Racing through the desert

Our satellite-tagged Osprey, 30(05), has been making superb progress on her autumn migration this season. She left Rutland on 31st August, and just five days later she was roosting near Agadir in Morocco, at the western tip of the Haut Atlas Mountains. You can see from the picture below how she deliberately skirted the edge of the mountains and went around them, then came back eastwards and picked up the same bearing again the next day.

Atlas mountains3

30 jinked around the Atlas mountains


30 set off on 5th September at 6am, and headed onwards through the desert. This is the hardest part of an Osprey’s migration. There is little to no chance of finding anywhere to stop and fish during the crossing of the desert, which, along with the heat and heat haze, makes life difficult for Ospreys. Sahara translates in Arabic as “the Greatest Desert”, and it is indeed the largest hot desert in the world. 30, and other Ospreys, must fly over roughly 1,000 miles of it (1,600km).

On that day, 30 travelled 418 km (260 miles), over the Guelmim-Es Semara region and into the Western Sahara. After flying for 14 hours, she roosted in the middle of a very impressive landscape of dried up, probably ancient river beds, with fossilised remnants of what lay before, many years ago.

The amazing rock formations in the desert, where 30 roosted

The amazing rock formations in the desert, where 30 roosted


The next day, at 7am, 30 was off again, and she covered a total distance of 305 km (189 miles), flying at an average altitude of 784m. She stopped to roost at 7pm, smack in the middle of the Western Sahara.

30's journey, 5th and 6th September

30’s journey, 5th and 6th September


30 certainly is a very experienced migrator, and knows exactly what she’s doing and where she’s going. She’s almost there, too – there is only 1,100km (700 miles) left to go! We should have more data in the next couple of days – it will be very interesting to find out how much further she has gone!

Click here to follow 30’s journey on our special map (2015’s autumn migration is the blue line).

Alternatively, click here to follow 30 using Google Earth.