterly heading during her first two days of migration.

30 maintained an easterly heading during her first two days of migration.

We do not have the complete set of GPS data for 30’s flight on Thursday, but we do know that by 9pm she was another 200 kilometres further north, now in the heart of the Sahara. That night she roosted on the sand with at least another 800 kilometres of desert still to negotiate. Although she had covered a similar distance to each of her first two days’ flying, her day’s migration was notable for the fact that she had maintained a much more northerly heading.This means that either the wind had changed direction, or that her north-easterly flight during her first two days, was intentional.

30 had a slow start on Friday morning, but by 11am was 24 kilometres north of her overnight desert roost, heading north-east at 23kph. Four hours later she had covered another 140 kilometres on the same north-easterly heading, again at low altitude. She was now making better progress and she continued in that vein for the remaining daylight hours, flying another 13o kilometres north, before settling to roost in the Akchar Desert, 71 kilometres south-east from the Western Sahara border. The image below, taken from Google Earth, gives an idea of how truly remote this area is.

30's flight through the Sahara from 4pm-7pm on Friday.

30’s flight through the Sahara from 4pm-7pm on Friday.

We are now eagerly awaiting the next batch of GPS data, which should arrive tomorrow or Tuesday. By then she should have almost completed her crossing of the Sahara. Watch this space!

30's first four days of her spring migration.

30’s first four days of her spring migration.

30 is one of the Ospreys we are following as part of World Osprey Week, and she’s not the only one of the WOW birds to have set-off on her spring migration. Over the other side of the Atlantic, Donovan is making equally steady progress north. Iain MacLeod, from the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center in New Hampshire, takes up the story…

Donovan has reached Cuba! He’s traveled more than 1,100 miles since he started his migration on March 10. He made an easy 400 mile crossing of the Caribbean Ocean and made landfall on the southern tip of the Dominican Republic by 6am on March 13. He rested for a couple hours and then crossed into Haiti. He spent the night near an area of dunes in western Haiti and pushed on the next morning and across to Cuba. He ended Friday (14th) along a river just south of the town of Guantanamo about 10 miles north of Guantanamo Bay.

Donovan has made good progress across the Caribbean Ocean to Cuba.

Donovan has made good progress across the Caribbean Ocean to Cuba.

To find out more about World Osprey Week – and how your school can get involved, click here.

And don’t forget that you can keep track of all our WOW Ospreys on the interactive WOW map here.

You can also follow 30’s migration on your own copy of Google Earth. Click here to find out how.

We’ll update you with the progress of 30 and Donovan early next week, when we may well have news that another of the WOW Ospreys has started it’s northward journey. It is an exciting time!

One response to “WOW! Into the desert…and across the sea”

  1. Rosie Shields

    I’m relieved she turned north. I was quite concerned at her original track. Let’s hope she maintains this progress and completes her Sahara crossing, and the rest of her migration, safely.